Hotels Reviews

Review: The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong

The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong breaks many world records. Does it justify its hefty price tag?

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The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong resides within the International Commerce Centre building. This giant 118 story (actually only 108 above ground due to tetraphobia) is hard to miss. It’s Hong Kong’s tallest building and the 11th tallest in the world.

The Ritz-Carlton only occupies the top section of this massive building, between floors 102-118.

ICC Hong Kong (Bernard Spragg)
The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong occupies the top section of the huge ICC building. (Photo: Bernard Spragg)

This lofty position affords it plenty of world number ones. Not only is it the world’s highest hotel – the bar and swimming pool are also the world’s highest. After a number of trips to Hong Kong, we finally decided that we’d have to check it out to see if the hotel itself matched up to these physical world-beating standards.

Booking

We booked a Club Deluxe Room (Skyline view) at this property for a 2-night stay following our flight from Singapore on Singapore Airlines’ new A380 Suites product, after the first leg of our round-the-world in First Class trip.

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You can read our full review of the A380 Suites experience, including the double bed, here.

After we left the Ritz-Carlton, we moved on to the excellent Cathay Pacific First Class Lounges in Hong Kong, and experienced Cathay’s First Class to London.

Arrival

Several days before our arrival the concierge reached out to see if we would like the hotel to arrange an airport pickup. Whilst this seemed like a convenient option, the prices were rather steep, and given that we had only a short flight preceding this we chose to take the train.

The ICC building is located above Kowloon station, which is on the Airport Express line. The train departs every 10 minutes and only takes 22 minutes to Kowloon, stopping just once on the way. It’s then a short, signposted walk through the ‘Elements’ basement mall to the lower lobby of the hotel itself.

Entrance
The entrance to the hotel from the ‘Elements’ mall. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Here you’re greeted by hotel staff who will direct you to the high speed lifts which then whisk you up to the ear-popping 103rd-floor main reception in less than a minute.

The lobby is dark and opulent with plenty of traditional Chinese decoration. It was generally rather busy here at all times during our stay, but it is well staffed and the wait wasn’t long.

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The lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The receptionist was friendly and polite. He repeatedly thanked us for our loyalty as Marriott Gold Elite members.

Interestingly Marriott Gold Elite (now Bonvoy Gold Elite) members usually aren’t recognised at Ritz-Carlton hotels. Whilst they are part of the group, they run their own reward program. So when we were told we had been upgraded to a Deluxe Victoria Harbour view 1-bedroom Suite as loyal Marriott customers – we were rather surprised!

We were then personally shown to our room and given a guided tour, which is also unusual in a city hotel where typically you are just passed the key and told where the lifts are.

Room types

There are several entry-level room types configured in a very similar layout. The only difference is the view. You can also select the same rooms with Club Lounge access, which effectively means paying for access to the Club Lounge. Normally we wouldn’t recommend this, but in this case – it’s well worth it and we’ll explain why later on.

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The Deluxe Victoria Harbour View Suite floor plan. (Image: Marriott International)

For further details on the room and suite types available at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, see the hotel website here.

Suite first impressions

A short corridor with an art piece on the wall greets you as you first enter the suite.

Room Entrance
Entrance corridor. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Alongside one wall as you walk in to the room is the dresser area, housing amenities with tea and coffee making facilities, a wine and spirits selection and the mini-bar.

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The bar. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Between the dresser / bar and the living room there is a well-equipped desk with ample space, a writing tablet, charging outlets, and a fantastic office chair with views across the suite and out over the water.

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The desk. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

An impressive set of speakers with an iPod dock also features at the desk area, alongside a telephone and writing pad on a dedicated side table against the wall.

These speakers were perfectly placed for listening to music in the living room while enjoying the amazing view.

Ipod Speakers
Speakers by the desk. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Opposite the desk a large mirrored wall gives a great sense of additional space as you walk through to the living room.

Corridor Mirror
Mirrored wall as you enter the living room. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Obviously, in a building like this, you are expecting an amazing view but nothing quite prepares you for when you step into the living room for the first time and the curtains automatically draw open revealing genuinely jaw-dropping views of the harbour, Victoria Peak and Hong Kong island.

