Stay in the heart of Hong Kong and the whole city is at your fingertips, from luxury shopping malls to art galleries and fine dining to spectacular hiking trails
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The 'Fragrant Harbour', which Hong Kong is also known as, packs an incredible amount of everything into a compact space, where mountain meets sea, East meets West and the new devours the old. Even time seems compressed in this frenetic metropolis. Fortunately, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong has an unbeatable location in the heart of Central district. Many of Hong Kong's best venues and attractions are within walking distance of the hotel, so pack some comfortable shoes, take a deep breath and thrust yourself into the throng of 'Asia's World City'.
Shopping counts for sport in Hong Kong and The Landmark Mandarin Oriental is connected to the city's premier mall, Landmark. It's actually four interconnected buildings – Atrium, Alexandra, Chater and Prince's – housing luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Dior, Burberry, and more. Among the big names are some lesser-known treasures, including jewellers Tayma and Carnet; British lingerie brand with royal approval Rigby & Peller; and home and lifestyle stores LaLa Curio, Altfield and Indigo Living. Leaving the mall, check out Johanna Ho, a local designer capturing the imagination of the fashion set with her quirky yet feminine and wearable knitwear, and The 9th Muse on Lyndhurst Terrace, which stocks whimsical jewellery.
Hollywood Road is lined with Chinese antique stores, but knowing where to shop can feel like a mug's game. With its curated displays, Rasti Chinese Art, up a flight of stairs in a nondescript building, offers a break from the cluttered street-front shops; dealer Nader Rasti specialises in jade and hardstone carvings and can help take some of the mystery out of buying antiques (call for an appointment on +852 2415 1888). It's also advised to call ahead for Indosiam Rare Books, a few doors along, where Yves Zemar specialises in hard-to-find editions – many in French – about China, Indochina, Japan and the Asia region (call +852 2854 2853). Here, you're also near PMQ, a recently opened creative hub in the former Police Married Quarters. The layout is maze-like and the shops a mixed bag, from footwear to furniture, but it's a good place to find out what the city's young creatives are up to.
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is connected to the city's premier mall
Hong Kong hosts one of the world's biggest art fairs, Art Basel, each March; though for a year-round roster of art heavy-hitters, head to the historic Pedder Building for blue-chip galleries. Gagosian Gallery represents Damien Hirst, Cy Twombly and Takashi Murakami; PearlLam Galleries has shown China's Su Xiaobai, Hong Kong-based Tsang Kin-Wah and American Jenny Holzer; and the pioneering HanartTZ Gallery first promoted Chinese contemporary artists back in 1983. Also worth a look are Ben Brown Fine Arts, Simon Lee and Lehmann Maupin galleries. While the Hong Kong Museum of Art is still closed for a major overhaul, and until the new West Kowloon Cultural District is completed, there are a couple of small private museums worth investigating. Most intriguing is the by-appointment Liang Yi Museum on Hollywood Road. Antiques collector Peter Fung has assembled an astonishing hoard of huanghuali and zitan wood furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as dazzling minaudi ères (evening bags) and compacts from brands such as Cartier and Boucheron, all beautifully displayed in a minimalist four-storey space. Over at Pier 8 on Victoria Harbour, the Hong Kong Maritime Museum condenses more than 3,000 years of seafaring history and culture in the region into an accessible, interactive and easy-to-digest format.
The Great Outdoors
The Peak and Dragon's Back are two of the most popular walks in Hong Kong. What most visitors don't know, is that these are two of eight sections that make up the 50-kilometre Hong Kong Trail. Most of this trail, which circles Hong Kong Island, is of easy to moderate difficulty and rewards those who make the effort with stunning urban, green and South China Sea panoramas.
By now, you've earned yourself some time at The Oriental Spa, arguably Hong Kong's top spa, at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental. Arrive early so you can relax in the vitality pool, hammam, and sauna and steam rooms (there are separate facilities for men and women). While there, soothe tired feet with a pedicure at French podiatrist Bastien Gonzalez's Pedi:Mani:CureStudio, and perhaps get custom-fitted BGA Insoles, for extra comfort when you're out and about. Gentlemen can also avail themselves of the excellent grooming on offer at The Mandarin Barber, located moments away at big sister property Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.
Gourmets come from near and far to sample Executive Chef Richard Ekkebus's exquisite modern French creations at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental's two Michelin-starred Amber restaurant. Lunch is great value and the abalone with crispy oxtail is a must. Less than 15 minutes on foot from the hotel is the low-key, though much lauded, Chairman restaurant on Gough Street (where Ekkebus took superstar chef Ferran Adrià during his most recent visit to Hong Kong). On the menu you'll find steamed flower crab in aged Shaoxing wine, caramelised spare ribs and other Cantonese delights. Much livelier is Ho Lee Fook in SoHo. Don't be put off by the basement party vibe, the Chinese-with-a-twist food here is delicious and the beef short ribs especially so. Carnivores might baulk at Grassroots Pantry on Hollywood Road, but if you're after a mostly healthy option (dishes can be heavy on the salt), this vegetarian eatery fits the bill. Straddling the restaurant and bar divide is Mercedes Me, part of a dinky Mercedes-Benz concept showroom, very close to the hotel, where bankers, expats and young locals sip cocktails and dine on modern Peruvian, Mediterranean and Japanese-influenced dishes with gusto.
Gourmets come from near and far for the modern French cuisine at Amber restaurant
MO Bar at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental serves the most fashionable afternoon tea in town, which can easily morph into an intoxicating cocktail hour. You're also guaranteed a prime spot for people-watching, as many of the city's bold and beautiful or suited and booted pass through its doors. Should you wish to venture out, two lovely bars await just across the road. Secreted away at the top of an office building is the tiny Bar Butler Shelter, known for its meticulously crafted cocktails. Its classic gin martini is like mother's milk. Ask your concierge to call ahead to reserve a seat. Taking the speakeasy theme further is Foxglove, hidden behind what appears to be an umbrella shop on Ice House Street. Pushing the correct umbrella handle gains you entry. The city's club scene isn't on par with that in Berlin or Tokyo, but if you want to bust some moves, try stalwarts Play, Dragon-I, Drop, Boujis and Volar, or for something newer Cé La Vi, all in or near Lan Kwai Fong.