Too Much of a Good Thing: The Mira Hotel Hong Kong
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While I'm easily impressed by a fancy Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis, there's one hotel brand I consistently seek out: W Hotels. The bright, psychedelic and loud design resonates with me as a millennial (but don't you dare call me that to my face!). So when TPG wrote earlier this year that he felt he was outgrowing the W brand I took it personally. After this trip, I think I understand why.
My last trip to Hong Kong resulted in one of the most enjoyable hotel stays of my life at the Mira Moon, a member of Marriott's Design Hotels portfolio. In a city with plenty of over-the-top hotels, including one of the best Ws and a towering Ritz-Carlton that's home to the world's highest pool, I was pleasantly surprised that a category 5 property I'd never heard of before had managed to take my breath away.
A little later I found myself back in Hong Kong and took advantage of the opportunity to try out the sister property, the Mira, across the harbor in Kowloon. If Marriott rebranded this hotel as a W tomorrow, I don't think anyone would notice. While I came to Hong Kong looking for a slightly more laid back time, I still greatly enjoyed my stay at the Mira.
In the days following the Marriott/SPG merger, I redeemed over 700,000 Marriott points booking top tier awards at discounted rates including the St. Regis Maldives and Al Maha resort in Dubai. This meant that I was looking to pay cash, and thankfully rates were incredibly reasonable. My one night stay cost about $1,500 HKD, or $192 USD after taxes. As a Platinum Premier Elite member I earn 17.5 points per dollar, or 3,360 Marriott points which TPG values at ~$30.
This category 5 hotel can also be booked for 35,000 Marriott points a night, and you can redeem your Marriott and SPG credit card anniversary nights here, as long as the hotel is not under peak pricing. I've seen cash rates at both the Mira and Mira Moon swing from $200 to $400+, so depending on your travel dates either one of these might be a solid redemption value. Since TPG values 35,000 Marriott points at $315, I was clearly better off paying cash for my trip.
The Airport Express train in Hong Kong puts most major cities around the world to shame. All in all it took about an hour to get from Hong Kong airport (HKG) to the hotel, including taking the Airport Express to Hong Kong Central Station (the last stop), transferring to the red line for 2 stops, and walking about a block. You could also take the Airport Express to the Kowloon station and then take an Uber or taxi the rest of the way to the hotel. No matter what route you choose the trip is incredibly easy, especially compared to the 2 hours and 15 minutes it had taken me to metro to Shanghai Pudong (PVG) earlier that morning.
The hotel itself is located on a main road right across from Kowloon park, and I struggled to find the entrance. To make matters worse, underneath and around the hotel is the "Mira Place" shopping center. The identical font and branding that the mall uses is incredibly distracting, and I ended up circling the block once before I found my way.
I've grown to appreciate hotels that offer signature scents in the lobby to create a relaxing environment as you come and go. The Mira, however, smelled more like a 14-year-old boy who'd just discovered cologne for the first time and used up half the bottle.
Where the Mira Moon used loud splashes of color to tell a story through its design, the Mira used lights — lots of them. For the first of many times this stay I felt like I was staying at a W hotel, and not in the good way.
Check-in itself was quick and efficient, and I didn't have to wait to be helped. I was proactively offered a suite upgrade, but told that I'd have to wait 2 hours for the room to be cleaned as I'd arrived a little after noon. Given that I was only staying for one night I opted not to wait, but was still upgraded two categories to a park view room. Each type of room comes in either green, red or silver trim, and while the hotel's website suggests that you can "choose whichever color palette takes your fancy as you check in to your Hong Kong oasis," I was never given any choice of color.
One disappointing thing to mention: I'd booked this reservation online using my shiny new Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card to hit my minimum spending requirement. That card is back in the US and I didn't have it in my possession on this trip, and the check-in agent said he could not charge the room to that card even though it's on file on my SPG account. While I don't fault the hotel for this policy as I understand that they're trying to minimize fraud, I've been in the same situation several times (in Hong Kong no less) and the hotel has always worked to accommodate me, usually by using an alternate card for the security deposit but still charging the room rate to the card I booked with. Thankfully I had my SPG Business Amex with me, and I'd recently been targeted for a spending bonus on that card, so this really wasn't a huge deal.
One of the signature feelings of a W hotel, whether you like it or not, is hallways that look and feel like high end nightclubs. The Mira took that to a dizzyingly high new level, complete with what almost looked like a reception desk as you stepped off the elevator.
The hallways combined low, mirrored ceilings with multiple light fixtures outside each room to create a not-so-fun-house effect. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get lost in the mirror maze two or three times during my stay. Luckily I was here for work and not vacation, I can't begin to imagine navigating these hallways after a few drinks.
The room itself continued the generous usage of mirrors, but in a much more constructive way. Right inside the door was an open area with a large desk, and the bed behind it.
Apparently I'd been assigned a "green" room, though other than the two chairs and the throw at the end of the bed, there wasn't anything else green about the room.
I did enjoy the views out the window, especially of Kowloon park across the street. It's rare in a city like Hong Kong to be this surrounded by greenery. Off in the distance was the towering International Commerce Center, home to the Ritz-Carlton. Maybe next time....