Deluxe Suite Window
The corner vista in our Deluxe Victoria Harbour View Suite. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is a seating area with a recessed TV on the opposite wall and of course the large windows that extend from a low padded windowsill all the way to the ceiling.

The decor continues with the theme from the lobby of dark colours, modern materials and traditional Chinese accents.

Living into Bedroom
Looking through from the living room to the bedroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The luxurious Ritz-Carlton style of deep carpets and window dressings can make their properties feel slightly dated to us even when new, but it’s a design choice that they stick with and it seems popular with their guests so it’s hard to criticise.

Bedroom

Through two sliding doors either side of the TV you enter the bedroom, featuring a large king-sized bed, numerous wardrobes and, of course, another huge TV.

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The king bed. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The luxurious colour scheme continues here with shades of brown, deep reds and black marble surfaces.

The floor to ceiling window continues into the bedroom for those morning views, out over Discovery Bay in the case of our room.

Deluxe Suite Bedroom
Views extend into the bedroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

On the left side of the bed a drawer extends to reveal USB charging sockets and blind / lighting controls.

Bedside Controls
USB charging and blind / lighting controls. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

On the right side a Type G (UK / Singapore / Hong Kong) 3-pin plug socket is included, with a few replicated lighting controls.

Bed Side
A different socket type on the right side, with lighting controls. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Of course there is also a phone on one side of the bed. Also a writing pad and a clock are provided.

Bedside
Bedside. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Storage is ample with a small wardrobe at one side of the bed between the bedroom and the bathroom.

Robe Wardrobe
A smaller wardrobe. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This is complemented by a much larger wardrobe with storage drawers and over a dozen hangers.

Wardrobe
The main wardrobe. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Bathroom

The bedroom leads into a spacious bathroom.

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Bathroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

No city views in here, but a large deep bathtub sits opposite dual sinks and a separate standalone shower.

Bath Shower
Bath and shower. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is even an integrated flat screen TV in the wall to watch while you’re bathing if you so choose.

The large shower cubicle has a rain shower function and individual shower hose for those who prefer it.

Toiletries are by British luxury brand Asprey.

At the back the bathroom a door leads to the ‘house bathroom’ with a toilet and separate sink. This is also accessible from the main entrance corridor to the suite, so it doubles up as a restroom for any guests you may have visiting.

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House bathroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Room conclusions

Overall this a well-equipped room with modern, thoughtful touches. Being a Ritz-Carlton, it’s kept to high standards and immaculately clean. The decision as to whether on not to pay for the view is a difficult one on paper but once you see it real life, the choice is clear – it is stunning. You will not be disappointed.

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It all comes back to the unbeatable view. (Photo:MainlyMiles)

Facilities

At the very top of the building sit the gym, the spa and the pool. Both, naturally, have excellent views.

The gym is well equipped with comprehensive cardio and free-weights sections. Complimentary water and some energy drinks are provided, alongside cold towels.

The pool is stunning. It is warm, clean, a good size for exercise plus it is well served by dedicated staff. The wall opposite the entrance has a huge screen, which plays nature videos.

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The beautiful, and world’s highest, swimming pool. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In the corner, there is a warm indoor jacuzzi, a cold plunge pool and an outdoor jacuzzi (subject to weather conditions).

Jacuzzi
Indoor jacuzzi. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Sun loungers are arranged around the pool where you can order drinks or even food from the attendant.

Poolside
Sun loungers around the pool. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A poolside menu includes a wide selection of drinks, including juices, soft drinks, wines cocktails and beers. There is also a selection of made to order dishes ranging from appetisers and salads to pastas and sandwiches, even a few dessert options.

Pool Menu
Pool menu (click to enlarge)

The changing rooms also feature a sauna.

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Men’s sauna. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We didn’t visit the spa, but the treatment list is comprehensive. You can expect to pay top-end prices as you would in any luxury brand inner city hotel.

The Club Lounge

Located on the 116th story, the Club Lounge is surrounded with more floor to ceiling glass windows. You are greeted by a concierge and personally seated. The tables for two closest to the windows were a personal favourite, though there are also sofas suitable for larger groups or meetings.

