This January I'll have lived in Hong Kong for six whole years. If you'd told me I'd be writing those words today as I packed up my suitcases for a two-year Asian adventure back in December 2008, I'd have probably been pretty horrified. But, six years have whizzed by in a blur of neon, vodka jelly and bobbing around in the South China Sea, and Hong Kong is now well and truly home.
In my time here, I've worked out a few key tips to living happily in the 852:
- Dehumidify, dehumidify and dehumidify some more - if you don't want your favourite shoes from growing a gross layer of green mould or your clothes disintegrating before your eyes, your best investment is a top of the range dehumidifier.
- Your hair and make-up will never look good in August - straightening your hair and wearing foundation is futile, your time's better spent sitting very still in front of the air-con when you arrive at your destination.
- To stay sane you need to take a break from the Hong Kong crazy at least every couple of months - whether it's a week on the beach in Thailand or a quick flit across the border for a couple of days in China, if you don't take fairly frequent time-outs life in the city can just get a bit too much.
So, six years on, I have my dehumidifier on max 24x7 and have more than a few sneaky heatproof August beauty cheats perfected. As far as frequent breaks from HK go, as much as I love grabbing my passport and jetting to new corners of Asia, I've now exhausted the majority of the easy weekend escape options so am constantly on the look out for new break-spiration.
So, when the Pentahotel offered me the chance to try out their Break-cation package a couple of weeks ago, I'd booked myself in quicker than you can say 'R&R'.
Weekends away generally start with a trip out to the airport, and this weekend was actually no different, given that the Pentahotel is set right next to the site of Hong Kong's former international airport, Kai Tak over in Kowloon East.
On Saturday morning we threw a few essentials into a weekend bag and hopped into an Uber, smug in the knowledge that within thirty minutes we'd be in full-on chill out mode, with no need to waste precious time dragging ourselves through two sets of passport control or watching reruns of Modern Family on a plane. Half an hour later we pulled-up underneath an old school cinema-style sign bearing the hotel's name just as a sleek mini also emblazoned with the 'PH' logo unloaded a couple who were clearly also on a little staycation.
We headed straight on up to check-in oohing and ahhing over a cool pizza restaurant in the lobby and some Banksy-esque murals.
Things got cooler yet at check-in though, with the reception desk set in a sprawling lounge running seamlessly from lobby to games room to a bar and restaurant area. With lots of low lighting and dark wood, the vibe's New York with an Eastern edge and it put me more than a little in mind of the uber-hip Ace Hotel in downtown Manhattan.
Check-in was quick, painless and done via one of the bank of iPads mounted on the reception desk. Although, even if there'd been a queue I wouldn't have been complaining, as I actually quite fancied curling up in one of the armchairs by the faux-roaring fireplace and slip on the headphones plugged into the music station loaded with a whole host of beats.
Check-in forms filled, our luggage was whisked off and we decided to have a little nose around the rest of the hotel before heading up to the room. First stop Eatstreet, the Pentahotel's restaurant.
Feeling a little peckish, we settled into one of the tartan armchairs and ordered a little snack from the kitschy-fabulous tea menu.
Snack devoured, we continued our wander past the fussball table in the games room...
... along past the second pool table, this one next to a Wii being used by two very excited children playing a heated game of tennis...
... straight on down to the very well-equipped gym....
...which were obviously far too lazy to do anything but look at before swiftly moving out to the pool area...
Which rather sadly had just been closed the week before for winter otherwise I would have very happily flopped onto one of those loungers and spent the rest of the day snoozing in the sun.
Instead, I decided I'd have to make do with an afternoon nap in my room so trotted on up to check out my digs for the weekend.
Not half bad - hey?! We had a Pentaroom King which was compact but perfectly formed with green mountain views, an open wardrobe (all the better to put together your outfit from bed) and a glossy black bathroom. I've heard whispers that the Pentasuites are a whole new level of lovely so I may just have to upgrade myself next time.
After unpacking my weekend bag and taking a blast under the rainforest shower, I'd worked up quite a thirst so went in search of the Minibar. Five unsuccessful minutes of hunting later, I made a quick call down to reception and was efficiently informed that Pentahotel run a Maxibar service. Scratching my head over what exactly a Maxibar was, I followed reception's instructions and headed down to the first floor.
I'm going to find it pretty tricky going back to overpriced miniature bottles of whisky and half-melted Kit Kats after discovering the Pentahotel's Maxibar vending machines stuffed with mini Rubix Cubes and packs of Uno.
The rest of the weekend went along the lines of eat, nap, read, nap, eat, venture out to IMax to see Interstellar (very good), head straight home for best night's sleep in a very, very long time.
In fact, I slept so well that I almost missed breakfast the next morning. Luckily I skidded down with five minutes to spare at 9:55am just in time to greedily put away heaps of fruit and croissants and vats of coffee and juice before gobbling an omelette whipped up by the egg man in the open kitchen right opposite our table.
Just before heading home, we decided to squeeze in a little bit of culture, so hitched a lift in the Pentamini up to Chi Lin Nunnery for a wander around the pretty gardens in the sun. Which, incidentally, despite my six years here, is a corner of Hong Kong I've never quite made it to. Proof if ever you need it that sometimes unexplored corners of Asia are right on your doorstep and don't even require a passport to get to.
19 Luk Hop Street
San Po Kong
“Break-cation” is HKD1,488, excluding 10 percent service charge, based on availability and 48-hours advance reservation.
Valid 8 September to 23 December, “Break-cation” includes one-night pentaroom accommodation for two with buffet breakfast, one round-trip pentamini ride to Nan Lian Garden, Kowloon Walled City or Kowloon City restaurants, and a Hong Kong-style afternoon.