A center of international finance—where modern skyscrapers blend in with old traditions, shopping, uninhabited islands and even a few world-renowned amusement parks. Hong Kong is one of those versatile destinations enjoyed by foodies, free spirits, business travelers and families. You could go for any one reason, but tapping into a little bit of everything Hong Kong is loved for makes a well-rounded family trip.
Hong Kong standards are high when it comes to hotels, so it’s no surprise that Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong is nothing short of spectacular. Located on Hong Kong Island—adjacent to the IFC mall, Airport Express train station and Victoria Harbour—the hotel rests in a truly ideal location.
Though Hong Kong is a vacation destination for me now, this hotel was my daughter’s first home. We had the great privilege of living in the hotel apartments for almost four years, which is why Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong is so much more than a luxury hotel to me.
*Impeccable service. It is almost as if the hotel staff anticipates your needs before you know they exist. Feel your shoulders relax the second you set foot into the lobby.
*A gateway to Asia.
*Dim sum, egg tarts, typhoon shelter-style crab, milk tea… even Peking Duck, Beggar’s Chicken and egg rolls. Stellar.
*It’s easy. Though it’s a good idea to carry your address in Chinese, most locals in the service industry speak English. Conveniences such organic baby formula and whatever else you may have forgotten to pack are likely available, down to the brand. The MTR is one of the cleanest public trains in the world. The list goes on.
*Relaxation time at the hotel Spa. Allow enough time to enjoy the Vitality Lounge prior to your Organic Pharmacy Facial, Jade Stone Therapy or other signature treatment. Do try my favorite marshmallows, available only at the spa, and browse through the shop on your way in or out.
*Two Michelin three-star restaurants. Lung King Heen might be the most exquisite dim sum you’ll ever encounter. Or, indulge in fine French cuisine, Hong Kong’s largest wine cellar and romantic views at Caprice.
*Registered or enrolled nurses as babysitters. The concierge desk can arrange care for your little travelers while you power shop, spa or enjoy date night. It’s not just babysitting—they play. My experience with this service has been brilliant, leading to my daughter requesting babysitting on multiple occasions during our last stay.
*Shopping. Whether it’s designer or bespoke, markets or malls, Hong Kong is a retail paradise.
*Seeing the other side of Hong Kong. Believe it or not, there are beaches, hiking, wildlife and outlying islands just outside the metropolis.
*Hong Kong Disneyland with the new Toy Story Land full of movie-themed rides and the anxiously-awaited Grizzly Gulch (Mickey’s Wild West)—both exclusive to this park.
*The pandas, sea lions and other animals in residence at Ocean Park on Hong Kong Island, along with the rides and shows.
*Perhaps the best pool terrace in Hong Kong, boasting a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour, infinity-edge main pool with underwater music (bring floaties for little kids), Jacuzzi, lap pool, freezing-cold plunge pool and loads of lounging area.
*The nightly Symphony of Lights laser show over Victoria Harbour. If you don’t have a Harbour View room, watch from the pool terrace, Executive Club or Kowloon side. During Christmas and Chinese New Year, the skyscrapers are also lit up with festive decorations, adding more excitement to the show.
*The hotel kids’ menu that folds up into a paper fortune teller. Hours of destiny literally unfold at the table.
*Poolside treats featuring homemade gelato or fresh fruit popsicles. And try to spy one of the few remaining red-sailed junks (boats) in Victoria Harbour, a symbol of Hong Kong.
Narrowing the options is difficult. Some basic advice: don’t low-carb it. Chef Gregoire Michaud’s pastry kitchen delivers delicate, flavorful and ornate breads, pastries and cakes. Find them all over the hotel, including via room service. We took an exclusive tour of the pastry kitchen and even participated in some candy making!
(Families) All-day dining at Lobby Lounge is family-friendly. But most notable is one of Hong Kong’s most popular afternoon teas, showcasing many of the must-try pastries and cakes mentioned above. Blue Bar has a buffet breakfast and weekend everyone will enjoy. Dishes along the lines of curries, Chinese favorites, salads, a carving station (at lunch), seafood, cured meats and cheese and fruit. Should you wish to take the kids to Caprice and Lung King Heen (both appropriate for kids ages three and above), lunch is a perfect time. Do make a reservation well in advance. Of course, delicious poolside and in-room dining are available too, with full kids’ menus. My go-to room service orders are the Hainanese chicken or Alaskan king crab salad.
(Grown-ups) Book a romantic dinner at Caprice or Lung King Heen. Take your time and indulge. Start or end the evening with a lychee martini at Blue Bar, my favorite drink on the planet.
It is entirely possible to dine exclusively in the hotel, however, you probably should venture out!
