TSIM SHA TSUI
A kind of madcap, Tim Burtonesque wonderland set amid Kowloon’s Lan Kwai Fong-rivalling bar-restaurant strip Knutsford Terrace, the decor here takes its cue from a number of 20th-century European art movements: comfortable surrealist-inspired rooms have a pleasingly oddball mix of retromodernist, Eurocentric furnishings with (faux-pewter-framed) flat-screen TVs and bright, spacious bathrooms. The grand, equally lavish lobby makes a nod to Antonio Gaudí, while the bar-lounge is an even more whimsical salute to Dadaism, and home to a resident jazz band from Thursday through to Saturday. Breakfast is included and served in the elegant Italian restaurant Aspazia, which moonlights as a popular lunch spot with the area’s business types. A short walk to Temple Street, Nathan Road and just about everything else in Kowloon: for the price, location and sheer decadence, you’ll struggle to find better. Look around for online discounts. 39 Kimberley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon (+852 3763 8888). Rooms from $190.
Although earmarked for a colossal reboot care of Hong Kong’s ever-restless property developers, the increasingly hip area around this smart, low-key sleepover is one of the few remaining places to take in old Hong Kong with its steep, narrow inclines and jumbled-up mix of dried seafood shops, traditional butchers and old Canton cafés. Inside, the well-lit rooms have a modern, spare Scandinavian feel and are spotlessly clean with good-sized, well-equipped bathrooms. Standard rooms are excellent value but it’s worth paying a little extra for north-facing rooms, which come with far-reaching harbour views and a buffet breakfast from the 28th-floor Sky Lounge. The open-air rooftop swimming pool (open until 10pm) is also a huge draw. Cheaper rooms go quickly here, so book early. 508 Queen’s Rd West, Hong Kong Island (+852 2974 1234). Rooms from $110.
Only a 20-minute ride to Tsim Sha Tsui and Central, this super-value outpost of the upscale hotel chain makes a handsome base to explore the New Territories and a serene, resort-style retreat from the toxic bustle of town. Rooms are huge even by Hong Kong standards and come with arresting views of Tolo Harbour, Ma On Shan Mountains and Sha Tin Racecourse (meetings take place Saturdays). Also in the area is the nine-storey shopping behemoth New Town Plaza, the 300-year-old walled village of Tsang Tai Uk and one of Hong Kong’s most impressive temples, Che Kung. On-site dining options include the show-kitchen-style restaurant Sha Tin 18, known for its delicious hand-pulled beef noodles and Cantonese specialities such as roast pigeon. 18 Chak Cheung St, Sha Tin, New Territories (+852 3723 1234). Rooms from $130.
Across the road from Happy Valley Racecourse, and only a ten-minute walk to Causeway Bay shopping district, this bright, peppy sister hotel to the more grandiose next-door Cosmopolitan is one of the best deals in the area, even without the sizeable minimum-stay discounts (check online). Bright, pared-down rooms can be small but make the effort with a faint 1960s-retro tinge that lands somewhere on the right side of tasteful. Some have good views and all have decent-enough, no-frills bathrooms. There’s free internet access in the lobby, a swish, late-opening bar and an open-air café on the fifth floor. But it’s really all about the location. 375-377 Queen’s Rd East, Wan Chai (+852 3552 8388). Rooms from $120.
The new kid on an otherwise unlovely block on the north-eastern tip of Hong Kong Island, Swire’s edgy business hotel has been a surprise hit with short-stay sophisticates unphased by its slightly off-kilter location (incidentally, only a 20-minute ride from Central, half that to Causeway Bay). All right angles, straight lines and subdued colours, rooms have a broody, modernist look with giant floor-to-ceiling windows and bright bathrooms. All come well endowed with novel, Gordon Gecko-pleasing gadgetry: flat-screen TV, iPod Touch (loaded up with maps, tunes and jogging routes), remote black-out shades, automatic mood lighting and free Wi-Fi throughout. The fourth floor boasts a pool and gym, but the funky pink-coloured rooftop bar Sugar, with its hypnotic views of Victoria Harbour’s dazzling parade of skyscrapers, is the real ace card. 29 Taikoo Shing Rd, Island East (+852 3968 3968). Rooms from $139.
TSIM SHA TSUI
A popular bolthole for budget hipsters, this well-located hostel has a more hotel-like feel. The arty, minimalist whitewashed rooms, each feature its own hand-wrought wall designs care of a number of local artists. Each of the nine rooms has an en-suite bathroom, air-con, free broadband, wall-mounted TV and DVD player, and is surprisingly quiet for the inn’s location: smack bang in the middle of Kowloon’s shopping district, only a five-minute walk to the Star Ferry terminal, the MTR and Temple Street Market. A great deal for rock-bottom budgets. Flat A, 2/F Hanyee Building, 19-21 Hankow Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon (+852 2881 7331). Rooms from $60.
Well established with business suits but equally popular with longer-stay tourists who favour its minor-key chic, uncorporate feel and proximity to the ferry terminal, Causeway Bay and scores of high-grade eating options. The decor has a pared-down, soft focus. Rooms come with their own kitchenettes, plenty of natural light and well-equipped desk area. There’s not much in terms of in-house facilities save for the ground-floor restaurant (breakfast included, not bad), but guests can use the California Fitness gym just around the corner. Failing that, there’s the in-room yoga mat. Plus, a real rarity for Hong Kong: there’s a female-only floor with fresh-cut flowers, herbal teas and in-room massage machines. Check their website for the best rates. 41 Fleming Rd, Wan Chai (+852 3607 2288). Rooms from $140.
It’s tucked away in a sort of business area-cum-shopping centre but don’t let that put you off: basic, very clean and surprisingly spacious rooms, as well as an unbeatable location (Times Square and Causeway Bay are a ten-minute walk away) earn this place a near-cult following with regular Hong Kong trippers. There’s free Wi-Fi, daily newspapers, large comfy beds, a DVD library, TV, mini-fridge, helpful staff and a late-opening supermarket on the floor below. Just one caveat: glass-walled bathrooms don’t offer much privacy if you’re sharing. Otherwise, a real bargain. 165-171 Wanchai Rd, Wan Chai (+852 2904 7300). Rooms from $90.
This bright, young budget boutique up-and-comer sits next to one of Hong Kong’s liveliest wet markets within easy reach of Times Square and plenty of buzzy dim sum joints (fabulously gaudy, East Lake Seafood on the fourth floor of Pearl City is well worth the walk across Causeway Bay shopping area). Inside, ultra-sleek black-carpeted doubles come with compact bathrooms and large windows, some with views of the nearby racecourse. It’s a growing chain, so go check out the slightly cheaper, but no less hip, Butterfly on Prat if you fancy staying in Kowloon instead. 39 Morrison Hill Rd, Wan Chai (+852 3962 8333). Rooms from $100.
As with this grand, recently refitted mid-range Kowloon stalwart a few minutes walk from Temple Street, Jade Market and Jordan MTR, you’ll find there’s a lot more to be had for your money the further up Nathan Road you go. For the price, the rooms here are much larger than anything you’ll find further south along the Golden Mile, all well kitted out with the typical mod cons and good-sized bathrooms. There’s a 24-hour gym plus a lively bar and restaurant on-site, but you’ll have little call for them; the surrounding area is crammed full of charming, old-style eateries and watering holes. 348 Nathan Rd, Kowloon (+852 3965 8888). Rooms from $160.