We have some of the best hotels in the world in this city, but rare is the chance to fully appreciate them – we may throw back tipples in the bars, stop by the spas for a massage or indulge in a hearty meal at the restaurants, but right afterwards, it’s back to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city life.
So while I’ve had high tea and power breakfasts at Café Causette, happy hour at M Bar, British pub feasts at the Chinnery, secret-society dinners at the Krug Room and plenty of treatments at the salubrious spa, I’ve never rested my head on a pretty pillow in the rooms of the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong – although I did admire art in the bathtub once, when the property hosted an in-room art fair some years ago.
That bathtub is empty when I check into a Harbour View Room, but not for long – my first order of business is a long bubble bath, which I enjoy with the plate of madeleines that was my welcome treat. They’re deliciously light, which is exactly how I feel a half hour later, emerging from the tub with the confidence of Bo Derek, circa 10. (There may have been a hair toss, even.) Happily ensconced in a fluffy robe, I take a running start to flop front first onto the bed. It’s good. Bouncy. Soft. I’m never leaving.
Luckily, there’s this thing they call room service. But if I’m going to lean all the way across this expansive bed to reach for the phone, I might as well throw on a dress and walk down the hallway to the elevator, which will take me straight up to Pierre, one of the hotel’s long-standing fine-dining establishments, which recently welcomed a new chef de cuisine, Jacky Tauvry.
Tauvry trained at Pierre Gagnaire’s Paris outpost for a handful of years before joining the Hong Kong restaurant, and worked under predecessor Jean-Denis Le Bras before taking over the kitchen recently, so he knows the Gagnaire style and brand well. The dishes are as inventive as always: you’ll find langoustine paired with frozen dragonfruit; Dover sole getting friendly with abalone, pak-choy and banana; Miyazaki beef tenderloin married with sea urchin and attended by gnocchi, herbs and Dijon mustard ice-cream. Say what? You may not know what you’re eating, but you know it’s good, and filling. And luckily, I’m mere steps from my bed for the night …
By morning, I may still remember last night’s meal, but my stomach doesn’t. I atone for last night’s gluttonous sins with a virtuous green juice. And a dim-sum basket. Hey, there’s vegetables in one of the dumplings, and a girl needs her greens. And her har gows and pork buns. Who’s here to judge?
Well, the masseuse at the spa, perhaps. But I’m signed up for the hotel’s famed Shanghainese pedicure instead, a treatment we awarded Best Pedicure in our last Beauty & Spa Awards. And how – I’m so entranced to see the dead skin shaved off my foot expertly and disgustingly, I can’t help but lean forward and leer. There’s a G&T cart in the salon, too, in case I want to get sloshed and sliced at the same time.
It’s well past lunch by the time I’m done, toenails agleam and feet as light as features, but for once, I’m not hungry, and check-out time looms close (thank heavens for late check out). I haven’t seen the outside of this building in some 24 hours, but I certainly don’t miss it. In fact, I could do with another night.