St. Regis in Wan Chai is a celebration of old Hong Kong

The only five-star hotel that has opened in the last decade in Wan Chai, The St. Regis Hong Kong is a significant addition to one of Hong Kong’s oldest districts. It weaves itself into the fabric of a heritage neighbourhood undergoing regeneration. The old police station, Bauhaus-style market, traditional pawnshops, convention centre where the 1997 handover ceremony was held, and a salmon pink Mormon church provide the backdrop for the gleaming 27-storey building to stand out, a shiny new kid on the block testifying to the area’s up-and-coming status.

It’s the area’s sights and sounds, spaces and places, blended with designer Andre Fu’s personal memories of growing up in Hong Kong, that provided the inspiration behind the hotel’s look and feel.

While marking the luxury brand’s debut in the city, The St. Regis Hong Kong also draws on its roots of having been built in 1904 in New York by John Jacob Astor IV.

With the idea of a turn-of-the century Manhattan mansion in mind, much like how the original St. Regis hotel was the ideal locale for the founding family to host their high society parties, Fu infused into his design the more intimate feel of a residence, while playing up the grandeur and glamour associated with New York’s golden age.

  • St. Regis Hong Kong-01

    The hotel represents renewal in an old district.

At your service

The experience of a luxurious residence would not be complete without butlers – a hallmark of the St. Regis brand. Service is paramount, and here butlers are on standby round the clock.

Upon arrival, I am escorted to my room where check-in begins in the comfort and privacy of a well appointed harbour-view chamber. My butler, after noting my morning paper preferences and making of cappuccino at the bar, briefs me on the e-Butler system that lets guests contact a butler anytime through text message or the Marriott Mobile app. Making dinner reservations or ordering a taxi cannot be easier.

Whether it’s having one’s garments pressed before an event, a soothing bath drawn before bedtime, or a suitcase packed before departure, the extra attention is an intangible, yet definitive constituent that elevates the experience. Sometimes, more is just more. hong kong spin Every St. Regis hotel has its own spin on the classic Bloody Mary, which was invented at The St. Regis New York. Here, the Canto Mary is queen.

The spicy concoction is made using ingredients common to Cantonese cuisine – dried tangerine peel, five spice and Kowloon soy sauce. Sip this at the St. Regis Bar, just beside the Drawing room, which has the cosy ambience of a private club. The bar’s centrepiece, a striking hand-painted mural by Beijing artist Zhang Gong, depicts many of Hong Kong’s icons such as old Wan Chai, the Hong Kong Star Ferry and Victoria Harbour; the city’s topography; as well as colourful street scenes. It contains a secret message that the bartender can share, but perhaps more poignant in these chaotic times, a nostalgic view of Hong Kong.

(Related: Sturia Caviar and Krug for One Night Only at The St. Regis Singapore)

 

Fusion of ideas

The idea born from blending elements of both New York and Hong Kong is of modern glamour. Setting the tone for the hotel, imposing bronze panelled double doors lead from the porte-cochere into a lofty stone-clad vestibule. Take the elevator up to the second floor, the major public area comprising the Great Room, Drawing Room, St. Regis Bar and terrace, and you’ll find the sense of drama continues.

The 8m-high ceiling and expansive wraparound windows create the perception of grand spaciousness. On one side of the Great Room, a visually arresting marble fireplace framed by bespoke furniture defines the lounge area. Opposite, a two-tiered chandelier called The Skyline, specially designed by Fu and made by renowned glass brand Lasvit, provides visual balance to a pair of concierge desks and helps to round out the room’s proportions.

Fu’s injection of Hong Kong heritage is subtly noticeable in the interiors. In the public spaces, there are light fixtures inspired by 19th century gas lamps (such as those on Duddell Street), which give a gentle glow.

Creating depth and layers in the open spaces are full-height geometric bronze screens evocative of the old window frames from colonial times. Referencing the shutters of old shops, lacquered panels are seen throughout the hotel in varied designs, while fluted accents in the built-in structures and furniture resemble grooves of the classical-style columns of the old police station.

In so many ways, the play of opposites is evident in The St. Regis Hong Kong. The idea of East meets West, preservation of old world elements while keeping with modern times, and juxtaposition of classic and contemporary make for a stunning, balanced whole that stimulates the senses.

(Related: Chinese contemporary art: M+ in Hong Kong will hold the world’s most comprehensive collection)

Inside word

Dorothy Patai, chief butler at The St. Regis Hong Kong shares her go-to places.

St. Regis Hong Kong Dorothy Patai, chief butler

Dorothy Patai, chief butler of St. Regis Hong Kong.

01 The public cargo pier of Sai Wan Swimming Shed has been dubbed the Instagram Pier. It’s a remote wooden pier out in the waters that has proved popular with the Instagram generation.

02 Visit local tailor W.W. Chan & Sons in Central for a perfect suit. Since 1952, W.W. Chan has served an exclusive group of elegant gentlemen in Hong Kong, many of whom have become a cherished part of the Chan family’s tailoring legacy.

03 Dragon Gown is a good Chinese restaurant that is about five minutes’ walk away. Try the X.O. sauce rice dumplings, crispy rice with shrimp in lobster soup, and dim sum such as steamed minced pork dumplings with whole abalone.

(Related: Langkawi Goes Luxe with new St. Regis hotel)

 

This article is originally published on The Peak Singapore.

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