Niccolo Hotels’ chic flagship property, The Murray stands out as a conversion of a 27-story modernist office block built in 1969 for Hong Kong’s then-colonial government. Its smartly remodeled interiors by Foster + Partners have a streamlined, ultra-luxe feel, with light-filled rooms that are both restful and generously sized. Another drawcard is the glass-walled rooftop bar and restaurant Popinjays, whose wraparound terrace overlooks a forest of skyscrapers (including Foster’s revolutionary HSBC Building), two nearby green spaces, and the jungled hillsides of Victoria Peak.
The Murray occupies a sloping site on the edge of the Central financial district, opposite the lower Peak Tram terminus and right across a four-lane avenue from Hong Kong Park. On the other side of banyan-lined Garden Road stands St. John’s Cathedral—one of the city’s oldest British-era landmarks—while the American Consulate and the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens lie just uphill. The Central MTR station at Statue Square is an easy stroll away via a network of covered footbridges and escalators.
Foster + Partners’ sleek design for the hotel is predominantly black and white with gold accents: this has been achieved with acres of marble, polished metals, and reflective surfaces. The new-look spaces inside and out accentuate the distinctive features of the original Murray Building, which was the brainchild of British architect Ron Phillips. Most notable are the large square windows, recessed and set at an angle to avoid the harsh midday sun, and the three-story arches ringing the former driveway, now repurposed as an events space. At ground level, the studio has injected a welcome dose of street life and greenery into what was once a soulless car park.
Muted tones and plenty of natural light give The Murray’s residential-style rooms a calming atmosphere. Furnishings have an elegant midcentury-modern appeal: gray armchairs, glossy black desks with gold stainless steel trim, midnight-blue sofas, and tan rugs are balanced with abstract artwork and pops of vibrant color on the cushions and bed scarves. It’s possible to customize your sleep experience as the hotel offers no less than 16 choices on its pillow menu. The smart glass sliding door between the bedroom and bathroom turns opaque at the flick of a switch; freestanding oval tubs are guaranteed for all N2 Grand rooms and above. Suites, which measure between 75–225 square meters, add to the luxe quotient with black herringbone wood floors, glass-topped marble coffee tables, and walk-in closets illuminated by motion-activated bulbs and strip lighting. Booking a suite will give you complimentary access to the second-floor Cassia Lounge.
Food and drink
Popinjays is a must-visit at sundown, when you can watch the surrounding skyscrapers light up while sipping on an artisanal G&T or one of the signature cocktails; the restaurant’s Italian-leaning menus deliver such delights as hand-cut beef tartare in tangy tonnato sauce and cavatelli with tiger prawn. Lobby-level bar Murray Lane dispenses creative concoctions that use ingredients like oolong tea and Sichuan peppercorn; the diverse whisky selection represents distilleries in Japan, Taiwan, India, and Australia. Directly upstairs, Garden Lounge plates up afternoon tea and semi-buffet seafood dinners; its neighbor The Tai Pan turns out comforting bistro fare, sometimes with an Asian touch. (Hence the creamy “mushroom cappuccino” soup featuring a translucent mushroom dumpling, and delicate coconut crab salad flecked in yuzu pearls, with a tin of Amur caviar.) The alfresco Cotton Tree Terrace recently installed a pizza oven—try the Peking duck–inspired pie with hoisin sauce and crème fraiche. Rounding out the culinary lineup is contemporary Chinese restaurant Mián, which occupies its own two-story pavilion.
Alongside a bright, inviting gym, The Murray contains four spa suites, two of which come with a private sauna or steam room. Facials use products by Dr. Barbara Sturm and organic Australian brand Grown Alchemist; other wellness experiences range from fitness classes and half-hour express massages to a “mindful calligraphy” session. There’s also an indoor lap pool on the ground floor, and beside it, a former security post has been transformed into a round, double-height space for the spa-like “chilled relaxation pool.”
The hotel provides kid-size toothbrushes, slippers, and bathrobes. Summertime weekend brunches at The Tai Pan feature a children’s menu and a rotating roster of activities from August through October: think donut- and mocktail-making workshops and miniature electric car races around Cotton Tree Terrace. Parents wanting to give their kids an early start on mindfulness should book an all-ages meditation class at the spa. The Murray welcomes furry friends, too, with no size restrictions on dogs and a pet’s menu offered at The Tai Pan and Garden Lounge.
The original building’s eco-friendly characteristics (such as the deep-set windows) have been thoughtfully retained. Restaurant and banquet menus are shark-free. Waste reduction initiatives include the daily collection of long-lasting excess foodstuffs for hunger relief charity FoodLink, and periodic shipments of worn towels and old newspapers to the SPCA. The parking area comes with electric vehicle charging stations. Working together with the Project WeCan foundation, The Murray holds workshops and career talks for disadvantaged students.
Guests can join a daily art and heritage tour that lasts 30 minutes, taking in various architectural features and contemporary pieces around the hotel; look out for Korean artist Bahk Seon-Ghi’s charcoal-and-nylon installations in the lobby and the stainless steel Awilda’s White Head by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa, inspired by a nine-year-old refugee from the Dominican Republic. The Murray is especially proud of its Old and Valuable Tree, a majestic Cassia Javanica that has stood on this site for at least a century. Come between late April and the end of May and you’ll likely see the tree in bloom with white and pink blossoms.
Reviewed by James Louie