Hotel Review: A Superior Room and a Harbor View Room at the InterContinental Hong Kong
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When I pondered where to stay on a recent trip to Hong Kong, everyone I asked seemed to be raving about the InterContinental. And while many Kowloon hotels are known for their fancy rooftop bars, this particular hotel sits on the very edge of the water, offering incredible skyline views not only from the higher stories, but right from the lobby. I decided to stay there so I could see what all the fuss was about, and I'm happy to report the hotel definitely exceeded my expectations. Here's what it was like.
The InterContinental Hong Kong's online reservation system was easy to use and efficient. I was able to select a 21-day advance prepaid rate for a Superior room for 2,798 HKD or $359 per night at the time; it was 3,078 HKD or $395 per night once taxes and fees were added in. The price was fairly average for this city, where hotel rooms are almost always expensive. Had I used IHG Rewards points to book my stay, I would have needed 60,000 per night. I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and earned 3x per dollar, thanks to the travel bonus, for a total of 3,555 Ultimate Rewards points. I also earned 13,525 IHG Reward points for my three-night stay, which got me Gold status, since you need at least 10,000 points to reach that level.
I landed in Hong Kong exhausted after a 12.5-hour flight from Madrid, arriving at the hotel at 9:30am after taking the train to Kowloon station — free shuttle buses are available to various hotels in the Kowloon area from here if you show your boarding pass to the driver. Since this particular hotel wasn't on the list, I was dropped off in front of The Peninsula, which was a seven-minute walk from the InterContinental — hop on the K2 bus if you've got a lot of luggage in tow.
As far as great views, the location of this hotel was perfect, but besides that, the surrounding area was full of nothing but hotels and expensive stores and had virtually no character. To reach more local areas, night markets or simply spots with something else besides chain restaurants and fancy hotels, we had to grab a taxi or hop on the subway. Luckily, the Tsim Sha Tsui rail stop was only about five minutes from the hotel. The ferry that'll take you across the harbor to the Hong Kong side was about a 10-minute walk, and the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal, where you can catch a ride to Macau, was about a 20-minute walk. Also note that the area all around the hotel was under construction at the time, which I'll definitely get back to later.
Check-In and Lobby
The outside of the hotel was pretty bland and it almost looked like it could have been any old office building — it's the low, reddish one in the photo below, which I photographed from the other side of the bay. To the right, you can see the construction work, which caused a few problems during my stay.
The large, open space of the lobby was tastefully designed, and the large glass windows opening up to the harbor showed expansive views, despite the fog that seemed to almost always encompass the city. The décor was simple and not very exciting, with lots of beige, but I almost think it was toned down to play up the main selling point, the incredible view.
I waited in line for a good 10 to 15 minutes before someone was available to check me in. And while I was slightly annoyed at the long wait — there were only two people working at the four-person desk — I think it was mainly the jet lag getting to me.
Once I was able to get to the counter, the staff were very friendly and I was happy to hear there was a room ready for me even though I was early. I asked about room upgrades but was told there were none available. The hotel still put a hold on my credit card, although the rate was prepaid, and I was given room 426, a twin room with a pool view on the fourth floor.
The person checking in ahead of me was offered free welcome drinks for signing up for IHG Rewards, so I tried my luck and asked if there were any perks for existing IHG Rewards members. There were, and I was offered two free welcome drinks in the lobby during my stay — good for beer, wine or soft drinks — as well as free internet access.
I was then accompanied to my room by the butler, who put a special card in the slot for the lighting and gave me two room keys. It's worth noting that the hallways, which were decorated with wooden paneling — the only "Asian" touch that the hotel seemed to have — smelled amazing, so whatever air freshener being used at this hotel was on point.
I was very impressed with what I saw when I first entered the room.
It was extremely large for a hotel room, especially in a big-city property, with huge windows overlooking the pool area. Although the windows were large and there were several lamps, Hong Kong's never-ending fog made the room seem rather dim.
The bed was big, and I realized it was really two twin beds that had been pushed together, which made sense, as I was given a twin room.
