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48 Hours with Four Seasons: Hong Kong

Hong Kong has long been one of Asia’s most exciting destinations for a city break, and now that international visitors are finally returning, the Fragrant Harbor is back with a bang. Expect a slew of new or revitalized attractions around town alongside improvements on the five-star hospitality scene. Amid the hubbub of the Central district, the Four Seasons hotel has recently added more bars and restaurants, spruced up the lobby, and transformed the vast majority of its guest rooms. It’s the perfect base for any discerning leisure traveler. For those with 48 hours to spare, this itinerary offers a taste of both Hong Kong’s frenetic urban buzz and the slower island life.

DAY ONE

Morning: Fuel up for the day’s explorations with the mouth-watering breakfast spread at ARGO, where dishes might range from perfectly made har gau and chicken-and-abalone congee to flaky croissants, baked miso salmon, and spinach frittata. Hong Kong is a joy to navigate on foot, and stepping down from the Four Seasons’ drop-off area, you’ll see the first of several covered walkways (go through One International Financial Center and the Hang Seng Bank building across Connaught Road) that will bring you to Central Market, one of the city’s last remaining Bauhaus buildings. The formerly derelict structure now hosts a variety of upmarket shops and café-diners; preserved heritage stalls on the first floor give a sense of what the place was like in decades past. This also happens to be the lower terminus of the Central–Mid-Levels Escalator, a unique vantage point from which to observe the street life below as you glide several stories above the ground. Look out for where it does a sharp turn above Hollywood Road—from the escalator, an open-air pedestrian viaduct plugs directly into Tai Kwun. The arts and culture hub has breathed new life into a British-colonial precinct comprising a former police station, magistracy, and prison. Changing artistic showcases at purpose-built venues such as JC Contemporary (opens 11 a.m.) serve as an intriguing counterpoint to the heritage exhibitions dotted around the premises. A curated mix of dining outlets offers even more reasons to linger.

Dim sum dumplings at Lung King Heen, Four Seasons Hong Kong’s acclaimed Cantonese restaurant; a signpost in the Central district.
Left to right: Dim sum dumplings at Lung King Heen, Four Seasons Hong Kong’s acclaimed Cantonese restaurant; a signpost in the Central district.
At the entrance to creative hub PMQ.
At the entrance to creative hub PMQ.
A fruit stall in the back streets of Central.
A fruit stall in the back streets of Central.

Afternoon: Lunch options at Tai Kwun include Parisian-style Café Claudel for an alfresco meal; The Chinese Library, whose set menus have touches of Shanghainese and Sichuanese flavors, and star chef David Thompson’s Thai restaurant Aaharn in the old armory building. Backtrack to the Central–Mid-Levels escalator and keep going uphill, turning right on Staunton Street before carrying on for three blocks toward creative hub PMQ. The acronym stands for Police Married Quarters, a nod to its original function; it’s now home to design-oriented shops and studios like local fashion designer Chailie Ho’s eponymous store and Bamboa Lifestyle, which specializes in home accessories made of bamboo. Other notable tenants include Obellery for contemporary jewelry; Glocal Mahjong, a purveyor of quirky keepsakes; and Sake Central, a dramatically lit retail and educational space dedicated to the Japanese brew. The Four Seasons is about a 20-minute walk downhill via Hollywood Road and Graham Street, whose informal market has stubbornly resisted the pressures of redevelopment. Stalls here brim with a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables, dried foodstuffs, traditional sauces, and potted plants.

Spend the remainder of the afternoon being pampered at the Four Seasons’ spa. Bliss out with a full-body jade stone therapy or oil-free tui na massage, or pick one from the impressive range of next-level facials. Arrive a good half-hour ahead of your appointment to enjoy the vitality pool and other facilities.

Evening: At sundown, ARGO transforms into a glamorous cocktail den: the quality and creativity of its artisanal tipples have earned it a place in the top echelon of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list. Try the Pottinger Highball, a potent blend of Chestnut Michter’s bourbon, mezcal by Los Siete Misterios, nutty tahini, and dry oloroso sherry. No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a fine Cantonese meal, and the Four Seasons’ two-Michelin-starred Lung King Heen remains a top choice for visiting gourmands and local patrons alike. Veteran chef Chan Yan-tak and his kitchen team have perfected the art of double-boiled soups, not to mention signature dishes like fried puntalette with minced beef in XO chili sauce, and fish maw casserole featuring abalone, prawns, scallop, and high-grade shiitake mushrooms. Come as a group and order more than a few things to share.

One of the treatment suites inside The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.
One of the treatment suites inside The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.
A tasting flight of creative cocktails at ARGO.
A tasting flight of creative cocktails at ARGO.
The main dining room of two-Michelin-starred Lung King Heen.
The main dining room of two-Michelin-starred Lung King Heen.
On the harbor-facing pool deck of Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.
On the harbor-facing pool deck of Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.

