Monday, October 31, 2011

Hotel review: The Mira Hong Kong

I arrived in Hong Kong on Easter Sunday in 2011 on Dragonair! It was a great flight, as you can read about it in my previous review. From Hong Kong, I will proceed to Singapore to attend a meeting. The flight with Cathay Pacific was scheduled at noon of the next day. So, finally, I was in Hong Kong, the pearl of the Orient, the jewel of Asia, for the very first time. I had about 23 hours to explore the city.

A little hazy out there.
While I was still planning for this trip, I put more thoughts into booking the hotel than the flights. I was not looking for a hostel, or a cheap hotel located in places that are a little bit "off". I wanted to find a place that could give me: 

1. Easy access to attractions in the city.
2. Good facility and services so that the hotel itself wouldn't become the reason I hate this city
3. And, last but not least, I wanted it to be a bang for my buck.

In terms of easy access to attractions, I was looking for hotels within reasonable walking range from MTR. It would be better if the hotel was near Tsim Sha Tsui, but InterContinental was quite expensive at the time. I actually had the option of living for free in a double deluxe room in Marriott Sky City. However, it was way off and so, I saved the option for the next time.

I had heard about other people talking about the horrible things they had experienced in hotels/hostels in Hong Kong, like rats, cockroaches, creepy people, tiny room and so forth. One of my close friends mentioned the infamous Chungking Mansions. He dared me to give it a shot at the "best" but I decided to save the "best" for the next time.

Inside Chungking Mansions. A lot of things are going on at the same time there.
I always feel it's best to save something and not do it so that I will have a good reason to return to the place. And so, for my first visit, I was surprised by myself that I was willing to spend some extra money for a better hotel.

After searching various booking engines and hotel websites, I narrowed down to two options:

a. City Garden Hotel
b. The Mira Hong Kong

Both hotels were offering decent three-day advance booking deal for the Easter weekend. The cheapest room, called Deluxe Room, in City Garden Hotel cost about $150 U.S. dollar per night for the night I wanted, and the cheapest in The Mira Hong Kong, known as Studio, was a little over $180 U.S. dollar.

Both deals were great, and both came with free Internet access and Wifi, which was fabulous. Furthermore, City Garden Hotel offered free breakfast, while The Mira is a boutique hotel and a member of Design Hotel.

So, for me, I was a very tough call. I looked at the reviews and pictures, I watched videos and I read history of both properties. I ran the pros and cons list again and again just to help me decide whether or not to spend an extra 30 bucks.

It was an extremely intense night. Long story short, I pulled the trigger and booked a night at The Mira because it's closer to many key attractions, and, it was on sale. A Studio normally costs over $210 per night, and can go up to over $250 sometimes.

In the end, as it turned out, I think I made the right move. I wanted to see as many attractions in one day as possible. And The Mira Hong Kong itself is a gorgeous attraction.

When I asked a volunteer for direction to The Mira at the information desk of Hong Kong Tourism Board, she gasped and said:"Wow! It's a nice hotel!"

And, indeed, it is.

Lobby area at night.
Lobby area during the day.
The hotel, formerly Hotel Miramar, reopened in 2009 after a renovation, is chic, sleek and modern. The d├ęcor looks very class. The lobby area is quite dark, compared to most of the hotels, but it was not a problem. In fact, I found this kind of darkness very classy.

Very comfortable, queen-sized bed
The Studio room is very small. Actually, a lot smaller than I had expected. However, I was well-aware of the fact that I was in Hong Kong and since I was traveling alone and didn't have a lot of luggage, the size of the room was not a major concern. The size of the bed was quite big.

The major drawback of the Studio is the bathroom. There is not enough space to fit in a bathtub. So only shower is provided. But again, the shower room is well-equipped. Along with the traditional shower head, it comes with a rain forest shower head.

Shower room
The size and the shower room may be a little disappointing. I felt that maybe larger, more pricey rooms and suites will be superb. So I decided to call room service and ask them what kind of loyalty membership program they have. As I was looking for a phone, I found a cell phone instead. Calling the hotel front desk is free, but if you call a local number, say, a restaurant, standard charges apply. It's a nice idea. Guests, especially those who are transiting, can carry the phone all over Hong Kong during their stay and don't have to worry about hefty roaming fees from using their own cell phone.

So I called the front desk, the staff told me that they don't have a loyalty program yet. Their only airline partner, up to that day, was Finnair.

Well, what can I say, they portrait themselves as an upscale boutique hotel. They are one-of-a-kind. Maybe a loyalty program is not needed.

Internet inside the room is very stable and fast. The room is also equipped with tons of high-tech gadgets.

Inside the mini-bar, there were an array of non-alcoholic, such as tea and coffee, and many miniature alcoholic drinks. There were also a few bags of Doritos and some chips. Bottled water is free and so I put them in the fridge and take them out later when I walked around the city.

I set out to explore in the city for most of the afternoon, evening and the night. When I came back, I had a warm, nice shower and went to bed. The bed, duvet and the pillows were very comfortable. I had a dreamless night.

I checked out early the next morning and kept my bags at the concierge, so that I can spend the morning walking around without the burden of my backpack. I found the city very interesting and worth visiting multiple times in future.

The Mira Hong Kong
To wrap up my impression of The Mira Hong Kong, I think it's a great hotel and I would definitely recommend it to people to give it a try. Next time, I would probably stay in one of their larger rooms. If you feeling size of the Studio is not a big issue, paying under $200 after tax for a chic boutique hotel with great staff, central location that gives you easy access to just anywhere, super modern, clean and awesome ambiance is totally worth it.


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