Ovolo Central, Hong Kong
The heart of Hong Kong island is literally called Central. The flat waterfront area quickly gives way to steep hills that slope up towards Victoria Peak. The Ovolo is a short distance up the hill, located in a neighbourhood of restaurants, bars, boutique shops and small street markets. It's a different feel from the hotel giants located by the harbour, where large shopping malls and major luxury brands dominate.
Space is at a premium in Hong Kong and the Ovolo Central deals with this by being a tall, extremely narrow building. There are 27 storeys and each floor has just two rooms on it (with the exception of the top level suite).
Central was the first Ovolo to open, 18 years ago, but has just undergone a major revamp lead by the opening of its new restaurant, VEDA (see below), which sits below the compact lobby. There is a self-serve laundry on the first floor and while there is no gym, the hotel will provide a guest pass for a gym nearby.
With just two on each floor, the rooms manage to be quite spacious by Hong Kong standards. My 33-square-metre "platinum" room features a queen size bed and a round table large enough to double as a desk. The walls and bedhead feature triangular patterns of muted greys and blues.
An Ovolo standard, for those who book direct with the hotel, is a free mini-bar which includes a "loot bag" of snacks, beer and soft drink.
Each room also features a wireless speaker and Amazon's Alexa system, which can provide weather and news reports as well as any music you might be interested in listening to, all via voice request. In another bit of high tech, the large TV sits on an electronic platform so you can raise it when you want to watch but lower it, so it doesn't block the window, when you're done.
The grey marble bathroom is cosy but the shower is large, with a bench seat and twin shower heads. Toiletries are from Australian skincare company Biology and come in large pump bottles (reducing plastic waste by not using those tiny ones). The only downside is the limited size of the wardrobe, which is too shallow to lie a full-size suitcase down in and has a thin wall behind it to the next room.
The newly opened VEDA claims to be Hong Kong's first hotel vegetarian restaurant, with a menu by New York-based, best-selling Australian chef Hetty McKinnon.
The Australian influence is also felt in the wines, with an Australian sommelier on staff, and coffee from Sydney's Pablo & Rusty. I'm a carnivore at heart, but dishes such as mushroom curry with peas, Indian-style breads and dumplings like panipuri and puriyaram, and an outstanding gnocchi with spinach and kale had me ready to convert.
Breakfast, complimentary for direct bookings, also shows an Australian influence with seven different variations of avocado on toast.
Opened in mid-2018, Tai Kwun is Hong Kong's new arts and heritage precinct located in the former Central Police Station compound. Transformed over a 10-year restoration, it's now home to restaurants, bars, shops, and arts spaces.
These include the new additions of JC Contemporary and JC Cube, cube-shaped modern buildings hosting exhibitions and performances. Elsewhere, the original buildings, including the prison cells (including one where Ho Chi Minh was once imprisoned) and courthouse have been maintained but put to new uses. One cell block has been converted into a cool bar space, where the former cells are perfect for small groups to relax in. Tai Kwun is directly across the street from Ovolo Central.
The Ovolo is not the flashiest hotel in Hong Kong, but it offers comfortable, spacious accommodation at a reasonable price in an excellent location.
Rooms at the Ovolo Central start from $HK2035. See www.ovolohotels.com
Great location without feeling like you're surrounded by the bustling crowds of the city.
Perhaps it was the gloomy weather, but the room was quite dark.
Craig Platt travelled as a guest of Ovolo Hotels.