The Kowloon is the place to stay if you really want to be at the heart of the frenetic 'Manhattan' of Asia. Despite its luxury, you should not expect to find extraordinary facilities in this functional but somewhat outdated hotel, which is surprising for Hong Kong, and its enormous capacity means that the communal areas feel rather like busy railway terminals. A special mention should go to the French chef here who prepares generous and delicious buffets.
The Kowloon is squeezed in with the other buildings on a little street just next to the very lively and never-ending Nathan Road, while the departure point for ferries crossing the bay is around a 10-minute walk away. The hotel is around 45 minutes by taxi from Hong Kong International Airport (1 hour by bus), but beware of traffic jams, which can easily add half an hour to your journey.
Hotel guests can use the gym and swimming pool in the neighbouring hotel (YMCA), although access is charged for the guests of both hotels. Another swimming pool that is open to guests at the Kowloon is at the Harbour Plaza Metropolis, which belongs to the same owner and can be reached thanks to a free shuttle.You can enjoy a massage on request at the Kowloon.
The Kowloon is a large building covered in tinted glass dating back to 1987. The entrance doors to the hotel open onto a large rectangular reception area with a marble floor that is reflected in the opaque glass ceiling punctuated by artificial lights. This rather kitsch space is often very or too busy and quickly starts to resemble a busy railway station, with the level of service inevitably suffering as a result! In the basement, there is a 3 storey shopping mall that hotel guests can access directly from the reception, whilst on the 3rd storey, 3 adjoining rooms serve as the lounge for the hotel's business centre. Privileged guests can enjoy the private check-in/check-out, free newspapers, and afternoon tea in the 17th storey club lounge, which consists of 4 adjoining rooms with classic, but rather outdated decor.
This hotel has no fewer than 733 rooms, most of which have a floor area of around 20mē. Only the suites, all of which are found on the 17th and 18th floors, are larger because they started off as 2 separate rooms. There are 6 room categories in total: the higher the floor, the higher the category, with the exception of the 'Harbour View' rooms, which are in the corner of the building and offer obstructed views of Victoria Harbour! The other rooms look out over either the handsome Peninsula hotel or the nearby buildings through corner-style windows. The rooms are very basic with nondescript decor and feature rather worn, poor quality, light-wood furniture. The flat screen television on the desk serves as both a television and a computer, whilst the various drawers in the desk conceal the minibar, the free safe, tea and coffee-making facilities, and the keypad. Other in-room amenities include noisy individual air-conditioning, soft and pleasant bedding, and an Internet connection (Wifi and cable). Take note, the simple and charmless bathrooms are equipped with a white plastic sink unit, a low bathtub, a large mirror, a hair dryer, bathrobes, slippers, and hospitality products, and they are so small there is barely enough room to open the door! The bedrooms in the suites are open to the lounge area. It's a pity to see how visibly worn the furniture is. Room service is available until 2:00am.
The hotel's restaurant takes up the 3rd floor. On arriving at the hotel, the hotel's wine collection is the first thing to be seen from behind the glass partition opposite the hotel's only bar, with its long counter, black coffee tables and comfortable chairs. On one side of the ground floor, the Chinese restaurant reigns in a large room with a grey ceiling, brown carpet, comfortable stripy seats and large round tables. On the other side, you will discover the vast dimensions of the hotel's main restaurant. The latter is set out like a self-service eatery, with aisles taking you past a multitude of choices on either side. Behind this, the catering team works away at the ovens, grills, teppanyaki plates, tandoori ovens, etc. The generous and well-presented buffet is open from 6:30 am to 10:30 am, 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm, and it is sure to make your mouths water. Three chefs (Indian, French and Asian) oversee proceedings. Robert Fontana, the jolly French chef who is originally from Toulouse, is proud of the buffet, which can reach up to 217 ft in length! After the starters, which are served in small glasses, you can enjoy sliced cuts of meat, a large selection of soups, sushi and sashimi, deep-fried tempura, pizzas and 5 different cheeses. There is also a section devoted to Chinese cuisine and a further section for other Asian cuisine (Indian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, etc.). Western cuisine has not been left out, there are always Greek, American and French dishes, etc., on offer. Remember to leave room for dessert though, because a selection of 25 to 30 pastries are set out every evening, as well as multiple flavours of ice cream. A theme is chosen, lasting for two months, which depends on the time of year (for example mango, the famous Wagyu beef, etc.). Expect around ?40 to ?50 per person for the evening buffet, which is even more copious!
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