By Kee Foong
Jan 25, 2021
OUR NORMALLY JETSETTING WRITERS may be bound in by borders these days, but they’ve amassed enough intel on their home countries to last a lifetime. We asked five T+L contributors in five countries to tell us about the places they’ve been psyched to visit or would like to finally return without the rest of us pesky international tourists getting in the way. Basically, we asked them to think of domestic travel as the silver lining of pandemic prohibitions. (Just don’t tell them we’ll be booking immediately once we can use our passports again.)
Here’s our staycation bucket list for Hong Kong.
Why listen to Kee?
Before COVID-19, and its attendant social-distancing restrictions, Kee Foong’s favorite pastimes included uncovering the best of Hong Kong, be it restaurants, shops and galleries, or sights, attractions and experiences, when he wasn’t flying off for a story. As a food, travel and lifestyle journalist and former editor of the international LUXE City Guides as well as Discovery, Cathay Pacific’s inflight magazine, Kee thought he knew his adopted home of more than 16 years better than most. With his wings clipped however, his eyes have been opened to the city and its dynamic neighborhoods like never before. And while Hong Kong’s amazing network of hiking trails has been a revelation and sanity saver, so is the perfect gin martini, which he can’t wait to enjoy again when bars reopen. Follow Kee on Instagram: @keepicks.
Kee’s 8 picks of Hong Kong:
Hong Kong is home to several top luxury hotel brands – Mandarin Oriental, The Peninsula, Rosewood, Shangri-La and Swire, which owns Upper House. But relative newcomer K11 Artus has something the others don’t. It’s the only waterfront property with a balcony from every room, and while it may not have all the bells and whistles of the big names, being able to sit outside on my own private deck and thrill to the hum of Victoria Harbour is perhaps the greatest luxury of all in these socially distanced times. What’s more, these luxe serviced residences have no minimum stay, so are perfect for staycations or long-term leases.
Spurned by Michelin, adored by World’s and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, my go-to for superb Cantonese cuisine has been championing local, seasonal slow food and forgotten recipes since opening more than a decade ago. Its steamed flower crab with aged Shaoxing wine is a legit Hong Kong icon.
Art on a plate, poetry on the palate, Chef Vicky Lau’s “edible stories” combine Chinese and French ingredients, technique and finesse in boundary-pushing menus that often focus on a single ingredient. Egg, rice, tofu and tea have all featured, with soy sauce the current star.
The gritty industrial neighborhood of Wong Chuk Hang is home to a collection of the city’s best contemporary art galleries, including Axel Vervoordt, Blindspot, de Sarthe, Empty Gallery and Rossi & Rossi.
Dragon’s Back is the best-known of Hong Kong’s many terrific hiking trails, but on weekends it can feel like a conga line. A great alternative is Section 1 of the Wilson Trail, which rewards you with equally stunning sea, mountain and city views. You can either begin at Stanley and huff-and-puff your way up the Twins, with its endless stairs, then cross Violet Hill to finish at Wong Nai Chung Reservoir, or do it in reverse.
We can all do with more inner peace in 2021, and there is no better place to find it than at this immaculate haven of spirituality and serenity. Built as an institute of Buddhist practice and learning, visitors of any denomination (or none at all) are welcome, though advance bookings are essential.
How I long for an afternoon at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s divine spa, starting with a good soak and sizzle in its wet and dry facilities, followed by a drool-inducing massage by top therapist Vali. The city’s spas are temporarily closed, but they will be back, as will I.
Can’t decide if I need a martini or a massage more, so I’ll splurge on both. My pick for cocktails is a hidden annex to three-Michelin-starred Caprice. Not only is it the fanciest cheese-and-wine bar in town, but it also happens to make perfect gin martinis, served in a full-sized glass, unlike the thimbles favored by newer indie joints.
See our other Hometown Hit Lists from T+L insiders across the region: