SWEET SURPRISE

Written by root. Posted in FEATURES

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Published on July 01, 2016 with No Comments

A Hong Kong sojourn is not complete without a visit to The Peninsula.

Words ANIS RAMLI
Images THE PENINSULA HONG KONG

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What can change with a hotel in five years? Apparently lots. And yet, there remains too some things that never change. As far as stories of hotels go, there could only be one property in all of Hong Kong that truly captures the romance of the Orient. And that’s The Peninsula.

With all its glamour and sumptuous service, it’s easy to forget that the hotel was built in 1928 and had, during World War II, become the headquarters for the Japanese. Today, the hotel will transform any visit to Hong Kong – enveloping the guest in the grandeur of yesteryear yet fully ensconced in next generation intuitive hospitality.

From the moment you arrive, The Peninsula is there to create magic. How else can you describe being whisked away from airport to hotel in one of its signature Brewster Green stretch Rolls Royce Phantoms only to unwind in your room with the sweeping views of the iconic Victoria Harbour in just under an hour?

Although our last visit was five years ago, the staff deftly demonstrated their power of retention, recalling our partiality to halal food and anything chocolate. This allowed us to enjoy some of the best in-room dining options and a special entry pass into the Chocolate Room (more later). A mere mention of their signature strawberry shortcake would soon see the staff running to the Boutique and surprising us with the dessert. At breakfast in the laidback and atmospheric The Verandah, the server – and they were never one of the same – always knew how we preferred our eggs. We’re not sure how this was so, but The Verandah soon became our favourite part of the hotel, thanks to the insanely generous breakfast spread that had the most delicate onsen tamago we’ve ever tasted.

So back to that Chocolate Room.

This latest addition to the hotel, with its colourful glazed mosaic tiles, is a narrow strip in the back kitchen and the epicentre for all of the hotel’s chocolate creations. Off limits to guests, we were given the privilege to enter and meet Maître Chocolatier, Marijn Coertjenshaute, who creates exquisite chocolate butterfly centrepieces and everyday bon bon indulgences (think lemon and basil, caramel with sea salt and heartwarming apple pie). Thankfully, guests can purchase them at the Peninsula Boutique.

The Chocolate Room was not the only thing we adored. The Peninsula has long been known for pioneering the next generation of in-room technology. A recent refurbishment now has at least three nifty tablets in every room that lets you work on everything. From controlling all room functions to calling for in-room dining and whatever else tickles your fancy, it’s the one gadget that rules them all. Oh, and did we mention you can also make free international calls with its wireless VOIP phone? Yes. Perhaps next they could think of video calls – since the views from our room were simply too amazing not to share.

Yet, amid all these refinement, The Peninsula never forgets age-old traditions that have defined them. Case in point: the legendary afternoon tea. Still hosted in the colossal lobby as it had over 80 years ago, the English afternoon tea remains popular for many reasons. There remains the sense of ceremony, with its three-tiered serving plates and silver cutlery. But in true Peninsula style that gives everything a slight edge, don’t be surprised to find the string quartet cheekily strutting a Star Wars musical score.

The hotel takes pride of place at the tip of the Kowloon Peninsula where shopping is just mere steps away. At night, the iconic neon lights of Hong Kong’s busy streets beckon you to explore the narrow pathways and hidden corners where you’ll find the quintessential essence of the island. The scenes in Kowloon may have changed over the years, but where The Peninsula is concerned, service remains unchanged.

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Hong Kong daily.

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