FROM STREET FOOD CULTURE TO MICHELIN-STARRED FINE DINING, DESIGNER MALLS TO MARKET SHOPPING;
HONG KONG, ONCE A STOPOVER CITY, IS NOW A CULTURAL, FOOD & SHOPPING MECCA.
Got a long weekend to spare? grab some girlfriends because it’s official ‘sale time’ in the pearl of the orient and here’s how our style + travel contributor, Felicity Bonello suggests you spend your time abroad…
First up, you need flights and Qantas currently have some pretty impressive sales on. At the time of article upload Qantas were advertising Sydney > Hong Kong return economy flights from $703.With your Qantas boarding pass in hand, there’s no better way to top and tail your trip than lounging pre-flight in the incredible comfort of the Qantas First Class Lounge (in Sydney) and the Qantas First/Business Lounge in Hong Kong. Think Taittinger Champagne, the best dumpling soup on offer and impeccable service. Yep, it’s well worth the Qantas Club Membership.
But lets get touristing…
8AM: Brew Bros Coffee: 33 Hillier St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
If you’re a coffee aficionado, head to Brew Bros Coffee for your morning blend. Head Barista and co-owner Hikaru Ono is Japanese and spent years perfecting his trade in Melbourne, which undoubtedly explains the Japanese/Australian fit-out (think natural timber and white). It’s small. It probably fits around 15 people seated at best but Brew Bros is testament to the age-old adage that good things come in small packages. Non-coffee drinkers are encouraged to head here too; the Prana Chai Tea is dang good; and given the beans (and chai) is brought in from Market Lane in Melbourne, well, you can be assured that you’re in for a good start to the morning. These guys are open for breakfast and lunch.
9AM: Victoria Peak
Now you’re caffeinated it’s time to explore. Yes, heading to Victoria Peak (aka The Peak) is a total touristy thing to do but if you’re new to Hong Kong it’s a great place to head to in order to get your bearings; and if you’re a seasoned Hong Kong traveller, well, there’s no denying the incredible panorama on offer at the top. Set behind the lofty harbour skyline on Hong Kong Island, The Peak is the highest point on the island and befits Hong Kong’s most exclusive neighbourhoods. The ultimate vantage point, here you’ll see the development of the Central and Wan Chai Reclamation, Victoria Harbour itself, across to Kowloon, and beyond to the mountainous countryside. To get to the top, take Asia’s oldest funicular, the Peak Tram. It departs from its terminus on Garden Road and will take you (almost vertically) up the hillside. Wear your sneakers; there’s a 3.5km circular walk at the summit and the incomparable vistas are well worth the battle with the July humidity.
11.30AM: Zuma: 5 Queen's Road Central, Central
There’s a good reason why Zuma is one of the most talked about places for brunch in Hong Kong: the food – a buffet of Japanese delicacies – is something to write home about. If you know you’re heading to Hong Kong, make a reservation in advance because the chances of strolling in and getting a table are slim to none; and you don’t want to miss this. Located at the prestigious Landmark in the heart of Central, Zuma serves dishes inspired by Japan’s informal izakaya style. The Bellini’s will flow and the desserts are impossible to resist (and after this meal, you’ll be pleased you took that scenic walk at the Peak earlier today).
2.30PM: The Landmark
As well as serving great fare, The Landmark is the magnum opus when it comes to shopping in Hong Kong. After brunch (and before your foot massage), spoil yourself with a couple of hours in this crème de la crème of Hong Kong shopping spots. You’re sure to run into Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Prada and all the other great covetable labels.
4.30PM: Zen Massage and Foot Reflexology: 6/F Jade Centre, 98 Wellington St, Central
It’s time to hit the mid levels to get your sole weary feet rubbed and kneaded. There are dozens of great places to grab a massage on the island but our gaggle of mates hit Zen and to say it was ‘good’ is an understatement. There are a myriad of massage options ranging from traditional to chic businesses, and although Zen may not be as swanky as other pampering spots, you can be assured of a thoroughly reliable massage at a reasonable price. Oh and the rose tea was a nice treat too.
830PM: Ho Lee Fook: 1 Elgin Street, Central.
