Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The new kid on the block

Every since we moved our Hong Kong office from the United Center to Wyndham Street, finding a suitable hotel for my trips has been a challenge.

United Center offered the convenience of Pacific Place and a convenient selection of hotels all just a short walk away. Our Wyndham Street office certainly has a better variety of eateries around and is in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong, but convenient hotel choices are few and far between (especially if walking to work is the goal).

My usual haunt has been the LKF Hotel (my review of the LKF Hotel). A decent place, but simply too noisy at night. I am (as it turns out) a sensitive sleeper, and the buzz from the streets in Lan Kwai Fong below have kept me awake during many jet lagged nights, no matter how high up I am in the hotel.

So what options do I have should I wish to keep my proximity to the office, not sacrifice my comfort, but be able to get a decent quiet nights sleep? The answer now may well be the Ovolo hotel.

Located at the top of the Spanish Steps, these newly converted service apartments have just opened as a boutique hotel … and very nice it is.

Ovolo has a less than traditional entrance, stemming from its apartment heritage, but once on the first floor, you are very much in a "hotel" environment. The check in staff were polite and efficient … and were quick to offer me a free late check out as soon as they knew I had a midnight flight the next day (and this was a proper late checkout … till 6.30pm, as opposed to the the "traditional" late check out time of 2pm that may be lucky enough to scrounge from traditional hotels).

I was brought up to my room ... there are just 2 per floor. The lobby area outside the lift appears quite cramped, but once in the room, it is remarkably spacious and well designed and thought out, especially for the business traveller. From the convenient suitcase stand to the spacious desk (which has ample plug sockets and multi region adapters provided to the Apple TV in every room allowing airplay viewing of your iPad movies on the big screen (a nice touch).

Every room has free wifi, a free mini bar with drinks and snacks and a Nespresso machine with free capsules. Its a small thing, but it's a constant frustration for me when I travel that I pay premium hotel prices and then get nickel and dimed for extras on top. I like this approach of everything "free" in the room. I saw it in the Upper House in Hong Kong also, and find it a refreshing change.

Speaking of "freebies", there were some excellent slipper provided (2 pairs found their way into my suitcase and I am now using them on flights) and a lovely back pack which now accompanies me to my football games as a kit bag.

The bathroom was spacious and when lit with an excellent shower cubicle (with a padded seat) and some great amenities provided (which somehow joined the slippers in my suitcase). The shampoos powerful minty essence remains a fond memory and will certainly wake up the weary jet-lagged traveller on a trip.

The bed was large and extremely comfortable. Plug sockets on either side are provided as well as an iPod / iPhone docker.

Allegedly, the hotel also has a gym and a spa ... but I just didn't get the time to visit either, and there is an attached "cafe" next door where breakfast is provided.

To be fair and to give a balanced opinion, there was a corner window in my room that had shutters instead of the electric curtain that closes the rest of the windows in the room … something my ultra light sensitive wife would not be pleased about, and I missed there not being any dressing gowns in the room.

While I like the small touches and attentino to detail that you really only find in boutique hotels, I do miss some of the facilities of a big 5 star hotel ... and in this case mainly a 24 hour room service option. Perhaps next time I will try a Pizza Hut delivery to my room ... that might prove to be the answer!

But I am nitpicking. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the hotel and the experience. I was only there for one night and had good (and quiet) nights rest and shall certainly plan to stay there again.

Sayonara LKF, Hello Ovolo.

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