The Last Aeroplan Hurrah: Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

Introduction
United Global First Lounge San Francisco
Lufthansa First Class San Francisco to Munich
Le Meridien Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich, Swiss Business Class Munich to Zurich
Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich, Swiss First Class Zurich to Bangkok
St. Regis Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
Exploring Hong Kong
United Club Hong Kong and Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon
Hyatt Regency Incheon Airport
Asiana First Class Lounge Seoul Incheon
Asiana First Class Seoul Incheon to Frankfurt
Sheraton Frankfurt Airport
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt, Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Seattle
Four Seasons Seattle


Lately I’ve adopted a bad habit whereby I only get around to booking hotels for my trips within a few weeks of departure. Even though I had this trip planned ten months in advance, it was mid-February before I started looking at hotels in Hong Kong, and they were all outrageously priced. Little did I realize our stay coincided with some rugby matches, so just about everything in Hong Kong was booked out.

Furthermore, I do have to admit I’ve been dying to try out the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, which is the tallest hotel in the world. It occupies the 102 through 118 floors of the new International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong, and opened less than a year ago. Furthermore, I stayed at the Park Hyatt Shanghai in January, which is the second tallest hotel in the world, so I just had to see what difference a dozen floors makes. ;)

So given that all hotels in Hong Kong were outrageously priced, this turned out to be a good opportunity to try the Ritz Carlton, since comparatively it wasn’t that much more. In the end we paid a rate of about $650 per night for two nights for a harbor view club room. Yes, totally out of my budget, but when you’re splitting costs it comes down to $325 per person per night. Still out of my normal budget, but you only live once and it was only for two nights. I tend to believe that in life you regret what you didn’t do more than you regret what you did do.


Hotel exterior

Anyway, we took a cab from the airport, which cost about $35USD and took about 30 minutes, and at shortly after 8:30PM pulled up to the hotel. As we pulled up several bellman took our bags for us, and one of the agents welcomed us and asked us for our names. We were directed towards the elevator, which we took to the lobby on the 103rd floor. It’s apparently the fastest elevator in Asia, and takes about a minute to get to the top.


View of Hong Kong from hotel entrance

In the lobby we were directed to check-in, which consisted of a single long desk (as opposed to the Park Hyatt Tokyo or St. Regis Bangkok which have individual tables with chairs), though once they saw we were in a club room they escorted us to the club lounge for check-in, which is located on the 116th floor.


Lobby


Lobby


Ritz Carlton Club entrance

Once in the club we were asked for our passports, which I presented along with a credit card. We were invited to enjoy the lounge as they processed check-in, where we were offered a couple of glasses of champagne. They also had the dessert spread out, so I sampled a bit of everything.

I had always been curious to try a Ritz Carlton Club for the service given how they’re known for their six servings a day, though my first positive impression was that the club was huge and beautifully decorated.


Ritz Carlton Club


Ritz Carlton Club

Unfortunately in the evening it was foggy outside, so the views were non-existent.


Views (or lack thereof)

We were explained the amenities of the hotel as well as the club lounge, which has the following schedule:

Breakfast 6:30am-10:30am
Light snacks 11:30am-2:00pm
Afternoon tea 3:00pm-5:00pm
Hors d’oeuvres 5:30pm-7:30pm
Dessert 8:30pm-10:30pm
Light night snacks 11:00pm-6:00am

After hanging out in the club lounge for a bit we were escorted to our room, which was on the 113 floor, room 11318.

The hotel has two sets of elevators — one which goes from the ground floor to both the lobby and Ozone Bar, and one which goes between the floors of the hotel. We took the latter elevator down to the 113th floor.


Elevators


Hallways


Our room


Hotel floor plan

While our room was a standard room (though with a harbor view), I thought it was spacious and beautifully decorated. At the entrance was a hallway leading into the bedroom.


Hallway

The room featured a very soft bed, chair with ottoman, and desk, all of which faced a flat screen TV.


Harbor View Room


Harbor View Room


Harbor View Room

Since we arrived late, turndown service was already complete, which consisted of a bottle of Ritz Carlton branded water and a box of pralines.


Harbor View Room

There was also a welcome amenity consisting of cheese and crackers, as well as a bowl of fruit.


Welcome cheese plate


Welcome fruit plate

The room also featured a Nespresso machine as well as minibar.


Nespresso machine


Minibar

While the views weren’t great upon our arrival, they were stunning the following day. You really can’t beat having a view of both Hong Kong Island and Kowloon from the same room. but then again, I guess that’s the beauty of basically having an aerial view.


View from our room

The bathroom was also well designed, with double sinks, a tub, and a separate dual-head shower.


Bathroom


Sinks

I especially loved the fact that the tub had a TV built in along with what appeared to be a waterproof remote control.


