Taking The Upper House hotel (see Accommodation) on Hong Kong Island as a starting point, the first port of call should be Lane Crawford, which is located – like the hotel – in Pacific Place. This is a destination retail experience – a department store offering the full spectrum of elegantly curated fashion and lifestyle products. Next head to Tai Ping at Prince’s Building, a showroom selling couture custom carpets, which grace some of the world’s most celebrated homes and hotels. For the best in men’s tailoring, don’t miss The Armoury at 12 Pedder Street. Then move on to Tai Kwun, a vibrant, bustling area where the new Centre for Heritage and Arts opened last year in the former Central Police Station.
Look out for Loveramics, a local brand that offers contemporary tableware, kitchenware and, in particular, a creative range of coffee and tea accessories.
And drop in to LockCha tea house to drink or to buy sustainable, ethically produced tea. Furniture shoppers should head south to Horizon Plaza and the Tree store, which focuses on sustainable hardwood pieces – contemporary in design but traditionally crafted – and has a good range of home accessories.
On the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, the Kwun Tong district is a gold mine of independent stores. Here, you will find How, at 99 How Ming Street, a concept store selling Japanese furniture and locally made homeware, which has a café and hair salon, too, and Bike The Moment at 16-18 Hing Yip Street, for bicycle bells, saddles and water bottles. A short taxi ride away in Shek Kip Mai is Wai Chi Street Playground at 3 Wai Lun St, a shop selling retro homeware and modern design products. It celebrates both the nostalgia and the modernity of Hong Kong.
FOOD AND DRINK
Two of my favourite casual eating spots are Kau Kee, housed in a tiny space in Central’s Gough Street (a beef brisket legend, though beware the queues) and nearby Brass Spoon in Pottinger Street, an urban Vietnamese eatery known for its pho (beef noodle soup).
For a more formal lunch, head to Café Gray Deluxe in The Upper House (see Accommodation) for panoramic views and modern European cuisine (the pasta fiore is delicious). Hung Tong, a Cantonese restaurant that I designed at the Kerry Hotel, takes inspiration from the old, red-brick sugar warehouses of the neighbourhood; the highlight is the vast outdoor terrace.
In the evening, The Old Man is a must, where three of Hong Kong’s most celebrated barmen have joined forces to create the best drinking spot in town. For dinner, Uma Nota, where Brazilian and Japanese street food is artfully combined, is a great place to go with friends. Haku serves innovative Japanese cuisine with influences from all over the world.
And Old Bailey, which occupies a space in Tai Kwun conceived by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, is best for regional Jiangnan and Shanghainese specialities, such as Longjing tea-smoked pigeon and ten treasure duck.
Even though The Upper House opened almost 10 years ago, its aesthetic remains timeless. When I designed the interiors, I was keen that the hotel should reflect a sense of calm and comfort, connecting emotionally with the guests, not through bold design gestures but through subtle moments of thoughtfulness.
Sitting on top of Pacific Place (a complex of office towers, hotels and a shopping centre situated in Admiralty), the hotel houses extremely spacious bedrooms, which revel in twenty-first-century understated luxury. All have huge bathrooms and extensive views of Victoria Harbour and the busy city below. Although I have worked on other hotels in Hong Kong since, The Upper House remains close to my heart. (Doubles cost from around £500 a night, room only).
The 5.7km Ngong Ping trail on Lantau Island offers dramatic mountain and bay views, and a complete contrast to the urban perspective normally associated with Hong Kong. In total the hike takes about four hours and follows a path, much of which is paved with wooden boards, that is almost directly aligned with the Ngong Ping 360 cable car. The grand finale is the Tian Tan Buddha, a giant bronze statue near the Po Lin monastery.
For more information on Hong Kong, visit discoverhongkong.com. Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic all have direct flights to Hong Kong from the UK.