In Praise of the Rosewood Hong Kong, Champion of Hotel Luxury
Throughout the United States, and around the world, many of us are nearing the end of a second week of social isolation. My world has narrowed to the walls of my house, maybe the walking perimeter of my neighborhood, and my commute is as eventful as any trek from the kitchen to the dining table has a right to be, which is to say: not very.
So I find myself dreaming of far-flung locales. Places I was fortunate to grow even a little weary of, in my recent meandering Dad past, as I frequented them for work, or with family: New York, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seattle, Sunset Beach, Nashville.
Heck, even a lunch downtown is seeming exotic about now. Which brings us to today’s post.
After recently sharing my picturesque London commute past Tower Bridge and the Tower of London at the tail end of a trip just as we were entering lockdown, and a few posts removed from my declaring a pox on certain faulty hotel rooms, I figured it was time to shine some hopeful praise on what I consider the most sumptuously perfect stay I’ve ever experienced.
Consider this entry evidence of my hopes that we will, hopefully soon, get back to taking travel for granted. To sharing gripes about airline delays, instead of stories from the leading edge of cabin fever.
In fact, let’s declare Dadsense’s Decree: when this whole mess of Corona Virus is behind us, let’s all resolve to do something incredibly nice for ourselves. Ideally far, far away from our dens of quarantine.
Deal? OK. Then here’s my hot tip: the Rosewood Hong Kong is the finest of all fine luxury hotels my head has ever been blessed to grace the pillows in.
Room with a (Legendary) View
During one of my epic, roughly biannual work trips to Asia in late 2018, I set down my criteria for qualities a good hotel room must have, as well as a series of nice-to-haves and nice-but-not-necessary.
These criteria are typically on my mind during a trip, anyway, but when I’m on the road for nearly a dozen days or more at a stretch, as I was twice last year for work, these qualities, from nitpicking to necessary, are more or less burned into my psyche.
In the days before I embark on these winding paths away from home, and my loved ones, I feel myself physically bracing for the journey. For strange beds, local smells. Menus I’ll manage, mostly, to tolerate. Unwieldy sleep schedules, Strange, if pleasant faces. Clothes bag-pressed and never as crisp or clean as from the dryer at home.
The second trek’s itinerary, last November, was Sioux Falls to Hong Kong to Seoul, South Korea to New York to home, again, inside the manic part of 12 days. As I landed in Hong Kong, just before 6 a.m. Sunday, I looked forward to smothering my loneliness, and the dread of a trip just beginning, in the deepest pillows they could muster up. But I also dreaded what I would face at the check-in desk, wondering if, this early, I would face a few hours of cramped waiting in the lobby.
But was I in luck, and then some. For five days at least I was in the care of the Rosewood Hong Kong.
Considered Rosewood’s flagship property, the hotel had opened only months before my stay. What a treat, then, to experience that “new hotel smell” while noticing none of the kinks you might see, say, as a new staff and facility went through its paces at the local Hampton Inn or the Holiday Inn Express Peoria. No, everything at the Rosewood was polished and precise. Which actually, makes you a bit self-conscious until you learn to enjoy it. Because, after all, there is no way you will ever measure up to being that polished and precise.
Case in point: smelly, groggy me on my Sunday arrival. I could barely understand or respond to the smiling, impeccably polite reception agent. And after breathing a silent hallelujah that they had a room for me, this early, I scrawled my signature on the check-in forms and allowed my crumbling cookies to be escorted onto the elevator and into my room.
Instantly, I felt relaxed. From the cushy, deep carpet, to the quiet of the place. To my ability — rated highest of all on my list of essential good room traits — to exert instant, godlike control over the thermostat. That I locked it on around 18 Celsius minutes after closing the door was a resounding good sign.
The window was another. Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong is a thrilling site no matter if you’re gazing on it from the island side or the mainland side, but to have that vista spread before you, morning, afternoon or night, as you gaze like a king from your comfy bed is worth whatever price you need to pay. Or in this case, my company paid. (And number 4 on my list of hotel room nice-to-haves, for those of you scoring at home — or even if you’re alone.)
From God to King, eh? This was getting good. I fingered the wall controls to mechanically crank shut the shades, and blackout drapes, and fell into blissful unconsciousness.
Consider Yourself Well-Appointed, Traveler
Upon waking, and as I lengthened my stay that week, I would time and again discover just how lush life could be on the road if you’re snug in the lap of luxury at a hotel like the Rosewood.
And for the record, again, there’s been no hotel I’ve experienced quite like the Rosewood.
Oh, I’d rate the Ritz Hong Kong, down and around the bay from the Rosewood, as a rare treat, especially after a first visit to Beijing and the average lodgings there. It could only soar even higher in comparison — though it soars plenty high on its own. (It’s the world’s tallest.)