Tub


Shower


Asprey shower amenities


Toilet

So every aspect of the room was impressive and well thought out, which I rarely say about hotels (usually I find outlets to be misplaced, the design to be impractical, etc.). But then again, I guess one should kind of expect that at a newly built Ritz Carlton. It’s also worth noting that wifi is free (and fast) at the hotel.

Equally impressive were the hotel’s other facilities, starting with the pool and fitness center, which are located on the 118th floor.


Pool and fitness center entrance

The fitness center has plenty of machines and also boasts great views of the city (weather permitting). While it’s standard for equipment to have built in TVs, this one even had a built in web browser, so I was able to read the coolest website ever while working out (or something like that).


Gym


TV screen

Right past the gym was the pool, which was one of the most stunning pools I’ve ever seen, along with the one at the Marina Bay Sands Singapore. It featured nice lounge chairs around the pool, as well as two hot tubs, one of which was outdoors (yes, an outdoor hot tub on the 118th floor).


Pool at night


Pool during the day


Hot tub

And then there was the club lounge. Wow. We had breakfast there both mornings, and the offerings were impressive. In addition to everything shown below, they had an omelet station. Service was also very attentive in the mornings.


Ritz Carlton Club


Ritz Carlton Club


Computers in Ritz Carlton Club


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread

They even had champagne available at breakfast.


Champagne


Breakfast first morning


Breakfast second morning


Iced coffee with a view


View from the Ritz Carlton Club in the morning

Around lunchtime they had a small buffet set up with salad, fruit, and desserts.


Lunch


Lunch


Lunch


Lunch


Midday view from Ritz Carlton Club

Then in the afternoons they had a really impressive afternoon tea spread consisting of finger sandwiches, mini-pizzas, sliders, and warm scones with jam and clotted cream.


Afternoon tea sandwiches


Afternoon tea mini-pizzas and sliders


Afternoon tea desserts


Afternoon tea


Scones, jam, and clotted cream


Afternoon tea


Afternoon tea

Then in the evenings between 5:30PM and 7:30PM they served hors d’oeuvres. While the spread was alright, I didn’t think the offerings were as impressive as what they served earlier in the day, and I’ve seen better spreads at some more “mainstream” hotels. Of course the alcohol selection was a step up, but the food selection itself wasn’t.


Evening spread


Soup


Evening spread


Evening spread


Evening spread

Then last but not least was the dessert spread, where almost every item was garnished with gold dust. Gotta love it!


Dessert spread


Dessert spread


Dessert spread

Just a few final thoughts regarding my stay:

The Service

The service at the hotel was very, very good. Every employee I interacted with was sincere and polished, from the doormen to the concierge. When you got in an elevator with an employee they always held the door and started up a conversation. The housekeeping team paid a lot of attention to detail, and my clothes were always neatly folded after the room was serviced.

The employees were also fantastic at anticipating needs. One afternoon we were leaving the hotel and wanted a couple of recommendations, and one of the ladies working the elevator provided us with advice instead of sending us to the concierge desk immediately. Every single employee did everything with a sincere smile, without exception.

So while service was very, very good, I wasn’t blown away by it in the same was I was at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. For example, when we arrived we were asked for our names on the ground floor and they were checked off a list. That could have been a good opportunity to phone upstairs and say we’re arriving so we could be greeted by name. It’s by no means expected, but Ritz Carlton is all about exceeding expectations, and that would have been an easy way to do so. Along the same lines, at no point were we addressed by name in the club lounge, which I’ve even had happen at properties n the US. The employees were all incredibly friendly and attentive, but it’s just one of those small touches that would have made the difference between “really, really good” and “amazing.” And that’s by no means a complaint, but just a constructive suggestion. After all, the hotel is less than a year old, so I’m sure they’re still working on “perfecting” the experience.

The Location

This one’s a toughie for me. A lot of the hotel’s guests are business travelers doing business in the International Commerce Centre, so obviously the hotel couldn’t be more convenient for them since they don’t even have to leave the building. At the same time, if you’re a tourist you’ll have to take a taxi no matter where you want to go. It’s no big deal given that taxis in Hong Kong are cheap and plentiful, but expect at least a 10-15 minute commute to the Kowloon Ferry Terminal, which is where we always ended up taking a taxi (either to go to Hong Kong Island from there using the Star Ferry or to just walk around in Kowloon). Now, Hong Kong happens to be my favorite city on earth, and I usually leave the hotel in the morning and come back about eight hours later, so in the grand scheme of things it translated to 1-2 transfers per day. At the same time, I did miss the ability to just walk out of the hotel and right onto the Avenue of Stars, as is possible at the InterContinental Hong Kong.

The Views

I wrote a post recently comparing the views from the Ritz Carlton and from the InterContinental. Check it out for my thoughts of basically having a bird’s eye view of the city vs. a cruise ship view of the city.

