Hotel Review: Tatler Checks Into... The Murray, Hong Kong
What happens when a historic monument is transformed into a fabulously chic hotel?
In a city like Hong Kong where every little bit of space is precious, it's a treat to check into a hotel like The Murray, Hong Kong, where even the smallest rooms are comfortably sized regardless of whether you're there for work or play.
Located on Cotton Tree Drive, the property faces the Hong Kong Park on one side but is also just a stone's throw away from Central and the CBD, so you get lush greenery as well as the convenience of the city during your stay here.
Standing out amongst a sea of gleaming office buildings, The Murray makes an enchanting first impression with its creamy-white walls and huge arches.
Originally a government office, it was first built in 1969 and was the brainchild of architect Ron Phillips, who was inspired by the relentless summer heat to design a structure that would naturally keep itself cooler.
This was done by angling the building in a certain way so that the sun would only hit the concrete walls, but never the glass windows, resulting in much cooler interiors. The groundbreaking concept was considered innovative for his time, and Phillips went on to win awards for both design and energy conservation.
Do Not Disturb
When China-based Niccolo Hotels group bought over the property, they tasked Foster + Partners to transform the space from an office to a chic 25-storey hotel. The designers took pains to preserve the original facade of the building, even inviting the then 90-year-old Phillips as a project consultant. On the inside, however, any indication that this was once a sterile office is thrown out the window(s) (pun intended), when you see the gilded gold lobby and sleek mid-century furnishings and finishings.
In the Grand Deluxe room I stayed in, plush carpets adorned the shiny hardwood floors, and a floor-to-ceiling headboard framed a King-sized bed dressed in 400 thread-count linens and an array of pillows (yes, you can choose from a range of 16 different types of pillows). My 50sqm room had an unobstructed view of the nearby St John's Cathedral, as well as beautiful views of the city.
But hands down my favourite part of the room? The bathroom, which had been outfitted in marble and gold, was elegant with the right amount of opulence. It also had "magic" glass for its walls, which would turn transparent or opaque at the touch of a switch. Plus, the amenities from organic Australian brand, Grown Alchemist, didn't hurt either.
If you're yearning for a little me-time while staying at The Murray, there's a 17m lap pool, as well as a vitality pool located on the first level of the hotel. Though its no infinity pool, the lush greenery makes the space a highly Instagrammable one.
The spa, located on level 3, has a total of five treatment rooms, with two of them for couples, complete with steam and sauna facilities. Just like in the rooms, the products used here are from Grown Alchemist, as well as from Swedish brand, Kerstin Florian. Besides the usual facials and massages, Wellness At The Murray also offers personal health consultations pertaining to dining and nutrition.
Food & Drink
Besides the one-Michelin starred Guo Fu Lou, The Murray is home to a total of five dining establishments, including The Tai Pan & Cotton Tree Terrace; Garden Lounge; the lobby bar Murray Lane; rooftop bar Popinjays, and the aforementioned award-winning Cantonese fine dining restaurant.
Breakfast is served daily at Garden Lounge (though guests are sometimes seated at adjoining The Tai Pan if they are running at full house), and you have a choice of ordering from the ala carte menu (congee, assorted dim sum, or pancakes and waffles) and partaking in the buffet spread (pastries, cereals, fruits and more).
In the afternoon, The Murray’s Signature Afternoon Tea can be enjoyed at the Garden Lounge, where guests can enjoy light bites and imbibe handpicked champagnes, wines and speciality teas from Jing.
Unlike Singapore, where rooftop bars have become more of a common occurrence in recent years, it's still relatively rare to find a rooftop bar in Hong Kong, especially one that sits high enough to have breathtaking views of the beautiful city.
Popinjays, located on the 25th floor, is the perfect spot to park yourself at if you're in the mood for cocktails and people-watching. Fun fact: The F&B space was named after the cockatoos that would frequent the nearby Hong Kong Park and botanical gardens, as well as—you guessed it—the rooftop of The Murray.
Apart from the bar, an outdoor terrace wraps around the restaurant headed by French chef, Didier Quennouelle. Serving up modern European cuisine with a Gallic influence, you can opt for a four or six-course seasonal degustation menu that changes weekly.