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St. Regis Hong Kong (May 12-14, 2019)

The newest & most luxurious gem in Wanchai

The posting of this hotel review has been delayed by a year, strongly hindered by the frightening political unrest and numerous protests that happened a couple of weeks after our wonderful peaceful Hong Kong vacation in May 2019, followed by the outbreak of Covid-19. I feel sorry that not many international tourists would choose to go to Hong Kong while it was so politically unsafe, as I really think St. Regis deserves a much better recommendation than anybody would have given in the past year, rather than just staycations from the local people.

In mid-May 2019, my husband and I went to Hong Kong from Canada to celebrate my father-in-law’s 90th birthday. Originally, we booked the W Hong Kong to start our vacation, but then St. Regis Hong Kong’s opening reviews were so flattering and inviting that we decided to give it a switch, just 3 weeks before our arrival. As soon as I made the reservation, the St. Regis butler and restaurant teams sent me numerous emails, introducing their teams and asking for my arrival details so they could personalize my stay. I was totally impressed by these little touches and already felt pampered even before we left Canada.

Upon arrival, our lovely butler Lydia (now promoted to be the butler supervisor) greeted us with a huge smile at the entrance of the hotel on the ground floor.

We were so surprised that she was actually waiting for us to arrive by taxi from the airport. As a Marriott Platinum elite member, I was asked before my arrival the room type that I’d like to be upgraded to, so I knew that my harbourview corner room awaited us. Our luggage was taken care of as soon as we stepped out of the taxi and delivered to our room. Check-in was done comfortably in our 500+ sq. ft. Premier Harbour View room on the 22nd floor.

Below was a picture of my room with the beautiful harbor view that I downloaded from the St. Regis website.

In reality, the window facing north was half blocked by a huge TV. If I were the designer, I would move the TV to the corner and have the sitting area and round table right in front of the window to maximize the “harbour view”.

Sorry to have gone side-tracked! Let’s get back to the awesome butler, telling us that she could help us unpack, do ironing, make our drinks, etc. Then she took us downstairs to the “Great Room” (lobby) where the St. Regis Bar and the Chinese restaurant Rùn were located, and showed us another elevator lobby that we had to use to go to the street level.

As soon as I stepped into the Chinese restaurant, I was greeted by name by the restaurant manager, Welly, who has also exchanged many emails with me regarding a dim sum lunch there with my in-laws and my husband’s siblings. She kindly introduced me to the table location by the window, even though it was not the restaurant’s regular opening time.

When we got back to the hotel after some sightseeing, we called the butler for some tea. Then a table of English and Chinese tea with snacks and chocolate-covered fruit appeared in 15 minutes with personalized hand-written welcome notes.

Other than a complimentary room upgrade, Marriott Platinum members also got free breakfast at St. Regis Chinese Restaurant Rùn. Four breakfast choices were offered: Continental, American, Chinese or Healthy, all served with a semi-buffet breakfast. Here is the menu.

On the 1st day we chose the American breakfast.

Then on the 2nd day we had the Chinese breakfast which was a much better choice with a whole abalone in the congee. Other than the congee, there were personal steamers with sticky rice in lotus leaf, siu mai (pork dumpling), ha gau (shrimp dumpling) and a spring roll.

The semi-buffet was sumptuous, with tables spreading all around the restaurant so nowhere would be crowded.

The Chinese Restaurant Rùn offered the best dim-sum lunch experience that we have ever had in Hong Kong. The ingredients were fresh and the presentations were attractive. We were always circled by numerous waiters to check if we needed anything or about the comments of the food. Best of all, they made everything to 6 pieces for the 6 of us so we could all taste the same food and no one had to split the food or have extras. It was a lovely pre-birthday lunch to celebrate my in-law’s 90th birthday.

After breakfast, we were so fortunate to have a hotel tour led by 2 of the hotel personnel so we were able to see different types of hotel rooms and hotel facilities. They showed us a suite that we could have stayed instead of the corner room that we chose, with a much less promising view, though the room size was definitely much bigger.

The sitting area of the suite was very spacious but there was no harbour view, whereas the bedroom had quite a good view. The bathroom was super big with 1 shower stall, one stall for the toilet, and a bath tub on the other side of the mirror. You could see the reflection of the bath tub on the glass panel of the toilet.

This was the grand lobby of the hotel on the 2nd floor,

where the bar with the famous mural was located. 

There was also a beautiful terrace with a moon-shaped gate.

All in all, I highly recommend the St. Regis Hong Kong with its fantastic location, top-notched service and incredible food.

Amazing…Incredible…Spectacular Harbour View Junior Suite of InterContinental Hong Kong

My husband, my adult daughter and myself stayed at InterContinental Hong Kong on Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui for 5 nights from Dec 20 to Dec 25, 2015.

No words could actually describe the WOW factors of our stay. We were treated like royalties from the beginning to the end. Staff members from the front desk, concierge, housekeeping, bell service, business centre, reservations and hotel managers were just unbelievably professional. I am so excited to share my fantastic experience at the InterContinental Hong Kong here in my blog.

