It takes guts to open a hotel in the middle of a pandemic, when borders are firmly shut and travel—especially within Asia—is more or less at a standstill. But for the team at The Hari Hong Kong, the property was a long time coming, and biting the bullet to open the hotel—pandemic or not—seemed the way to go. Over several months, the hotel—located on the border between Wan Chai and Causeway Bay—rolled out their offerings: first, Italian restaurant Lucciola; then modern Japanese restaurant Zoku; now, the hotel is officially ramping up operations, welcoming guests for sumptuous meals and relaxing staycations. We head in to check out if Hong Kong’s newest hotel is worth all the fuss.
There’s no two ways about it—The Hari Hong Kong is downright gorgeous. Tara Bernerd, who masterminded the original Hari property in London, was recruited to put her design-forward touch to the Hong Kong hotel, and she’s done a heck of a job. Modern, sophisticated design notes abound, and the attention to detail is second to none. Check-in is completed in the elegant lounge, a light-filled space full of light wood, plush sofas, and Moroccan-inspired booths; rich coffee table books by Assouline and Taschen line the shelves, providing intellectual stimulation as well as visual focus. The check-in process itself is relatively quick and painless—within minutes, I’m whisked up to the Chesham Suite which is mine for the night.
There are 210 guest rooms at The Hari Hong Kong, but only three of them are suites. The Chesham Suite is a study in elegant, functional design. The living room features plenty of plush furnishings—including a jewel-toned couch—that feel vaguely 60s-inspired, along with a 55-inch 4K ultra-HD flatscreen, and Bose sound system. The minibar has a premium Nespresso machine and teas, along with sustainably-minded Nordaq water in glass bottles, but surprisingly, nothing else—one wonders if this is a conscious cost-saving measure given the pandemic, or if the minibar won’t really be part of the experience. Did we mention the terrace? A rarity in Hong Kong, each of the three suites here features an elegant terrace with plants, outdoor seating, and sweeping views of Hong Kong’s bustling urban scene. I can attest it’s the perfect spot for a nightcap and morning coffee.
Through sliding doors, the bathroom is a minimalist space designed to deliver a great night’s sleep. From the super king bed, you’ll wake up to city scenes looking out through floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors; behind the bed, the entire wall has been given over to wardrobes and a full-length mirror, so there’s plenty of storage space. On the far side of the room, there’s another massive TV and upholstered bench for storing miscellaneous bits and bobs.
Through another set of sliding doors, the opulent Arabescato marble bathroom makes getting ready for your day (or bed) a delight. There’s a spacious walk-in rainforest shower, separate toilet, standalone soak tub, and plenty of plush white towels and robes. The only issue? Although there’s a massive double vanity, much of it is taken up by the two sinks—there’s nearly no space to put your washbag and personal toiletries down. But, the Dyson hairdryer almost makes up for that.
In all honesty, I spend a good part of my afternoon working from the Chesham suite, ensconced on the couch and nibbling on the welcome amenities (which were rather plentiful), with the news on the TV. The Hari Hong Kong has a well-appointed gym and two restaurants (and the afore-mentioned lounge), but little else for guests to indulge in. Although it’s a sumptuous property in all other regards, this lack of facilities means it’s probably best suited to travelers; while Hong Kong’s staycationers would check-in for the novelty factor, the fact that there’s no pool or spa gives them fewer incentives to come back.
I’d previously dined at Zoku, The Hari Hong Kong’s refined modern Japanese restaurant, so for dinner, I check out Lucciola, the property’s Italian restaurant. The space is rather small—there are probably just 10 tables or so—but, like the rest of the property, very beautifully appointed. My favorite design feature is the floor, a black and white pattern that reminds me of an Escher print, but there are also plenty of mirrors, shades of green, bold light fixtures, and discretely placed Deviolet speakers. Unfortunately, the service was a bit hit-and-miss. After I was seated, I was pointed left alone for at least 10 minutes—no menus, no offer of a drink; once I’d asked for the menu, recommendations were thin on the ground, and the rest of the meal was rushed through—I was in and out in under an hour, and this was with a three-course meal. The prices were another surprise—yes, good restaurants in Hong Kong are expensive, but charging an average of $300-$600 for pasta dish when your average room rate runs between $800 and $1,100 seems somewhat out of proportion. Perhaps this is a factor of the pandemic—and certainly, some will say I’m nitpicking— but it’s something I personally wouldn’t have expected.
Luckily, the food itself fared better. The Scampi al Forno Olio e Limone ($188) features perfectly tender baked scampi drizzled with Amalfi lemon juice and olive oil and is a light, fresh dish to start the meal with. Pasta is, of course, a speciality here, so I choose that as my main. I love a Carbonara, so I opt for La Carbonara ai Ricci di Mare ($328) which features linguini, sea urchin, organic egg, and wild fennel leaf. In all fairness, the dish is good. It’s full of flavor and the pasta is perfectly al dente. But, as a traditionalist, I yearn for a classic Carbonara with that salty egg sauce and plenty of pancetta; the uni is a surprising touch for an Italian restaurant, and I can’t help but feel this is a bit of unnecessary pandering to local tastes. Breakfast, also served at Lucciola, is much equally solid. The flat whites are good (I have two) and the Eggs Benedict is a no-fuss classic composition that hits the spot.
Some Final Thoughts
When putting a hotel together, there are plenty of choices to be made; these choices inform what the hotel ultimately becomes and who it will end up catering to. Pandemic aside, by opting to have two restaurants and a location between two bustling districts—and foregoing a spa and pool—The Hari Hong Kong was skewing towards tourists and business travelers from the get-go. And fair cop if that’s what they intended and just happened to get stuck with staycation business by opening in the mmidst of a pandemic.
On the whole though, if you’re content to luxuriate in a sumptuous guest room and shell out for good food and drinks, then you’ll enjoy a perfectly lovely staycation at The Hari Hong Kong. As a stunningly designed boutique hotel, it’s certainly worth visiting.
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Written by The Loop HK for The Hari Hong Kong.
The author was a guest of The Hari Hong Kong.