The room also came with a long desk and chair, as well as plenty of counter space, storage areas, drawers and a large closet. I loved that the window had both a sheer shade for privacy and blackout shades if you really needed to get some sleep.
The view, which was referred to as a pool view, was really just of trees, but it was nice to at least look out onto something green if I wasn't going to get that great harbor view.
It wasn't uncomfortable by any means, but I have noticed that beds in Asia are often firmer than they are in other parts of the world — this one definitely was.
The closet had an iron and ironing board inside, as well as a rather dated-looking safe, but it did the trick. There was a flat screen TV and a Bose sound system as well.
A small fruit basket was set up on the counter next to a tea kettle with some coffee and tea, which I thought was a really nice touch.
One thing I loved about the room was that it came with a phone I was able to use for free during my stay. I made it a portable hotspot and was able to carry it in my purse and connect my own phone to it to get free internet access while walking around town, which was extremely useful.
Unfortunately, the room didn't come with enough outlets, although there was a small USB port by the TV. The desk had two outlets, and there was another one on one side of the bed. For two people who were traveling with cameras, computers and smartphones, it just wasn't enough — especially since I now had to charge the free phone, plus my own phone each evening. There was a shaver plug in the bathroom, but not a regular electrical outlet, making it difficult to use the hair dryer or curling iron near the mirror.
Far off to the side, in a shelving unit where the hair dryer was stored, there was another plug, but it was hard to twist the cord over to the mirrors.
Speaking of the bathroom, it was also enormous and completely covered in marble with his-and-hers sinks.
A large, sunken bathtub looked enticing.
A double-headed shower with great water pressure, a separate toilet area and a large window made up the rest of the bathroom.
There was also extra storage space and an interesting-looking statue — E.T., anyone? — that I didn't really get close to for fear of knocking it over.
There were robes and slippers, a hair dryer and a scale.
Bathroom amenities included Agraria bar soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, all in a lemon verbena scent.
Small drawers opened up to offer a shower cap, toothpaste, a toothbrush and mouthwash. For the first time ever, I needed to use one of those mini hotel sewing kits when a bag of mine broke, so I was relieved to find one was offered.
The Wi-Fi was fast in all areas of the hotel, and I didn't have any issues connecting multiple devices. All in all, the room was extremely nice and spacious. The bathroom was also large, and the tub and shower were fantastic. My only real complaint with the room was that I wish there had been more electric sockets, especially near the bed and bathroom mirrors.
I noticed a sheet on the desk in my room explaining that construction on the building next door would begin at 10:00am the following morning. The next day, however, I woke up in a jet-lagged haze at 8:45am to excessive banging. I triple-checked the time, thinking perhaps my body clock or phone was off, but sure enough, it was 8:45am local time, a full hour and 15 minutes before construction was scheduled to start. It was impossible to sleep, so I got up and started moving.
When we got back to the hotel that evening, I politely explained the situation to the front desk agents, asking if they thought the construction would really start that early the following day, because if so, I'd better get to bed soon. I also wanted to let them know that the construction started earlier than the note had stated so they could amend it or take it away, figuring there was no point in telling people it would be quiet until 10:00am if really wouldn't be.
The front desk staff promised to check with a manager and call up to the room. Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, I got a call from the manager, who was extremely kind and offered to change my room. I asked if a harbor view room was available, because they're on the other side of the hotel, away from the construction site. When the manager offered to transfer me to room 1022 — a Harbor View Room — I accepted.
This aptly named room had stunning views of the harbor and of the Hong Kong side of the island. It is worth noting, though, that you're exchanging view for size — it was significantly smaller. The bathroom, which had just one sink, was still decked out in marble, and came with the same sunken tub and a huge shower. Even better, it was sans creepy E.T. statue — I didn't miss him. There was also an electrical outlet next to the mirror, which was perfect for plugging in the hair dryer.
The bed was king-size, but somehow smaller than the two twin beds pushed together in my previous room had been.
