Where to stay in Hong Kong

Hotels

As typifies a major city, hotels in Hong Kong include many luxury options and representatives of all the major international chains; there’s also a growing upmarket boutique sector. Smaller hotels and guesthouses specialising in 'family style' hospitality can be a cheaper alternative, although there’s little in the way of truly cheap hotel accommodation in Hong Kong. Prices rise significantly for places with harbour views in Central or Tsim Sha Tsui. Outside of the city, there are also a number of fairly new hotels in the New Territories, many providing a range of recreational facilities and activities.

In spite of the large number of hotel rooms available in Hong Kong, visitors are strongly advised to make an advance booking. This is particularly important around major public holidays (such as Chinese New Year), but the popularity of Hong Kong as a convention destination means that mid-range and high-end hotels can be full at almost any time. The most pleasant times of year for the weather are March to April and October to November, so these periods are also particularly busy.

Given that room prices in Hong Kong are on a par with those in major European and USA cities, it makes sense to keep an eye open for special deals. This means that generally it’s best to book direct with hotels, but those without a reservation can head to the Hotel Reservation Centre at Hong Kong International Airport. Hotels usually add a 10% service charge to the bill; check whether this is included in published prices.

Grading: Though there is no grading structure as such, hotel members of the Hong Kong Tourism Board fall into one of four categories: High Tariff A Hotels, High Tariff B Hotels, Medium Tariff Hotels and Hostels/Guest houses.

Camping

It’s acceptable to pitch a tent in the countryside, though permission is required within the Country Park protected areas. There are also official campsites in rural areas; details of these and plenty of other useful information is available on the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department website (www.afcd.gov.hk).

Other accommodation

Budget: The cheapest hotels can be found in Kowloon and Causeway Bay, but for accommodation cheaper than around HK$600, visitors will need to consider a guesthouse instead. Look out for the signs bearing the mark of the Licensed Guesthouse Logo Scheme (www.hadla.gov.hk), run by the government to try to ensure decent standards.

At the very bottom end of the market are the guesthouses found in buildings such as the infamous Chungking Mansions (as featured in the film Chungking Express), a meeting point for immigrants and traders from around the world – particularly sub-Saharan Africa. It has some of the city’s cheapest rooms, but security and safety issues (particularly fire safety) mean that they are likely to appeal only to hardened backpackers.

Unique accommodation: Although Hong Kong developers tend to favour demolishing anything old in their drive for relentless modernisation, there are a few places where visitors can find a taste of the colonial era. The Peninsula (www.peninsula.com) is the oldest hotel in the city, built in 1928 and retaining a sense of vintage luxury from the lobby onwards (and despite a tower added in 1993). For extravagance on a more manageable scale, try Hullett House (www.hulletthouse.com) in Kowloon, a restored heritage building with just ten hotel rooms.

Youth Hostels: There are several official YHA hostels (www.yha.org.hk), mostly in scenic parts of the New Territories or on Lantau Island. One is on Hong Kong Island, however, at the top of Mount Davis, giving it some excellent views. There are also some YMCA (www.ymcahk.org.hk) and YWCA (hotel.ywca.org.hk) properties, including the Salisbury YMCA where the dorm beds are one of the cheapest ways to stay in town.

Edited by Jane Duru
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