A dazzling skyscraper-studded skyline, swanky shopping districts buzzing with fashion giants and bespoke tailors, plush dine outs that push the boundaries of culinary innovation and engaging experiences that leave an impression and tempt you to come back for more — the global financial hub of Hong Kong is truly enticing for the luxury traveller. A plethora of offerings mean that this Asian powerhouse is best explored over several days. Yet, you can make the best of it, even over a quick weekend getaway, with this list of must-dos that are fresh, unique, carefully-curated and far from the clichés.
The erstwhile Police Married Quarters, or PMQ as it’s now known, once served as the site of Hong Kong’s first school providing a Western education to Chinese students. Later converted to Victoria College, and then Queen’s College, it was the alma mater to some of the city’s most influential business tycoons. Post its demolition during World War II, the site was rebuilt as the first dormitory for Chinese police officers. Today, PMQ has been conserved and converted into a cool hub for over 100 local design and creative enterprises. Besides studios and pop-ups of fashion, furniture, jewellery, watches etc, PMQ also features a space exhibiting interesting art, sculpture, installation and photography. The highlight though, is the range of quirky, experiential workshops that are regularly conducted—from Kintsugi, or the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver; to learning how to be a coppersmith, to lacquer art, dyeing with food waste colour and more.
Shopping at the Historic Old Town Central
Hidden in the shadows of Hong Kong’s spectacular high rises are old neighbourhoods steeped in history. One such dynamic locality brimming with style is Old Town Central. Local markets, antique shops and hip concept stores hug the small steep alleys, alongside traditional tea houses and modern art galleries. The seemingly endless rows of antique shops on Upper Lascar Row, or Cat Street as it’s popularly known, offer eclectic collections of Chinese calligraphy, art and vintage furnitures. In the bohemian area of PoHo, vintage shops sell old treasures—from vinyl records and old radios to bags and hats. Concept stores around Aberdeen Street, such as Soul Art Shop and Hong Kong Oapes, feature colourful clay handicrafts, cloth dolls, Chinese lanterns and jewellery. A far cry from the glitzy shopping centres, Old Town Central is a charming treasure hunt you’d want to dive right in.
Walking into Hong Kong’s swanky new cocktail lounge called Dragonfly is akin to stepping into wonderland. Around 120 vintage turquoise stained glass lamps hang upside down across the ceiling, creating an almost hypnotising effect. The walls stand adorned with over 500 cast iron dragonflies, while an impressive bronze dragonfly statue guard the bar. Inspired by the creative genius of 19th century American artist, Louis Tiffany, Dragonfly is the latest offering from design maverick Ashley Sutton’s stable. The hottest place to be in the city presently, it offers an exclusive selection of cocktails, many of which feature local ingredients such as bubble tea, lemongrass, palm sugar, coconut rum etc, and are an absolute must-try.
Attend A Horse Race
Fish out those glamourous hats, put on your best dress or suit, and head to one of the two race courses in Hong Kong for an evening of exciting horse racing, frenzied betting and classy socialising over drinks and nibbles. The world-class race course at Sha Tin features the largest video screen in the world—as wide as the length of a Boeing 747, whereas the Happy Valley Racecourse houses the Hong Kong Jockey Club Archive and Museum within its premises. Nearly 700 races are conducted at these two tracks every year by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, with a betting turnover of billions. Races are held every Wednesday and on weekends, and you may opt for the ‘Come Horseracing Tour’, which includes round-trip transfers, a guided tour, entry to members’ enclosure, betting voucher and an international buffet spread with unlimited beverages.
Channeling the colonial design and style of the former police station and prison compound of Tai Kwun where it’s housed, Madame Fù blends elements of the east and west into a grand, stylish fine-dining space. Reminiscent of a Parisian café, each of the six stately rooms here are artfully designed with specific themes and identities. Two sprawling verandahs, adorned with ornate lanterns fashioned out of Hermes scarves and velvet banquettes, overlook the central courtyard of Tai Kwun and the towering skyscrapers around. Prior reservations are recommended at this most sought-after venue that doesn’t fail to impress with its vast, delectable contemporary Cantonese menu and a rich selection of fine wine.