DAY TWO

Morning: Relaxation beckons at the Four Seasons’ resort-style pool deck. As the city wakes up, take a leisurely swim in the freeform infinity pool—where music is pumped through underwater speakers—then soak up the views of Victoria Harbour from the hot and cold whirlpools. Today you’ll be spending some time in nature, so put on a pair of sturdy walking shoes and bring a daypack loaded with the essentials: a hat and sunscreen if need be, a face towel, and plenty of drinking water. Following a light breakfast at Gallery or The Lounge, wander through IFC Mall (look for Citysuper and follow the sign saying “Central Piers”) before crossing the pedestrian bridge to Pier 6. This is the starting point for the scenic 40-minute ferry ride to Peng Chau, a quiet island with less than 7,000 residents and practically no motor vehicles.

Afternoon: Among the eateries within striking distance of Peng Chau Ferry Terminal, two local favorites are the no-frills Luen On Restaurant—popular for its vegetarian Cantonese barbecue over rice—and Japanese fusion spot Chaya Daruma (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays). The latter has a lovely umbrella-shaded outdoor dining area. After lunch, pop in to Islanders Space (open most afternoons; closed Tuesdays), a community-focused indie bookshop and natural wine store that doubles as a small-scale venue for live music performances, poetry readings, and film screenings. Down the street, A Lit Corner stocks antiques sourced from flea markets around the world as well as watercolor paintings and handmade cards by Peng Chau–based artists. Souvenir hunters should also stop by Chiu Kee Porcelain Factory, one of the last few traces of an industry that flourished on the island from the 60s to the 80s. Run by Nam Kiu, a female master of Cantonese porcelain painting, the store sells delicate cups and bowls adorned in traditional Chinese designs.

Despite its small size and the absence of any big hills, Peng Chau does offer some light hiking. A 45-minute stroll from the main drag via the Peng Chau Family Walk leads to the top of Finger Hill, where vistas extend over the rooftops of the island’s main settlement across the water to Lantau Island. If you’ve got more time on your hands, amble through the village to the crescent-shaped beach that curves around the sheltered bay of Tung Wan, and turn north to make a circuit via another section of the Family Walk. The trail meets the shore-hugging Peng Yu Path near an outcrop known as Old Fisherman’s Rock; a lookout pavilion just uphill affords a distant view of the skyscrapers of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Continue west along Peng Yu Path, past several small beaches facing Lantau, and you’ll eventually reach the ferry terminal.

Ferries to the outlying islands depart from the Central Ferry Piers, a short stroll away from the Four Seasons.
Ferries to the outlying islands depart from the Central Ferry Piers, a short stroll away from the Four Seasons.
Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong is in an ultra-convenient location on the Central waterfront.
Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong is in an ultra-convenient location on the Central waterfront.
The retro-chic interior of Caprice, Four Seasons Hong Kong’s three-Michelin-starred French restaurant.
The retro-chic interior of Caprice, Four Seasons Hong Kong’s three-Michelin-starred French restaurant.
Land and Sea Tartare featuring Australian wagyu beef, Tarbouriech oyster, and Kristal caviar is a Caprice signature.
Land and Sea Tartare featuring Australian wagyu beef, Tarbouriech oyster, and Kristal caviar is a Caprice signature.

Evening: Back in Central, freshen up in your harbor-facing room or suite at the Four Seasons. Dinner awaits at Caprice, whose exceptional French cuisine is more than worthy of its three-Michelin-star rating. (Be sure to book ahead and request a window-side table if you can.) The inventive, gorgeously plated dishes here are bound to tickle the palate. Talented executive chef Guillaume Galliot ensures that the freshest seasonal produce from France—be it Gillardeau oysters, Brittany scallops, or cep mushrooms—are showcased at their peak. Caprice’s expert sommeliers will help you decode the astonishing wine list; don’t miss the decadent cheese board. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, Victoria Harbour and the gleaming lights of Kowloon provide a suitable backdrop to an unforgettable meal.

—James Louie

A renovated Deluxe Harbour-View room at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.
A renovated Deluxe Harbour-View room at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.
About Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong

Taking up residence in a tony high-rise connected to Central’s upmarket IFC Mall, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong offers travelers an ultra-convenient downtown location, a full suite of recreational facilities, and revamped guest rooms by acclaimed designer Peter Remedios. Most of the accommodations come with uninterrupted views of Victoria Harbour. The superb culinary lineup includes a quartet of Michelin-starred restaurants, while discreet yet attentive hospitality is a Four Seasons hallmark. Curious to find out more? Click here to read an in-depth review.

 

Directory of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in Asia

 

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