Overall

On the whole this is a stunning property and I’d say all around the best hotel in Hong Kong. While it’s certainly out of my “normal” budget, I’m delighted to have tried it and would certainly recommend it for someone that has a few more zeroes in their bank account than me.

Comments

  1. Ben L. says

    @Lucky: why did you take a taxi? the airport express is faster and cheaper, plus the ICC is right ontop Kowloon Station!

  2. lucky says

    @ Ben — It didn’t occur to me until after we got there that Kowloon Station is actually right below the hotel. I never connected the dots. I assumed we were going to have to take the Airport Express and then either the bus or taxi from there. That being said, the price difference wasn’t huge for two people, though we did take the Airport Express on the return (which I far prefer).

  3. says

    It’s a rather long walk from the Kowloon Station stop to the lobby of the RC, Ben L. You would have to walk through the Elements Mall which is a rather upscale mall. I wanted to see how the RC looked but felt out of place once I got to the lobby.

  4. lucky says

    @ Jimgotkp — It was indeed a bit of a haul, though with just carry-ons took about 10 minutes. I was actually happy to be able to walk through the area, since I didn’t realize how much shopping was actually connected to the hotel.

  5. Zzzzzzzz says

    personally I think it’s better to regret something you did than to regret something you did not do.

  6. coutureguy says

    Lucky, thanks for taking us inside the Ritz Carlton. The nicest place I’ve ever stayed in HK is the Langham Place Monkok, which is very nice, but not in the same class as RC. For a while, the Peninsula has been my dream stay destination in HK, and I’ve only drooled while walking by. So how would you compare the Ritz with the Peninsula?

  7. lucky says

    @ coutureguy — I’ve only had breakfast at the Peninsula, though haven’t actually stayed there. Frankly it’s not very high on my list of places to stay, since I prefer a bit more modern. Though no doubt it’s an amazing hotel!

  8. Randolph says

    That strikes me as very expensive.

    I call BS on the idea that Lucky is just spending his own money, made through “award consulting,” for these trips. Anyone else think he’s still being subsidized from his parents?

  9. Susan says

    Given the lavish buffet spreads all day I see why you have to work out at the hotel. Thanks for taking one for the team!

    Even in the better views the Hong Kong air looks pretty hazy. Is this a foggy time of year or is HK polluted (obviously I’ve never been)?

  10. lucky says

    @ Russ — That’s a toughie, the Conrad is really nice as well. I’d say the views aren’t quite as spectacular, though the service and club lounge are both really nice at the Conrad. And the standard rooms are also very spacious.

    @ Randolph — You’re more than welcome to believe what you’d like, but I’ve been supporting myself since I was 17, and haven’t gotten a dime from my parents since then.

  11. says

    @Randolph-A strong case can be made that these are legitimate, tax-deductible business expenses inasmuch as Lucky reviews and checks out these places for his blog and his clients.

  12. MK says

    Hi, 650 USD for harbor view club room isnt at all expensive, it makes 4600 HKD+ tax whereas on Ritz-Carlton website it never shows under 6100 HKD+tax.

    where did you book it, if you dont mind?

  13. DBest says

    The problem with a hotel that has too many amenities like this is that I would never get out to see HongKong lol. Does Marriott status get you anything at an RC?

  14. Dax says

    Thanks for the review Lucky. Did you ever get a chance to check out the spa? Sometimes for the cost of a single night at a fancy hotel you can spend the better part of a day at the spa and really live it up. Then sleep at a less expensive property for the hours when you’re not conscious enough to enjoy it.

  15. lucky says

    @ MK — The harbor view part was a room upgrade.

    @ DBest — To the best of my knowledge you receive the points bonus and a possible upgrade (though not to a club room) as a Marriott Platinum member.

    @ Dax — Love your idea, though sadly I didn’t have the chance to try out the spa. Didn’t have the time, and certainly didn’t have the money to blow either after how much I was spending on the room.

  16. coutureguy says

    I posted a comment earlier but it didn’t show up. Just testing to see if this one will show before I type my comment all over again.

  17. coutureguy says

    OK, not sure what happened, but anyway…

    Lucky thanks for taking us inside the Ritz Carlton. That was a great review. The nicest place I’ve ever stayed in HK is the Langham Place in Monkok, which is a very nice hotel, but not in the same class as the RC. My dream HK hotel has always been the Peninsula, which I’ve only drooled over while walking by. In times past it’s been considered one of the finest hotels on the planet, so Lucky, how would you compare the Ritz to the Peninsula?

  18. lucky says

    @ coutureguy — I responded in comment #11. Let me know if you have any issues seeing it.

  19. coutureguy says

    Oops. Yes, lol. My browser must have been using a cached copy which wasn’t showing the latest posts. Sorry.

  20. AS says

    The rugby matches you mentioned – was that the HK Rugby Sevens Tournament? What luck – to be in HK for that tournament!! I hope you tried to get tickets and attend – even if you don’t know rugby, it’s a superb tournament and superb atmosphere.

  21. Lark says

    Lucky –

    Nice overview, thanks. Looking forward to our stay in October.

    You ended up in a ‘harbor view club room’, which you mentioned was an upgrade. Were you in the Club Harbour Island room, or the Club Deluxe Harbour room? (Or the Club Grand Deluxe room?)

    What did you book originally (what were you upgraded from)?

    (http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/HongKong/Rooms/Default.htm)

    We’re in a “Club Harbor Island, Club level, Guest room, 1 King, Victoria Harbour view, Harbor view”, which sounds pretty good to us.

    We received the Club Level upgrade through the Ritz Carlton credit card, which offers 3 Club Level upgrades per year to cardholders, among other benefits. I don’t recall what we originally booked – I think it was the Harbour Island view (not on the Club Level).

    We also booked this through our Virtuoso agent (DavidO), and have the following noted on our reservation: “Virtuoso rate, Virtuoso Benefits, includes buffet breakfast for 2 guests daily, 100 USD food and beverage credit per stay, upgrade upon availability at check in, see Rate Rules”

    So, basically, we’re going to have the opportunity to eat more food than can possibly be good for us! Maybe I can trade the $100 F&B credit for a consultation with a dietician! :) Or maybe an hour with a personal trainer in their workout facilities…

  22. Dax says

    Lucky: Understood. Just in case you are not yet aware, many high end spas are happy to show new guests around the spa facilities so that they may consider using them at a future time or date. There is generally not much I would like to see added to most of your reviews, but this is one area that might appeal to folks who are fond of such services. Keep the rest of this trip report coming!

  23. flyer708 says

    Are those food, according to your amenities schedule, all included in the hotel staying price? Or are they extra?
    We will be staying there next month with a corner/harbour view room. I must say, with your excellent report, I only wish it’s tomorrow!

  24. lucky says

    @ flyer708 — The Ritz Carlton Club is only for those that pay for access (you should be able to buy-up at check-in if you want to). Regardless, I’m sure you’ll have a great stay!

  25. flyer708 says

    @Lucky, Thanks for clarifying that. For one second, I was gonna bring a few tupperwares. Ha!

  26. Darren says

    Comparing the room you stayed in to the one at the Marina Bay Sands (from a previous installment), it seems like the Ritz is not nearly as big! The basic layouts of both rooms are both similar in my opinion. What do you think lucky?

  27. lucky says

    @ Darren — Keep in mind the Marina Bay Sands is in Singapore while the Ritz Carlton is in Hong Kong, so it’s like comparing apples and oranges, in my opinion. But you’re right, the rooms weren’t huge, which is often the case at luxury hotels. Embassy Suites and Hampton Inns often have much bigger rooms than Ritz Carltons and Four Seasons, though it doesn’t necessarily make them better.

  28. Darren says

    That is abosolutely true! Even so I must say that both hotels look aboslutely great. Nothing too special though, unlike the room you got at the Park Hyatt. You certainly raved about that one now didn’t you lucky!

  29. USairelite says

    Next time your in Hong Kong you should try the Four Seasons. It is one of the few FS’s that has a club lounge.

  30. PJ says

    I booked ritz carlton hongkong (harbour island room) for my parents celebrate Chinese new year 2013. I wish they can watch firework at their room :). Thank you share your pic!

  31. Better By Design says

    Wow… stayed earlier this year at the “cheaper” neighbor next door – W Hong Kong – which was great, but not quite as Wow. (That’s a W brand joke right there).

    Love the Airport Express for HKG outbound from these hotels, with the checkin at the station (with luggage!). Amazing service.

    A number of years ago on my first-ever Asian business trip I had the good fortune to stay a week or so at the RC Portman in Shanghai – I didn’t realize at the time that this was the standard in hotel club lounges, and was forever spoiled by not only the service, but the 6X daily food change outs. Amazing, amazing stuff!

  32. justSaying says

    So if you were going to use Marriott points for a Ritz Carlton in the Far East would HK be your first choice to burn those points as opposed to Bali or Singapore? Stateside Half Moon Bay and New Orleans are both great RC properties……..HMB a great way to start a drive down the coast……….

  33. lucky says

    @ justSaying — To be honest I haven’t stayed at enough Ritz properties to have a favorite, though I have to imagine that it’s tough to beat this one.

  34. Chris says

    Thanks for the reply lucky. I booked a standard room with points at the RC HK, any idea how much it would be to upgrade this to club level?

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