Feeling of consumer cosseting engendered by phenomenal range of free booty from the Upper House – priceless. Having to buy a Longchamp fold up bag to carry it all home in – $2500 HKD.
But who’s grizzling. The Upper House is one of the best boutique hotels I’ve yet experienced. It’s not for everyone though. Being naturally discreet and glamorous, the beautiful flock there, and rumour has it that it is the hotel of choice for local trysts.
It occupies the top floors of the JW Marriott Tower above Pacific Place in Admiralty, with near neighbours the Conrad, the Shangri-La and of course the mega mall itself. Asian shopping malls make me glaze over a bit and Pacific Place is no exception. If the immediate surrounds are lacking a bit in personality, it’s just a short walk to Wan Chai and Star Street, and the MTR is just metres away.
We were met at the minimalist entrance by friendly staff and escorted up an atmospherically lit escalator through a small lobby and up to our room. We passed a group of elegant Chinese girls, a tall British boy with a chiselled jaw and a perfectly cut navy jacket, and a slim African American man in a silver-mauve suit. It was 2am. The whole set up looked like a Lanvin ad.
Except for me – after circling Manila for three hours waiting for winds to abate as a typhoon descended on Hong Kong, the 14 hour flight had done nothing for my black ruffled dress or my mascara. I looked like a bedraggled panda dressed as a pine cone. I was attracting attention in all the wrong ways.
Our room, a harbour view suite, was an enormous 120m2. The hotel was an apartment block in a former life and the rooms are generously proportioned after being manipulated by Andre Fu. My first impression, after adjusting from the long vision view of the hundreds of towers lit up around us, was of a luxurious bachelor pad: muted beiges, blonde wood, touches of various shades of moss green, and unobtrusive but tactile wall and floor sculptures in stone and timber. We walked into a large living area with a round dining table, a huge flat screen and a Charles-style sofa which could seat about ten people and probably often does. A bedroom with yet another television and a large dressing area occupied the next block of space. The final suite of rooms comprised the bathroom (although that term hardly does it justice), with a separate toilet area and long multi-mirrored space housing the double vanity. Up a shallow flight of underlit stone steps was a vast bath surrounded by those wraparound views, centrally placed like an exhibit in a gallery. Notwithstanding that, it felt immediately cocooning, a consequence of clever design and the partitioning of space.
If you feel the need to leave your room, Café Gray Deluxe is on the 49th floor, serving mod-European food, and a very sexy bar and library area with views down towards Wan Chai and the Peak respectively. I didn’t eat there myself, much preferring dumplings and congee slurped amongst the neon forests of Causeway Bay and Mongkok, Blade-Runner style.
But what would make this my hotel of preference in Hong Kong (apart from the world’s most cloudlike, comfortable bed) was the thoughtfulness of amenity. Much was made of the hi tech nature of the rooms, and although the iPod compendium was a bit gimmicky, it worked a treat – everything you needed to know was in a handy little app, with cocktails and room service available at the push of a button. The maxi bar didn’t wow me with its variety but it was free. There was no messy checkout queue – the credit card you provide upon check in is simply charged on the day you check out. A running statement is available on your in room television and the final invoice provided via email within 24 hours, so that you are free to leave at will.
And as for the booty, beautifully wrapped and delivered with a handwritten card: a toy truck dispensing dominos for the tot, a full flight of Ren toiletries, a leather tote, a handy canvas carry bag, scented candles, luggage tags, and a tiny wooden replica of the Hong Kong skyline, and of course a few treats from the complimentary maxi bar. The days of the pilfered bathrobe are over, friends. Besides, it won’t fit in the bag.