With Modernity in Mind: The Mira Hong Kong
Before arriving at The Mira, I already knew this was an unusual hotel. Anywhere that accepts bookings via Whatsapp, the instant messaging app, is clearly striving to break the mould.
The subject of an impressive multi-million-dollar renovation some eight years ago, The Mira Hong Kong is a unique hotel experience. Formerly known as Hotel Miramar, it was once the quintessential inner city bolthole, with tired interiors and unimaginative use of space. It was the first post-war hotel to open in the city and one of the largest hotels in Southeast Asia in the 1970s. Its prime location in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui — opposite Kowloon Park and in the heart of the shopping district — was its clearly its main drawcard.
Enter Martin Lee — youngest son of the billionaire Lee Shau-Kee and Chairman and CEO of Henderson Land, one of the largest business enterprises in Hong Kong — who transformed Hotel Miramar into the modern masterpiece it is today. With a budget of $65 million, he and celebrity designer Colin Cowie renovated the 16-floor hotel with the aim of creating a “chic, upscale hospitality concept, designed for tech-savvy design aficionados,” says Lee.
The modern feel is immediate upon entering the hotel, with its cool, open spaces and lightly fragranced air. Check-in is completed with a swipe and tap-tap on a tablet, an early indication of how this hotel embraces technology. With impeccable English, the staff direct me to my room.
No detail has been overlooked in the design of my quarters. I am welcomed by a tray of small cakes and fresh fruit, with a personal handwritten note and digital welcome message on the TV screen. This is the first time I’ve been digitally welcomed, and I like it.
The room has been carefully and intelligently designed to maximise every inch of space, with floor-to-ceiling glass in the bathroom creating a sense of light and space. Technology and customer experience is clearly at the centre of the room’s design, with buttons allowing me to activate the television speakers in the bathroom. There’s also a pocket Wi-Fi device, allowing me to literally carry my 4G connection around with me. The Mira has been designed with connectivity, and most probably the business and tech-savvy traveller, in mind.
Walking through the hotel, the feeling is cool, urban, sophisticated, its corridors forming ambient tunnels with low, reflective ceilings. A hushed quiet gives the feeling of being in an art gallery, or exhibition space — an intentional feeling, as The Mira enjoys hosting art exhibitions, with the Moldovan photographer Iurie Belegurschi exhibiting his A Slice of Iceland collection here just over a year ago.
It is easy to imagine guests being drawn to The Mira for its sense of artfully constructed tranquility; it is a place to indulge in the hotel’s luxury spa facilities or take a dip in the infinity pool.
Martin Lee chose purple as the interior accent colour, with hints of it featuring in the lighting and most notably in the lavish ballroom, with its 18 handcrafted Czech crystal chandeliers and unique, pillarless architectural design. I was interested to note that a single lighting fixture remains from the old days of Hotel Miramar, on the ground floor restaurant, Yamm. This hotel may be modern, but it has not forgotten its roots.
Vibes, the hotel’s fifth-floor al fresco lounge bar, comes alive at dusk with an intriguing mix of hotel guests and locals. It’s seen as a trendy place to meet, with strategic rows of frangipani trees and bamboo groves with running waterways and spacious cabanas creating intimate conversation spaces. The hotel’s five restaurants are similarly popular with local residents, with the crab and minced shrimp dim sum from Cuisine Cuisine, the Cantonese fine dining restaurant on the third floor being, for me, a particularly standout dish.
Hong Kong is an electric, vibrant city, and an exhausting one. Returning to The Mira at the end of a day’s sightseeing felt like stepping into an oasis of calm. I plugged in, tuned out, and took in the twinkling view of Kowloon Park from my hotel window feeling that I had discovered a small piece of contemporary paradise.
The author stayed at The Mira Hong Kong courtesy of the hotel.