When it comes to hotels, travelers in Hong Kong are well and truly spoiled for choice. With over 257 luxury hotels in the region, it’s little wonder that competitive hospitality is such an essential part of Hong Kong life. Here, a well-regarded establishment is much more than a pit stop for tourists and business travelers. It is a nexus point for indulgence and relaxation – championing a superlative vision of these attractions that Hong Kong is famous for. And if Kowloon – across the water from big business focused Hong Kong Island – has any hotels that fit this bill, The Mira Hong Kong is surely on the shortlist.
Formerly Hotel Miramar, The Mira is a 492 room upscale property located in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui (“TST”). Once infamous for girly bars and dodgy ‘Buy 5-for-1’ tailors, TST is now a stalwart destination for Hong Kong’s tourism industry. The Hotel Miramar played a significant role in TST’s renown – originally opened in 1957 and the site of Hong Kong’s first Beatles concert – and in 2009 was refurbished as The Mira. It is the first Hong Kong property to join the Berlin based Design Hotels network.
Upon crossing the entryway of the coolly lit lobby, it is immediately apparent that The Mira Hong Kong is a very different beast to its predecessor. The threshold is flanked by a massive three-sided structure that is at once provocative and yet relaxing. This “undulating fin wall” (as PR Manager Jakub Lewandowski calls it) is a design motif repeated throughout the hotel’s interiors, accompanied by softly lit colour palettes evoking a sense of the aquatic. Elsewhere, the hotel displays an aesthetic that fuses pop art colours with modernist furnishings. For instance, the Parkview rooms – which I experienced as part of this review – facing toward Kowloon Park all sport Arne Jacobsen eggchairs and are divided into three distinct colour codes of red, green and silver. With guestroom interiors designed by American lifestyle guru Colin Cowie, the hotel’s aesthetic may not be to everyone’s taste but displays a consistent pop art theme.
Upon arrival, my initial impressions of The Mira were positive. I made a breezy check-in at 12.30pm – early arrivals can easily be accommodated with 24 hours notice – and made my way up to a Parkview room on the eighth floor. Swathed in vibrant red, the 28 m² space incorporated numerous features that propagate the design ethos at the hotel’s heart. Modular utilities and storage hide out of site when not in use, helping to preserve the impression of a larger airier space.
Since 2013, the hotel has also incorporated a strong technological element into their guest experience with (first) the ‘handy’ smart phone and (subsequently) the Wi-Fi buddy, a portable 4G hotspot that guests can take on their travels outside the hotel. According to Jakub, The Mira was the first hotel in the Asia Pacific to introduce the complimentary smart phone feature, now ubiquitous throughout Hong Kong’s high end hotels. After two years and as a result of diligently studying months of customer feedback this portable solution was replaced with the lighter Wi-Fi buddy. “When we initially introduced the smart phone, we found (in the overwhelming number of cases) that it was being predominantly used as a device for sharing Wi-Fi signal. Rather than adopting the learning curve associated with a new device, guests preferred to use their own phones and laptops. So, we introduced a portable modem that would allow them to do just that. Wherever they chose to go in the city.” It’s a highly functional feature and just another example of how the rooms’ poppy modernist appearance conceal practical features. Other welcome amenities – which are admittedly commonplace at The Mira’s pricepoint – included wide shouldered wooden hangers, UK made toiletries and simple shoe cleaning utensils that made my stay all the more pleasant.
After checking in and briefly exploring nearby Miramall (a multi-storey shopping development connected via overhead skywalk to the hotel) I was invited to experience the hotel’s Spa Zone. Throughout the world, spas are an important hotel institution yet they hold special pride of place in Hong Kong. MiraSpa’s signature massage combines traditional Chinese medicine with Western sports therapy. After a short consultation designed to effectively identify my ailments, I was presented with an incredibly potent ginger tea. Imbibed as a relaxant, it was followed by the titular Mira Massage using hot stones of varying size and temperature. The result was an effective targeted treatment that left me feeling pleasantly light, with loose muscles and a rosy glow. Needless to say, if a guest is feeling sluggish or in need of energizing, MiraSpa has treatments covering all ends of the spectrum.
My stay for TVG was concluded with a short lunch at Cuisine Cuisine. This restaurant serves as The Mira’s entry into Hong Kong’s fiercely competitive Cantonese food scene. Recommended in the 2015 Michelin Guide, dishes at Cuisine Cuisine closely follow traditional Cantonese fine dining. Dim sum skins are so precisely rolled as to appear translucent while ingredients more commonly associated with haute cuisine pepper the menu.
Despite the adherence to classical Cantonese cooking techniques, there are dishes to impress even the most jaded gourmand. The wagyu buns are an exciting riff on chasiu bao – doughy buns that are crispy on the surface with pockets of gently spiced wagyu chuck. Then there’s the wild mushroom and truffle dumplings, a sort of gaozi made with morel mushrooms and generous lashings of truffle peeking from beneath the surface. “Is the restaurant popular with Hong Kongers?” Jakub asks, somewhat rhetorically. “Let me put it this way, it’s 2pm on a Monday, it’s pouring rain out there and the whole restaurant is full.”
With a storied history and close proximity to some of the best shopping in TST, there’s no denying The Mira is a great hotel. Perhaps as a product of its Design Hotels affiliation, it has also picked up substantial tech savvy, something that makes it a go to choice for those who need to be perpetually wired (no pun intended). There are a very few minor problems: the hotel’s interiors can sometimes border on garish; the breakfast buffet is definitively average; and the property is showing (albeit charmingly) its age. Yet, by and large The Mira Hong Kong is worth writing home about. In an area dotted with graying hotel facades that recall the bygone days of Clavell’s Noble House, The Mira is unashamedly letting its ‘hip’ flag fly. Groovy.
Save up to 30% off on staying with The Mira by booking directly here.
TVG acknowledges and thanks Mr. Jakub Lewandowski for his contribution to this article.
The Mira Hong Kong is located at 118 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon Hong Kong.