Hotel Review: The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
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Hong Kong is a major hub when it comes to finance, culture, shopping, food and high-end hotels. The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong has the distinction of being the highest hotel in the world and let me tell you, the views didn't disappoint.
The property also boasts two formal restaurants — one of which is Michelin-Starred — a lounge and bar space, a casual café, a dedicated caviar bar, spa, gym, indoor pool and, last but not least, the highest bar in the world. It's also located directly on top of a large, upscale shopping mall with tons of restaurant options as well as its own metro stop, so if you ever tire of any of the on-property dining options, you'll have no trouble finding something nearby that will satisfy any craving. Here's what it was like to stay there.
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is one of the city's most expensive properties, but luckily enough, the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program was offering a fantastic deal — a complimentary third night that made the total cost of my stay comparable with other nearby high-end properties like the Conrad. In all, I paid $11,659 Hong Kong dollars (~$1,503.11 at the time) with my Platinum Card from American Express. Note that in the reservation confirmation below, the price quoted does not include the complimentary third night, nor the taxes and fees charged at the end of my stay.
Unfortunately, Amex FHR bookings are not eligible if you want to earn 5x points on hotels — that new perk only applies to stays booked through amextravel.com. As a result, I only earned 1,503 Membership Rewards points. Luckily, though, I was still able to earn Marriott Rewards points for my stay — 11,733 base points plus a bonus of 2,933 thanks to my Marriott Gold elite status, for a total of 14,666 points. If I'd paid with my Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, I would've earned 5x points per dollar spent on my stay, though I wouldn't have gotten the complimentary third night, so I decided to forego that option this time around. Note that if you've recently signed up for The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, you won't be able to use your free night certificates at this property, as it's a Tier 5 hotel, and if you're looking to redeem Marriott/Ritz-Carlton points for your stay, it'll run you a steep 70,000 points per night. If you're sitting on a stash of Starpoints, you could convert 24,000 of them to Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Rewards points thanks to the 1:3 transfer ratio.
In addition to the complimentary third night, booking through FHR provided several other benefits including an early check-in, a room upgrade (subject to availability), daily breakfast for two, late check-out, complimentary Wi-Fi and a $100 food and beverage credit, which Amex calls a unique property amenity. While this perk can vary by property, the food and beverage credit was great for me — I hardly ever use spa services and the Ozone bar wasn't exactly cheap. Having early check-in and a room upgrade were extremely valuable as well.
Check-In and Lobby
I was coming to Hong Kong from Shenzhen, China, which is only about 20 miles away. There are usually plenty of easy ways to get between the two cities, but on the morning of my arrival, a signal 8 typhoon was barreling toward the area. Translation: None of them were operational. As a result, I took a taxi from my hotel in Shenzhen to a pedestrian border where I walked across to the Hong Kong side and connected to the city's metro system, which was thankfully still running.
While it's widely known that there's a metro stop beneath the hotel, having never been to Hong Kong before, I mistakenly got off at the wrong stop and had to run around trying to find the entrance while the typhoon was closing in on us. The hotel has a lovely porte-cochère and ground entrance to use if you arrive by car — I didn't get to experience that seamless and elegant entry, but I imagine that on another, less-frenzied day, I would have arrived without being soaked and totally wind-blown.
Eventually, I entered the hotel's ground-floor lobby, which had some furniture, a desk for valets and some expensive jewelry on display.
A hotel employee showed me to the express elevators that would whisk me up to the 103rd floor to the "real" lobby to begin the check-in process. Note that you must take these to 103, then transfer to another set of elevators depending on where you want to go within the hotel.
I arrived swiftly on the 103rd floor, where I was greeted by friendly front-desk agents and the same dark marble color scheme. This design theme is employed throughout the entire hotel and is very attractive and modern-looking. Designers also included grays and earth tones which gave it a more luxurious, though dark, ambience. From the lobby, you could access a variety of places, including the hotel's signature bar, Ozone, which was located on the 118th floor.
The front desk agent noted my Marriott Gold elite status, my Amex FHR booking and offered to escort me to the Club Lounge to complete check-in, so off we went to another set of elevators up to the lounge on the 116th floor. I'll talk more about the Club Lounge later, but I was seated at another desk where the lounge agent took over the check-in process and informed me that I'd be getting an upgraded room with a "spectacular" view. That got me very excited, especially because I'd seen pictures of some of the views that are possible from this property. Another high point of booking through Amex FHR was having the early check-in option. I wanted to beat the typhoon to Hong Kong, so I arrived at the Ritz around 10:00am after beginning my journey in Shenzhen around 7:00am. Needless to say, I was very tired and relieved to hear that my upgraded room would be ready within an hour.
The Club Lounge wasn't a terrible place to wait for my room to be ready either — an attendant even served me a glass of wine.
After I was given the keys to my room, the check-in agent showed me to my Club Deluxe Victoria Harbour room on the 110th floor. It was a corner room, too, which meant I'd have stunning views once the typhoon passed. This is what it looked like with the storm raging outside.
