I love to travel. For nearly two decades now, I've been fortunate enough to check into some of the world's most divine hotels and resorts, many of them on behalf of this magazine. But there was one gaping hole on my travel bucket list – a legendary hotel that, I'd been told, has defined luxury travel since it first opened its doors in 1928.
A place that has attracted movie stars and politicians. A place that visitors to the city feel they need to at least walk past, if not visit for the iconic high-tea. And, what better time to visit the Grand Dame of the East - the Peninsula Hong Kong - than after a recent upgrade?
It's hard to imagine why a hotel that is indisputably one of the world's best decided it must become an even better hotel, but after a HK$450 million 'room enhancement program', that is exactly what The Peninsula Hong Kong has done.
Today, the hotel boasts the most sophisticated room technology that hotel guests can expect to encounter anywhere - a system that, in essence, offers guests access to just about anything one could wish for, all at the touch of a button. A tablet device, available in several languages, opens up a world of possibilities and options - from room service, to free VOIP (international) phone calls, and Luxe city guides written specifically for Peninsula guests, to the free and HD movies, it is your key to the Peninsula Hong Kong. I'm far from a techno-buff and, while the system is supremely advanced with a team of engineers dedicated to developing and running it (situated in a top-secret location, no less!), the genius in the Peninsula's 'touch-of-a-button' revolution is that even a seven year old could master it.
The guest rooms have also benefited from a facelift, and now offer a minimalistic and modern escape, yet it retains a timeless style that is very much at home in one of the city's most historically important buildings. Every room and space has the perfect look and feel of a chic urban retreat, the decor is subdued, predominantly creams and browns, with a blossom appliqué on one of the walls - a subtle, yet clever nod to the group's Asian heritage and the hotel's location. Let it be categorically said that the hotel has retained all of its old world charm and glamour, and each of the elements that helped see it consistently voted one of the most prestigious hotels in the world.
The staff and the level of service is quite stunning. From the time we were met at customs and then safely handed over to the Rolls Royce Phantom chauffeur who would transport us to the hotel, to the white-gloved doormen that greeted us and the host that led us to our room and ran through everything, we didn't have to think about a thing. With the Peninsula home to some of the city's most famous restaurants, it was going to be tough to leave. That night we dined in their Philippe Stark designed Felix - the sleekly designed contemporary interior tries to give the view a run for its money, but the spectacle of lights, Victoria Peak, the famous Hong Kong Harbour ... nothing can compete with that. The food was divine, Pacific Rim cuisine, the wine list impressive, the cocktails clearly a massive draw card (it is said that the screwdriver was created at The Peninsula Hong Kong!), and the men's room even offers the boys a cheeky view!
The piece-de-resistance for us was our evening at Gaddi's, the Peninsula's fine dining French restaurant, the city's first authentic French restaurant. The hotel has been offering a special Jubilee degustation menu, an eight course meal of French interpretations with wine pairing in celebration of 60 years of serving some of the city's best food, throughout much of 2013. This was truly one of the most romantic evenings ever, and the food will be spoken of on our own 60th wedding anniversary still!
There are too many Peninsula highlights to mention - the couple's spa treatment, for example, was out of this world. Did the whole experience live up to the legend? Even more than we expected!
To plan your own ultimate Hong Kong romantic getaway at The Peninsula Hong Kong, phone (852) 2920 2888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org