Walkway from Salisbury Road to hotel

Pros:
1) Every morning, my family of 3 woke up to a stunning panoramic view of the beautiful Victoria Harbour (so rare & expensive in HK), sometimes sunny, sometimes foggy, sometimes overcast. There’s nothing we could do but to be thankful to God.

Panoramic view from room
Sunset view from room
stunning night view
Beautiful Victoria Harbour

2) Being an InterContinental Ambassador, I accumulated a lot of points & were able to redeem my stay using 50,000 points per night. (I just got an email announcing that starting mid-February in 2016, this hotel needs 60,000 points for each standard room redemption!!) Then I paid HK600 per night to upgrade it to a harbourview deluxe room when I made the booking. When I got to the hotel, they gave me a complimentary upgrade to a harbourview junior suite (Room 716) with a sitting area, walk-in closet, separate toilet & a Jacuzzi. An extra single bed was added for my daughter sleeping in the sitting area beside the single sofa…a perfect spot in terms of privacy…we couldn’t see each other while in bed.

Ultra spacious Harbour View Junior Suite
Bathroom with jacuzzi
Sitting area with an added bed for my daughter
Bedroom area
A glimpse of the Cultural Centre on the right
View of Hong Kong Convention Centre from room

It would be quite unpleasant if I didn’t upgrade the city view room to harbour view as there were still 2 big construction sites on both east & west sides of the hotel. When we were swimming in the pool or enjoying ourselves in the whirlpool, it’s hard to totally relax with the noises and views around us.

Big pool with not so good a view
Smaller infinity pool facing the harbour

3) The hotel offered a free mobile smartphone for us to use with data & WIFI, and it’s the best to bring with us while touring around Hong Kong with all the apps & free unlimited local calls.

4) The location of the hotel is super convenient as it’s close to Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station, with lots of bus routes & Star Ferry nearby. Eateries were everywhere, less than HK$40 for a breakfast with coffee/tea, or highly recommended expensive restaurants on Michelin lists.

Cons:
1) Since we were there on Dec 24, Salisbury Road where the hotel is located was closed to all traffic. It’s only for pedestrians so we had to make a LONG detour to go from Nathan Road back to the hotel. A normal 5-minute walk became a 30-minute one with the crowds & the constant stops as we were not allowed to “CROSS” the road using the intersection. We chose to use the Tsim Sha Tsui East detour as we would like to see more light decorations but we could also use the “U-turn” outside the HK Cultural Centre, but not directly from the Peninsula Hotel as we normally crossed from. Underground exits from the Sheraton Hotel were also blocked so allow more time if you are there on Dec 24, Dec 31 or when Chinese New Year Fireworks are on.

Main roads were closed for pedestrians only

2) There was no airport hotel free shuttle from the airport. A one-way taxi was HK$240. With 3 adults, 3 large suitcases, 3 carry-ons plus 3 backpacks, we could load everything in a taxi sedan with the trunk half-closed. This is the phone number to reserve a taxi van: 8191-1219 for more passengers. Taxi vans were not easy to get at the airport without prior reservations.

3) Not many rooms & suites could accommodate 3 adults. Extra beds need to be reserved in advance. That took up quite some space in the room if staying in a standard one. There was also an added cost for the 3rd adult.

Since both my husband & myself got our IHG Capital One MasterCards linked to our IHG rewards accounts, we were able to get a lot of signing up bonuses. We also put most of our daily expenses on the credit cards to enable us to get free points. Joining the IHG InterContinental Ambassador program also gave us free points and free nights, that’s why we got so many points to redeem for expensive stays at InterContinental hotels in Hong Kong, London (England), Wellington (New Zealand) and Sydney (Australia).

My family stayed in many luxurious hotels when we travel, the InterContinental Hong Kong was by far the best. At least it’s a much better choice than another 5-star hotel that we stayed at after our Asian cruise on the other side of the Victoria Harbour in January 2016. I would totally recommend the InterContinental Hong Kong to everyone.

Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna, Austria

Wow! Wow! Wow! Just 3 Wow’s are simply not enough to show the WOW factors of Hotel Bristol! Its location, its authenticity, and best of all, its hotel personnel are just incredible! We were so blessed to stay there for 2 nights after our Danube River Cruise on Crystal Bach in July 2018.

Unbeatable location opposite the Vienna State Opera

Being an SPG Gold member, I got a free upgrade to the most gorgeous Opera Suite of over 1,000 sq. ft., opposite to the famous Vienna State Opera.

Vienna State Opera at night (photo credit to my photographer husband Brian)

Our suite was Room 475, with a balcony wrapped around the corner suite from the sitting room to the bedroom, providing a stunning panoramic view.

street view from room

We were in the Chinese Suite full of precious antiques and pictures.

