By Kee Foong
Jun 17, 2021
MONDAY MORNING, 10 A.M., and I’m in my bathrobe at an 18-seat dining table. Before me, among an artful bloom of hydrangeas, lilies and ferns, is a breakfast spread worthy of a de Heem still-life, so bountiful it could almost feed a dozen. Except there are just two of us.
Flaky viennoiserie, crunchy granola, creamed eggs with brioche soldiers, jamon iberico, prosciutto, cheeses, fresh fruit and juices are just the beginning. As my partner and I prepare to feast, our personal waiter brandishes a bottle of Charles Heidsick champagne and before we know it, twists our arms into having a glass, or three. Then the hot food arrives: steamed dim sum; pancakes with maple syrup; green asparagus with black truffle butter; and poached eggs and smoked salmon under cheerfully yellow hollandaise sauce. Extravagance meets comfort in the privacy of our in-suite dining room.
Less than 24 hours earlier, I had been chauffeur-driven from home to The Upper House to begin my André Fu Suite experience, a celebration of style and indulgence for those privileged enough to stay in the chic new residence named after the architect who originally designed the hotel and recently renovated spaces.
On arrival, I’m welcomed by staff, then whisked up to my 48th-floor suite, nearly 185 square meters of ultra-luxe living and stunning views, whether from shower or chaise longue. While other rooms are studies in monochrome minimalism, Fu’s new namesake abode has been softened with daubs of subtle patterns, color, illustrations, potted plants and Mid-century-influenced curves.
Should you find yourself coveting the rippled-glass lamp and burnished ceramic vases, as I did, the good news is that they can be yours, at a price. In a stroke of clever cross-marketing, most of the furniture, furnishings, tableware and accessories can be purchased from the André Fu Living collection. It ups the ante on hotel souvenirs, though check with staff before taking a rug or mirror with you.
The Upper House doesn’t have a spa, but the suite has its own treatment room for two, with a 90-minute massage included. It’s my first Covid-era massage, but I’m fully vaccinated, my masseuse May is masked, and off we go. She kneads hard and deep, and 18 months of knots only just start to give way, when it ends all too soon. After, May gestures to me and clenches her fists tightly: “Very tense,” she says, stating the painfully obvious.
Between massages, soaks in the bathtub, lavish breakfasts, reading on the sofa or simply gazing out the window, it would be easy not to leave the suite. Salisterra, however, the new Mediterranean restaurant and bar that replaced the former Café Gray Deluxe, beckons one floor above.
Once again, André Fu has been charged with transforming the space, to striking effect, a grand salon and intimate nooks in a swirl of terracotta orange, mud burgundy, mineral blue, dusty turquoise and golden caramel. It’s lighter, airier and more open; perhaps less glam than before, but warmer and more elegant. The views are as impressive as ever.
London-based, Michelin-starred consultant chef Jun Tanaka developed the menu, though travel restrictions mean he has been unable to visit Hong Kong. Instead, he worked with chef de cuisine Chris Czerwinski via video calls to execute approachable, elevated comfort dishes – think vegetables, pasta, seafood and sunny flavors.
Already a hit are hot, cheesy balls of Beaufort and truffle gougeres, and crispy, so-called FOMO potatoes that you really won’t want to miss. Flamed saba mackerel still tastes of the ocean, and Patagonian toothfish cooked in a herb and salt crust flakes apart at the touch of a fork.
Carnivores, fret not, Czerwinski is a dab hand at meat. A chargrilled Dutch veal chop comes beautifully pink, as do grilled New Zealand lamb cutlets. Throwing social niceties to the wind, I grab the bones with my hands and gnaw them clean, then disgrace myself with desserts, leaving no trace of a delectable brillat-savarin cheesecake. Special mention to our waiter Michael, who not only remembered us from our last visit nine months ago but also where we sat, and ensured we wanted for nothing.
Make time for pre- or post-prandial cocktails, or both, in the adjacent green room. Drinks have always been a strong suit at The Upper House under the stewardship of Yvonne Cheung, director of restaurants and a crack sommelier. It’s here that I discover my new favorite martini, made with Barr Hill gin that’s been distilled with honey. Forget mother’s milk, this is mead from heaven and the perfect way to end an evening.
From Norwegian woods to African bush and Antarctic seas, I’ve been lucky to wake up in some spectacular settings. Yet the sight of my home city never fails to thrill, especially when it can be enjoyed without having to get out of bed. With the press of a button, the blackout drapes part, cinema-like, for my very own high-definition, real-world panoramic screening.
Outside, a metropolis in nature’s embrace: cotton-wool clouds drift in slow-mo above the ever-changing Kowloon skyline; ferries and barges churn a trail of foaming water across Victoria Harbour; and the iconic Lion Rock clearly visible among serrated peaks that stretch to mainland China. It’s a meditative, mesmerizing start to the day, and worth rising early for. Checkout is a few hours away, the return BMW is booked, deadlines loom, but first, it’s time to tackle the breakfast to end all in-room breakfasts.
The André Fu Suite experience starts at HK$60,000 per night; thehousecollective.com/en/the-upper-house
All photos courtesy of The Upper House