Barefoot Traveller



What do you do on a rainy day in Hong Kong? Well, in our case we rode the famed Star Ferry, shopped, then cruised a couple of hotels to dry off.

Arriving in a drizzle, we strolled the long, covered walkway through shopping mall after mall until we got to the 100-year-old Star Ferry. For about 25 cents each we churned across Victoria Harbor, threading our way through the busy bay for one of the world’s best, if shortest, boat rides. Skyscrapers loomed through the mist.

Directly across the street from the Star Ferry landing in Kowloon is the Chinese Arts and Crafts center, a multi-shop department store carrying everything from china to jade at reasonable prices. It’s a fun place for those who don’t care to spend time—and big money—in the swank but generic mall shops. But for an upscale experience—after all, you came all this way—there’s the spectacular Harbor City next to the Star Ferry terminal, housing four shopping malls with 700 stores.

Starved for the best in Chinese food, we made a B-line for the Shangri-La Hotel and its famous Shang Palace. There we gobbled the varied Cantonese delights of dim sum while around us the well-dressed local business folk and professionals met for power lunches. The Shang Palace is fun to look at too, with carved red lacquerware and Chinese lanterns. The Shangri-La is one of Hong Kong’s top hotels as well, a marble haven away from the hustle-bustle of this pulsating city. I’d suggest paying a bit more to enjoy the top two floors of the Horizon Club.

Over at the Regent, two-thirds of the rooms have postcard views of Victoria Harbor, a sight worthy of Conde Nast magazine’s “Room With a View” feature. I dropped in for afternoon tea in the humongous lobby, which has a picture window half the size of a football field, with sweeping views of you-know-what. To many, the Regent is not just Hong Kong’s best but one of the world’s great hotels. It offers everything from computer keyboards on huge glass desks so you can work in your room while gazing out over the harbor, to private spa rooms you can rent by the hour to sauna, soak and steam. Every guest room has high-speed Internet and e-mail access. There’s a butler for every six rooms and restaurants galore. I wandered through the exotic Club Shanghai, a night club with a sleek 1930s décor, complete with ornate opium lighters on the tables—but no opium, of course. But it was still afternoon and I had a ferry to catch. I vowed to return someday, and to the Club Shanghai some night.