And for attention to every detail, in an atmosphere crafted for your comfort, and eco-friendly to boot, the Hotel Bardessano in Yountville is the best way to slide into Napa Valley and never want to slide back out.
And I’ve appreciated the deft little touches of boutique hotels, like the Hotel Amoy in Singapore, with its vouchers for hearty breakfasts at the neighboring Dean & DeLuca, included international calling and elegant ride to the airport, and handwritten notes each day.
But for this extremely, fantastically lucky boy traveler, the Rosewood ticked every box.
For starters, let’s talk closet space. (#2 on my list of nice-to-haves.) The closets in an average room at the Rosewood are so nice you don’t know if your stuff is worthy to hang there. Floor-to-ceiling, wall to wall, walk on in and there’s room for everything, heck, three or four times everything. True to company tradition at our conferences, I eventually gained a roommate that week, but he and I didn’t so much as touch shoes in that fantastic stretch of shelves and apertures and complimentary this and that.
And the bathroom, ye Gods. (There I go, invoking deity again.) Made me feel like a minor sultan, or illustrious potentate with the checkered tile and mirrored surfaces. Two doors into the wall-length walk-in shower, and a deep tub just outside. TV speakers sounding within, you know, if that’s your pleasure. And the cushiest, softest towels a man could ever pine for. Made me feel only vaguely bad to throw my stinky running shorts, shirt and sweat-stained caps over the side of the tub.
Which brings us to the gym facilities. Nothing brings health on the road to an Asics-screeching halt like subpar or nonexistent workout rooms. Across the Bay and blocks deep in Wan Chai, where I typically stay when I’m visiting the office in Hong Kong, the Kew Green hotel is mostly hit or miss with amenities, but is a world-record fail in the treadmill department. The two it squashes into a closet roughly 15 by 15 feet square had a tendency to jolt to a stop randomly, that is, when there weren’t actually holes in the deck of the treadmill causing the belt to actually bump up and down and into and out of them. I got out of there with ankle-breaking speed, to crack a pun.
Not so the Rosewood. I first visited their multi-room, seemingly teak-paneled workout facility, with windows giving onto the bay and the walk alongside it, jetlagged about 1 a.m., and not only was it open, and well stocked with water and towels and probably other treats I couldn’t bring myself to take, but the machines were all state-of-the-art, working, and well attended. By that I mean that, even in the dead of night, you couldn’t be more than five minutes or so in a place without a well-meaning, but discreet, so very discreet, hotel employee appearing just in case you needed something. Which ordinarily brings out my crabby, antisocial tendencies. But in a strange place, so sumptuously appointed, it helped to be able to look over my shoulder every once in awhile and convey, via eyeblinks, is this really all for me, and to have them reassuringly nod back, go ahead, ’tis.
Many Happy Returns
Rosewood rooms are the epitome of spaces you want to spend time in, that you don’t feel are just there for a place to hang your coat and rest your head.
Getting a little work done was a pleasure with the (complimentary) high-speed Internet, not to mention being able to prop the computer on the bedside table in a comfy wingback chair, with that first class view of the harbour, with an ample supply of cappuccino to pop in the in-room brewer, not to mention the chocolates and treats the hotel delivered with nightly turndown service. There was even a handy valet tray to keep my watches on, bedside. And in the morning, Eggs Benedict that melted in my mouth at the delightful — of course — restaurant downstairs.
As a pair of finishing touches during my stay, I subjected five days’ worth of stinky laundry to the hotel’s cleaning service. It came back in a wrapped box, with dried flowers atop the neatly pressed, wrapped bundles. It was almost a shame to take them out and wear them again. As for the coup de grace, an onsite chocolatier crafted a quartet of sweets incorporating our company’s logos, delivered in a box on my final night. By then I was so drenched in comfort and indulgence, I could barely manage a bite.
And isn’t that how we wished each trip would end? With our selves so sated, so filled with the experience, that we can’t bear another minute away from home. And so we return, a better, bolder version of ourselves, fresh from the road, but aware of the comforts not hand-crafted for us by others, but made by ourselves, our own.
For now, we’re getting more than our fill of the worlds we have made. We’ve retreated there, to shelter, to wellness. And for how long, we don’t know.
But when we do eventually venture out again, and make our way to points near and far, creating temporary nests to abide in, I hope we can appreciate how fortunate we are to have those experiences, whether luxurious or fraught with their own characteristic shortcomings. It’s the spice of life, to discover, to live enough of the new and unknown to make it yours, in a way. To conquer it. Those are the experiences, after all, that make coming home all the sweeter.