By Kee Foong
Jul 30, 2021
WHEN THE FOUR SEASONS OPENED in Hong Kong 16 years ago, it caused a huge splash. Its swimming pools (there are two) were, and remain, the best in town. Its restaurants have been showered in a constellation of Michelin stars; with eight, it holds the most of any one property in the world today. The hotel’s harborside location, in the heart of the business district and above Hong Kong station, is unbeatable, with in-town airline check-in and a 25-minute train ride to the airport. And yet, the corporate-feeling, East-meets-West rooms never felt quite right, and aged quickly.
So when I learned of an overhaul to the rooms and suites, part of a major property upgrade overseen by hospitality-design specialists Remedios Studios that includes a refreshed lobby and a new flagship bar, I was eager to see it for myself. A third of the hotel’s 399 rooms have been renovated so far, with the remainder expected to be ready in early 2022.
My Grand Harbour View Suite (there is one per floor), occupies a prime corner position, and the views are as stunning as the name suggests, with morning light in the east, the Kowloon skyline and mountains north, and dazzling sunsets to the west.
At 68 square meters, it’s also ample for two, with a flowing residential-style layout that affords space and privacy. A palette of blue, beige, greige and blond wood soothes, rather than surprises, and tastefully curated art and objects add character and texture. Office desks and chairs have been replaced by a table that’s as handy for in-room dining as it is for taking Zoom calls.
Sleep is taken seriously, with the hotel going beyond pillow menus to offer a choice of three toppers – firm, medium, or soft – for the superbly comfy Simmons mattress; you could be doing calisthenics on one side of the bed while your partner lies undisturbed on the other.
Before slumber comes cocktails, and I head to the just-opened Argo, part of the new wave of hotel bars at the vanguard of mixology. Inspired by the myth of Jason and his crew of Argonauts, who went in search of the Golden Fleece aboard the good ship Argo, the design by local firm AB Concept is more soaring temple to spirits than cramped vessel, anchored by a towering glass and chrome display unit.
Adventure appears via the exotic cocktail menu, which launches with six key ingredients – honey, cacao, vanilla, coffee, rice and apple – and gin in almost everything. I punish my liver by sampling a bevy of signature drinks, including a negroni infused with Malaysian cacao, a martini made with the bar’s very own Australian gin, and a flight of three mini gimlets, one using gin created by AI.
The man making me consume all this is Lorenzo Antinori, beverage ambassador for Four Seasons group, who ages ago agreed to develop Argo in the belief it would be six months, instead of the two years it finally took to bring to fruition. It did, however, give Lorenzo time to lift the game at the hotel’s intimate Caprice Bar, securing it a top-10 spot on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list 2021.
Caprice Bar is adjacent to Caprice, the glam three-Michelin-starred French restaurant overseen by Guillaume Galliot. This is fine dining at its unapologetic best, with the chance to strut or sashay the glass floored catwalk to your table dressed to the nines. Guillaume loves butter and cream and isn’t afraid to use it, in knockout dishes such as mash potato and caviar in a pool of champagne sauce, one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten all year.
Then there is Lung King Heen, a beacon of Cantonese cuisine, which has held three Michelin stars since the guide was launched in Hong Kong in 2008. The décor is business-like, but the cooking by Chinese executive chef Chan Yan Tak is exceptional. A plain-sounding superior pottage is in reality next-level chicken soup, while steamed fish with ginger and spring onions could be my desert-island dish.
Lung King Heen (3)
The indulgence continues with a reawakening ritual in the fabulous spa. My Thai therapist, Kate, slathers me in a sea-salt-and-juniper-berry scrub, then applies a spirulina body mask. I feel like I’m being seasoned and marinated, but the entire treatment is so good, especially my oil massage, that I’m dreaming of my return appointment with Kate.
I book in, too, for a private chakra meditation session with spa director and wellness guru Dr. Tania Bardhan. There I am, sitting cross-legged for almost an hour, as she guides me through a series of chants – lam, vam, ram, yam, ham and om – to balance my energy. I quickly discover that it’s not easy elevating my energy ball, and Tania comforts me by saying nobody achieves enlightenment on the first attempt (and sometimes never).
Because of social-distancing rules, swimming pools have become a battleground at luxury hotels around the city. Thankfully, the Four Seasons has a capacious deck, so chances are you will secure a sunbed, even on weekends. Of its two lovely pools, one is used mostly for laps, and the other, which seemingly spills into Victoria Harbour, is a magnet for Instagrammers.
There are minor drawbacks to the hotel: its club lounge offerings have been scaled down while other five-stars are upping theirs; dining on-site is pricey; and renovations mean there is some noise. Once completed however, expect the Four Seasons to be a frontrunner for Hong Kong’s best all-round hotel — although it’s already a favorite as is.
fourseasons.com/hongkong; renovated Deluxe room from HK$3,800, renovated Grand
Harbour View suite from HK$11,500; but check with the hotel for local staycation offers.
All photos courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts