Located in Kowloon Island, not far from but not directly on the waterfront, The Peninsula Hong Kong has spectacular views from many of its rooms, bars and restaurants out over Victoria Harbour towards Central. Those with city views are also nice, if not quite as special. Tsim Sha Tsui, otherwise known as TST, has the highest concentration of hotels in town, and the most restaurants and shops too; there’s never a dull moment around here these days.
But take your mind back to 1974 for a moment, when a scene from the film, The Man With The Golden Gun (and Roger Moore himself), added just one more notch in the belt of historical fame for this hotel. Those old enough to remember, will never forget The Peninsula’s role in the movie, nor the scene when Bond arrived at the hotel entrance after calling out, “Follow the green Rolls Royce!” And today, in the entrance courtyard, sat three (of fourteen) ‘Peninsula green’ Rolls Royce Phantoms the hotel maintains, ready to ferry guests around town or to the airport and back.
Moore, by the way, was the sort of dapper, suave gentleman you’d expect to find sipping a glass of Bolly in the lobby here. Unfortunately, the only types you’ll probably spot today are (nevertheless well-heeled) tourists from the mainland, who queue up for a table at high tea, which starts at 2 PM every day. Guests of the hotel don’t have to wait in line and, for the most part, would probably give the event a miss.
From humble origins comes an absolutely magnificent hotel. Kowloon was considered somewhat downmarket in the early days. In true British fashion, newcomers to the island would be asked, “Are you married, or do you live in Kowloon?”
Times have changed. There’s so much history here for the plucking, and combined with today’s newly renovated rooms and suites which are simply beautiful, and a staff of 900, ready and willing to make your dreams come true, there’s really nothing missing in The Peninsula.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Hotel credit
- US$100 food and beverage or spa credit, not valid for use at Imasa, The Peninsula Academy programmes or The Peninsula Boutique and purchase of spa products
- VIP welcome
- Upgraded welcome in-room amenities
- Complimentary long distance calls
- Using VOIP system
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Flexible check-in and out time 'Peninsula Time' for all guests with 48 hours notice
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
- Detailed Review +
- Facts & Amenities +
Page Boys (the Peninsula was the first hotel in Asia to have them) in traditional uniform, a rare sight in this day and age, are waiting at the doors to welcome you the moment you alight from your car. The entranceway, a hub of activity of people from all over the world, luggage coming and going, fancy cars pulling up and taking off, and memories of all kinds being made, exudes excitement. The sight set the tone for my upcoming stay. Upon entering the lobby, I had to stop and catch my breath. It’s like walking into The Met in NYC for the first time; it’s that impressive and grandiose.
Now used for meals and refreshments, the room is divided by pillars and sculpted columns into two distinct sides from the entranceway. The left and the right of the lobby were, over the years, used for different purposes. Parties for one. And during tea dances held here many moons ago, one side was where married people sat and the other reserved for singletons. As explained to me later on a tour of the property, this arrangement avoided the gentlemen inadvertently asking a married lady to dance. How times have changed.
But back to the moment, luckily for me (because I was awestruck), the doorman took over as I walked in, asked for my passport and organised my luggage with the porters (there were many). Above, in one corner of the room, is a musician’s gallery where a string quartet plays most days, most hours. But I didn’t have time to listen, as I was promptly escorted to my room where check-in formalities were completed. The room’s elaborate features were explained, and some fragrant Chinese tea was sent up moments later.
The Peninsula is a metropolis on its own. With all there is to see and do within the building, including a shopping arcade, nine restaurants and bars, a spa, a pool, a gym, and, and, and…I had to resist the urge to bolt out the door on the heels of the porter. Exploring could wait.
Rooms and suites
Left alone, I kicked off my shoes and when my feet touched the carpet I almost squealed with delight. Soft, plush and bouncy, I never, for the first time in my entire ‘hotel life’, put on slippers; I just couldn’t. So, with carpets that gorgeous, you can imagine the comfort of the beds with their Egyptian cotton sheets and deluxe pillows.
My indulgent stay in a Grand Deluxe Harbour View room (42 m² / 452 ft²) was unforgettable. There’s no other way to say it. From the moment I arrived until the moment I left, I was impressed in so many ways. Starting with the technology, because this is probably the room’s most dynamic physical feature: a whizz’s dream. Everything is digital and LED-touch operated, including room temperatures which could be adjusted at the touch of a finger.
I had no one to call really, but since there was a VOIP phone which allows you to dial up anywhere in the world for free, mobiles and landlines both, I called my son (who didn’t answer).
And underneath the huge TV is a variety of inputs available for watching your personal content on the unit (if the movies and programmes being streamed aren’t enough), or listening to your own tunes through the sound system. Several tablets placed around the room controlled your entire experience, from room switches and devices, to ordering room service, to spa pricing, to restaurant reservations. Offered in eleven languages, change it once and all the room controls switch to that language. Yes, very cool.
Everything else you could possibly need, including light switches, are within reach on either side of the super-king bed, as well as a plethora of universal adaptors and chargers to suit all makes and models. The in-room safe is equally as copious: it’s huge (just in case).
But a simple girl like me who loves a good cup of coffee (or three), in the morning, is always looking to see what java services the room has to offer. And here things looked promising. For the Nespresso machine was a compact office model, a mini Gemini (I looked it up), which, as we all know, makes a much better brew than an ordinary home version. Tea service, too, was something elaborate, as was the rest of the mini bar setup.
