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.

Epicure - - CONTENTS -

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.

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