Although the new room was smaller, I loved having that view — and more importantly, a noise-free morning!
The space also seemed brighter, either because it received more outdoor light or because it benefited from a smaller space for the lamps to illuminate. Either way, I was happy with it.
The staff was extremely helpful and responsive to my complaint, and even left chocolates and a little apology note on the table of the new room.
The level of service and response to my problem really impressed me. A few days after my stay, I even received an email from the manager saying he hoped that despite the issue, I still had a pleasant stay. Now that's what I call customer service.
Not to mention, the view from my new room was significantly better than the one from my old room.
Hong Kong's humidity leaves you sweating, so I was dying for dip after a day of sightseeing. The pool was gorgeous, but the construction behind it was not.
The service by the pool was also amazing. I was immediately approached by a staff member with a little kit on a wooden tray containing a cold, wet towel and a spray bottle to mist myself with.
The only thing that put a damper on my pool experience was the giant, ugly construction scene that dangled over the pool area — the same one that had woken me up — and banged on all day. The hot tubs were the best part: three infinity tubs — one hot, one cold and one warm — all overlooking the bay.
The fitness center was also pretty well-stocked for a hotel gym, with two large rooms full of machines and plenty of weight equipment.
There was also a spa, but I wasn't able to give it a try during my stay.
There were complimentary weekend yoga classes offered in the morning and weekday tai chi classes out by the pool, but they were fairly early in the morning, so I didn't have a chance to attend. I did get a shot from my window of the tai chi class, though.
Besides the pool staff and managers being friendly, I found the concierge staff to be extremely helpful as well. Louis and Tiffany in particular were able to help me on a number of occasions with a variety of different requests.
Food and Beverage
Food and views are where this hotel really shines. I don't think I've ever had such a great view while eating roti, eggs and dragonfruit at the same time.
The breakfast buffet was one of the best I'd ever tried. Of course, enjoying the beautiful views over the harbor helped, but the food itself was really delicious.
There was a little bit of everything: cheese, meat, sashimi and sushi, fruit, pancakes, pastries, an egg station and a noodle station, among other treats. I especially loved the roti, which was buttery and delicious, and the spicy curry I dipped it into.
Curry isn't typically what Westerners want for breakfast, but I dove right in. Every single thing I ate — and I tried, well, almost everything — was great. There were no soggy eggs, the noodles were cooked to perfection and the fruit was fresh.
The catch? It wasn't cheap by Asian standards — 330 HKD (~$42) plus a 10% service charge, which came to a total of $47 per person. While this is on the pricey side, the quality of the food offered is really high. But if you can't justify paying nearly $50 per person per day for breakfast, try it once and on following mornings, check out Urban Coffee Roaster nearby, which offers terrific eggs Benedict for about $8.
I decided to take advantage of the free drinks at the lobby bar around 8:00pm while watching the laser-light show over the bay. Although it wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be, the views were incredible and the whole setting was perfect.
It was so perfect, in fact, that I couldn't bring myself to leave, and instead ordered some light bites for dinner. I had truffle fries, a salad with walnuts, feta cheese with cranberries and Malaysian chicken satay with peanut sauce, along with a free glass of wine and a Hong Kong beer with my two drink coupons. The food was great, and I was happy to see the waiter gave me a heavy pour on the wine — details are everything! — all while a live band played jazz.
I really enjoyed my stay at the InterContinental Hong Kong. While the outside may seem like nothing special, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. The hotel offers great service, the guest rooms are large, luxurious and comfortable, and the views are stunning. The staff is incredible, and I could have spent all day in the infinity hot tubs.
The nearby construction, while no fault of the hotel, does seem to kill the vibe a bit, so I'm not sure I'd stay here again until that's finished — after that point, I will definitely be back though. I couldn't have asked for a better response from the staff when the construction became bothersome. Obviously, problems will occasionally arise in any hotel, but I've never had such a helpful and accommodating response — the customer service here just can't be beat.
Have you stayed at the International Hong Kong? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.