Why we love it: one of the city’s most iconic heritage buildings, the former Marine Police Headquarters, has blossomed into a sophisticated boutique hotel
- One of the finest afternoon teas in towns
- Live jazz music and a nightly son et lumiere display on the neo-classical Victorian exterior
- Interactive experiences like 2019’s The World of Studio Ghibli’s Animation, celebrating anime
The review: Hong Kong’s first private-sector adaptation of its kind, the old Marine Police Headquarters spent six years being transformed, in adherence with world conservation best practices. In 2019, the FWD Group leased the property and debuted House 1881. Grace notes include preservation of the original, intricate, cast-iron fireplaces and a replica three-pounder Hotchkiss quick-firing gun on display outside the main building. Keen-eyed guest will also spot tributes to the location’s past, including holding cells, security windows, the vintage stable doors and teal dovecotes that housed messenger pigeons.
Today the luxury hotel prides itself on marrying the territory’s roots with 21st-century comforts to produce “timeless luxury.” Expect gracious balconies, louvered windows, terracotta roof tiles and palms fringing the splendid courtyard. House 1881 also has a champagne gallery, part of its event spaces, and a tea room overlooking the garden, which can host smaller affairs. It also offers a smashing colonial-style afternoon service there. Expect three tiers of nibbles, ascending from savories like lobster strudel and king scallop with caviar to madeleines and a lychee-osmanthus mousse cup.
Book into a corner suite with a commanding view of the city skyline. Large, gauze-swathed windows and burnished wood paneling wrap around comfortable armchairs, writing desks, and king-sized four-poster beds swathed in fine linens. Each have large private balconies, as well as Nespresso coffee machines and 55” LED TVs. The bathrooms have checkered marble floors and rain shower heads, along with Hermès toiletries. Feeling fancier? Bump up to the Premier Suite category, unfurling panoramic views of Victoria Harbor. House 1881 also offers old-school touches like a valet box and shoe-shining service, as well as daily turndowns with homemade pastries.