Just as Ravi and I cashed in airline miles to fly to Hong Kong, we also cashed in hotel frequent stay points to pay for our hotel room. We have status (and a reserve of points we’ve been saving up) with Hilton, and as the only Hilton brand hotel in Hong Kong is The Conrad, our decision about where to stay was made for us.
The Conrad brand is the “luxury” brand of the Hilton chain, so I was looking forward to staying there.
When we landed at the airport, we went searching for a large taxi reservation desk (what we call maxicabs in Singapore and we’d call a van in Boston). The two suitcases we’d brought could easily fit in the trunk of a regular cab, but the wheelchair meant we needed something bigger. Instead we found kiosks for various hotel chains and properties, and we (correctly) assumed that The Conrad desk could help us out. We were whisked out to a nicely appointed car with either an extremely large trunk or a magician of a driver, because all three items fit in the trunk of the otherwise small car with ease.
Upon arrival at the hotel, we were whisked past “regular” check-in and taken to the Club Level Lounge on the 59th floor. There we were seated (not that I wasn’t already, thanks to the wheelchair) and checked in privately (something I had hitherto only experienced at the Hilton in Bombay–which is now an Oberoi). We were thankful that our room was available for immediate check-in (it was only noon or so, and official check in was at 3), and we were escorted to our 60th floor room.
The key to making a guest feel welcome is little touches. The Conrad excels at little touches.
(also, slippers on both sides of the bed in a guaze bag, should we want to use them)
(I arranged the towel, orchid and duck for the shot, and then faded the color saturation in this shot in post-production)
Another nice touch was the two different robe options (heavy terry cloth in the bathroom, and light cotton ones in the closet). For us, that the closet was a walk-in was incredibly useful, as my chair stowed away nicely in there, not cluttering the room.
As a person in a wheelchair in not-so-accessible Hong Kong, I presented a few issues. We elected not to get an “accessible room” (in part because there were no Club Level accessible rooms, or none available) and my wheelchair did not pass unfolded through the door. For me, it wasn’t an issue as I had the crutch and was allowed to do some light walking, so I’d get out of the chair before entering the room and exit the room before sitting. The chair would fold and then move in and out of the room.
We’re fairly independent travelers…we don’t go in for travel agents, concierges or “arranging” for the most part. We’d rather book online, use google maps, and walk or take public transit. But with the wheelchair, we constantly needed to ask for help. The Conrad always stepped up…asking a taxi to park closer to the curb so I could more easily transition in and out of the cab, once physically lifting the chair over a curb, and when we had dinner reservations at Ruth’s Chris but couldn’t figure out how to get there–personally escorted through a confusing warren of buildings and elevators to avoid the street (and its lack of a pedestrian cross-way). I was impressed and grateful at how effortlessly they went out of their way to help us find solutions.
On Friday and Saturday nights they hold a dessert bar. We elected to skip dinner and eat dessert instead on Saturday. There was an assortment of desserts that would appeal to any sweet tooth from crepes, souffles and fruit flambéd over ice cream on order to chocolate puddings (effectively a molten chocolate cake) to cheesecakes to tarts and cream puffs. Not for a lack of effort, but I don’t think we even managed to try everything once. The dessert bar is held at the main bar in the lobby, and at least on the night we were there, they also had a woman with a lovely voice providing live music.
One thing I hadn’t understood about Hong Kong when we booked the trip was that it’s comprised of a small section on the mainland (over the border from China) and then a series of islands. The Conrad is on Hong Kong Island, in a section of town with a lot of upscale hotels, restaurants and shopping. It’s connected to the Pacific Place Mall, and the Admiralty MTR subway stop. Had I not been in the wheelchair, I daresay I would have declared it incredibly easy to get everywhere from there…with a wheelchair, get used to cabs and get used to few curbs having an accessibility ramp.
Although Hong Kong is among the world’s most packed and bustling cities, the view from our room was surprisingly green.
The next day, when it was overcast, the clouds/mist made this same scene look almost magical
No hotel is perfect, and there were a few things that weren’t as impressive as we were otherwise expecting. The breakfast buffet was okay, but firmly middle of the pack in terms of selection and taste. The gift shop had very limited hours and almost no selection–it seemed to mostly have jewelry on offer. There were some amenties and some magazines, but not a great selection. There was no food for sale (and over the years I’ve come to rely on the gift shop for snack fixes, so this stung).
Sadly, The Conrad is not a cheap hotel. The average room rate is about 400+USD (which is why we’ve only ever stayed in Conrad brand hotels on other people’s money–my in-laws paid for our honeymoon room, or on points). Even with our usual brand loyalty to Hilton, unless we use points, I don’t see us going back to The Conrad on future stays in Hong Kong. But if it’s within your price (or frequent stay points) range, I highly encourage you to stay there.