Need a break but can’t face the hassle of boarding a plane this summer? Not a problem. In a city as diverse as Hong Kong, there are plenty of places to recharge your batteries. From bubble homes to luxury rooms, and glamping to bathtubs with a view, freelance writer, photographer, and explorer Billy Clarke has you covered.
It’s official, the Hong Kong heat has arrived in all its sweltering glory – although the sweat dripping off your brow probably told you that already. While the privileged legislators are getting ready to jet off to exotic locales on their summer recess, the majority of us (i.e. most of you reading this) are still in the city labouring through the warmth.
However, for us salaried workers, hope springs eternal in the form of the stay-at-home city vacation. Spending a night away from your own bed is a delightfully gratuitous way to break your routine, rediscover your city, and unwind without the logistical travel headaches. So screw the jet lag, avoid the packaged air of dehumanising airports, go easy on your wallet, and treat yourself to an escapist summer staycation sabbatical at one of these hidden gems.
1. The Surrealist: Mingle Farm
Staycations are all about breaking the norm and embracing the unusual, and this place takes quirky accommodation to a whole new level. As Hong Kong’s ‘glamping’ specialists, Mingle Farm is definitely at the more glamorous end of the camping spectrum, offering guests the chance to not only camp out in the wilderness under the stars, but to do so in an inflatable bubble! Each giant igloo tent (Aecosphere) comes fully equipped with skylights, blow-up mattresses, towels, toiletries and, for those allergic to the heat, air-conditioning.
There is also a special dining bubble, a double bubble with a lounge area and, for the exhibitionists among us, a transparent bubble (just try not to traumatise the kids). The unconventionality doesn’t stop there though – some of their other accommodation offerings include caravans (yes, in Hong Kong), a bouncy castle style house with beds, and cottage huts too. To pass the time they offer fishing, archery, DIY workshops, cycling, telescopes, bouncy castles, and zorbing (aka hamster balling, globe-riding, and sphering).
- Book well in advance
- Need to use communal toilets outside for the bubble tents
- Don’t forget to visit nearby attractions like the Hong Kong Wetlands Park or the Ping Shan Heritage Trail with ancestral halls and age-old pagodas
Mingle Farm, 30 Tin Tsz Rd, Fung Ka Wei, (+852) 2891 8263
2. The Family: Hyatt Regency Hong Kong
Hyatt is pretty much a staycation connoisseur – they’ve got this stay-at-home holiday thing down to an art. Maybe owed to the fact it has more than half a century of experience in the business, or maybe because Hyatt knows that staycations are rarely spent alone. Either way, your batteries are sure to come out fully recharged after a couple of nights at this city resort, where all the family is well catered for.
As a convenient in-town getaway, the Hyatt Regency in Sha Tin is ideal, with the picturesque location offering guests an abundance of that endangered Hong Kong resource known as fresh air. There is also plenty of that equally scarce element known as natural greenery, with the hotel featuring panoramic views over the serene Shing Mun River and its surroundings mountains. The tranquilly minimalist guestrooms are designed to emphasise the natural scenery, and the outdoor pool is a great place to get your share of unsoiled oxygen.
Guests have all the cultural attractions of the New Territories on their doorstep (they can arrange visits to the 1983 Wing Wo Bee Honey Farm or the Railway Museum at the old Tai Po Railway Station). The hotel also understands that everyone needs something to keep them occupied, so they have daily activities to keep kids happy at Camp Hyatt, where the little ones can partake in craft classes or try their hand at gardening and take home a tree. Parents are equally doted on at the hotel, with excellent food on offer at their award-winning Sha Tin 18, and reviving Elemis treatments available at Melo spa.
- If you book two rooms to make space for the kids, take advantage of the ‘Family Time’ package, which includes a free upgrade to two executive rooms
- Request a river view, but on the higher floors to avoid overlooking the parking lot
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, 18 Chak Cheung Street, Sha Tin, New Territories, (+852) 3723 1234
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3. The Explorative Sojourner: L’hotel Island South
A staycation is ultimately a way to experience your city in a way you haven’t done before, so be adventurous, get your explorer hat on, and get out and discover. Plenty of hotels have been opening up in interesting gentrifying neighbourhoods around town recently, and this sleek property is the lynchpin of revitalisation on the Southside of Hong Kong. Situated on the edge of the fast-developing Wong Chuk Hang district, L’Hotel Island South is perfectly poised to take advantage of all the curiosities this revamped area has to offer. As Hong Kong’s equivalent of New York’s Meatpacking District or London’s East End, a smattering of art galleries, boutiques, private kitchens, and bars have recently sprung up across the old district. Ocean Park and some of Hong Kong’s most scenic beaches are also right on the doorstep of the hotel. It’s a great option for early-adopting staycationers looking to explore the city, especially in light of the new MTR, which now makes it super easy to get to from Admiralty.
