Choosing a favorite hotel in Hong Kong can be a bit overwhelming, if not impossible, because the choices are so vast and competition is steep. Few cities offer such a large number of first-rate hotels, and few places can compete with the service that has made the Hong Kong hotel industry legendary. With apologies to the rest, here are my personal favorites.
- Best Historic Hotel: This category has no competition: The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (tel. 866/382-8388 in the U.S, or 852/2920 2888), Hong Kong's oldest hotel, has long been the grand old hotel of Hong Kong. Built in 1928 and boasting the most ornate lobby in Hong Kong, it retains the atmosphere of a colonial past, even down to its restaurants, Gaddi's and the Verandah, both of which have changed little over the decades. Its 1993 tower addition, with high-tech rooms and a trendy rooftop restaurant, only adds to the general aura.
- Best for Business Executives: If work brings you to Central, there's no better location than the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Rd., Central (tel. 800/526-6566 in the U.S., or 852/2522 0111), Central's landmark hotel since 1963. It offers all the services road warriors have come to expect, from Wi-Fi and good work stations in its spacious rooms (some with the extra bonus of harbor views) to facilities that run the gamut from a health club and spa to restaurants good for clinching that business deal. The MTR, Star Ferry, and express train to the airport are just minutes from the hotel's front door, and for busy executives looking for a convenient place to chill, Chater Garden is just across Statue Square.
- Best for IT Junkies: New in 2009, the Mira Hong Kong, 118-130 Nathan Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui (tel. 852/2368 1111), boasts the most high-tech rooms in town with 40-inch, wall-mounted TVs that double as computers, allowing you to go online or stream Internet radio. You can also use your own stuff, plugging your iPod to the Bose dock or using the hotel's Wi-Fi with your laptop for free. There are even mobile phones in your room you can take with you anywhere in Hong Kong. An engaging, knowledgeable staff makes sure you stay connected not only with the world at large, but with the world right outside hotel doors.
- Best Trendy Hotel: Design guru Philippe Starck is the mastermind behind JIA Hong Kong, 1-5 Irving St., Causeway Bay (tel. 852/3196 9000), a 57-room boutique hotel featuring whimsical furniture in its lobby but minimalist, high-tech decor and gadgetry in its guest rooms. A slew of freebies (continental breakfast and evening cocktails); rooms divided into distinct living, dining, and working areas complete with kitchens; and access to a couple of Hong Kong's hottest clubs make this a shoo-in for fashion-conscious travelers ready to burrow in.
- Best Budget Hotel: The overwhelming number-one choice in this category has long been the Salisbury YMCA, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (tel. 852/2268 7000), with a fantastic location right next to the prestigious (and very expensive) Peninsula and just a short walk from the Star Ferry. Rooms are simple but offer virtually everything (from satellite TVs to Wi-Fi and coffeemakers); some even have stunning harbor views. Throw in two inexpensive restaurants, a health club, and laundry facilities, and you have more than enough to satisfy budget-minded vacationers who don't want to sacrifice location or convenience.
- Best for Long Stays: Travelers who can score accommodations at Ice House, 38 Ice House St., Central (tel. 852/2836 7333), might find themselves wishing they could stay even longer due to its convenient location in Central near Lan Kwai Fong, smart-looking rooms with kitchenettes, and competitive prices. There's no gym, but you'll get plenty of exercise walking to its uphill location.
- Best Health Club: Most of Hong Kong's deluxe hotels boast state-of-the-art health clubs, but what I like most about the club at the InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui (tel. 800/327-0200 in the U.S., or 852/2721 1211), is that it's open 24 hours a day, so you can work out when it fits your schedule. You can also relax in the outdoor, filled-to-the-brim horizonless Jacuzzi that gives the illusion of flowing into the harbor, and a state-of-the-art spa that observes architectural rules for feng shui and specializes in jet-lag relief and Oriental treatments. And to top it off, this hotel even offers free tai chi and yoga classes for its guests.
- Best Hotel Pool: The Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Rd., Wan Chai (tel. 800/233-1234 in the U.S., or 852/2588 1234), and Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Rd., Wan Chai (tel. 800/228-9290 in the U.S., or 852/2802 8888), share one of Hong Kong's largest outdoor pools, surrounded by a lush, landscaped garden and with views of the harbor.
- Best Spa: Spas are big business in Hong Kong, with many of the city's top hotels now offering a myriad of spa treatments. The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance St., Central (tel. 800/819-5053 in the U.S., or 852/3196 8888), exceeds the rest with treatments that begin with hydrotherapy -- including a Finnish sauna, an amethyst crystal steam room with mother-of-pearl-covered seating, a fountain that rains crushed ice flakes, and hot tubs -- and continue in one of 18 treatment rooms. For the ultimate splurge, spring for one of the VIP suites, where after your massage you'll retire to your own jet bath overlooking the harbor. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get any better than this.
- Best Views: Most of Hong Kong's deluxe hotels boast harbor views, making this category the most competitive. However, in my opinion, the best harbor views are from the Kowloon side, where you can feast your eyes not only on the boats plying the water but also on Hong Kong Island with its stunning architecture, Victoria Peak, and, at night, the shimmering of neon lights and laser-light extravaganza of Hong Kong's nightly "Symphony of Lights." And no Tsim Sha Tsui hotel is as close to the water as the InterContinental Hong Kong, built right over the harbor; as many as 70% of its rooms command sweeping views of the water and boast floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows, making the most of one of the world's most breathtaking city views.
- Best for Art Lovers: The Island Shangri-La Hong Kong, Pacific Place, Central (tel. 800/565-5050 in the U.S., or 852/2877 3838), is a gorgeous hotel with more than 700 Viennese chandeliers, lush Tai Ping carpets, flower arrangements, and more than 700 paintings and artworks. But the clincher is the 16-story-high Chinese painting in the hotel atrium, drawn by 40 artists from Beijing and believed to be the largest landscape painting in the world.
- Best for Expat Wannabes: Mid-Levels has long been a favorite residential area for expats living and working in Hong Kong. Bishop Lei International House, 4 Robinson Rd., Mid-Levels (tel. 852/2868 0828), is located about halfway up Victoria Peak, with great views from its smallish rooms. Nearby, ethnic restaurants and neighborhood bars abound, but for a real taste of Mid-Levels living, travel the escalator that local residents use to get to and from their jobs in Central.
A Romantic Getaway -- If you're planning a romantic getaway, go to Macau, where the Westin Resort Macau, Estrada de Hac Sa on Colôane Island (tel. 800/WESTIN-1 [800/937-8461]), has the perfect and most idyllic setting with large rooms (each with private terrace) overlooking the sea, landscaped grounds, indoor and outdoor pools, an 18-hole golf course, spa, and a nearby beach for moonlit walks.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.