district: Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Some things are worth the wait. More than seven years in the making, the Rosewood Hong Kong opened on March 17 — the brand’s 26th hotel and the jewel in crown of the Cheng family, owner of New World Development, which holds Rosewood Hotels and Resorts’ portfolio.
Located at Holt’s Wharf along the furthermost tip of the Kowloon Peninsula’s Victoria Harbor cultural district, the new-build flagship is particularly meaningful to Rosewood Hotels Group CEO Sonia Cheng: That’s where, in the 1980s, her grandfather Cheng Yu-tung and her father, Henry Cheng, developed New World Centre.
Comprising a shopping mall, offices, a hotel and apartments – one of which was Sonia Cheng’s childhood home – the complex symbolized Hong Kong’s rise as a modern powerhouse. The area’s popularity faded over the years, but with its recent transformation into an arts hub, the Rosewood Hong Kong is a harbinger of the neighborhood’s resurgence.
Architect Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, New York, and interior designer Tony Chi Studio, New York, designed the hotel. Spanning the top 43 levels of a 65-story skyscraper, its orientation captures the panoramic skyline. Most of the 413 guest rooms and suites have harbor views, says Rosewood Hong Kong Managing Director Marc Brugger.
“Sonia and her father shared long discussions about designing a ‘vertical estate’,” Brugger says. The concept embraces the feel of a substantial family manor. A grand driveway with lush greenery leads cars to the private waterside entrance. It forms a tranquil escape from the bustle and traffic.
“In terms of maximizing use of space, it’s not rational real estate-thinking,” Brugger says. “It’s much more visionary, the right thing to do from the guest perspective.”
To interior designer Tony Chi, the hotel is a “country house in the city” with connections to nature. “With gardens you can have a love story, a sorrowful story, a celebration,” Chi says.
Spaciousness, calm and a feeling of residential comfort extend into the 322 guest rooms measuring 53m2 (570 square feet) and the 91 suites ranging from 105m2 (1130 square feet) to 175m2 (1873 square feet). Jaw-dropping views of the harbor, sunrises and sunsets, and Hong Kong’s nightly laser show means these “private apartments” are growing into a favorite feature.
Brugger says that rather than the conventional logic of tempting guests into revenue-generating public areas, Rosewood wanted them to spend more time in their rooms and experience the brand’s trademarked philosophy, “A Sense of Place”. Higher-than-anticipated room-service orders took his team by surprise when the hotel opened.
That’s not to say the other areas aren’t popular. For the Manor Club, the team “took the ‘executive’ out of the Executive Club,” says Brugger. “It feels like a private club that flows from inside to outdoor terraces with the building’s best views.”
Chinese tea house Holt’s Café contemporizes traditional Hong Kong comfort food; the Legacy House serves family favorites from Shunde, the birthplace of Sonia Cheng’s father and grandfather; and DarkSide, an insider nickname for Kowloon, is a moody speakeasy featuring a rotating Murano glass installation. The Butterfly Patisserie is modeled after a jewelry boutique, while all-day lounge the Butterfly Room displays works by Damien Hirst.
Art features prominently throughout the hotel. A 15-foot-long Henry Moore bronze greets guests at the entrance and, at night, glows thanks to illumination emulating moonlight. In the lobby, Bharti Kher’s life-sized elephant sculpture covered in white bindis has become an Instagram star – although Brugger says no parts of the hotel were planned with that in mind.
Chi says Rosewood’s clientele are “super intellectually wealthy, with a great sense of consciousness and self-awareness.” For each project, his challenge is to control tempo and rhythm. “I’m writing a composition and conducting a harmonic symphony,” he says.
While specifics remain under wraps, four additional F&B venues will soon debut, says Brugger, guided by Rosewood’s tactic to attract the locals initially so guests will naturally follow. As well, the first urban location of Asaya, Rosewood’s new wellness brand, opens in autumn, which Chi describes as being about “the deep connection between body and mind.”
Limestone, sandstone, black walnut and bronze – the Rosewood Kong Kong’s materials will develop natural patinas as they age. And indeed, Chi’s interiors teach fitting lessons for a destination built to celebrate the Cheng family’s’ legacy, a hotel designed to tell many stories in the future.
✅ free Wi-Fi • 322 rooms (53m2) & 91 suites (105-175m2) • hotel opened: 2019 • architecture: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) • interior design: Tony Chi • parking possible on-site (charged) • pets allowed • 24-hour front desk