Review: Conrad Hong Kong

Introduction
SAS Lounge Chicago
Cathay Pacific First Class Chicago to Hong Kong
Conrad Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific “The Wing” First Class Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bali
Amandari Bali
Amankila Bali
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Bali to Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific First Class Hong Kong to San Francisco
Mom’s Thoughts


As I mentioned in the introduction, I booked the Conrad using the two free nights I got from the sign-up bonus of the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card. I consider that to be a pretty good value, given that this is now a category nine property, making it 80,000 HHonors points per night. The paid rate was 3,500HKD+ (~$450USD+), so I was thrilled with that redemption.

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Hong Kong is probably my favorite city in the world and I’ve visited well over a dozen times, so I always get oddly excited when I take someone there for the first time and can “play” tour guide.

The Conrad is located on Hong Kong Island. While I prefer the views and general street atmosphere of Kowloon, I still kind of prefer staying on Hong Kong Island.

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Hotel exterior

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Hotel exterior

Upon arriving at the hotel we were welcomed by the bellman, who took our bags and directed us to the check-in desks, which are located inside the lobby on the right.

The lobby feels “grand,” but at the same time also just a little bit dated.

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Lobby

The check-in process was efficient, and the agent explained all the benefits we’d receive due to my HHonors Diamond status, including free internet, club lounge access, breakfast in the restaurant, etc.

We were quickly given keys to our room on the 58th floor, and took the elevator up.

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Elevators

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Hallway

We were assigned room 5807, a harbor view twin room.

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Room 5807

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Room location

By Hong Kong standards the room is really spacious. It featured two comfortable, soft twin beds, a desk overlooking the harbor, a flat screen TV, and a chair in the corner.

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Room

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Twin beds

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Chair and lamp

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TV and desk

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Desk

There was a welcome amenity waiting for us, consisting of fruit and some pralines.

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Welcome amenity

Then back towards the entrance was a large closet across from the bathroom door.

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Closet

The bathroom is rather large for a standard room and consisted of a walk-in shower, tub, double sinks, and a toilet in a separate room.

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Bathroom entry

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Double sinks

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Bathtub

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Shower

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Toilet

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Rubber ducky!

The toiletries were Aromatherapy Associates branded. Maybe it’s just me, but for the brand Conrad is trying to be I feel like they could do a bit better on the toiletry front. Or maybe I’m just totally off on what they’re aiming for.

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Toiletries

The best part of the room, of course, was the view of the harbor.

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View from room

And the second best part of any Conrad stay, since I’m a five year old at heart, are the Conrad branded teddy bears and rubber ducks.

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Friends for rubber ducky!

At check-in I was given a letter which listed executive floor benefits, which read as follows:

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Executive floor benefits

We had breakfast at Garden Cafe, which is located just off the lobby.

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Stairway to restaurant

It’s by no means a huge restaurant, though has a very spacious feel due to the high ceilings. We were there fairly early due to jetlag, and were among the only people there.

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Breakfast setup

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Restaurant

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Restaurant

The service in the restaurant was generally friendly, with the caveat that it took forever to get drinks, which I find to be the norm just about everywhere in Asia (there are few things you can generalize about Asia as a whole given how different cultures are, but I consistently don’t get drinks within 10 minutes for breakfast!).

The buffet was good. It wasn’t a Le Meridien Bangkok or St. Regis Abu Dhabi style mega-buffet, but the contents were high quality and the selection more than sufficient. Ironically, given that this is Hong Kong, the dim sum selection was actually the most limited/disappointing part of the buffet.

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Buffet

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Buffet

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Cold cuts

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Fruit and yogurt

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Fruit

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Juices

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Dim sum

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Cereal

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Pastries

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Buffet

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Breads and jams

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Bread display

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Buffet

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Buffet

The club lounge is located on the 59th floor, and serves afternoon tea from 3PM till 5PM and evening drinks from 5PM till 7PM.

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Entrance to club lounge

The club lounge features two rooms with a decent amount of seating, though for a hotel of this size I do think it’s a bit on the small side, as it tends to fill up in the evenings.

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Club lounge seating

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Club lounge seating

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Club lounge seating

The view from the club lounge was similar to the view from my room. After all, it was in the same place just one level up.

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Views from club lounge

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Views from club lounge

The afternoon tea spread consisted of cookies, scones, muffins, etc.

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Afternoon tea

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Afternoon tea

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Afternoon tea

Then the evening spread was pretty impressive, with plenty of both hot and cold options. Service was excellent all times of day, as we were always immediately offered a drink upon arriving.