(Families) Most Chinese restaurants are family-friendly—a squeal from a little one won’t phase anyone. Walk to Yung Kee in Central for its famous roast goose or Heichinrou for evening dim sum. If on The Peak, try international cuisine at The Peak Lookout, a spacious restaurant with a nice patio in the back. The restaurant has a kids’ menu and crayons. For adults, the curries are very good. The IFC mall, adjacent to the hotel, has fast-casual restaurant options from salads at Dressed to Chinese at Crystal Jade (a favorite of ours).
(Grown-ups) Normally a members-only venue, the China Club is a 1930s Shanghai-style club with gorgeous dark woods and bright-colored accents you will surely photograph. Fortunately for hotel guests, the concierge can make you a reservation, if one is available. Next, walk over to Lan Kwai Fong, for a taste of Hong Kong’s night scene. Go dancing at Dragon-i, the It place to be, or for drinks and a panoramic Harbour view at Sevva or M Bar.
1. Hong Kong Disneyland: It’s an easy 30-minute MTR ride from Central Station, next to the hotel. Book a character breakfast (in advance) at the Disneyland Hotel (a free, easy shuttle ride from the Disneyland MTR station), where Mickey and friends mingle with guests. The “My Little Princess” program is also at the Disneyland Hotel, where kids get professionally dressed up as their favorite princess. Beware of the lengthy photo session, however (you get one printed photo as part of the package). The park is smaller than most Disney properties, which makes it doable in just a morning, if you’re pressed for time.
2. Ocean Park: on Hong Kong Island. The taxi ride from the hotel is about 15 minutes, traffic depending. Part conservation center, part amusement park. Marine life at the huge aquarium near the entrance, sea lion enclosure and the educational shows. Ride the rollercoaster (older kids). Younger kids can climb around the play area. Take the sky-high scenic cable car ride to the Summit, the upper level of the park.
3. The Peak is Hong Kong’s most famous tourist attraction. Walk or have a taxi drop you off at the Peak Tram, which zips you on the short, steep journey up for the most panoramic view of Hong Kong. Take photos, shop, eat, walk in a scenic loop around Lugard Road, or unleash the kids at Mount Austin playground. See your favorite movie star at the Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Taxi or tram back down to Central.
4. Island tour: Ferry to another island (one of 200-plus outlying islands). Lamma Island, a family favorite, is a 30-minute ferry ride that departs next to the hotel. This little island is quiet with no cars allowed, small villages, lots of greenery and delicious seafood restaurants. Walk the Lamma Island Family Trail where there’s a nice sandy beach roughly in the middle.
5. Giant Budda and Po Lin Monastery: on Lantau Island. A 25-minute cable car ride, Ngong Ping 360, delivers you to Ngong Ping Village: shops, restaurants and a handful of children’s activities. Walk over to the Giant Buddha (completed in 1993) and Po Lin Monastery. Enjoy the mountain scenery, climb the steps up to the Buddha and eat a casual vegetarian lunch. It can be a little windy up there, so bring a jacket for the little ones.
Babies: Riding in the baby carrier while mom and dad sightsee. The Kashwere animal blankets in the spa. Enjoying the attention from locals.
Toddlers: Waddling around the big lobby, up to the 4th floor and out to the IFC mall roof garden. Splashing around the pool. Really cool, themed kids’ utensils. Fantasyland at Disneyland and Ocean Park’s Whisker’s play and ride area (see above).
Kids 5-10: Disneyland and Ocean Park (see above). Riding up the Mid-levels escalator, the world’s largest covered outdoor escalator. Shopping for inexpensive character-themed trinkets at the markets. Riding the Star Ferry to Kowloon. The exotic rock formations at one of the Geoparks, in Sai Kung or the Northeast New Territories.
Tweens and teens: Shopping the Temple Street Night Market. Admiring impressive displays at the Hong Kong Museum of History. Hiking the scenic Dragon’s Back: a real-life geology lesson at the Geoparks.
TIP: Visitors to Hong Kong typically make one major mistake that I also fell victim to on our last trip, which led to this purchase:
Plan enough space in your luggage for everything that’s coming home with you. I guarantee it will be more than you think. Luckily, very inexpensive suitcases can be purchased at The Lanes, Li Yuen Street East and West, about a 10-minute walk from Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.
Read more about Hong Kong in Four Seasons Magazine.
Katie Dillon writes La Jolla Mom, a lifestyle site covering parenting, travel, cooking with kids, home management and local happenings. After seven years of expat life in London and Hong Kong (Four Seasons Place in Hong Kong was her home for four years), she is now grounded in the seaside community of La Jolla, CA with her husband and preschool aged daughter. You'll also find Katie active on Twitter and Facebook.
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