How do you quickly summarize Hong Kong? Quick answer: you don’t. Roast geese hanging in steamy shop windows, just two streets and an alleyway from the crystal dagger that is the Bank of China Tower. Milk tea and custom suits. Watching the sunrise from the top of Victoria Peak. Street food good enough for a Michelin star and cocktail bars that require a secret password. Hong Kong is a city of serious extremes—and fittingly, home to hotels that represent the pinnacle of luxury. So how do you decide where to stay? Here’s our abridged guide. 

By Jes Ware

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

The flagship of the Mandarin Oriental brand was known as The Mandarin when it opened here in 1963, setting a new standard for refined luxury and becoming the city’s social hub. More than 50 years later, it’s still at the top of its game. The location on Hong Kong Island is exceptionally convenient: in the heart of Central, surrounded by shops and restaurants and next to metro and ferry stations. The 501 rooms have a classic mix of Asian and colonial fabrics and furnishings. Other pluses include a wide range of restaurants (including Pierre Gagnaire), an old school barber, a gorgeous spa and one of our favorite bars—M Bar on the 25th floor. The cocktails are excellent, but they can barely compete with the view of the harbour and the lit-up skyline of Kowloon.

Who it’s best for: Sophisticated hotel enthusiasts and families who appreciate traditional, top-tier hospitality. 

Photo by Peninsula Hong Kong

The Peninsula Hong Kong

Steps from the Kowloon, the Peninsula is pretty much Hong Kong’s OG. Built in 1928, the iconic hotel sits amid the buzz of Tsim Sha Tsui, within an arm’s length of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the art and space museums, the Star Ferry and hundreds of shops. But the liveliness of the streets stays outside: As soon as you pass the hotel’s fleet of Rolls-Royces, you enter a splendid, white marble 1930s affair, with softly played woodwinds and towers of delicate finger sandwiches accompanying afternoon tea. We fully support the recent facelift in the 300 rooms. Gone are the frilly English countryside details, replaced by large expanses of cream edged in chocolate brown. High-tech room controls, thankfully, don’t need a 15-year-old to explain. We can’t omit the Cantonese fare at Spring Moon and the views of the harbor. In a city full of photo ops, the panorama of boats, skyscrapers and mountains from the Roman-inspired pool is hard to beat. 


Who it’s best for: Jet-setters in search of bragging rights; business travelers and shoppers who don’t mind being across the harbor from Central. 

Photo by Island Shangri-La

Island Shangri-La

Surrounded by some of the tallest buildings in the world, the Island Shangri-La seems to have taken note and climbed skyward. The hotel’s 523 (gigantic) rooms are spread over 54 floors of the Pacific Place mall complex, right near Admiralty Station. The ambience leans traditional: staff trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers, lacquered Chinese cabinets, silky fabrics, traditional paintings and a welcome lack of high-tech gizmos. The massive, glittering Austrian and Venetian chandeliers will catch your eye as you enter the soaring lobby, but look up: The Great Motherland of China, a painting on silk, stretches 16 stories. (The glass elevators are the best way to see the whole thing.)


Who it’s best for: Those dazzled by old-world opulence. It’s child-friendly, as all great hotels are, but doesn’t draw a big family crowd.

Photo by Upper House

The Upper House

A sleek hideout 38 stories above the Pacific Place shopping complex, the Upper House is a beautiful, coolly stylish alternative to the city’s grande dames. The minimalist mix of dark stone, bamboo, glass is complemented by seamless, tech-forward service: iPad check-in is quick and the Lexus hybrid house cars come equipped with Wi-Fi. In a dense city with little room to spare, the Upper House has created a magically serene space to escape the buzz and spread out (the smallest of the 117 rooms is 750 square feet). Snag a window seat at Café Gray Deluxe: Light bites from chef Gray Kunz are even tastier with a panoramic, 49th-floor view.


Who it’s best for: Fashion-forward and tech-conscious types.