Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, a Glamourous, Elusive Breed of Luxury Steeped in History
Mandarin Oriental's flagship sits in Central, Hong Kong, where it all began in 1963. The luxury hotel group has since expanded globally but its roots remain firmly in the bustling city, with an aura that exudes a coddling, oriental signature touch difficult to find elsewhere. It's the kind of place where all guests are welcomed by name, service is swift and celebrities – with a list of that has included Margaret Thatcher and Henry Kissinger – are regulars. Not a single element is overlooked, and it's easy to see why the flagship was only the beginning of generations of luxury hospitality to come. We visited the decades-long favourite to see and understand why the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Hong Kong is the legend that it is.
Check-in was simple and efficient, with our receptionist guiding us to the hotel room after a brief introduction to our stay and locations for necessities – which would be, naturally, the Club Lounge, restaurants and swimming pool. The lobby area is lavish and spacious, with a dedicated lounge area decked in plush, sumptuous decor for those looking to wait in style – and comfort.
One step up from the Harbour View Room, we stayed in the aforementioned accommodation with an added Club access bonus – the Club Harbour View Room. Spacious with panoramic views of the Victoria Harbour, the room was kitted in the signature oriental-chic interiors with vintage Chinese artworks hung upon the walls. It's the little touches that make up the stay at Mandarin Oriental – for example, a pair of in-room binoculars reminiscent of a bygone era, or for old-schoolers, a norm. We were also welcomed with a hot tea set accompanied with an array of Chinese snacks – best devoured in bed, of course, or while peering over the brilliant harbour-city scene from the window.
Dining at Man Wah
Unveiling its new look this year, the beloved Cantonese Man Wah reopened its doors with a fresh new look, adorned with pops of lapis lazuli and a more contemporary spin from its previous design. The restaurant retains its refined elegance with beautiful Chinese artworks and a new era of lanterns hanging from the ceiling for a nod to a modern understated look.
Unsurprisingly, Mah Wah is always full, with discerning guests making time for lunch meetings or couples booking in for elaborate date nights. Everyone feels and looks well-heeled, judging from the black-tie attire. It's the place to be and be seen – as it has been for the past 53 years and counting. The menu by Executive Chinese Chef Wing-Keung continues to excel with a few new modern variations to appeal to dignified crowds. We tried a few of the new dishes and was truly blown away by the incredible culinary expertise, attentive staff and stunning design that combined together, was a clear reminder of why Man Wah has held its Michelin star for so long.
Pictured: Deep-fried matsutake mushroom pudding, marinated abalone, Shanghainese-style at Man Wah
The mushroom is cooked to a certain temperature to obtain the perfect level of softness and is recommended to eat half with sugar and the other half without sugar. Juicy and silky-smooth, this dish resembled a soup-like texture on the inside.
Pictured: Marinated abalone, Shanghainese-style
Beautifully presented, the marinated abalone was cooked in abalone sauce with other seafood and is a dish borrowed from Shanghai.
Pictured: Pan-fried Hokkaido scallop, bread crumb
Using a jumbo scallop from Hokkaido, this dish was served with a fermented scallop dollop on the side and tofu crumbs. It's recommended to try the first half with the fermented scallops then the second half with the tofu.
Pictured: Sautéed lobster, superior fish broth
A personal favourite and possibly the best lobster dish we've tried to date, the Man Wah dish uses concentrated broth with garoupa – explicitly mentioned without corn starch – and is served with salmon roe before it's sprinkled by hand with dehydrated black caviar from France.
Pictured: Pork belly with taro and taro crisps
To finish, the pork belly with taro reminded us a little bit of zhongzi, the Chinese glutinous rice dish often served during Dragonboat festival. Instead of using rice, however, it's served with less bloating taro for a unique take on the classic. The taro crisps were also an interesting touch and we dipped it in the succulent sauce from the meat. We also sipped on our sparkling signature blend of Chinese Rosella, earl grey and strawberry green tea, which was the perfect time to help digestion.
Pictured: Chilled fig cream, seaweed sago, deep-fried purple sweet potato dumpling, red bean rice cake
The classic Cantonese dishes were an indulgent – but light – sweet treat to finish the decadent meal.
Pictured: Tea ceremony with Pu'Er Tea
Wine and dine at Mandarin Oriental
Although Man Wah is a must-visit and dine at Mandarin Oriental, other noteworthy restaurants include Mandarin Grill + Bar for top-notch grills and The Aubrey, a newly-opened venture with Maximal Concepts, for upscale izakaya delights.
For breakfast, head to Café Causette for set western or eastern sets or Clipper Lounge for a feasty buffet.
Dress to impress and toast to celebrations at The Krug Room, a champagne bar, or something more casual at The Chinnery or The Captain's Bar. For cake, The Mandarin Cake Shop.
Another recent unveil, The Mandarin Club occupies the entire 23rd floor, showcasing 6,200 square-feet of everything you need, from the boardroom for meetings to the all-day dining concepts. Head here anytime of the day to snack and sip coffee.
When it comes to the spa, there's no holding back and guests can find an undisturbed oasis to take a moment away from any stress. The oriental spa combines modern wellness with Traditional Chinese Medicine to stay true to its heritage. There's also an indoor pool for a refreshing afternoon soak.
For dog plus-ones, guests can order an indulgent dining menu which offers delicacies from cooked beef to healthy boiled carrots – it comes at a hefty price, but for pampered pooches, not a problem.
There's not much to fault with Mandarin Oriental, and with 57 years under its belt, guests continue to experience the best of five-star luxury in its flagship here in Hong Kong. There's a quintessential charm that comes with its years of history and it reflects in the service, some of which has been around for 40+ years. Our only comment would be that the room service took longer than expected – likely a result of the popularity of the hotel in recent months yielding staycation bookers and busy staff. Otherwise, for those looking to really splurge and book a memorable hotel experience that reminds us of the city's unique and extraordinary heritage, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong is the place to be.
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2522 0111
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