The room kept with the overall dark theme as the lobby and public spaces of the hotel, but the color of the carpeting and the wood paneling on the walls was much lighter, which helped to brighten up the room considerably. While the narrow entry hallway and its lighter-wood paneling gave me some major cruise ship vibes, overall, the room was elegant and a wonderful place to relax and take in the views of the city — especially when you're stuck inside because of the weather.
On the left side of the entryway was a mini-bar area with coffee machines, complimentary water bottles and a mini-fridge filled with all the usual suspects — soda, sparkling water, beer and spirits — with astronomically high prices. I passed.
There was also a sizable desk that served as my base for getting work done. There was a chair facing the window so I could distract myself with those city views whenever I needed a break. I found it funny that such a modern hotel included a speaker unit with an iPod from so long ago, though I guess it's understandable since Apple especially has been known to change up its charging/docking systems fairly frequently.
The next part of the room was its pièce de résistance — the sitting room — especially with the taupe chaise lounge. I thought the in-room telescope was a nice touch, too. Hong Kong is known for having one of the world's most beautiful skylines so this is exactly where you want to be to take it all in.
I couldn't get enough of those panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong's famously dense cityscape.
The view from the top was just as fantastic at night, too, when Hong Kong's Central district lights up and puts on a show for the entire city.
Separating the living room from the bedroom was a wall that was open on either side and contained two televisions — one for each room.
The bedroom had a king-size bed flanked by two marble-topped nightstands. The bed was wonderful — it better be, it's the Ritz! — and I couldn't think of a better place to fight the brutal jet lag.
Built into each nightstand was a very slick fold-out panel that contained power ports as well as controls for the blinds and lights. There's nothing I appreciate more than having power outlets close by so you can reach your charging devices. One of life's greatest luxuries, in my opinion, is being able to watch Netflix work from a hotel bed without the fear of your computer or phone battery running out of power.
The room had a sizable closet with plenty of hangers, a safe and a drawer with a laundry bag and slippers.
The bathroom was just as opulent as the rest of the room, designed with plenty of earth-toned marble, which was gorgeous to look at. It's always nice to have a double vanity, even if it was just me in the room.
There was also a soaking tub with a built-in TV screen — while it was pretty, I had no use for it.
The shower is really what I care about and this one delivered — the wide rain shower head was fantastic, especially after long days of walking around in the Southeast Asian humidity.
If you ever find yourself at a Ritz-Carlton property, do your absolute best to swipe as many bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel as you can. The Asprey "Purple Water" products are great — my bathroom at home has a nice stash I regularly use when I travel.
The hotel also provided a full suite of toiletries including a shaving kit, a dental kit, hair brush and mouthwash.
But wait, there's more! This particular room had a surprise — an additional powder room that was accessible from the entry foyer as well as the master bathroom.
The hotel's spa, pool and gym were all located on the highest floor, 118, and provided some incredible... you guessed it... views! The pool was really fantastic and there was a large screen on one end that projected images of fish and undersea wildlife on one wall as well as the ceiling.
The windows were floor-to-ceiling and were fronted by lounge chairs that were partly in the water and overlooked Victoria Harbor.
There was also a semi-outdoor space with a Jacuzzi tub. It was pretty incredible to be relaxing in a hot tub that high up.
The gym was fully equipped, but not that big. I used it once during my stay — after the typhoon passed through, I got more than enough exercise walking through Hong Kong's hilly neighborhoods the rest of my trip.
On the last morning of my stay, I ordered room service for breakfast: fresh-squeezed orange juice with eggs Benedict, hash browns and tomatoes. The service was prompt and professional, while the eggs were served at just the right temperature. The entire meal was delicious.
One of the distinguishing features of this property is its Club Lounge. Located on the 116th floor, it not only provided panoramic views, but also access to three separate meal presentations as well as complimentary snacks and beverages throughout the day — and yes, that includes alcohol.
Just like in my room, there was a telescope that allowed you to peer into the endless forest of buildings below the hotel.
The Club Lounge had plenty of seating available, including tables set for dining. While most of the food was self-serve, the staff were happy to bring me anything I asked for.
Each time I visited, I had no trouble finding a seat, nor did the space ever feel overcrowded.
While pretty much every seat guarantees a spectacular view, the sumptuous arm chairs adjacent to the windows were the place to sit.
The food spreads were lavish, particularly at breakfast.
There was a large selection of breads and pastries...
...as well as fruit and yogurt.
There were plenty of hot options too, including eggs, congee, dumplings and noodles, among other items.
I particularly enjoyed all the fresh fruit juices that were available.
Another special feature of the Club Lounge was the daily afternoon tea service. I received a sizable tray fully trimmed with finger sandwiches, small bites, desserts, flavored butters and jams.
My server asked me if I preferred to have tea or Champagne. With views like these, there was no way I was turning down a free glass of bubbly.
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is a truly fantastic hotel. Its overall design is stunning, luxurious and befitting of a five-star hotel that commands a high price. The service was personalized and professional without being overbearing, and the views it provides can't be beat. To date, this property is without a doubt the nicest I've ever stayed in, and you can be sure I'm already planning a trip back here as soon as possible.
Have you ever stayed at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong? Tell us about your experience, below.