Asian-bound travelers seeking luxury and elegance will ﬁnd few experiences to top the double whammy of Cathay Paciﬁc’s (cathaypacific.com) superlative ﬁrst- or business-class service, combined with a stay in any of the continent’s six Peninsula Hotels.
Cathay Paciﬁc outshines most airlines with efﬁciency and sophistication sensed from the instant one is shown to newly conﬁgured cabin arrangements primarily designed with comfort in mind. This is a welcome relief when anticipating a cross Paciﬁc ﬂight, brightened by knowing that upon arrival, even more luxury awaits at the Peninsula, Asia’s most respected and august hotel brand.
The joys of a stay at the Peninsula are clearly evident in the collection’s oldest hotel, the pedigreed Hong Kong establishment, and in its newest Asian counterpart in Shanghai. Both are world-class hotels that exemplify the luxury and style synonymous with the brand.
Peninsula Hong Kong With a long and storied lineage dating back to 1928, and still maintaining the rigid standards set by its parent company, Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels Ltd., the Peninsula Hong Kong opened to rave reviews from its ﬁrst guests who often arrived after a grueling 3-day journey from the American mainland on PanAm’s legendary China Clippers. After all these decades, it’s managed the near impossible task of keeping its reputation at or near the top of luxury accommodations.
Today, the six Peninsulas in Asia are in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Manila, Beijing, Tokyo and Shanghai. The brand also has a formidable presence in Chicago, New York and Beverly Hills, and another is scheduled to open next year in a historic building near the Champs-Elysees in Paris’16th arrondissement.
But upscale travelers with a fondness for the original and marvelous anchor Hong Kong property—where elegance and luxury go hand-in-hand—are in for a nonpareil experience.
Calling the Peninsula Hong Kong the ultimate urban retreat may not be far off the mark. “We’re not really a boutique hotel,” says Stephanie Sim, director of public relations for the Hong Kong property, “just a rather small hotel company. We don’t expand and we are small on purpose in order to more easily control the quality of our product.”
The property seems custom-made for demanding, upscale guests who frequent not fly-by-night Hong Kong tailors, but someone of the caliber of Sam, the highly-praised master who handcrafts suits for royalty, film stars and presidents from his modest shop on nearby Nathan Road. Yes, the Peninsula Hong Kong wears as well as a handstitched silk suit.
Arrivals with a penchant for history and romance won’t be disappointed. Liveried chauffeurs immediately take charge of luggage handling and other mundane tasks while greeting guests at the airport. In the air-conditioned cocoon of the car, the driver offers a menu so guests can choose a meal to be waiting in the room after checking in. Then it’s time to settle back for the splendid ride to the city in one of the hotel’s fleet of Rolls-Royce Phantoms—beautiful and quiet masterpieces that give credence to the old adage that “in a Rolls-Royce with the windows closed at 70 miles per hour, the only sound one should hear is the ticking of the clock.”
Yes, Rolls-Royces still adhere to the tradition of analog clocks. But it’s the hotel that astounds.
Although those early China Clipper travelers would be surprised that the hotel no longer has the harbor view that made it famous because one of Hong Kong’s manic land reclamation projects blocked the panorama with an ugly convention hall, the Peninsula built a 32-story tower to give guestrooms an even more spectacular view.
The tower added 132 rooms and suites, including the sterling and expensive Marco Polo Suite, a favorite retreat for the rich and famous. In total, the hotel now has 300 rooms. Nightly rates run from approximately $560 dbl for a deluxe room; $650 for a deluxe room with a view and suites begin at around $950 for a superior suite with astounding harbor views.
All guestrooms feature marble bathrooms containing telephone extensions with “hands-free” function, TV and mood lighting; fully stocked, complimentary mini-bars; flat-screen satellite TVs with a selection of 53 local and international channels and video camera replay facilities and many other astonishing amenities.
The rooms are among the most spacious in Hong Kong, generally measuring about 500 sq. ft. Suites are furnished to the very highest standards of luxury in a fresh, classic European style, although subtle Oriental influences are reflected in the rich fabrics which follow a varying theme of deep blue or green, gold and ivory.