The Murray, Hong Kong
A prime spot opposite Hong Kong Park in the heart of Hong Kong Island's busy Central district.
A modernist masterpiece, The Murray building housed government offices for more than 40 years before being transformed by award-winning architects Foster + Partners into the city's newest five-star hotel (it opened in January). They've kept the building's grand arches and distinctive recessed windows, cleverly angling each room to make the most of the views over Hong Kong Park and Victoria Harbour. The design of the public spaces is minimalist with extensive use of black and white marble, but colourful artworks and elaborate flower arrangements help soften the mood. A striking rooftop glass pavilion houses the hotel's signature restaurant, Popinjays, and there's a spacious wraparound verandah with mesmerising views over Central and the harbour. Throw in a state-of-the-art gym, a soon-to-be opened indoor lap pool and a lavish spa with a steam room and sauna and you might never want to venture outside.
In a city where space is at a premium, The Murray's 336 rooms are unusually capacious. Seventy-five per cent are larger than 50 square metres and many enjoy sweeping views of the park or the harbour (some corner suites have both). All feature at least 400 thread count linens, a bewildering choice of 16 pillows and a slightly terrifying Japanese toilet that opens and hisses when you enter the room. Bathrooms are an opulent montage of black and white Calacatta marble with gold taps and products by organic Aussie wellness brand Grown Alchemist. All are equipped with decadent rainhead showers and many have gorgeous egg-shaped baths. Once again, the design is on the austere side with black hardwood flooring, white and beige walls and only the occasional flash of colour from artworks and soft furnishings. Suite guests can have breakfast in Popinjays and also enjoy a complimentary mini-bar with upmarket snacks by New York grocer Dean & DeLuca.
During my stay, four of the hotel's five planned bars and restaurants are fully open. There's a stylish New York-style lobby bar, an elegant, light-filled lounge (a favourite for afternoon tea), a modern European restaurant and the one-Michelin-starred Guo Fu Lou – a well-regarded Cantonese eatery that was previously located in Wan Chai. While available to suite guests for breakfast, rooftop venue Popinjays will open for dinner later this year.
The hotel's enviable location means that pretty much everything is within walking distance. The famous Peak Tram funicular railway is next door, Hong Kong Park is across the road and Central's nightlife, galleries and glittering malls are a short stroll away. For everything else, the closest Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stop is a 10-minute walk.
A stylish rebrand of a much-loved modernist landmark that's a worthy contender for the city's best five-star hotel.
An excellent flat white made with Illy coffee (thanks to an Australian restaurant director).
A baffling in-room lighting system with labels so small I have to use my phone to magnify them.
22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong. Rooms start from HK$4400. Phone +852 3141 8888, see www.niccolohotels.com
Rob McFarland was a guest of The Murray and Hong Kong Tourism Board.