The art of travelling has evolved in recent times. It’s faster to get where you’re going, cheaper if you chose, and the road less travelled is easier to navigate. The “new” age of enlightenment, thanks to the internet, has helped us wanderers make tough choices. And we think we know it all, because every Tom, Dick and wannabe scriptwriter has posted his or her opinion on the internet for us to chew over.
And, as Hong Kong has such a slew of big “chain name” hotels that people love to comment upon, the Upper House could just slip under the radar. And yet, it’s got such a wallet-full of credentials, I doubt it really could. André Fu, Hong Kong’s next generation designer for one, who’s responsible for the outstanding interiors here, and Gray Kunz, Swiss national and NYC-famed chef, who’s behind the wonderful fare at Café Gray, for another.
Contemporary and just easy to be in, few formalities are undertaken here. There’s no lobby and so no standard check-in; it’s all managed in advance and then finalised with an iPad in your suite when you arrive. A true lifestyle hotel, the bar and restaurant are actively frequented by locals as a popular and club-like venue.
Called the “Upper House”, I imagine, because the hotel is perched above another (The JW Marriott), and the Pacific Place shopping mall, rooms begin on the 38th floor of the building. So that’s why “Upper” is there. And “House”, I bet, was chosen because this is more a home than hotel; consider yourself chez vous when you’re in residence. Originally constructed as luxury apartments, the hotel is the perfect place for those who like their privacy and don’t enjoy the conspicuousness that a lobby provides.
There are still some traditional hotel aspects, luckily, since you will enjoy being spoiled when you stay here. There’s a gym, a lounge and library, a mini garden, the very hip Gray’s Bar, and the adjoining restaurant, Café Gray. The only thing lacking, due to space, is a spa and pool, something some travellers might just miss.
It’s rare that a true gem, something revolutionary on the hotel scene and completely “outside the box”, comes along to surprise and delight us jaded voyagers. But the Upper House in Hong Kong’s Admiralty district will do just that.
- Daily breakfast for two
- To be taken in Café Gray Deluxe
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Hotel credit
- US$100 or equivalent to be used during your stay (minimum stay 3 nights)
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Subject to availability
- 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 +
Arriving here is fun. Your car pulls up to a small loading-like area, where there are porters and other staff members (as in a front office person and a manager) waiting to greet you, take your bags and escort you inside to ride a long, steep, tastefully styled escalator up to the sixth floor. From here, you’ll take an elevator (with a beautiful decorative piece inside – so clever) straight to your floor, then room, where you’ll be given your keys and graciously explained the features and highlights. You’ll smile when you see the “maxi” bar, and probably gasp when you see the bathroom (it’s that impressive). Then you’ll be offered a brief tour of the hotel facilities, so you’ll know where you are and where you want to go when you wish to exercise, relax or eat and drink to your heart’s content.
Rooms and suites
I’m so glad I wasn’t here on business, as I probably never would have made it out of bed in the morning. And not because I had over-indulged at the rooftop bar the night before, but rather due to the comfort of this bed. The super-king with a heavenly mattress topper, cloud-like pillows and blackout shades, lulled me into a stupor. Controls next to the bed were smart and easy to use; there was no staggering around looking for a light switch or my phone in the middle of the night. There was absolutely no noise either. No birds chirping outside, no doors slamming in the corridor, no guests banging around next door or above, no nothing. Adding to this nirvana, for me anyway, was the fact that all three rooms in this glorious suite (living, bed and bath) had their own climate control units, meaning each room could be kept at a different ambient temperature. Now this is true luxury.
There are eleven rooms on each floor, categorised simply as Studio 70s, Studio 80s (their sizes), Upper Suites with one bathroom and Penthouses, which have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. All have beautiful, bold views and all have “maxi” bars with the latest Italian coffee machines, a bar set-up for private get togethers, and complimentary drinks and snacks. Each room and suite is large for its category, with ample space to unpack, store goods and stay a while.
