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Watering holes have evolved greatly from the taverns of old to become as performative as they are functional. Although the objective remains, bars that serve aesthetics with their tipples generally draw a larger and more enthusiastic audience than the rest. A well-designed space delights and surprises trigger-happy patrons with luscious detailing and dramatic centrepieces, so a night out almost feels like a trip to a gallery. Admire these works of art as you sip on your drink—here are the most beautiful bars in Hong Kong to spend a leisurely evening at.
Located on the first floor of a refurbished three-storey pawnshop, the Botanicals Bar at The Pawn is a lush oasis in the heart of Wan Chai. Accessible via a steep, narrow flight of stairs whose lack of lighting leans more towards charming than alarming, patrons are greeted with a soft yet vibrant scene of concrete walls, high ceilings, rounded corners, and stark patterns.
The lounge area is furnished with colour-blocking pillows and seating, while the bar table area is more old-world and backlit. Artwork by local creatives adorn the walls, and Chinese shutters and neon signage harken to the building’s past life. The terrace area is populated with potted plants comfy sofas, should you wish to enjoy your cocktail outdoors when it’s warm.
The Pawn Botanicals Bar, 1/F, 62 Johnston Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2866 3444
Inspired by 1920s New York during the Prohibition era, 001 is one of Hong Kong’s first speakeasies which has since garnered international recognition. Behind an unmarked black door down an inconspicuous alley lies a sultry scene of hushed tones and low-key glamour. Art Deco-inspired detailing spider across the floor, ceiling, and cabinetry, in-between jewel-toned velvet upholstery and private booths segmented with heavy black curtains. Brass and oak tones dominate, conjuring visions of clandestine conversations and covert affairs.
001, Welley Building, 97 Wellington Street, Central | (+852) 2810 6969
Paying homage to the once-underappreciated-but-now-ubiquitous element in alcoholic beverages—tea—Tell Camellia tells the story of its namesake camellia tea plant. A casual drinking spot tucked away off Pottinger Street’s cobbled steps, the space is comprised of light wood and green tones, as a reference to the shade of evergreen camellia leaves and Japanese tea ceremonies.
Serving tea-based cocktails from various tea-drinking countries like Sri Lanka, China, and Japan, guests are introduced to the mild flavours with an alcoholic punch. The undulating walls—reminiscent of the arrangement of tea plantations on mountains—and cream-coloured booth seats echo the theme as patrons admire the vast range of tea-related paraphernalia on the back wall and communal bar table in the middle.
Tell Camellia, LG/F, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central | (+852) 9821 5501
A glittering jewellery box of a space, Dragonfly is a gorgeous Bohemian-style cocktail lounge inspired by Art Nouveau. Located in Tai Kwun, Central’s historic building turned art and performance hub, the bar is masterminded by designer Ashley Sutton of Iron Fairies and J. Borowski fame. Opulence and decadence are expressed in clusters of turquoise stained glass lamps inspired by American artist Louis Tiffany.
The winged insect the bar is attributed to can be found on almost every surface—etched on the lamps, perched on the mosaic tables, and resting on the walls. The amount of iron and rich detail juxtaposes with the delicate translucency of a dragonfly’s wing, yet captures the intense iridescence and fire of its shell and name attribution.
Dragonfly, Block 10 & 13, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2777 2633
As part of the Rosewood Hotel, DarkSide resembles the living room of a nocturnal, eccentric millionaire. Antique glass panelling, aubergine velvet armchairs, and a baby grand piano cast an old-world charm. Look up, and witness the hypnotic turn of the sand-filled hourglasses mounted onto the ceiling, handcrafted in Murano, Italy. The polished black marble countertop adds to the glisten of the bronze window frames and the lights along Victoria Harbour, discernible through the windowpanes and on the balcony area.
DarkSide, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 3891 8888
Glamourous with a hint of playfulness, the St Regis Bar is another location that took its cues from the city that never sleeps. A hand-painted mural by Beijing artist Zhang Gong graces the expansive back wall, celebrating iconic elements of Hong Kong such as the Star Ferry, Victoria Harbour, and colourful street signage.
Designer André Fu blends influences from his hometown, Hong Kong, with the understated elegance of New York’s storied bars. Steel-rimmed cut glass lamps, inspired by traditional Hong Kong gas street lighting, illuminate the bronze and marble fixtures popular during twentieth-century New York below.
St Regis Bar, 2/F, St Regis Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Drive, Wan Chai | (+852) 2138 6810
Everyone loves a story, and this bar has a great one. The fictional Dr Fern pays tribute to his two passions, botanicals and healing, by way of his gin parlour. Flavoured with herbs and botanicals, gin-based concoctions are used to soothe the patient’s ailments and symptoms, made with hand-picked ingredients from locally sourced farms. Styled like a vintage apothecary, Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour is hidden in the basement of Landmark, through a concealed entrance. Floral accents are everywhere, from the hand-painted wallpaper to the sconces.
Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour, Shop B31A, 1B/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central | (+852) 2111 9449
Disguised as a walk-through umbrella boutique for the English gentleman, Foxglove is one of Hong Kong’s worst-kept secrets. Behind the glass-panelled wall cabinets showcasing silver-handled umbrellas lies a glamorous jazz bar inspired by the first-class passenger section on aeroplanes and vintage locomotives, both symbols of luxury and high-class living in the past.
The streamlined, blue leather banquette done in vertical channel tufting alludes to the popularity of the style in automotive seating in the 1930s, and the curved sculptural ceiling ensconces patrons in an imaginary aeroplane cabin, in a time when air travel was considered a luxury and an occasion to dress up for. The VIP area and bathrooms are modelled after train and ship cabins respectively, continuing the theme of high-end transportation. Be transported to a Streamline Moderne world of moody jazz singers and smoky, perfumed gatherings unafflicted by the passing of time.
Foxglove, 6 Duddell Street, Central | (+852) 2116 2449
Named after the 1929 French novel Les Enfants Terribles by Jean Cocteau, Terrible Baby seeks to draw out the childlike wonder in response to the multitude of offerings by the space. Outfitted in a mid-century style inspired by the retro nostalgia of the surrounding neighbourhood of Jordan, the venue plays host to eclectic local and international bands. An outdoor terrace smothered in ferns allows patrons to sip on quirky libations in relative peace, while the indoor bar area features local elements such as metal lift gates and gaudy red mood lighting.
Terrible Baby, 4/F, Eaton HK, 380 Nathan Road, Jordan | (+852) 2710 1866