on May 16, 2008
It has been a long time since I left on a trip of quite the scale of the one I am undertaking this year. Beginning in London and making a full circle around the globe to several (at least) countries I have never been to before, Hong Kong was the first stop on that list. When planning a trip of this size, the first consideration on the first stop is almost invariably cost. Even though I've been saving for this particular journey for over a year so I wouldn't have to scrimp quite as much as I usually do - still you don't want to spend too much in the first place you stop. When I first started to look at where we would stay while on our short stop in this Far East city - I was utterly seduced by the incredibly cheap priced accommodation I kept finding. I was so enamoured by the prices, in fact (3 pounds a night in some places) that I very nearly booked on the spot. Luckily I remembered the cardinal rule of booking a hotel in a strange city before you arrive and decided to check into it a little bit more. I can't really advise you Not to stay in one of these extremely cheap hotels - it may be just the thing for your trip, and might even add a little bit of local adventure to your stay. But after hearing the reviews of places like 'Chunking Mansion' and seeing not only the photos but the place in real life - I spent every moment of my time in Hong Kong deeply, deeply grateful I spent a little bit more money and stayed somewhere nice. I was very lucky to find Metropark Kowloon on Hotelclub.com (a wonderful site for booking and finding hotels) for a very good rate. It's true that it wasn't 3 pounds per night, but as the price was per room (Around 40 pounds per night) when my travel mate and I split the cost it became very reasonable. I spent most of the time while packing up, selling off our belongings and getting ready to set off on this journey wondering if I should have booked a cheaper place in Hong Kong. But I cannot tell you what a relief it was once we were 12 hours into a flight to know we had a nice place to stay when we landed. (Or hoped that we did.) Metropark Kowloon (there appear to be two Metropark hotels, and this is the superior one of the two) was a wonderful place to stay, and made our time in Hong Kong even more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. The staff were spectacular - it's the best service I have received in a long time from the moment we arrived at the airport until being dropped back off. The hotel offers an airport transfer shuttle for 96 HK$ (so about 6 pounds or $12US) which is completely worthwhile. You're almost certain to arrive in Hong Kong a little jet lag and disoriented, and after going through customs and getting your baggage, it was a wonderfully pleasant relief to arrive at the well marked area and find that we were on the hotel's guest list and were quickly stickered and taken off to where the shuttle was awaiting us. All with standard Hong Kong efficiency and smiles. It took about an hour to get to the hotel from the airport, but it's a very comfortable bus and a scenic ride for anyone who’s never before experienced Hong Kong. Kowloon, as it turns out, seems to be a great place to stay in the city - being very close to the markets and areas that feel like real Hong Kong, and yet a quick bus ride away from the harbours and Hong Kong Island. The staff at Metropark were wonderful from start to finish. We were checked in quickly and without a problem, and our bags carried up to the room for us. (It's worth noting here that you should make sure you have some smaller change in HK$ when you get off the plane. Tips seem to be generally expected here, and we were stuck giving the staff huge tips because we had nothing smaller - though I admit it was almost worth it being able to set the rucksacks down for a few minutes.) The hotel is beautifully put together, and extremely clean. The rooms were a good size for what we heard of Hong Kong hotel rooms, plenty of space for both of us, and a closet which we could easily fit all our bags in. The shower was small - but very adequate. There are several restaurants and bars in the hotel - and I do recommend you splurge one night and take advantage of their fine Chinese restaurant The House of Tang, which was superb. And maybe the best thing the hotel offered (aside from its location which was literally about 5 minute walk from the famous Ladies Market - and within easy walking distance of all the others) was the free shuttle bus down to the harbour which runs every hour - and picks you back up from the same central locations. It was so efficient in fact; that we never even had the opportunity to try out the renowned public transport. I would happily recommend the hotel, and will likely look to stay there again the next time I visit the city.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009