Not so long ago, it was rare to find a hotel with a shopping centre attached – or, indeed, vice-versa. These days it seems they’re everywhere, whether tucked into the heart of the world’s biggest mega-mall (The Address in Dubai Mall) or, like Bangkok’s Baiyoke Sky Hotel, peering down from the top of one of the world’s tallest buildings. And Hong Kong – one of the world’s fastest growing megalopolises – is no exception. But unlike the Emirates, where acres of desert stretch out into the horizon beyond the city, Hong Kong is an island and a crowded one at that. All of which makes the architectural achievement of the Mira hotel that much more impressive.
Not only did the designers manage to cram a five-star hotel into a small space between one mall and opposite another, they also managed to add a central courtyard, a ballroom, a subterranean spa and no less than five different restaurants. And they even managed to make them look cool, although if it’s old-school glamour you’re expecting, forget it.
Like the rest of Hong Kong, the Mira is almost exhaustingly modern, with sleek dark surfaces and flashes of bold brights. Upstairs, the corridors are made to look vaulting via the use of some cleverly positioned mirrors and some judiciously applied cream paint. Rooms, meanwhile, come in stark Scandinavian greys enlivened with bright crimson, emerald or purple testers that take pride of place on the vast white cotton-covered beds. Mine also had a vast Arne Jacobsen egg chair, its presence speaking volumes about the hotel’s masculine modernist approach to decor. But though modernity reigned supreme, there were feminine touches, not least the delicate jasmine-flavoured biscuits left on a red lacquer tray for me to enjoy and the racks of Aromatherapy Associates products that flanked the vast white tub in the bathroom.
On my first morning, after a blissfully good night’s sleep in the vast, squishy bed, I peered outside the window and spotted a green park, a dizzying distance below, where a group of students were being put through their paces by a T’ai Chi master. Their steely focus, at odds with the surrounding bustle, could have been a metaphor for the Mira itself, where cool, collected service dominated – albeit of a friendlier variety than one would expect to find in Europe. Downstairs at breakfast, smiling chefs and whip-fast waitresses were the order of the day, along with platefuls of exotic fruit and freshly-cooked omelettes.
Later, I took myself off to the hotel’s spa, which along with a pretty spectacular infinity pool, also featured several waterbeds arranged in a darkened room. There’s something oddly soothing about waterbeds, all the more so when you know that a vast mall is overhead. So soothing, I almost missed my flight home when I dozed off on one on my final day at the hotel. But while the Mira is doing its best to please you with its spa and entertain you with tales of, ahem, interesting former guests (it was the first pitstop for US whistleblower Edward Snowden), what it really wants to be known for is its food. Breakfast is good, no doubt about that. But what the hotel does really well is dim sum.
Hong Kong is the mecca of the Cantonese speciality and you’ll find good places to eat it practically everywhere you look. The city even has the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, which – of course – serves dim sum. At the Mira’s Cuisine Cuisine restaurant you’ll find a more rarefied variant, served up with delicate teapots of jasmine tea. Not for Cuisine Cuisine the rough pork buns and chicken feet found elsewhere. Instead, it’s calm, cool and measured, a hint of lemongrass here, a soupcon of ginger there. It’s also served in a ridiculously hip setting, with vast abstract chandeliers dominating the dining room and a handy door that takes you straight into the Mira Mall next door. You’ll leave sated but you won’t feel like you ate too much. And like the rest of the Mira, Cuisine Cuisine doles out its delights in small, measured nibbles. You can shop until you can’t see straight next door but the Mira’s clear-eyed charms will keep you coming back for more.
A night at the Mira Hong Kong starts at £184.00 per night staying in a City (standard) room. For more information and to book, see themirahotel.com
IN THE AREA…
The Mira is based in Kowloon, on the opposite side of Victoria Harbour to the fleshpots and business blocks of Hong Kong Island. As a result, the pace is a little slower, although that’s relative to the frenetic speed at which the rest of Hong Kong operates. Nevertheless, there are shops galore, not least at the Mira’s own mall, which mixes designer names with high street brands. Opposite the hotel’s front entrance is a Vivienne Westwood boutique, while further down the street, you’ll find classic Kowloon emporia including traditional medicine shops and a odd little affair selling jelly made from tortoise shells. If you need to clear your head, Kowloon Park, opposite the hotel, is a lovely spot for a walk – or an impromptu T’ai Chi class.