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Club Lounge reception. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We first arrived outside of any of the published service hours, just expecting a coffee whilst we waited for the afternoon tea to begin. When the very friendly staff came to serve our table, to our surprise she offered us a glass of Champagne “to start”. The Louis Roderer NV Brut Premier no less, it gets 4.1 out of 5 on Vivino and will set you back S$75-80 a bottle in Singapore.

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Our early evening welcome to the Club Lounge – two glasses of Louis Roderer Champagne. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

To our surprise, the seemingly limitless number of beverages was available 24 hours a day. The concierge informed us that this was more of an unofficial policy but, as promised whatever time of the day we turned up at the lounge we could enjoy an espresso martini, a glass of Champagne or a wide selection of wines and beers.

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Wine dispenser with a 24-hour selection. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Wine selections include a Les Jamelles Grenache Rouge 2016 (3.8 out of 5 on Vivino) and a Hugel Classic Pinot Gris 2015 (also scoring 3.8 among Vivino users).

Throughout the day there are five complimentary “culinary presentations”.

  • Breakfast: 6:30am – 10:30am
  • Light Lunch: 11:30am – 2:00pm
  • Afternoon Tea: 3:00pm – 5:00pm
  • Hors d’oeuvres and Cocktails: 5:00pm – 8:00pm
  • Desserts and Cordials: 8:30pm – 10:30pm

Breakfast is served here each day for club room guests and is a buffet affair with a live omelette station – naturally, we decided that seeing as the Champagne was free-flow, a couple of glasses with breakfast would be appropriate. You can choose to have breakfast in The Lounge & Bar restaurant, where it is served for non-club guests, but oddly this attracts a charge of 175HKD + tax (around S$30 + tax) for eligible club members.

Light Lunch was a smaller buffet of finger sandwiches and other small snacks.

Afternoon tea is a three-tiered affair consisting of both traditional items like scones and other snacks with a local twist. All were excellent.

Afternoon Tea
Three tiers of afternoon joy. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Hors d’oeuvres is a wide buffet selection of different options both local and international. A live cooking station varies each evening but we tried the foie gras and laksa. There is also an extensive selection of cold cuts, bread and sweet options.

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(Photo: MainlyMiles)

These are served alongside a number of specially curated cocktails that centre around the theme of being the world’s tallest Club Lounge. Of course, you can just stick with Champagne!

The desserts and cordials is a smaller selection of house-made sweet options, fruit and chocolate fondue.

All in all, both the beverage choices and food services are enough to keep you eating and drinking all day. As if that isn’t enough, they don’t mind you choosing to take a drink back to your room with you. We poured a couple of large glasses of fairly good quality red wine and retired to our room to enjoy the views of the harbour from our window bench one evening.

Service throughout the hotel is very personal but in the Club Lounge, it is taken to a whole new level. We talked with our host about our trip and she offered to show us around the whole lounge including the private boardroom that can be booked in advance.

She then asked if we had plans after our Hors-d’oeuvres and copious glasses of Champagne. Whilst we had booked L’atelier de Joel Robuchon for the following night, we intended to spend this evening watching the Austrian Formula 1 race back in the suite, with some room service.

She immediately suggested a better option and showed us through to a private library-lounge with a large flat screen television and sofas. Whilst we found the right channel and settled down she brought us more drinks and snacks and continued to make sure we had everything we needed throughout the race in the privacy of our own lounge. This is truly above and beyond service.

Private Room
Our private F1 screening. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Rooms that include lounge access are generally at least $200 more per night and at the lower category of room, there will be no physical difference in the rooms except that it may be on a higher floor and that it will grant you access to this lounge.

If you intend to spend a lot of time out of the hotel, drinking and dining at the wide array of restaurants and bars on offer in Hong Kong then it may not be worth the difference. As we intended to stay in for the majority of the trip with the exception of some shopping and our trip to L’atelier, we certainly got our money’s worth from the Club Lounge access.

So whilst we normally wouldn’t endorse paying just for access, this lounge is a different animal with the level of service that it offers.

Connectivity in the Club Lounge is no issue with Type G power sockets and USB ports throughout, and fast Wi-Fi. Adapter plugs are available from the lounge reception if required.

