St. Regis Hong Kong review: André Fu’s newest hotel in Wan Chai is a striking blend of East and West
All hail the butlers
The Wan Chai neighbourhood in Hong Kong is marching to the beat of a different drum these days. What was once a notorious red-light district is now speckled with trendy restaurants, upmarket bakeries and third wave coffee shops weaved between high-rise office buildings and local cha chan tengs. The area has also captured the heart of the art crowd, drawing them in with the Hong Kong Arts Centre and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, home to the city's edition of the world-renowned Art Basel.
Ever astute and ahead of the curve, it is in this fascinating space that St. Regis has decided to park its latest hotel. Opening its doors last month, St. Regis Hong Kong is a stunning block of architectural creativity by André Fu — yes, you would remember him as the talent behind The Upper House and Andaz Singapore. With memories of the original St. Regis New York's imperial residence etched in his mind, Fu aspired for St. Regis Hong Kong to impart a homely feel to anyone who stepped through its doors, and create a haven for society to entertain.
We swan in and are pleasantly greeted by a hit of Caroline Astor's signature Four Hundred scent —reprising American Beauty roses and exotic woods — and cool air-conditioning that we gratefully lapped up amidst Hong Kong's humid weather. Our bags magically disappear, and we are escorted up to the hotel's main lobby on the second floor, where walking through is a rite of passage that leaves the hustle and bustle of the city behind. Also known as the Great Room, the space casts visual symmetry in its pure geometrical shapes and patterns from ground up. Feel time slow, as you admire the beautiful touches that remind us of the glitz of Manhattan and the brooding charm of old-world Hong Kong. Think 1940s-inspired gas lamps (like those on Duddell Street) and wall panels fashioned after Chinese shop shutters fused in amongst contemporary marble and oak furnishings.
The St. Regis butler service is at the heart of every hotel, since John Jacob Astor IV opened the first St. Regis in New York over a century ago. Hong Kong is no different, and it is this ultra-luxurious touch that sets the brand apart from others. Karry, St. Regis Hong Kong's butler supervisor, led us straight up to our room on the 20th floor, where check-in is done in the room on a tablet. It was a fuss-free and efficient process, where Karry ensured to offer us a drink (we went for the perfume-like bottles of coconut water in the fridge) and took us on a room tour. If desired, your butler can also unpack and pack your suitcase, make arrangements for any occasion, and ensure your garments are pressed to perfection. Keeping 21st century living in mind, the hotel will soon roll out an eButler chat, where guests can contact their dedicated butler through the Marriott Mobile App at any time of the day.
In a city where space is highly sought after, you'll relish the fact that St. Regis Hong Kong offers some of the biggest rooms we've ever seen in the metropolis. Entry-level rooms, which are currently some of the most expensive in Hong Kong at $780 a night, start at an impressive 50 square metres, with cloud-like king-sized beds dressed in bespoke Frette linen, and automated blinds and curtains. Our premier harbour room also included a circular table, which emphasises Fu's concept of a homely mansion. Our favourite part of the room? The bathroom, and in particular that deep-soaking Claybrook tub.
If you're looking for a true enviable position, book in at one of the St. Regis Hong Kong's suites — tubs in the suites face a floor-to-ceiling glass window overlooking the city's scintillating skyline. The presidential suite, which saw the likes of Crazy Rich Asians' Gemma Chan during the opening, costs approximately $25,000 a night but delights with a massive dining and living area, a kitchen with Smeg appliances, walk-in wardrobe, and a mini gym replete with weights and a yoga mat.
Otherwise, scurry along to the 24-hour fitness centre, where you can engage a personal trainer or follow along to the personalised tutorials on your screen. Or luxuriate in the outdoor pool, which hadn't opened during our stay, but looks to be a rare haven in the middle of Hong Kong's towering skyscrapers.
Travelling with small children? While most esteemed hotels might not cater to the little ones, St. Regis Hong Kong believes otherwise. We had our eight-month-old with us and the hotel ensured a gorgeous crib was prepared, alongside bath toys, disposable bibs, child faucet extenders, and a selection of Mustela bath products. There was even a set of colourful stacking cups for us to take home.
Let's face it, a large part of why you chose to be in Hong Kong is for the food. The land of dim sum and wanton mien has a rich smorgasbord of flavours to cater to people of all nationalities — and the St. Regis Hong Kong and the surrounding Wan Chai area has heaps to boast. Famished? Head down to the hotel's signature Cantonese restaurant, Rùn, helmed by award-winning chef Hung Chi-Kwong. We popped in for lunch and were pleasantly surprised at how spacious the interiors were — despite every table being reserved for taitais and businessmen alike, the vibes at Rùn were tranquil and calm. Call for the char siew and roast pork, where a glistening crisp and melt-in-your-mouth fatty goodness await. Pair it with Rùn's selection of nourishing soups and Cantonese classics for a notable meal.
For a dinner to remember, make a date at Michelin-studded chef Olivier Elzer's L'Envol, which focuses on the heart of French gastronomy. The open kitchen makes it a fascinating experience for those who enjoy a fine show. Mid-afternoon tea is best savoured in The Drawing Room, our place of choice to people-watch (or if you're lucky, celebrity-watch). But if a punchy drink and bar bites are more your thing, The St. Regis Bar features more than 800 wine labels and 100 champagnes. Looking for something quintessentially St. Regis? Order the hotel's version of the Bloody Mary — aptly named Canto Mary — which delivers an intriguing mix of dried tangerine peel, five spice, and Kowloon soy sauce. Take it from us and brace yourself for the fiery notes.
Once you've charged up for the day, we recommend heading out to explore the neighbourhood, for Wan Chai is a taste trek of the best kind. Just a five-minute walk away, Italian stalwart Pirata is located on the 30th floor and serves up the freshest charcuterie and homemade pastas with spectacular vistas to boot. The Butchers' cut and "Liquid" parmesan ravioloni are must-tries. Finish off with Pirata's traditional tiramisu or head over to the famed Omotesando Koffee or Cupping Room for your caffeine fix. Local food lovers, Joy Hing's Roasted Meat and Kam Fung Café will keep you sated — the latter's chicken pies and iced milk teas are utterly delicious. Need it to go for your plane ride home? Time to dial or text your butler to get it for you, because it will be this extravagant gesture that will stick with you for a long time. After all, it is service to the next level that makes the hefty price tag worth it.