In-room technology is superb. Next to the desk is a charging station for every type of plug and a USB connection. Ditto the bed. There are two TVs in the suite. I put on the TV in the living room for background noise at one point, but didn’t stick around to peruse the channels. After all, with the Pacific Place shopping mall just steps away, why would I want to?
The bathrooms, regardless of room category, are the same; prepared to be wowed. Off-white sandstone throughout, they are double rooms with separate WCs and are very large. With twin sinks, a fantastic sound system, REN natural skincare products, and an endless amount of counter space, I was awestruck. So much so, that I took a few photos to remind myself what I want my bathroom to look like when I build my dream house, date TBD.
Up two steps is the bathing room, with spectacular panoramic city views from the floor-to-ceiling windows. A bathtub in the middle of the room is surrounded by comforts and useful items, like oodles of fluffy towels, bath salts, soaps, a loofah, a pumice stone, natural sponges, and the list goes on. In here is also a huge open shower, where the water runs into the linear drains all around. There are the smoothest of electronic shades should you be worried about peeping Toms from buildings yonder, but I was specifically told that the windows cannot be seen through from the outside, except perhaps your silhouette at night.
Everything I could have wanted or needed was at my fingertips. The only thing lacking was a makeup mirror. But I imagine if I had asked for one, it would have been provided.
Forget the food and beverages here for a brief moment, as the views will take your breath away, day or night. Way up on high, they are different than the vistas from other hotels closer to the harbour. Catch the nightly laser show, or fireworks if you’re lucky. I took a newspaper along at breakfast, but never opened it as a) I couldn’t take my hands off the spread, and b) I couldn’t take my eyes off the scenery.
Dinner is a whole other gambit. Chef Kunz, who comes by every two months to oversee the menus and the flow of things at this chic bistro, has blended local ingredients and flavours in the food, with stunning results. A lively bar scene is incorporated into the restaurant, à la NYC, which is fitting considering the chef’s professional origins. Seating is cosy; the space is well managed up here on the 49th floor.
I chatted with the somm before going with a South African red with my dinner. The wine cellar is extensive here, and the staff know their stuff. For food, I decided to let the sous chef, from Helsinki, pick the menu for me which worked out beautifully. Crab bisque in a crab shell, preceded salmon with asparagus and potatoes, followed by lamb with green beans. I did not leave the table without tasting the desserts and petit fours as well. The chef came out at the feast’s end to say hello, which I thought was nice. It’s always a pleasure to end a memorable meal with a chance to thank the person who cooked it.
Spa and wellness
There is a small gym here which is well-equipped with Technogym machines. The panoramic views out the windows will keep you entertained as you tread away, cycle or go for a row. The hotel has some bicycles you can take out for a spin, and they offer complimentary yoga classes on The Lawn, as it’s called, on the 6th floor, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
If you want more, they can organise a visit to the nearby PURE, where drop-in classes are available.
Staff and service
There are 262 employees here, so a 2-1 ratio of staff to rooms, and with only one food and beverage outlet, that is huge. And it shows as service is outstanding. Most employees are local and speak English, although several key personnel members are from overseas, including the above-mentioned sous-chef from Finland. They obviously enjoy working here in this vibrant community, in this wonderful hotel.
Aged between 25 and 55 for the most part, guests here hail from a well-travelled milieu. Celebs, socialites and holiday-makers from all over the globe love the Upper House. This is not a place business people flock to unless they happen to fall into the “style meister” category. Repeat guests abound, as staying here, I am sure, is an addictive experience all around.
I left so early on departure day that no one was awake, except two staff members waiting for me on the ground floor reception area. There was only my restaurant bill from the night before to settle, as everything (except champagne and fine wines) in the elaborate in-room bar is free, including snacks, beer, sodas and waters.
The ride to the airport is about three-quarters of an hour when there’s no traffic, and so the kitchen had prepared me a breakfast-to-go baggie which included, God bless them, a steaming hot cup of coffee, Starbucks style, to enjoy while I sat back and watched the retreating skyline.
How to get there
35 minutes by road transfer from Hong Kong International Airport
117 Rooms & Suites