The hotel has a lovely, subtle, stylish, business feel about it, but is also well equipped for families, which makes it a nice alternative to most other hotels in the city. Perched at the foothill of Aberdeen Country Park, the wave-like 37-storey building offers 432 spacious rooms with unobstructed views of the mountains from behind and panoramic views seascapes in front. Pleasing on the eyes, the well-designed property uses a mix of clean, minimal lines and warm woods to create a soothing ambiance. There is a gym and a large outdoor swimming pool, both of which look onto the verdant hills at the back. For food and drink, Lis Café provides all-day dining in warm surroundings, while Bar Lis screens live sport and electronic dart machines.
- Reward yourself with a premium getaway with their ‘Last Minute Breakaway’ package which includes a sumptuous dinner buffet for two and more
- Get a higher floor with a view of the tranquil mountains for some real escapism
L’hotel Island South, 55 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Southside, (+852) 3968 8888
4. The Nature Loving Outdoor Enthusiast: Sai Yuen Farm
A good staycation is spent doing something new and different, and in our urban jungle there is no better way to do this than by getting back in touch with nature. For a dose of greenery and fresh air, why not try camping in a Teepee or a Safari-style tent for a weekend? Yes, you read that right. While it may be hard to believe, there are campsites and places that offer tents for rent in Hong Kong – and, no, we aren’t referring to camping out for the latest iPhone or (insert product of planned obsolescence here).
Sai Yuen Farm is a 400,000 square-foot landscaped private lot on the island of Cheung Chau with a large, picturesque, outdoor pond which offers a variety of camping options and activities. They have Mongolian Yurts (!), sizeable Teepees, Safari-style tents, and futuristic-looking dome structures which are great for star-gazing. Each come with double-air-beds, bedding, and air coolers as well as camping tables and chairs. Activities include rock climbing, boating, fishing, biking, and skateboarding – there are even Segways available and, er … goats too.
- There are fast and slow Cheung Chau Ferries. While the fast ones are obviously quicker, they aren’t recommended for seasick travelers
Sai Yuen Farm, DD CC Lot 12, Cheung Chau, (+852) 2981 1010
Read more! Explore Cheung Chau with our Island Guide.
5. The Design Savvy: Upper House
For the ultimate in-town getaway, be generous to yourself and try overnighting at the Upper House, a slick Asian-influenced hotel which is quite unlike any other in the city. This award-winning boutique hotel features an aesthetically pleasing fusion of natural light, modish wooden fittings, and well-planned fittings – all stylishly arranged with respect to balanced geometry and symmetry. Organic-looking materials, original oriental sculptural installations, and seamlessly-proportioned spaces come together to create a well-designed delight for the senses.
From the moment you check in you can rest assured you’ll be catered for in every way, leaving you to focus more on that important staycation element – relaxing. They have a paperless online check-in service, which bypasses conventional registration queues completely. Guests can check-in anywhere inside the hotel, and check-out can be done by email. Room service can also be called with the in-room iPod touch, which features hotel information and more as well. Although you might not want to leave your limestone-clad bath and escape your spacious minimalist room, Café Gray Deluxe is a hotel highlight that cannot be missed, where a unique selection of European classics are served up in sophisticated surroundings that feature bespoke furniture and bamboo lights.
- Guests staying for two consecutive nights before June 10 enjoy special room rates and exclusive offers from select Joyce boutiques
- All the rooms are amazing, but the mountain-view rooms are slightly more calming than the busy harbour view rooms
Upper House, Pacific Place, 88, Pacific Place, Queensway, Admiralty, (+852) 2918 1838
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6. The Tech Addict: EAST
While it is important to unplug and unwind on a staycation, there are those of us for whom this is impossible (business owners, freelancers, and Pokémon GO addicts). If you need to be connected while you simultaneously unravel, EAST is where it’s at. It’s a distinctive business hotel masquerading as an urban resort, which means there is a perfect balance of well-appointed connectivity and quality leisureliness. The enlivening spaces are just a wonder to be in. It’s a creative haven of a property, which makes it a great place to explore for a few days. Even the raw-looking public stone walls protruding from the hills behind the property seem to fit in with the lifestyle concept of the hotel, which fuses a unique blend of organic materials, colours, and textures to create an eastern sophistication.
Despite the abundance of Fortune 500 companies in the area, there is a nice neighbourhood vibe to the district, and the international business presence means there are a lot of entertaining eateries and sleek-looking public spaces nearby. Nevertheless, once in the hotel you probably won’t want to leave, as the minimalist rooms are plush sanctuaries of comfort, complete with thoughtful amenities and features like a complimentary mini bar, Apple TV, iPod touch, iHome player, and espresso maker. There are also suspended bubble chairs and long uninterrupted windows, which maximise the intake of natural light. Contemporary art installations and design elements bring character to the property, and there is even a sleek gym, (complete with juice bar) and a funky outdoor heated swimming pool to keep you amused.
- Check out their ‘7 Wonders of EAST’ room package offering reasonable rates for two consecutive nights with plenty of benefits
- Suss out the Hong Kong Film Archive and the Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery, both of which are just minutes away from the hotel
EAST, 29 Taikoo Shing Road, Taikoo Shing, Hong Kong, (+852) 3968 3968