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Evening spread

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Evening spread

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Evening spread

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Evening spread

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Evening spread

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Evening spread

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Evening spread

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, there’s a pool which isn’t especially impressive though still nice and private.

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Pool area

There’s also a nice gym.

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Gym

We only had one full day in Hong Kong, so I wanted to be sure we maximized it. We started the day by going to Victoria Peak, which I always like to get out of the way first to avoid the crowds.

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View from Victoria Peak

After that we took the bus to Stanley Market. I don’t actually get the allure of Stanley Market as such, but I find the bus ride to be utterly fascinating, given that it shows such a different side of Hong Kong than what you’d get either in Kowloon or on Hong Kong Island “proper.”

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Stanley Market

We then took the Star Ferry over to Kowloon and walked around there for a bit. At that point my mom was a bit exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel to rest for a bit.

Then in the evening we watched the Symphony of Lights. As touristy/cheesy as it is, it never gets old for me.

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Symphony of Lights

Then we ended our day at the Ladies’ Market, where I bought my mom a few handbags under the condition that she’d let me do the negotiating. She’s too good of a person, so when you negotiate price and they pull the “but at that price I make no money” card, she would give in. I, on the other hand… 😉

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Ladies’ Market

We probably overdid it a bit, because my mom’s legs were killing her by the end of the day, and unfortunately that’s something that only got worse as the trip continued…

Anyway, on the whole we had a great stay at the Conrad. Here’s the issue, though. The Conrad was a great value on points back when it was 50,000 HHonors points per night. And it’s a great value using the free night certificates from the Citi Hilton Reserve Card. However, at 80,000 points it’s not exactly a bargain anymore.

And I also tend to think on paid stays, given that rates are $400USD+ per night, there’s better value for the money than this place. But I do like the hotel…

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Comments

  1. I’ve watched the Symphony of lights from the Conrad on the HK Island side and from the Kowloon side along the Avenue of the Stars, the street level Lobby at the Intercontinental, and from Sheraton’s Sky Lounge. I think I prefer the Sheraton with the piped in sound from the light show. The Intercontinental is comfortable but not for the light show. The Conrad is not a good venue for watching the light show. From where did you eye the show?

  2. @ RDimperio — We watched it from the Avenue of Stars. Ultimately the best view I’ve ever had of the Symphony of Lights was from a harbor view room at the InterContinental (while enjoying complimentary minibar drinks thanks to Royal Ambassador), but aside from that I always just watch it from the Avenue of Stars.

  3. Look forward to going to the Conrad in May. Little bummed as a Diamond you did not get a suite upgrade. I was hoping to see what the suites looks like. Was the hotel pretty full?

  4. Thanks, been waiting for this review. I reserved the HK Conrad B4 devaluation for 1 night stay on my RTW trip next month. had been considering switch to IC, but didn’t want to loose the 50K award nite. I think I’ll be happy @Conrad

  5. @lucky I’m not a huge fan of the standard Conrad toiletries, but what’s nice is that they now have two other options (a Shanghai Tang Mandarin line, which I love, and something else)… upon arrival just ask that they have housekeeping switch out the toiletries.

  6. FYI – If you do not like the Aromatherapy toiletries, you can request Shanghai Tang toiletries instead at Conrad HKG (actually at most Conrads).

  7. When does the Hilton hate become a benefit? I mean, people burned a lot of points in the last year, which means the high redemption properties (e.g. Conrads) will end up being less crowded, have possibly better upgrades, and improved award availability. Do you think this will happen? Should I “buy low” on Hilton for 2015-2016 bookings?

  8. @ perryplatypus — It didn’t seem to be especially full. Asked about possibility of an upgrade and they insisted they had already upgraded us to a harbor view room, and after all suite upgrades are within their discretion, so…

  9. @ DTW @ Tom — That’s awesome to know, had no clue! Will do that next time for sure. Is that just at the Hong Kong location, or at other Conrads as well?

  10. Those looks more like double beds than twins.

    At least you had your own fax machine. I am sure that came in handy with all of your friends flying Aerolineas Argentinas

  11. @ David — Well, but availability was never an issue when they don’t have blackout dates. I certainly know aside from the “crunch” time before the devaluation I never had issues securing Hilton bookings for whichever dates I wanted.

    As far as better upgrades go, that sounds nice in theory, though upgrades based on availability aren’t a benefit. Instead they’re based on the hotel’s discretion, so occupancy doesn’t play a huge role.

    I guess the issue is how “low” can you “buy” with Hilton? When award nights are 80K+ points per night it’s tough to come out ahead…

  12. @ RakSiam — Hmmm, they do look like they’re between a twin and a double, though the website says twin bed. Are there different sizes of twin beds maybe?

