Three black kites rise on vents of air and slowly circle upwards and around the nearby Hong Kong skyscrapers. A little further in the distance a helicopter skims just above the rooftops as it moves in a straight line towards Victoria Harbour. To my right, a steep verdant wall of green rises up to Hong Kong’s highest point Victoria Peak.
Nature at touching distance from the 53rd floor of the Island Shangri-La is one of the many incongruities of Hong Kong. Down below, the labyrinthine Pacific Place mall complex – filled with locals and mainlanders gawking at and buying European luxury labels – snakes under a couple of city blocks while up here in my Horizon Club eyrie the soundtrack is an otherworldly silence. Not even the aircon seems to hum. I’m in a hermetically-sealed bubble of luxury.
Just 25-minutes earlier I arrived at the hotel frazzled as Cathay Pacific had managed to send my luggage to Karachi or somewhere close and I was told it wouldn’t arrive for 36-hours. Considering my stay in Hong Kong was for exactly 36-hours and I was already covered in a light film of aircraft fug and Hong Kong humidity, I wasn’t in my happy place.
Luxury, service and pleasure
Curiously, my mood lifted as I ascended to the Horizon Club’s check-in on level 56 in one of the hotel’s glass elevators. The exquisite, highly detailed artistry of The Great Motherland of China, the world’s largest indoor silk painting rises from a white pebbled indoor garden for 16 floors through the hotel’s atrium. The garden, the art and the welcome immediately start to set the mind at ease as I realised this was a place where luxury, service and pleasure are delicately entwined.
Up in the Horizon Club reception and the check-in was smooth and ever-so warm. I sipped on a Chinese tea as the staff displayed genuine concern for my Karachi-bound luggage. A couple of calls and it’s mysteriously found and only an hour away.
A few minutes later and settled into my richly-furnished room I’m staring out at the black kites and the helicopter. I think how beautifully Hong Kong blends the chaos of a constantly restless city with the beauty of nature. Sure, it has more skyscrapers than any other city in the world and its centre can seem like a concrete maze but its harder edges are softened with so much green. In fact, around 75 per cent of the whole island is still covered in vegetation.
Natural beauty and style
It’s a city wrestling with its natural beauty and the need to stay ahead as a thriving Asian metropolis and loosely autonomous part of China. As for the Island Shangri-La, it remains a paean to style. Built back in 1991 – so not quite as up-to-the-minute stylish as some of Hong Kong’s newer hostelries – the Island Shangri-La stays ahead of the pack with its attention to detail and a real sense of unbridled luxury.
Guestrooms are some of the largest on the Island with my expansive Deluxe Harbour View room measuring a solid 44 square metres including a huge marble bathroom and super-fast wifi.
After a few minutes under the rain shower I’m freshly scrubbed and find my luggage has been delivered so I head to the Horizon Club again for a refreshing beverage and pre-dinner canapé. No detail is missed. Attentive staff hover inconspicuously to ensure every detail is covered while the last light of the day is squeezed out by the night and Hong Kong’s dazzling city lights take over.
Choose your own adventure
Nearby another guest dressed in white reads a hardback novel pulled from the hotel’s library while a mainland family chats excitedly about the day’s luxury purchases. To my left, a couple of gentlemen in dark suits stare out beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows, into the fading light, while ribbing each other about the day’s business and their nighttime plans.
Waiting for my colleague I daydream of billion dollar deals and corporate espionage while slowly sipping a gin and tonic. The night is just beginning and we have plans to enter the hubbub below but all I hanker for is a night lying in my soft, welcoming king-sized bed. Lying there with a glass of wine in my hand, I imagine staring out beyond the room’s widescreen windows into the glimmering city night and creating my own stories. It’s James Bond meets Michael Mann’s Heat – a stylish evening in a global city where any adventure is possible.