Okay, before I forget, I’d better write a review of the Excelsior Hotel in Hong Kong where we stayed the last week and a bit.
Great location, central to all the shopping and restaurants in Causeway Bay, and just around the corner from the MTR station. It’s next to the water too, so most rooms have at least a bit of a view over the harbour towards Kowloon.
The service was excellent – I have never been to a hotel which asks so many questions or goes so far out of its way to make sure you are getting what you want. From the profile document (3 pages !) they faxed me after we booked (and rang to remind me to fill it in and send it back too), to the conastant notes under the door or left in the room to let us know about stuff happening in the hotel or to ask for our opinions on things. It almost came across as nagging – but they were discreet enough about it (despite the frequency) – so I interpreted it as a desire to serve and please.
The complementary fruit platter, fresh squeezed juice, bottle of wine and pot of chinese tea on arrival was a nice touch – although not unexpected since they had already asked my preference on the booking profile form.
However, the room was a bit of a letdown. The bed was hard. Very hard. The pillows were those feather type which fill with air and then collapse into nothing when you rest on them. It took us a couple of nights to find a combination of pillows which was actually comfortable – and that included getting some solid foam pillows as well (which was easy to do since they have a survey form which asked if we wanted some).
There was not a desk as such, only a narrow (60cm) bit of bench that you couldn’t really get your legs under properly because it was too shallow. The only lounge chair was a built-in window seat with loose arms (not fixed to anything, so they kept slipping out of place, with really hard cushions that were really not comfortable at all.
The room overall was small and pokey – functional, but cramped.
The one saving grace was the broadband internet access in the rooms (which is one of the reasons I chose this hotel in the first place). HKD$35 per hour (approx AUD$7), or HKD$135 for 24 hours is not exactly cheap, but it’s on par (or slightly cheaper) with the prices I’ve paid in Australia – and given the increase in productivity over a dialin line, I consider it worth the cost. Paying for an hour at a time when I knew I was not going to use more than 2 hours in any 24 hour period proved the best course of action rather than paying for 24 hours I didn’t use.
How do I rate it ?
Room: 5/10 – functional, clean, minimalist, but crowded and with totally inadequate desk space and horrible lounge chair.
Bed: 3/10 – waking up with a sore back or sore neck does not serve you well for the coming day. Rock hard matress and impossible to use pillows just do not work (although I suspect it would suit many asians). Considering how well some other hotels do with good beds (Grand Hyatt in Melbourne for example), I would hope the Excelsior could serve an international clientele more appropriately. I was going to give it 4/10, but Leanne said 2/10, so I’ll compromise on 3/10.
TV: 4/10 – around 60 channels, 75% of which were in Chinese, 10% dedicated to news services, 5% in French, German or other European language, and 5% dedicated to sports, meant that there wasn’t much else to watch. Star Movies, Star World, National Geographic channel, BBC World, ABC Asia Pacific (totally lame aunty !!) – and of course these channels have the annoying habit of showing the same adverts for their next big television event over and over and over again. Aarrgghh ! Fortunately we were generally too tired to sit up watching TV.
Connectivity: 8/10 – One phone by the bed with separate data connection, dialup speeds over 50kbps. Ethernet port for broadband access on desk. Only real fault is the poor desk (and free broadband would be nice too). Naturally, choosing a hotel in Hong Kong in the middle of summer based on it’s connectivity and forgetting to check whether it also had a swimming pool (which the Excelsior doesn’t) was a bit of a mistake. Still, what would you rather do after a long hot day of sightseeing – jump in the pool and become a prune, or sit in your airconditioned room with an ultra-high speed internet link ? ;-)
Breakfast: 5/10 – Nobody in Hong Kong seems to understand how to cook bacon. The hotel burned it to a crisp; Oliver’s Supers Sandwiches undercooked theirs. I seem to remember staying in the Conrad International around this time last year and they had a similar problem in undercooking their bacon. The buffet breakfast was pretty reasonable – if a little expensive. Good selection of fruits and pastries, and traditional chinese breakfast food, but the cereal selection was a bit poor. I know it’s rough to expect them to have Weetbix outside Australia – but there were no wheat based cereals that I could see anyway. Overall was good – but the fact that we only ate there once and went for the ultra-cheap Olivers the rest of the week was not purely about budget.
Room Service: 7/10 – US Double Beef Burger was nice, despite the badly burned bits of bacon. They serve Haagen Daaz Icecream (doesn’t everyone in Hong Kong serve that though ?), which is always a good thing. The steak was nothing to write home about, but the fish and chips were quite good (what’s with the horrible tartare sauce everyone insists on serving these days – has the recipe changed recently or something ?). Leanne tells me the Excelsior Fried Rice and the Tandoori Salmon are both very good, and the American Hotdog was nice too apparently, but only once she scraped off the ultra-hot mustard they put on it. Pretty good, well, good enough for those nights we really had no energy to go out for dinner. Pity they can’t seem to get the drinks right – they insist on serving lemon in everything, which ends up making things quite bitter and not at all refreshing.
Location: 9/10 – can’t really fault the location, as described above. Leanne’s comments were that she would give it a 10/10 if it were right on top of an MTR station rather than around the corner. In any other city, it might be a bit more of a hassle being a little removed from the centre of town, but it is so incredibly easy to get around in Hong Kong that this doesn’t matter at all. If I were to go back to Hong Kong and work was paying the hotel bill, I would probably stay somewhere like the Conrad in Admiralty, but given it was more than twice the price of the Excelsior, it loses out on the value for money side.
Total: 41/70 = 59%