I developed a love-hate relationship with Hong Kong after spending four action-packed days there last winter. The city is chaotic and crowded and the weather is humid and muggy, but the wealth of restaurants, bars and activities make it a great stopover for travellers with a few days to spare.
The Peninsula – Known as the “Grande Dame of the Far East”, The Peninsula Hong Kong is much more than just a luxury hotel. This iconic establishment is one of the city’s main landmarks, and even those who aren’t staying hope to visit for a photograph or to sample the famous afternoon tea.
The Langham – Centrally located on the Kowloon side of town, this hotel feels particularly grand and luxurious, thanks to the recent 30 million dollar transformation by London firm GA Design. Marvel at the lavish lobby before heading up to your stylish suite. Renowned restaurant, T’ang Court has recently been awarded a third Michelin star.
Caprice – Caprice was opened in the Four Seasons Hong Kong by a team from the prestigious Le Cinq in Paris and quickly received two stars from the Michelin guide. The outstanding service and immaculate French cooking wows and the tables offer panoramic views overlooking the city skyline.
Lung King Heen – With a reputation as the best Chinese cook in the world, Chef Chan Yan Tak has a lot of customers who visit with high expectations. When the Michelin guide arrived in Hong Kong 8 years ago, his restaurant Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons received the ultimate recognition of three stars, an accolade it has retained ever since. Despite the grandeur of its reputation this restaurant has a friendly feel. Chef Tak’s passion for traditional but creative cooking is very much evident throughout the menus, and his dim sum is unbeatable.
Little Bao – The Taiwanese steamed buns known as ‘bao’ seem to be a worldwide craze. Little Bao in Hong Kong is fun eatery run by chef owner May Chow. Save space for the salt ice-cream with caramel sauce dessert bao.
Din Tai Fung – This dumpling institution originated in Taiwan, specialising in xiao long bao (steamed dumplings). There are branches all over Hong Kong satisfying the crowds with comfort food that tastes seriously good.
Po’s Atelier – A pastry mecca found in the Sheung Wan district, Po’s Atelier is a minimalist bakery selling delicious breads and cakes. Pick up a bag of madeleines at the shop, or head to Deadend cafe around the back to relax with a coffee.
22 Ships – Jason Atherton’s Hong Kong outpost is always busy, serving tasty tapas inspired by the flavours and ingredients of China. Don’t miss the roasted suckling pig with pineapple and piquillo peppers.
Yardbird – Yardbird is a modern izakaya that specialises in yakitori dishes of skewered grilled chicken. This neighborhood restaurant has a food menu created by Chef Matt Abergel who aims to use the entire chicken, grilling the different cuts over traditional Binchotan charcoal. My favourites were the Chicken oyster yakitori and the Korean fried cauliflower.
Tim Ho Wan – This no-fuss diner is known as the ‘cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world’. Get cosy amongst the locals and tick off the items on the menu you want to try. We particularly enjoyed the Baked bun with bbq pork and the Steamed shrimp dumplings. There are several branches but only one has a Michelin star.
Lab Made – This ice-cream parlour serves super smooth gelato, made with the freshest ingredients and frozen with liquid nitrogen. Flavours change constantly, I tried sea salt milk with caramel popcorn.
Cupping Room – There are now three branches of this speciality coffee shop in town. The stylish interiors encourage guests to relax and the coffee is flavoursome and delicious.
Coffee Academics – This company is known for sourcing top quality coffee beans from around the world, and consequently is always full with tourists and locals needing their caffeine fix. They also run coffee classes.
Quinary – Often listed as one of the world’s top 50 cocktail bars, the Quinary is a well established bar in Hong Kong’s central district. The mixologists create drinks which seek to engage all five senses, try the thrilling ‘Earl Grey Caviar Martini’.
The Woods – This concept bar specialises in artisan liquors and innovative drinks. The bar is magically decorated with woodland themed objects. We tried a ‘Peach Old Fashioned’ and a ‘Chamomile Bees Knees’ with hints of tea, vanilla, honey and lemon.
To See & Do
Peak Tram – For the best views of Hong Kong join the queue of tourists for a trip up in the Peak Tram. This funicular railway has been running since 1888 and attracts more and more people every year. A return ticket will cost around £9 including a pass to go to the Sky Terrace 428, the highest 360 viewing platform in Hong Kong.
Stanley Market – This enormous market in the quaint village of Stanley, on Hong Kong Island’s south coast, is a huge hit with locals, expats and tourists. Wander the stalls and pick up bargain Chinese souvenirs.
Nail Library – The most stylish nail bar in town, Nail Library is designed to look like a New York loft-style bookshop. There is a huge array of shades and brands to choose from, including Chanel, Christian Louboutin and Dior and the therapists are attentive but friendly while pampering your nails.
Man Mo Temple – Hong Kong’s only Man Mo temple, built in 1847, pays tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and God of War (Mo). It is a magical place, with spiral incense sticks burning on the ceiling and golden urns on the ground. I found the scent is overpowering, but inside it is too beautiful to miss.
Tang Tang Tang Tang – This is the flagship store of Sir David Tang’s newest lifestyle label. If designer items from Shanghai Tang are out of your price-range this is the perfect place to invest in a similar style of luxe Chinese homeware or accessories. I bought a lovely delicate cashmere scarf, with a striking and intricate blue and white pattern.
PMQ – Located in the hip SoHo area, the PMQ (formerly Police Married Quarters) is a creative hub for local designers. Check our fun shops like Haus Collective and Goods of Desire.
GRANA Fitting Room – This store is a wardrobe of essential garments in every colour and material you could ever dream of. GRANA select the world’s best fabrics and then design simple tailored clothing, which you can try on in this ‘fitting room’ before ordering online.
Visual Culture – A super cool optical boutique for glasses addicts. The store was established in 2008 and stocks unique and special frames from designers all over the world.
Lantau Island – From Hong Kong city centre it is easy to reach both beaches and rainforests for a day trip. We spent a day at Lantau island, one of the largest islands in Hong Kong and home to a range of interesting sites. Be brave and take a journey on the ‘Ngong Ping 360’, one of the world’s longest cable car journeys, before visiting the Big Buddha and stunning monastery. If you have time, Tai O is a lovely village to explore, and you may even get a glimpse of the Chinese pink dolphins!