You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Upper House’ tag.

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I’ve written about HK before (here and here), but each time I go I manage to discover something new. Sorry, but I won’t stay anywhere other than the Upper House, so you will have to be satisfied knowing that it still is simply the best hotel experience ever. This time I arrived after a 16 hour flight feeling a bit queasy and maybe a bit blue (feeling far away from my daughter). When I arrived at the hotel they told me they heard I was not feeling well (my driver had called ahead) and even though my upgraded room wasn’t ready yet, they wanted to get me into a room immediately so I could rest. Rather than the extra large room I usually take overlooking the Harbour, they temporarily housed me in a large room overlooking the velvet green mountains of the peak. I felt so cozy and happy that I recovered rapidly and decided not to change rooms. Arriving at the Upper House is like arriving home to a family that has missed you. Hand written notes and gifts wrapped in ribbon from the staff are a special touch. Bliss!

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It’s hard not to return to favorite restaurants but Hong Kong always has something new and delicious to try so I make sure to include the best recommendations. On my first night I didn’t want to travel far from the hotel as I was easing my way back into life at ground level, so I tried The Continental in Admiralty. Loved the atmosphere and my perfect sirloin. My favorite meal was a toss up between Chom Chom and Chachawan. I loved the relaxed local street vibe of both and had seriously delicious and inventive food at both. The owner at Chom Chom recommended several dishes that were all perfect, including Vietnamese fried chicken and  grilled corn. At Chachawan, I watched the 26 year old chef prepare their specialty Som Dtum Goong right in front of me. It is a papaya salad dish with tomatoes, chili, prawns or pork and it was five alarm spicy and crazy good.

Hard to believe I have never walked the ‘women’s market’ or the ‘goldfish market’ before. Expect copies of handbags from Chanel, Mulberry and Issey Miyake, as well as hundreds of iPhone cases (including a copy of the Moschino Golden Arches red and gold case), miniature wind up toys, silk dresses, backpacks, hair barrettes, and games like Mahjong. I loved walking the goldfish market and was maybe a little freaked out to see a giant box of very loud crickets as food for some of the fish. I would tell you which fish but my Chinese is limited (AKA nonexistent) and I would show you photos of some of the most unusual fish and sea creatures I’ve ever seen but alas no pics allowed. You will have to go and see for yourself.

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No trip to Hong Kong is complete for me without a trip on the Star Ferry. I love the wood benches and old school vibe as much as the breeze on my face. It’s a relaxed way to visit the other side or see the Harbour lights at night. The Hong Kong Observation Wheel, a giant ferris wheel with individual enclosed gondolas, seems to have just opened offering sweeping views of Central and Kowloon, but I missed it. And I’m afraid of heights, so someone will have to report back on their experience in the comments.

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stephanie-johnson,-hong-kon

I rang in the New Year in Hong Kong, one of my favorite cities.  So culturally different from New York, I know I’m not at home anymore when I arrive at CDG and see the familiar surgical masks that many wear on their face, and I pass through the ‘temperature check’ on route to immigration.  This time I asked my greeter if people wear the masks to prevent disease as I once heard they do not act as a barrier to such.  She confirmed but then surprised me by saying many of the young girls also wear them if they have a pimple outbreak they would rather no one see!  Couple that with all the girls at the mall taking photos of themselves in front of every store window, store ad, logoed wall and random orchid, and I know ‘we are not in Kansas anymore.’

STAY

In order to keep things fresh I decided to stay at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental.  Right out of the gate (literally), they impressed me by having a greeter wait for my arrival on the jetway and efficiently usher me through immigration and baggage claim.  Something else I won’t see back home unless of course I’m Reese Witherspoon.  (Wink, wink as I recently ran into new mom Reese at JFK.)  The service upon arrival was no less exceptional.  The rooms – however well-appointed – felt modest compared to my lofty Upper House experience and left me longing for a view.  After two lovely days I missed my Hong Kong skyline view and dutifully checked into Upper House on the 47th floor.  View?  Check.

stephanie-johnson,-hong-kon

SPA

One thing Upper House lacks is a spa.  This is where The Landmark Mandarin Oriental excels.  I fully spent the afternoon of New Year’s Eve lounging by the indoor pool and reading the new Tom Wolfe.  New Year’s Day was spent having a reflexology treatment and reading in the most sublime relaxation room I’ve ever seen.  Heated stone recliners and ‘massage’ chairs in the whirlpool round out the experience.  Worth the trip and worth the stay if you don’t miss the view.

EAT

Unfortunately I was plagued with stomach issues for the duration of the stay, making a 3 a.m. visit to the hospital for mild dehydration, so I didn’t get to indulge in one of Hong Kong’s best assets:   its food.  I did venture out for a New Year’s Eve dinner to a local Cantonese restaurant, Island Tang, as it was one of the only spots where I didn’t have to order the price fixe menu.  Despite the very ordinary meal of white rice, I loved the art deco ambience and classic feel with servers in white tie.

Stephanie-johnson,-hong-kon

I’ve been dreaming about the breakfast at Cafe Gray at Upper House for the past year.  You can’t beat a homemade ten grain hot cereal with stewed raspberries and a peppermint tea while watching the container tankers and the star ferry cross the harbor from the 49th floor.  Good morning Hong Kong!

Don’t miss Yardbird, a Japanese style Yakitori bar just off the Hollywood Road.  They offer Yakitori from all parts of the chicken so be sure to try the oyster (the juiciest part) and meatball.  The more adventurous among you might like the neck, knee, heart or gizzard.  The cucumber salad is a refreshing delight with miso, pine nuts and sesame.  Homemade salted peanut butter ice cream with orange zest is the only dessert on the menu (um, yes!).  Meet a friend at the bar and enjoy.

DO

I thought I may spend New Year’s Day at Hong Kong Disneyland but alas, my stomach begged me not to.  Next trip.

stephanie-johnson,-hong-kon

 

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