The bathtub and bathroom were directly across from the bed, separated by a glass wall.
You could lower the blinds for privacy, but the motor was both slow and incredibly loud.
This isn't a problem for a solo travel but I'm always a bit confused when hotels make bathrooms so exposed and force you to overcorrect for privacy, since the room felt like it was cut in half when the blinds were closed.
The bathroom was spacious, with a long white countertop with a sink on one end and a vanity mirror on the other.
I wasn't a huge fan of the chair by the vanity, as it was heavy and hard to move, and blocking half the entryway to the bathroom when I arrived.
There was a separate soaking tub and a shower with both a regular and waterfall setting. I like a strong shower and water pressure was great in the room, but I would have preferred them to dial it back a little bit since the sink kept splashing all over the place every time I turned it on.
As you would hope from a modern hotel, there were plenty of tech options available. There was a multi-USB charger on the desk, and as seems to be the norm in Hong Kong, a portable Wi-Fi hotspot. I always forget an adapter when I travel to Hong Kong, but with a quick phone call downstairs one materialized.
Another thing worth noting about this room is the mini bar, something I usually block out of my mind so I don't end up spending $15 on a soda. There was a tiny sign under the desk saying "we think our prices should be mini too," and they actually stuck to that, with soft drinks and chips costing $1-2 US, and the only item over $5 being the large container of nuts.
Food and Beverage
My biggest gripe about Design Hotels (a legacy SPG brand) is that even post-merger the properties don't offer free breakfast to Platinum elites. But that's not the fault of the individual hotel, and in a city renowned for its affordable Dim Sum, I can't complain all that much.
I still managed to enjoy a few snacks and meals at the Mira, including 2 separate room service orders my first night. The first was pesto pasta, and while the portion was small, I was shocked that my order arrived freshly cooked in barely 10 minutes.
The same was true of the nachos I ordered late at night, no more than 10 minutes after calling I was chowing down on some cheesy goodness.
One of the best highlights of my time at the Mira Moon was my delicious dinner at Supergiant, its galactic-inspired tapas restaurant. I was curious to compare the dining at the Mira, and with 3 on-site restaurants (ranging from western to Cantonese), 2 bars, and a bakery, I had no shortage of options. I ended up settling on the lunch buffet at Yamm and it did not disappoint.
The restaurant was hidden behind the Coco bakery in the lobby, and I was tempted to ruin my appetite before I even sat down. Little did I know...
The restaurant felt incredibly spacious — it was one of the only parts of the building that didn't feature claustrophobically low ceilings. Unfortunately, this was the day after the mid-autumn festival and the restaurant was packed. We hadn't made reservations so they seated us outside the restaurant at a table next to the bakery. This meant service (and drink refills) were on the slow side, but once we were able to flag someone down they were quick to help.
We had originally planned to order a la carte, but the menu was not especially impressive and mostly featured standard western burgers, sandwiches and salads, so we sipped on a few glasses of Prosecco and waited for the buffet to open at noon. At $328 HKD ($42 USD) a person it wasn't cheap, but the options were plenty and the food was all high quality. As a Platinum member I was also given a 15% off voucher, valid for multiple uses across all the restaurants and bars on site, and even the hotel spa.
The buffet included a fresh seafood bar,
An impressive array of sushi that was replenished as fast as you could eat it...
... a cheese station
... and freshly carved steak and ribs, as well as a host of other asian dishes. The dessert bar was by far the most impressive part.
I don't remember every thing I ate, but in the name of science I did my very best to sample it all.
A large plate of sushi and a weeks worth of dessert left me full and happy, with no complaints. I'm very glad we waited out the buffet.
At both the Mira and Mira Moon, the restaurants seem to run frequent dining promotions. There was a brochure in my room listing them all, but since I stayed near the end of the month they'd all expired already. I was especially sad to have missed the unlimited champagne and caviar brunch — at about ~$100 a person this could have been the one time I would ever let myself enjoy caviar on the ground.
Amenities and Service
The Mira features a large swimming pool and a well equipped gym. However, when I walked in with my camera out and obviously not in workout clothes (or a swimsuit, for that matter), I was quickly warned that photography was prohibited to protect the guests' privacy.
The pool was large, though it seemed to be designed more for relaxing than for swimming. There were large purple lounge chairs all around it — very close to the water's edge — and the ceiling had a fiber optic star pattern that reminded me of some of my favorite airplane cabins. The gym was equipped with everything you would need, from multiple treadmills and ellipticals to free weights and various machines.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the Mira is part of a larger mall complex called Mira Place. The hotel lobby is located one level below the mall entrance, and the elevators can take you right there. This is convenient if you plan on shopping, but don't be confused if on the way to your room the elevator doors open to something that is very much not a hotel.
The Mira Moon set the bar very high in my book for this hotel family, and it would have been nearly impossible to match that amazing experience. The busy design of the Mira is something I usually enjoy, though for whatever reason it caught me off guard on this trip. I certainly wouldn't hesitate to stay here again if the price is right, especially now that I know exactly what I'm getting myself into.