Housed in a restored colonial building, The Murray, Hong Kong makes a stylish statement in the hotel scene. Adeline Wong checks in for two nights and shares why the new bolthole is setting the city abuzz.
The Murray Hong Kong makes a bold statement in the hotel scene
If there is one consistent talent Hong Kong exudes in spades, it’s the metropolis’s knack for breathing fresh life into historical landmarks. While glitzy five-star properties continue to enter the market to meet the needs of affluent travellers, it’s not every day you come across a swish hotel housed in a heritage building that has been making the headlines for all the right reasons.
This year’s highly anticipated opening, The Murray, Hong Kong, a Niccolo Hotel, is the one to watch. The site of a 1969 government office building, which was designed by British architect Ron Phillips, has been transformed into a 336-room ritzy hotel. The gargantuan task of turning the iconic building into a luxury accommodation while conserving the façade and Phillips’ sustainable design fell to the responsibility of Lord Norman Foster’s Foster + Partners.
What stands The Murray, Hong Kong in good stead to serve its profile of C-suites and jetsetting sybarites is the location. Sited between Garden Road and Cotton Tree Drive, the 25-storey hotel is smack in the middle of the buzzy Central financial district, yet offers a nature oasis and temporary respite from the surrounding skyscrapers - the green lungs of the nearby Hong Kong Park
The original architectural details of the building have been retained, from the three-storey arches at ground level to the square windows recessed at 45 degrees in each room to filter daylight without getting direct heat. What catches the attention is the driveway beneath the majestic arches; the unique space has already been utilised for many a runway show and cocktail party. Past the private forecourt, I enter into a gilded lobby, which is a distinct contrast to the somewhat nondescript, low-key exterior. It certainly sets the tone for a luxurious stay.
With Hong Kong being the most expensive city in the world to buy a home, an average hotel room tends to feel like Harry Potter’s broom closet. It’s a pleasant surprise to find that more than 75 percent of the rooms at The Murray, Hong Kong are 500 sq m or more. Showing its cachet as a pampering haven are an extensive pillow menu and 1,000-thread-count bed linen among other lovely trappings. What seals the deal is my Cotton Tree Suite, which comes with everything a bathtime aficionado can ask for: a full-on marble decked bathroom with gold trimmings, separate claw foot tub and obsess-worthy Growth Alchemist toiletries.
With a mind-boggling number of restaurants of every culinary creed mushrooming in the city, hotels face serious competition pulling in the crowd with their dining options. The Murray, Hong Kong offers five food and beverage concepts. Murray Lane, a petite 30-seater lobby bar, does the job for those who want a decent nightcap (try the Murray ‘75 concoction of Cinzano 1757, Cassia cordial, lime, grapefruit, orange blossom and Ruinart champagne) without having to brave the crowds to check out another ear-deafening cocktail bar. Garden Lounge offers afternoon teas, all-day dining and a terrace area that faces the park, while The Tai Pan serves well-executed international dishes like Pissaladiere Fine Tart and Black Angus Striploin slathered with herby Cafe de Paris black garlic butter, as well as a selection of pan-asian classics. It speaks much that the Fook Lam Moon group backed one Michelin-starred Guo Fu Lou has relocated from its Wan Chai location to The Murray’s pavilion level, further sealing the hotel’s repute as a noteworthy dining venue for business gatherings.
If my breakfast at Popinjays, the hotel’s all-day dining rooftop dining and bar which opened officially in July, is anything to go by, it will add to the list of F&B hotspots in the city. A long table is laden with fresh bakes and breads, artisanal cheeses and cold cuts. Plus, you get a pick of two à la minute dishes. The à la carte menu, divided into health and wellness, western and eastern categories, allow you to choose anything from indulgent scrambled eggs garnished with oscietra caviar to a generously portioned abalone congee. The panoramic vistas of the harbour and The Peak? I could get used to this view.
Evening facade of The Murray, Hong Kong Popinjays Bar
The ultra-sleek hotel lobby Enjoy the Signature Afternoon Tea at Garden Lounge.