Island Shangri-La

The sheer scale of a hotel like the Island Shangri-La, with its 565 rooms sprawling over 56 stories, encircling a vertigo-inducing patio which displays the “Great Motherland of China,” the largest Chinese landscape silk painting in the world, seems at first glance megalomaniac and difficult to comprehend, like the giant accommodation factories in the nearby gambler’s paradise Macau. All the more astonishing therefore, the Shangri-La at times succeeds in creating a convincing environment of intimacy while offering a thoroughly personal and individual service.

"The hotel, like many in Hong Kong, is designed atop an expansive mall packed with everything the modern hedonist could possibly desire."

This is particularly the case on the Horizon floor, the Shangri-La’s take on the ever so popular club-level concept in most modern luxury hotels. If you decide (and can afford) to stay at this hotel in the first place, there is no reason not to go for the slightly higher priced Horizon rooms, where you’ll be blessed with some of the most memorable views anywhere in the world and receive access to the lavishly designed club lounge, a frivolous fantasy of luxury cruise-liner interior design, including countless flutes of Champagne and hors-d'oeuvre complete with grand piano accompaniment, a doomsday-worthy setting.

The hotel, like many in Hong Kong, is designed atop an expansive mall packed with everything the modern hedonist could possibly desire. This closed environment might not be for everyone—although the tropical climate outside might sway a few of those—it certainly is expertly and tastefully carried out. It is in fact important to understand that malls in Hong Kong, similarly to those in Japan, have less in common with those lifeless nowhere-zones in the US or Europe. Here they are usually more considered in their design, sometimes indefinitely so, and function quite logically and futuristically as part of the city’s eco-system.

From a European perspective it also might seem rather silly to recommend a Chinese hotel restaurant in a city that bursts with endless varieties of culinary delights. But the truth is, in Hong Kong or elsewhere, it’s difficult to find traditional Cantonese cuisine executed with such perfection as in the hotel’s Summer Palace, which unsurprisingly carries two Michelin stars. The dim-sum lunch menu is a delirious experience that will leave the most discriminating gourmet speechless. The brave might even consider going for the soothing, herb-steamed turtle jelly for dessert. Or on second thought, you might want to skip straight to coffee. PK

This review is included in TTA9. Click here for more information about the issue.

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