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Multiple charging options throughout the Club Lounge. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The perfect place to catch up on some work over a coffee, provided the stunning view and the wine selection don’t distract you too much!

Lounge Bar Seats
Cocktail tables, ideal for two, with bar style seating and an epic view. Notice how even here, power outlets are not forgotten. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There are ample reading materials provided.

Lounge Reading
Reading materials are dotted around the lounge. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The decor in the lounge is luxurious and opulent, as you would expect from a Ritz-Carlton, especially at night with fantastic mood lighting.

Most lounge guests during our stay were couples or solo travellers, however if you’re travelling as a family there are several sofas along the middle section ideal for groups.

Club Lounge Sofa
Sofas are ideal for larger groups or informal business meetings. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Restaurants and Bars

The food and beverage choices available in the Ritz-Carlton certainly do not disappoint – it’s a Michelin-Star studded array of worldwide cuisine, set against a stunning backdrop.

During our short stay, Club Lounge access kept us away from visiting most of these.

  • Tosca: (1 Michelin-Star) serves Italian cuisine with decor inspired by the famous opera with 102nd-floor views of Victoria Harbour.
  • Tin Lung Heen: (2 Michelin-Star) serves traditional Dim Sum in an elegant setting, also on the 102nd-floor.
Tin Lung Heen (The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company)
Tin Lung Heen restaurant. (Photo: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company)
  • Almas Caviar Bar: offers a selection of the world’s finest caviar alongside Champagnes and vodkas.
  • Café 103: serves afternoon tea, lunch and dinner buffets in a more casual setting.
  • The Lounge & Bar: is an all-day dining venue (including breakfast for non-club guests)
  • Ozone: the world’s highest bar, also serves dinner options and host a Sunday Brunch. The decor is more similar to that of a nightclub and it often plays host to famous DJs from around the world.

We visited Ozone late on a Saturday night and found the crowd was generally younger with a certain desire “to be seen”. It was nice to be recognised as hotel guests and be given priority seating.

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Ozone bar. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We also appreciated them sneaking us out through a secret door after our drinks to a private lift that avoided the long and rowdy queue down to the lobby. We must be getting old!

Summary

This is probably a ‘special occasions’ hotel for most. The price is certainly steep, as one of the most expensive 5-star hotels in Hong Kong, but the standards and service were top notch during our 2-night stay.

Whilst the location may not be ideal for those who want to walk around the city, we didn’t find it a big issue. We also discussed at length about how you have to pay for the Club Lounge access when choosing your room type, with the exception of a handful of top tier room categories.

All things considered, we found the hotel to be good value for money for this calibre of property. The facilities are extensive, unique in positioning (highest in the world!) and the service was excellent throughout our short stay.

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Club Lounge access is a pricey add-on for most rooms at this hotel. However, you can certainly get good value from it. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

If you intend to stay in the hotel for the majority of your trip then the Club Lounge is worth the extra in our book – but if you want to venture out to explore the culinary delights that await you on the streets below then perhaps just stick to the non-club room types and enjoy the views and facilities.

Let down only by a slightly awkward location, a fantastic 5-star hotel all round. We will be back.

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Example refundable rates for a weekend stay in May 2019:

  • Deluxe Rooms (Skyline view) from 3,400 HKD (S$585) per night
  • Deluxe Rooms (Sea view) from 3,800 HKD (S$654) per night
  • Deluxe Victoria Harbour Rooms (Skyline view) from 4,400 HKD (S$757) per night
  • Grand Corner Rooms (Sea view) from 4,700 HKD (S$809) per night
  • Grand Victoria Harbour Rooms from 5,300 HKD (S$912) per night

Club rooms are as above, for a supplement of around S$361 per night.

For the Suites (Club Lounge access included):

  • Corner Deluxe 1-bed Suites (Mountain view) from 7,400 HKD (S$1,273) per night
  • Deluxe Victoria Harbour Suites from 8,400 HKD (S$1,445) per night
  • Premier Executive Suites from 26,000 HKD (S$4,473) per night
  • Carlton Suite from 42,000 HKD (S$7,226) per night

1 SGD = 5.81 HKD exchange rate assumed

Book Here

Stayed July 2018

(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)

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