  13. Do you know why the check in desk didn’t direct you to the Executive Lounge for check in? I’ve never checked in at the main floor desk as a Diamond, and they’re usually proactive about walking one to the elevator (10 yards away) to send Diamonds upstairs. Just curious.

  14. @ TravelinWilly — We were arriving late (close to 10PM), so maybe the club lounge desk was no longer staffed?

  15. Great info, have a stay there scheduled for Dec. I also had the Hilton card at the end of 13, cant recall if I get 2 free nights…it does not show on my online hilton account tho.

  16. @ perryplatypus — I actually called them several months ago when I reached the $10K spend and they told me the anniversary night would post upon my account anniversary. My account anniversary was last month and it still hasn’t posted, so I should probably follow up.

  17. Since this property is now out of the question for regular award stays, what are some other great options in HK for either Hyatt, IHG, Starwood, or Hilton and which would you recommend. Priorities include great location and a nice hotel.

  18. @ Jeremy — That’s probably part of the issue as well, Hong Kong isn’t a great city for using hotel points.

    For Hyatt both the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency can be a good use of points (though often the Hyatt Regency rates are reasonable so you’re better off paying and maybe using a suite upgrade as a Diamond member), though neither hotel is “spectacular.”

    InterContinental has an awesome hotel, but the issue is that they don’t honor elite benefits on award stays, and the greatest thing about the hotel are the views. And if you’re using points you won’t get a harbor view room.

    Hilton you only really have the Conrad, which is now not as good of a value as it used to be.

    With Starwood the W is a category six, so a bit pricey, in my opinion. The Sheraton remains a fairly good value, though.

  19. Love Stanley Market. I always buy unnecessary but cheap stuff there. The ride(public bus 6 or 6A) is a blast. Two years ago our bus driver and another bus driver coming the other way got into it – the road wasn’t wide enough for both and neither would move. Police were called, our bus had to back up, and it was scary but fun. I like to stay at Conrad in HK – I like the lounge and bfast spread in restaurant. I’m even fond of the location.

  20. I like that the pralines were served in a dim sum box. Nice touch. Maybe the hotel would be more special if they did more things like that?

  21. Stayed here also on our Bali Aman trip. Did cash and points for 2 nights which ended up being a good deal, and then a AAA rate for the 3rd night which was under $400 – GREAT value in my opinion and the hotel and service were amazing. Got upgraded as a Gold and had access to the Lounge (which by that time was set up in the lobby since they were renovating the one in your pics). So for around $750 out of pocket total we had 3 nights here in an upgraded room plus free breakfast, afternoon tea, evening drinks and snacks… a really great deal in my opinion! Thanks for the suggestion Lucky 🙂

  22. Hi Lucky, I’m going to be staying in HK in a few days, and I was wondering if you had any favorite restaurants that you could recommend (Chinese or other)? Thanks in advance!

  23. Lucky, when it comes to the Citi Hilton free night certs are there any capacity restrictions beyond the necessity of a standard room being available (e.g. like with the Hyatt Visa Certs)? I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find out if there are, or are not. Also, thanks for the review, this is where I am planning on using my free night certs once they (eventually) arrive in my inbox!

  24. @ Trevor — To be honest, as many times as I’ve been to Hong Kong I still haven’t developed a list of “favorite” restaurants. I almost always just roam the streets till I find something that looks good, and then go with that.

    Maybe someone else has some suggestions?

  25. Where do you the best place for New Year’s Eve would be? It sounds like Hong Kong isn’t as exciting as I’d hoped.

  26. @ Bob — Best place in the world? Well Hong Kong would be a great place, though it’s not emphasized quite as much because they also have the Chinese New Year a bit later.

    I’d say in absolute terms of the “greatest place to be for New Years” it’s tough to beat Sydney.

  27. I usually am just overnight in Hong Kong as a less than 24 hour transfer on Cathay. I loved the convenience of the W for that purpose. However I always have marriott free night cat 1-5, so I might try the. Courtyard ; I heard they had good views.

  28. Hi Lucky, as for the bed size, it does look like it’s between a double and twin size. Do you think a couple can sleep on it comfortably? thinking about staying here with 3 young kids, enough bed space for 5 people? If not, will the room fit a rollaway bed? Thanks!

