ACU BIEN TRAVELS: Hong Kong - Where The Magic Happens

Gus Franklyn-Bute Editor-in-Chief

HONG KONG was a ‘thumbs down’ for Matthew Rhys, the brooding The Edge of Love  actor for failing to find ‘an oasis of calm’ in this compelling city – Rhys recently picked his top hotels around the world. (Conde Nast Traveller, Jan 2014).

Lanson Place Hotel Hong Kong Prestige Suite_Bedroom

Lanson Place Hotel, Hong Kong | Prestige Suite Bedroom

Hong Kong consumers are celebrated for their conspicuous consumption, and luxury lifestyle houses and hotels alike are unabashed as they blaze their brand’s label in gargantuan lettering and towering neon signs across this vertical city’s chameleon skyline.  Finding tranquillity in Hong Kong often means trading in ‘convenience’ for an ‘off the beaten track’ locality and until recently, I may have been inclined to agree with Matthew Rhys.  In searching for ‘Where The Magic Happens#WTMH in Hong Kong, I discovered Lanson Place Hotel and my own quantum of calm.  The award winning 194 room boutique hotel, a member of ‘Small Luxury Hotels of the World’, is genuinely one of Hong Kong’s best kept secrets… no clichés.

Lanson Place Hotel, which added 6 new luxury penthouse suites in 2013, is at once a stylish haven, replete with sophistication and a modern classical charm. The hotel nestles discretely in a quiet nook in the Causeway Bay district on Hong Kong Island – undoubtedly the busiest shopping and entertainment destination in Asia’s World City – and is incredibly accessible with the closest MTR station only 3 minutes away.

Lanson Place Hotel Hong Kong_Exterior2

Lanson Place Hotel, Hong Kong | 133 Leighton Road

One may forgive Matthew Rhys and his entourage on this occasion for not finding this delightful Hong Kong sanctuary – even my local friends familiar with Causeway Bay and the Eastern quarter of Hong Kong Island required, at minimum, its 133 Leighton Road address to conjure the hotel’s precise location.  So utterly successful is Lanson Place in delivering an on-point quality service, fashioned around an air of discretion, I too had passed this elegant hotel on numerous occasions, oblivious of the character that lay beyond the classical façade of this hidden treasure.

Lanson Place Hotel Hong Kong_Conciege

Lanson Place Hotel, Hong Kong | Conciege

You are met at the door of the quiet ground floor lobby, relieved of your luggage and smoothly chaperoned to the Reception one level above.  Beyond the Concierge, the ground room unfolds into a light and spacious covered ‘courtyard’ where guests and friends are at liberty to unwind as the world outside orbit by around Causeway Bay.  Residents may recline on the first floor private lounge and cocktail bar or library, before ascending to their luxurious pied-à-terre.

Each apartment is adeptly designed to maximise space and accommodate the standard amenities that include kitchenette and separate seating-working area.  There is a fluency in the halcyonian design of each room as the neutral decor interplay with jovial, soft furnishings in the hotel’s mode of chic and understated aesthetics.  With state of the art equipment throughout, including the business services facilities, Lanson Place is stylishly fashioned around the practical needs and lifestyle demands of the discerning traveller.  The self-service laundry facilities, DVD movie library and 24 hour exercise room add a sense of convenience and homely living for any business or leisure visitor to Hong Kong.

Lanson Place Hotel Hong Kong | Penthouse Suite Bathroom

Lanson Place Hotel, Hong Kong | Penthouse Suite Bathroom

Causeway Bay, affectionately “CWB”, was once a thriving fishing community and the location of a shelter for vessels during typhoon season. Fast forward 150+ years, tack on urban redevelopment, land reclamation and a soupçon of Hong Kong chi and you will have arrived at an area transformed into a premiere leisure and shopping destination that commands the most expensive retail rents in the world – surpassing Fifth Avenue, New York, Paris’ Avenue des Champs-Élysées and London’s New Bond Street.

Lanson Place’s proximinity affords immediate access to what may be described as one of the most dynamic milieu in Asia.  To heed the rare disenting voices of out-of-towners who suggest Causeway Bay is only a tourist trap, would be to ignore the real evidence of millions of locals, Mainland Chinese and international business and leisure visitors who descend on the area in increasing numbers, year on year.  They arrive to indulge in “A Genuine Hong Kong Experience” of shopping, dining and entertainment around a cluster of malls and markets.  The most favoured are Lee Gardens, Times Square, Hysan Place, Fashion Walk and the 13-storey Japanese department store SOGO.  Smaller plazas like the World Trade Centre, Windsor House and Hang Lung Centre are also thriving.

Hong Kong Junk | Victoria Harbour

Hong Kong Junk | Victoria Harbour

For the uninitated, Hong Kong is more than a dynamic business destination of towering skyscrapers and a backdrop for high-octane movies.  Some 70 per cent of the land is countryside – country parks, wetlands, and a geopark – and even beautiful beaches.  The city is a cultural and leisure smorgasbord, and Causeway Bay a perfect microcosm of its defining features – there is something for everyone, but it is not for the fainthearted.

In the quest to discover ‘Where The Magic Happens‘ #WTMH in Hong Kong going off-piste genuienly unearths a treasure trove of intriguing experiences.  ACU|BIEN recommends 3 magical gems around Causeway Bay, each within walking distance to your tranquil based at Lanson Park Hotel when one is ready to return to recoup, refresh and relax:

Haven Street/Caroline Hill Community

Hola Classics | Haven Street, CWB

Hola Classics | Haven Street

A heartbeat away from Lanson Place is the Haven Street and Caroline Hill Community, an intersection of ‘boojie cafes, eateries, noodle shops, galleries, mechanics, and trendy nicknack stores, all nicely tucked away around the once deserted Lei Shun Court mall (entrance at Haven Street).  This neighbourhood is emerging into a trendy destination as more shops spring up. Haven Street/Caroline Hill Community is worth a visit to savour that magical charm one encounters in Hong Kong when traditional low-rise buildings and neighbourhoods reflect their nostalgia and heritage as they juxtapose against the city’s gleaming, spotless architecture.  More from CNN Travel here:


Tai Hang neighbourhood – Modern Renaissance

Lin Fa Temple | Tai Hang

Lin Fa Kung Temple | Tai Hang

Tai Hang is a local neighbourhood southeast of Causeway Bay undergoing a renaissance. Once predicted to be the next SoHo, new restaurants and patisseries are popping up and affluent homes now snake the Tai Hang Road up into the hillside. Tai Hang‘s magic is the blend of local meets expat, tradition meets modern and mom-and-pop store meets boutique. Tai Hang’s origins are traced to its days as a fishing village, throng with narrow streets that offer a relaxed Hong Kong pace of life – a welcome alternative to frenetic Time Square in the heart of CWB.  The encrouching gentrification is an opportunity for visitors to experience Hong Kong in perpetual change, and observe the past, present and future. More info from CNN Travel here:

Alfresco Dining – Food Street at Fashion Walk

Food Street on Fashion Walk | CWB

Food Street on Fashion Walk | CWB

There are few afresco dining clusters in Hong Kong. For casual dining, Food Street at Fashion Walk is a great option on a warm Hong Kong evening, after a shopping expedition around CWB.  Food Street hosts a selection of around 20 delicious cuisines that include Shanghainese, Japanese, Thai, Italian, French and Spanish specialties, including a Hong Kong tea house. If you love to relax over dinner and drinks with friends and family and watch the world rush by, and be in walking distance to your Lanson Place Hotel retreat, Food Street is a worthy consideration. More here: