CLOUD CITY

Written by root. Posted in FEATURES

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Published on September 02, 2016 with No Comments

Hong Kong’s tallest building, the ICC, is also home to the world’s highest Ritz-Carlton and brings pizzazz to the sedate Western Kowloon skyline.

Words EMMA RAMSAY
Images THE RITZ-CARLTON HONG KONG

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In The Empire Strikes Back, there is a scene where Han Solo pilots the Millennium Falcon into an ethereal domed and mushroom-like structure called Cloud City. A single magnificent edifice, Cloud City rises above the clouds, its tall spires disappears into the misty blur that surrounds it.

Checking into the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is akin to that experience. Housed in the International Conference Centre, the island’s tallest building, and occupying the 102nd to 118th floors, the hotel also gets claim to being the world’s tallest.

There is a lot to love about the ICC, and simultaneously, the Ritz-Carlton. It has direct connections to the Hong Kong International Airport (20 minutes) via the Airport Express from Kowloon Station, making airport transfers a breeze when you’re a guest. Elements Mall is a 1-million-square-feet haven for shopping with many of Hong Kong’s flagship stores calling it home here. Among them include Jimmy Choo, Miu Miu, Prada and Valentino.

Perhaps the most enduring aspect of the Ritz-Carlton is its location.

Every room and restaurant offers a vantage point of Hong Kong’s harbour and impressive skyline. Having breakfast at The Lounge and Bar is a study in self-control. Not so much for the veritable spread they have every day – from congee to fresh pastries and fresh juices – but the stunning view it offers. For the first time guest, the walk down the escalators that bring you to the restaurant lobby can be a breathtaking moment. Floor to ceiling windows that curve around part of the lobby allows for natural light to come in, but its picturesque vista – of boats speeding across the harbour and the green outlaying islands – is enough to make you forget you’re in Hong Kong. And for that reason too, the window seats are always popular with guests, so take a number.

The Ritz-Carlton, of course, is not a newcomer to Hong Kong. It first opened in 1993, located then in Central, before closing its doors in 2008. Re-opening three years later at its new location in West Kowloon marks more than just a re-entry into Hong Kong’s hotel property. It is rewriting the script of a property that is embracing the dynamic changes facing Hong Kong.

This can clearly be seen from the décor and interiors. The hotel espouses a modern East-meets-West design throughout. There are paintings by Chinese artists that adorn the lobby, public places and rooms. The vibe is one of funk and sensibility. Rooms are a blend of Orientalist minimalism with contemporary accents; Asian art pieces can be found in some corners while hi-tech in-room amenities make the room modern. And on those days where you just want to lounge in the room, it feels almost surreal to see the clouds swirling outside the window. It really does feel you’re floating sky high in Cloud City.

There is also the new 11-room Ritz-Carlton Spa with luxurious treatments by ESPA. Here again, the hotel plays up on its enviable location, with views of the harbour and beyond greeting guests pre- and post treatment. Here is where many of the local high society ladies look for serenity to escape the madness of the city. Touted as an urban escape in the sky, it is indeed a tranquil getaway for guests and visitors. One of its popular treatments, the lava shell body massage, is an indulgent therapy that combines loosening out the body’s aching muscles with a warm lava stone. It is a great end to any stay in Hong Kong’s sky-high hotel.

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Hong Kong daily.

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