  29. Some own experiences:

    Stayed there early September 2013 on a C&P rate (32.000 pts and 1163 HKD):

    Since September 1st the new executive lounge is open. The interior is beautiful. The food remains very good. Selection is a bit smaller than before. Happy hour is still very good. They try to instill a “feel like home – do it yourself”-feeling. For example: Coffee (Nespresso) is self-service now.
    Still excellent views. When I mentioned to the staff that I planned to go to Macao they told me that the place was totally overrated and not worth a trip. While I appreciate own opinions, I doubt it is appropriate to tell a leaving guest…

    They also gave me the option to be billed in my credit card currency or local currency. Of course I opted for the local currency (HKD) – nevertheless, the credit card statement shows they billed me in my home currency. I am still in the process of getting that corrected. Not very nice.

    Despite those billing hick-ups I really enjoyed my stay at the Conrad. The hotel feels a bit dated but they try very hard to keep it on a high level.

    Would return on the great C&P rate – not sure if I would return on the usual cash rate, though…

    Btw: C&P at Conrad Macao is one of the few remaining Hilton HHonors award gems out there (16.000 pts plus ~600 HKD – all suites).
    As a HH Gold you will get a double if not triple upgrade due to current inavailability of the executive lounge – scheduled to open Chinese Lunar New Year 2014. You will also still get free breakfast as “my way”-award. Key is to book C&P weeks if not months in advance. Also helps to be nice during check-in).

  30. They didn’t direct you to the Executive Lounge to checkin? Every time I visit the lobby check in desk sends me to the Executive Lounge, which I find a bit annoying. I’d rather just get my room key and go directly to my floor.

    The Executive Lounge has a great evening spread. I usually find there’s enough to satisfy dinner. Just make sure you’re there for the happy hour last call. They’re always quite kind enough to make a final round before closing up the champagne bottles. The views from that lounge are spectacular!

  31. Sounds like a great (if really quick) visit. I stayed at Conrad HKG in June on cash + points and thought that was a great deal. I usually get claustrophobic in standard rooms but these are really well sized and the layout is quite well done. Treated very very well as a gold. Superb service. Totally agree that weakest part of breakfast (which was overall excellent) was the dim sum. Will be back in November!

  32. @Lucky — Just curious, what kind of brand do you think Conrad is “trying” to be? I’ve always viewed it as a JW Marriott competitor—high-end, but just a notch below the true luxury brands.

    Regarding the Aromatherapy Associates toiletries, I really like them, though I understand it’s a matter of personal taste. As others have noted, all Conrad properties offer a selection of three toiletry brands, which you may choose from the Conrad Concierge mobile app before arrival. Aromatherapy Associates is the default, however.

  33. @Lucky — On the subject of Conrad (though completely unrelated to HKG), you should check out Conrad Algarve if you have the opportunity. I visited in August and was thoroughly impressed by the service, facilities, dining, weather and nearby attractions.

  34. @ Mark — To be honest that’s probably where I was off. I figured it was their attempt to compete with the “top” brands of the other major hotel chains, like St. Regis or Park Hyatt. But you’re right, it’s probably more on par with JW Marriott.

  35. @Lucky — In my mind, Waldorf Astoria is Hilton’s effort to compete with the other chains’ top brands, though in practice property quality varies wildly. Take the New York namesake, for example: it boasts iconic status and grand public spaces, but also sorely outdated rooms and a scale that precludes truly attentive service. I’m sure newly constructed properties in Asia, Germany, and the Netherlands fare much better. Anyway, I interpret the relative lack of HHonors elite benefits as confirmation of W=A’s top-tier status within Hilton Worldwide.

    Since you mentioned Park Hyatt, I should add that I’d categorize it alongside Conrad and JW Marriott.

  36. I find Conrad’s hugely inconsistent. I don’t really like the one in HK or Singapore, both feel dated to me. The one in NY is rather nice. The one that really stands out in in Tokyo. It’s my favourite hotel in Tokyo alongside the Mandarin and one of the best hotels I’ve stayed at anywhere in the world. Apparently it’s the showcase of the Conrad brand and where they always take their investors. Very frustrating when there is such inconsistency with the brands as you say. Mandarin Oriental is the only chain I’ve found a good deal of consistency with. Shame they stopped operating the Dhara Devi in Chiang Mai which has to be the best hotel experience I’ve had anywhere

  37. Ben, I know this is an old post, but I really wish to have your opinion on whether I sjhould stay at the Conrad or JW Marriott Hong Kong.
    I will be thaveling with my wife and will be staying 3 nights, and I have gold status with both Hilton and Marriott.
    Please help me to make the right choice.

  38. i know it’s a pretty old post but how would you compare breakfast buffet at conrad restaurant to grand hyatt restaurant buffet? i’m diamond at both hilton and grand hyatt and my mother is really into hotel’s breakfast buffet. by the looks of it, grand hyatt restaurant seems to have more items than conrad. thanks

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