The room’s lacquered furnishings are stunning, designed to look like the interior of a yacht or a private jet. There’s ample space for suitcases; two, side by side, which is great for those who hate unpacking. You could get some work done in here if you closed the shades and ignored the sights, as there’s a fax and scanner in the room next to a large desk.
Or, you could just relax in full and have people up for drinks if you wanted to show off your view, as there was a table with two chairs, a chaise longue and another end-of-bed bench, all in leather. But then you would miss Felix’s Bar and the views there, or The Bar, where the leather sofas and speakeasy-style chic are not something you could quickly forget.
There are suites here of varying sizes and configurations, and two that will leave you breathless, but the majority of rooms, starting at 42 m² (452 ft²) and increasing in size all the way to 130 m² (1,422 ft²), are spacious, with a choice of a city or harbour view. The lookout from the rooms and suites with water views are spectacular, well worth the extra cost. Because, thinking back, there are only a few hotel rooms I’ve enjoyed in my life that stand out as having been outstanding, and almost all have had great views: Sydney, Manhattan, Gstaad, Cairo, and now Hong Kong. There’s just so much to see out there.
Marbled high and low, these are beautiful bathrooms, spacious and well laid out. His and her vanities (all bathrooms have two) face one another, with a bath in between. There’s a separate shower in marble with chrome fittings that shone. Mirrors, plugs and fittings were in all the right places and the hairdryer was good. Frette bathrobes in honeycomb weave cotton were comfortable, as were the slippers, which I put on only to step out of the shower.
Of course, the technology in here is ultra-modern too. On one wall of the tub is a TV inlaid in the wall, with electronic controls on the side, ones that I guess don’t get damaged with water and suds all over them.
The WC, in a separate room, has telephone access, a DND button and a DND for the phone as well. What hadn’t they thought of?
Amenities were from Oscar De La Renta, which were nothing special. But the red, Chinese design box of soap, a gift to take home as a souvenir, made up for it.
There are so many dining options here, from French to Chinese and including the only Swiss fondue restaurant in town, that you could never run out of options. The lobby is also a great place to dine, where you can sit back and eat while watching the action unfold around you. It takes all kinds: Asians with selfie sticks, families, movie stars, and businessmen pass through these doors non-stop.
Breakfast, served in The Verandah restaurant, is a buffet style setup and quite elaborate. There are several live cooking stations, including one offering traditional Chinese fare. Japanese specialties, sliced fruits, dim sum, noodles, and more are all there. But be warned, you’ll be told off for coming in here wearing your flip flops. It’s a formal affair.
I had a memorable lunch at the hotel’s one Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant, Spring Moon. Most of the other guests were locals, who obviously relish the fabulous service and food. I went for the set menu, and drank my body weight in tea, Dragon Pearl, served the authentic way, light and delightful, which smelled akin to a bouquet of flowers. The tables were all round, to encourage conviviality, I guess, and the decor of old Chinese teapots was charming. The anticipated dim sum, when it arrived, looked like jewellery with gold leaf on top; it tasted equally precious.
Spa and wellness
There’s of course a beautifully equipped gym on what can only be prime real estate, overlooking the harbour. In both the men’s and the women’s changing rooms are a jacuzzi and a hot tub. You could always skip the workout and just head here, before jogging ten steps to the decadent spa.
Pool and beach
You’ll be sorry if you forget to pack your swimming suit, because this pool, styled like ancient Roman baths, complete with columns and artwork in that genre on the eighth floor, is simply stunning; with views out over the harbour, it’s not a swim you’ll soon forget. There’s a sun terrace attached to enjoy if it’s not too hot, and the gym is one floor down, interconnected by stairs.
Because it’s such a special place, there are tables set up and you can order your breakfast, lunch or dinner to be served here, until 9 pm. The pool is treated with a mixture of bromide and chlorine, so there’s hardly any smell.
Hong Kong is an adult’s holiday destination. The Peninsula will help with childcare, but that’s about it.
That said, I brought my thirteen year-old son along with me on a visit here a few years ago. Since he tagged along in adult style, this was an ideal destination. The museums, markets, food, electronic mega-stores, and non-stop action were just what he was looking for at that age. So bring your teens, just leave the little ones home. This hotel has both the facilities and the energy they will enjoy and remember forever.
Staff and service
Service is elegant and professional here. Many of the staff you’ll never see, of course, but they too are responsible for the visible successes. Several have been employed here all their working lives, most notably, Tony, for the past sixty years. He’s still here, and cherished, behind the scenes now. Felix, the hotel’s acclaimed contemporary restaurant on the 27 floor, features black-and-white portrait images of a particular staff member on the back of each dining chair. To reach this accolade, an employee has to have had tenureship of 30 years or more at the property. It’s a fitting tribute to a team who have made this hotel, hands down, one of the greatest in the world.
It can be hard to determine who’s a guest and who’s not, as the hotel is popular with outside visitors and residents alike. But at breakfast, the majority of people dining were Americans, British and Chinese. There were a few Arabs and Europeans, but as it was summer, it was not the time for them to be holidaying in ‘Honkers’, nor to be here on business.
Check-out was easy. I called downstairs on my way to lunch and settled up later. My luggage was tagged, I imagine, when taken from the room, with a vintage luggage label bearing the hotel’s name and image. When I was ready to go, I was loaded into the Rolls and I tootled away in style, with some salubrious music playing softly from the car’s perfect sound system.
How to get there
35 minutes by road transfer from Hong Kong International Airport
300 Rooms & Suites
Swimming pool (indoor)