If you count Mr. Wong or Ms. G’s on your ‘great places to dine’ list, well, you’re going to love Ho Le Fook. Co-owner, Taiwanese Canadian Jowett Yu, spent years learning his craft in Australia under the tutelage of Japanese chef Tetsuya Wakuda before opening Mr. Wong and Ms. G’s; and three years ago made his first foray in Hong Kong with this gem. Coupled with its cheeky name (which translates from Cantonese as “good fortune for your mouth”), this den-like, speakeasy-like dining room serves seriously (seriously!) good, modernized Canto fare to a mix of locals, expats and foreigners alike. It’s more than just another Chinese restaurant. And you won’t taste another dumpling quite like the ones here.
11PM: The Iron Fairies: 1-13 Hollywood Road, Central.
It’s time for some good old-fashioned revelry at The Iron Fairies. Situated in hip, laidback NOHO, you have to see The Iron Fairies to believe it. Imagine an old world iron foundry filled with over 10000 butterflies on thin copper rods hanging from the roof, 12000 bottles of fairy dust, thousands of iron fairies, a plethora of old rusty tools gathered and strung up right throughout the space, and of course, a bar. Thanks to the resounding sound of an ever-changing roster of jazz and blues acts, well, this place is a total feast for your eyes and ears. It’s relatively new to the area but it’s certainly the place to see and be seen. You’ll dance, you’ll sing, you’ll people watch. It’ll be fun. Oh and the signature drinks are pretty great too.
9AM: Grassroots Pantry: 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
It’s time to gear up for a full day of pounding the pavement, and what better way to do that than to nurture yourself from the inside out. The Grassroots Pantry premise is all about the responsible food sourcing of unprocessed, sustainable and organic ingredients. The space itself has a cool, calm feel about it, and the menu is pretty great too. We’re talking Carrot Walnut French Toast, Lemon Chia Seed Pancakes, Koji Smoked Carrot Crepes, Mexican Baked Eggs and so much more. Eat up! It’s time to get going…
10AM: Stanley Bay
Hit the Stanley Market. It’s hectic, it’s a hustle, but it’s a quintessential part of the Hong Kong experience so put it on your itinerary. Aside from the natural beauty found within this laidback seaside village here, you’ll bag yourself a cashmere bargain and some quality linen at one of the most popular open-air markets in Hong Kong. Set over two streets Stanley Market isn’t especially big but it has a whole lot of character and it’ll only take you an hour or two to get around. Plus, it’s pretty well covered so if you’re there on a hot day you’ll be well and truly sun safe, and if the heavens open, you’ll be protected from a down pour.
12.30PM: Horizon Plaza 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong Island
As befits a city obsessed with shopping, Hong Kong has a number of legitimate sales seasons where you can find copious bargains (July to August being just one of them). If you’re looking to find numerous sales under the one roof, you can’t go past Horizon Plaza. Boasting 28 floors of furniture and fashion factory outlets, you’ll find close to a whole floor devoted to Lane Crawford (think McQueen, Alexander Wang, Victoria Beckham, Proenza Schouler and so much more); as well as dedicated stores such as Chloe, Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs. Do yourself a favour though; grab a directory at reception, head to the top floor and work your way down via the lifts or stairs. Take note: not all lifts stop on each level. Oh and I would recommend shopping solo. Meet your girlfriends for an afternoon coffee later, but trust me, there’s far too many sales racks to wade through for shopping in groups.
Hungry? Head to Pacific Gourmet on the 12th floor for a toasted sandwich on the run. Today’s about shopping. This is literally a refueling pit stop at a great little deli.
4.30PM: With high-rises aplenty, most of the hotels in Hong Kong are equipped with a rooftop pool; and after a day of shopping you’re going to need some lounging time. Order an afternoon aperitif and relax poolside for an hour or two. Because lets face it, even in the midst of a whirlwind weekend away it’s important to make time to relax.
9PM: Hutong 28/F, 1 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
After a day on Hong Kong Island, head to Kowloon for dinner at Hutong. With incredible floor-to-ceiling windows and picture-postcard views of the Hong Kong skyline, prepare to be wowed when you enter this seductive restaurant. Designed with traditional Chinese hutongs in mind (they’re the narrow alleyways that divide Beijing’s courtyard houses), the interior is low lit and moody. But it doesn’t stop with the low wooden doorways, atmospheric lanterns and rustic antique tables and chairs; no, this place is the real deal and the food too is sensational. Word to the wise; with an innovative northern Chinese menu on offer some of the dishes are fiery hot (but oh so good). Need to work off your meal? Catch a cab to the nearby Night Markets and bargain your way through countless fidget spinners and other knick-knacks your little people at home will love.
+ click HERE for Felicity's Fashionista Guide to NYC