Spacious sitting room
entrance area of the room was full of Chinese antiques
free champagne on the coffee table and dining table by the window
Huge bedroom with tons of closet space
Another glimpse of the bedroom
Marble bathroom

We even invited our friends who also stayed at the same hotel to enjoy the complimentary champagne with us. For both nights that we stayed we bought take out to enjoy eating in the sitting room at the round dining table. We also used an HDMI cable to connect to the large flat screen TV to watch our Danube river cruise pictures and videos. 

The concierge was extremely helpful and gave us lots of tips on how to get to various attractions using public transport. They helped us make reservations for the guided tour of the Spanish Riding School, the morning horse show “Piber Meets Vienna”, and confirmed our taxi that we booked in advance. With the red Vienna Card that included public transport, we loved using Bus Route 2A to go from the hotel to most famous sights like the Spanish Riding School, Sisi Museum and the Vienna Ring Tram at Schwedenplatz. Tram D or #71 took us to Upper/Lower Belvedere. Mozart’s statue was only 1 bus stop away. All these bus/tram stops were just right outside the hotel, super duper convenient!

While we were there, we had a fabulous lunch at the restaurant.

A great restaurant with excellent service

For dessert, we thoroughly enjoyed the coffee and delicious apple strudel at Gerstner K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäcker, just a few shops next to the hotel on Kärntner Strasse.

A huge and special thanks to Kathleen S. for showing me around the hotel and shared Hotel Bristol’s history with me.

Beautiful display by the hotel elevator
Authentic staircase

Classic Room #368 is the most basic room in the hotel.

Then we were in Penthouse Suite #663. All rooms on the 6th floor have beautiful terraced views.

The penthouse suite bedroom in the tower building
sitting area with cathedral ceiling

President Suite #174 was absolutely incredible with so many rooms. Guests were also offered free limousine service from the airport.

The entrance
Sitting room of the President Suite
The study of the President Suite
The bedroom of the President Suite
Another bedroom corner of the President Suite leading to the sitting room
Bathroom of the President Suite
Dining room of the President Suite
separate bathroom and toilet in the President Suite
Double sink in the bathroom with tons of towels

Here comes the Grand Deluxe Bristol Suite Room 52.

The Grand Deluxe suite offers a much more modern feel

I would definitely recommend Hotel Bristol to everyone to enjoy this “home away from home” in Europe.

University Arms Hotel, Autograph Collection, Cambridge, England

My husband and I stayed at the University Arms Hotel, Autograph Collection, on a warm sunny day in early Spring 2019. Being a Marriott Platinum Elite member, I used my Suite Night Award to get a complimentary upgrade on top of my free night certificate, so the room cost us nothing but just a very steep parking fee of £30 (equivalent to CA$57) per night.

Check-in was fast and easy. We were greeted by the bell boy/concierge who took care of our luggage immediately after we stopped our rental car in front of the hotel. A few days before arrival I already received an email from the hotel saying that they have reserved the Terrace Suite on the top floor for us. Though we already had some expectations of what the room was like, we were awed by the lay-out and loved the ambience of the super comfortable and well-designed corner suite #907. After the fire, many areas of the hotel were remodelled to keep the authentic look with modern comfort. Kudos to the architect and the designer!

Cornered terraced Suite #907 marked with a red rectangle in the bottom right corner with double balconies
Spacious room with a lobby, a sitting area and a bedroom area

The bell boy from the concierge who was like a butler explained to us all the special room features like the 2 terraces.

The bathroom located in the tower between the 2 terraces
A smaller terrace that overlooked the side street next to Parker’s Piece

A bigger terrace that spans the whole room from the bathroom in the tower to the lobby
Gorgeous view of Parker’s Piece

The bathroom has 7 big and small windows and heated bathroom floor that was controlled by a thermostat behind the bathroom door.

It would take you a while to close all window coverings before taking a bath or a shower.

We were offered complimentary alcoholic drinks like brandy & whisky and the tea/coffee machine with numerous selections.

The suite was so wonderful and relaxing that I just wanted to spend the whole afternoon lying around on the terrace with a glass in my hand, watching the passers-by on Parker’s Piece. However, with just 1 day to spend in Cambridge before attending a wedding on the following day, we had to leave the hotel for some sightseeing and punting on River Cam.

The hotel was so well-located that we felt safe walking around in the area after dinner. There were lots of restaurants and shops on Regent Street.

Beautiful facade at night

The next morning, we enjoyed our complimentary breakfast buffet in the restaurant as there was no club lounge for Platinum members in the hotel. The food was nicely-presented with bread on one table, hot entrees on another table and drinks,
fruit and cold meat/cheese selections on the 3rd table. It was a sumptuous breakfast though they didn’t offer our favourite big and lean English bacon.

Parker’s Tavern where we had breakfast
Plentiful selections of juice, hot items, fruit and cheese
The bread table
cheese, cold items and juice
sausages & bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes and hash browns
beautiful silverware for coffee and tea

Check-out was prompt and valet parking staff were quick and efficient. We would definitely stay at the hotel again if we’re in Cambridge.