It’s quiet. That’s one of the first things you notice when turning off bustling Salisbury Road onto the cobblestone driveway that winds up to Rosewood Hong Kong. Continuing for nearly a quarter of a mile, and lined with enormous lanterns and bonsai, the path signals the approach to something grand—more akin to a gracious private estate than a typical urban high-rise.

Lanterns along the transitional driveway from the waterfront fray up to the serene Rosewood Hong Kong

This sensation reflects the residential-style luxury of the Rosewood brand, led by CEO Sonia Cheng, a member of the AFAR Travel Vanguard. The Hong Kong location, the brand’s 26th and its new global flagship (it officially opened March 17, 2019), is especially personal for Cheng, who grew up in the city. She pays tribute to her heritage in design elements that include sketches of horse racing, a sport her grandfather loved, and the lobby ceiling’s octagon motif (the Chinese consider eight to be lucky).

Chief concierge Waldo Hernandez encourages looking up when moving about the property because there are many such nuanced details. Here’s a closer look at what all the buzz is about.

The elephant sculpture, entitled “The Skin Speaks a Language Not Its Own,” took the artist 10 months to create.

An eclectic, gallery-worthy art collection

Rosewood’s mix of art was chosen as if it were a private collection amassed organically over time (and by a flush collector, given its caliber). British artist Henry Moore’s midcentury bronze sculpture of a reclining figure is the first piece to greet guests; after they enter the lobby, Indian artist Bharti Kerr’s life-size elephant in repose makes a thought-provoking counterpoint.

Afternoon tea is served in the Butterfly Room.

Past the pachyderm, the Butterfly Room features Damien Hirst’s signature winged creatures on the walls. The adjacent Butterfly Patisserie resembles a jewelry atelier, with house-made pastries standing in for diamonds in the gleaming display cases. The chocolates, gelato, and cake loaves are packed in wooden boxes for easy takeaway.

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The lobby level also features American Joe Bradley’s colorful abstract paintings by the elevators. Hong Kong artist Wilson Shieh’s whimsical illustrations turn up in guest rooms, as do William Low’s neighborhood paintings, each of which reflects the actual Hong Kong scene visible through the given room’s window.

Rooms that are stylish and spacious

Space is a true luxury in Hong Kong, and even the smallest of Rosewood’s 332 rooms counts a generous 570 square feet. Many floors treat the hallway as a communal living-room-like space: Interior designer Tony Chi intended it to be used throughout the day, with coffee and biscuits available in the morning and a cocktail trolley come evening. A vestibule in front of each room’s door has space for an umbrella and a leather satchel with the day’s paper.

Freestanding furniture, fine art, and midcentury touches make guest rooms feel like a luxurious home.

The decor blends midcentury, Chinoserie, and refined country influences in a variety of textures, including leather, lacquer panels, and Loro Piana custom cashmere wall coverings. All the furniture is freestanding, which reinforces the residential feel, and even the most basic accommodations feature showstopping marble bathrooms, complete with a freestanding soaking tub, twin showers (yes, two showerheads), a vanity table, and walk-in closet.

Each floor has a Grand Harbour Corner Suite with 1,323 square feet and panoramic water views.

The suite life

Rosewood’s 91 suites—the most of any Hong Kong luxury hotel—range from 990 to 10,764 square feet. Guests are treated to personal butler service, monogrammed pillowcases and robes, and other personalized amenities.

The 40th-floor Manor Club caters to suite-level guests (others can pay for use during select hours) with a games area for mah-jongg and billiards; a cocktail bar; and a lounge area. Its outdoor terrace is one of several throughout the hotel.

The moody interior of DarkSide features a series of oversize rotating hourglasses; head to the terrace to smoke the bar’s vintage cigars.
Dining and drinking spaces

Among Rosewood’s eight dining concepts, the most personal to CEO Sonia Cheng is the Legacy House, which showcases seafood-heavy dishes from Shunde, her grandfather’s native region of southern China. Holt’s Café is a more casual option loosely inspired by local diner-like cha chaan tengs and named in reference to Holt’s Wharf, a former freight and logistics hub where the hotel now stands. Rosewood’s handsome bar, DarkSide, hosts live jazz nightly and also riffs on location; “the dark side” is both an outmoded reference to Kowloon and suggestive of the aged dark spirits on offer.

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A neighborhood in transformation

Rosewood is at the heart of Victoria Dockside, a $2.6 billion art and design development spearheaded by Adrian Cheng, Sonia’s brother, along Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. K11 Atelier, an office tower with decidedly 21st-century amenities (wellness courses, rotating art) is already open, and small-scale museum K11 Musea is slated for late 2019.

Remarkably, Victoria Dockside is just one element in the waterfront’s revitalization. From the hotel, you can walk west along the newly revamped Avenue of Stars toward the Hong Kong Museum of Art, whose collection of Chinese paintings and antiquities reopens in November after extensive renovations.

Continue on, and you’ll reach the West Kowloon Cultural District, a new hub for the arts whose first phase has unveiled Xiqu Centre devoted to Cantonese opera, Art Park for alfresco events, and Freespace, an experimental theater. Still to come are the visual arts complex M+ and the Palace Museum displaying artifacts from imperial China.

As for the hotel, upcoming plans include the fall debut of the first urban outpost of Asaya, Rosewood’s integrated wellness program, and the May opening of Rosewood Residences for extended stays—a tempting prospect. Even Hong Kong Island devotees would likely admit Kowloon side has never looked brighter.

>>Next: Plan Your Visit With AFAR’s Hong Kong Travel Guide