Hong Kong literally means ‘Fragrant Harbor’ in Chinese, which is fitting for an island teeming with glorious food stalls that waft heavenly scents down its streets. Lining these streets are gleaming skyscrapers sitting side-by-side with grand colonial buildings, rattling through them is a tram system more than a century old. Hong Kong is concrete jungle meets real jungle; it is golden beaches, ancient villages, and world-class nightlife. The hotels are internationally renowned too, and the latest luxury property does not disappoint.
Kerry Hotel is a grand 16-story urban resort set on the bustling waterfront of Kowloon, a slice of ‘real life’ in Hong Kong with its wet markets and beer stalls. Natural daylight spills into the marble-laden lobby through a stunning floor-to-ceiling glass façade, a creation of interior designer Andre Fu. The 545 rooms are decorated with eucalyptus timber and glossy lacquered panels, while over 60 percent of them have exceptional views of Victoria Harbor and the Hong Kong Island skyline. There is so much to explore here, but guests will be forgiven for sprawling out on the bed and simply gaping at this view. Another great place to enjoy the vista is from the hotel’s Red Sugar bar, which has a red-bricked interior that harks back to the old Hung Hom Bay that surrounds it. The four Kerry restaurants take inspiration from around the world, but especially fun are the Big Bay Café with its interactive cooking stations and the Dockyard, a nine-kitchen layout serving regional and international dishes. More than 1,000 intriguing and probably quite expensive pieces of art adorn Kerry Hotel, which belongs to the Shangri-La Group. Also memorable are the outdoor heated pool and the impressive spa and sauna.
Outside Kerry Hotel are walkways snaking through gardens and a few steps beyond that Tsim Sha Tsui East shopping district which boats high street retailers, luxury brands, and the famous shopping street Nathan Road. The nearby Whampoa MTR Station nicely connects the hotel to the rest of Hong Kong though visitors have other transport options such as the ferry. On Kowloon’s public pier next to the Star Ferry terminal is the place to watch a nightly lights show which sees the skyline showered in rays of futuristic lights at 8pm. In the daytime take the classic hike up Lion Rock, which stands at 1,600 feet and offers a sweeping view of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. At ground level is the knick-knack labyrinth of Mong Kok, where you can find Ladies’ Market, a one-kilometer stretch of 100 stalls selling—you guessed it—ladies’ garments, along with other clothes and accessories. The night market Temple Street and the Goldfish Market are also worth visiting.
Start your night out in Hong Kong with a 45-minute evening harbor cruise aboard the Aqua Luna, a Chinese junk that slices through the waters to the rhythm of house beats. Guests sit back and sip on cocktails, enjoying the famed skyline from a different angle. The cruise departs from Central Pier 9 or Tsim Sha Tsui Pier 2.
Once it docks, head to Lan Kwai Fong (LKF), a square of streets packed with bars and happy hours that are garish and loud but too well-known not to check out. Within walking distance is another nightlife hotspot, Wan Chai, the old red light district that has sleazy bars and strip joints. Next to LKF is the classier Soho where the food is a little overpriced. But there are plenty of good bars to visit: Wooloomooloo rooftop bar in Wan Chai and the sunset spectacle of TST are among them.
One of the best ways to explore Hong Kong is by grabbing a seat at the front of a tram and just looking at everything that goes by in each neighborhood. Stop off at Sheung Wan for some dim sum from a traditional place outside Western Market, or Dim Sum Square for ease, or Lin Heung for excitement (prepare to battle Cantonese families and chase carts when they leave the kitchen). Bring a pal though, because there are lots of dishes to try. Of course, The Peak Tram is the touristiest, but it is still a good experience. The queue can be extreme so get there as early as you can, and take the Circle Walk while up there to see much of the island. Hike back down to Kennedy Town or Central, or even to the other side, to Aberdeen.