One of the world’s favourite ‘shop-overs’, Hong Kong has always been a good spot to bag a bargain. After all, it’s one of the Far East’s oldest and largest free-port trading centres, a perfect pedigree for a shoppers’ mecca stocking dozens of world-class brands. So it’s no surprise to learn that J Plus Hotel by YOO, the first Philippe Starck-designed hotel in Asia, has become a fashionista favourite.
Originally opened in 2004 as JIA Boutique hotel and rebranded as J Plus by YOO in 2014, 56 sleek studios and suites over 25 floors are filled with witty, whimsical Starck touches. Cleverly designed, they include marble bathrooms and well-equipped kitchens although I’m not sure who would bother to cook with thousands of restaurants plus food street stalls bang on the doorstep.
THE RIGHT CONNECTIONS
You also get connectivity, big time. A handy Smartphone device is yours for the length of your stay with unlimited local and international calls, 3G mobile internet access, a comprehensive Hong Kong city guide, exclusive discounts and ticketing offers. WiFi is free, naturally and Suite 2203 – ours for the night – is furnished with white leather sofas with plumped-up cushions, a blissful bed with dream-inducing pillows , quirky decorator touches and just the right amount of casual chic. It’s the perfect fusion of Asian charm, European chic and international cosmopolitan style.
Refreshed in 2014 with a bold makeover by YOO Studio co-founded by Starck, the HK$10 million refurb is characterised as casual, artistic opulence. The Pennington Street façade ‘pulls back the curtains’ to display a buzzing, street-front lobby with not a skerrick of marble in sight. Ten cocoon-shaped cut crystal pendants cast a soft light, a sculptured gold hand seat beckons, rugs are woven with bold strokes of graffiti and one of Starck’s signature French style sofas is upholstered in multi-hued surrealist fabric.
The lobby is also where guests enjoy a fresh, healthy Euro-breakfast and each other’s company on shared benches and tables. Framed yellow, orange and red tinted glass panels are inscribed with Chinese motifs of coins, dragons and bamboo, symbols of good fortune. It’s playful, unconventional and a lot of fun.
Keeping its avant garde creative juices flowing, J Plus by YOO also hosts a dedicated art space that showcases pop-up exhibitions in the lobby. Currently showing is “Phantasmagoria” by Australian illustrator Chloe Bennett, a collection of pop-art visual artefacts that glorify mundane objects such as a blister pack of gems and her take on Asian foods such as Cantonese dim sum, brightly executed with aerosol on canvas.
TEN HONG KONG MOMENTS
Less than 24 hours in town? No problem. Here’s our top ten Hong Kong moments that won’t break the bank right on the doorstep.
1.Throw out your agenda and just wander. The streets and alleyways around J Plus Hotel by YOO are full of boutiques, markets, dim sum and dumpling joints.
2. Buy an Octopus Card for buses, trains, ferries and trams. At HK$60 for Seniors – and most fares just HK$2 – an Octopus Card will cover Hong Kong’s buses, trains, ferries and trams plus 7-11 and Pret-a-Manger amongst many stores.
3. When the heat on the city streets gets too much, take the high ground and visit The Peak using your Octopus Card.
4. Ride Hong Kong’s quaint double-decker trolley trams to Happy Valley and get a top deck view of the city’s green wedge that’s home to the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
5. Spectacularly positioned over three harbour-front floors, wander through the Apple store before taking the Star Ferry across to Kowloon.
6. Stroll Lyndhurst Terrace before taking the stairs down to Upper Lascar Row aka Cat Street, a trash and treasure market on the site of Hong Kong’s original thieves’ market.
7. Take afternoon tea amongst the orchids at Tea WG 1837 in Pacific Place near Admiralty station for the world’s finest teas after window shopping the world’s leading fashion brands.
8. Call into a massage shopfront for a foot massage that redefines your understanding of pressure points.
9. Check out Hollywood Road for Chinese art and curios then SoHo (south of Hollywood) where the city’s bars and hole-in-wall restaurants have taken over.
10. For stunning city night-time views, head to the Peninsula Hotel’s Felix bar in Kowloon, another Starck creation, and enjoy a nightcap!
J PLUS by YOO
1 – 5 Irving Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
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