Marrying Hong Kong architectural heritage with contemporary hospitality, The Murray should be your first luxury staycation selection.
In the first feature of our new staycation review series, we look at The Murray Hong Kong, a Niccolo Hotel, the group’s luxurious flagship located at the heart of Central. More than just another luxury hotel, The Murray, which opened in early 2018, is a time capsule of sorts. Housed within an iconic modernist building designed by British architect Ron Phillips in 1969 and now one of eight historic landmarks under the Hong Kong Government’s Conserving Central initiative, the evolution from office block to five-star hotel by Foster + Partners ensured the preservation of a vital piece of the city’s architectural heritage.
In fact, The Murray boasts a design persona before its time; its deeply recessed square windows provide a ground-breaking energy efficiency concept that is still applauded decades after it was built.
It doesn’t get much more central than The Murray. Set between Hong Kong Park, with its aviary and walking trails, and the respite of St John’s Cathedral, the hotel enjoys one of the quieter corners of downtown Hong Kong Island. Backdropped by the Mid-Levels and The Peak, the hotel is an easy walk to both Central and Admiralty as well as Tamar Park and is easily accessible by taxi.
Keeping Guests Safe
So, one of the most important considerations when looking for a staycation, given the global pandemic rocking our world, should be hygiene. Fortunately, Wharf Hotels, under which Niccolo Hotels sits, has you covered with recently introduced biosecurity protocols designed to keep guests safe and healthy. These include a paperless check-in process, hand sanitising gel stations, enhanced room sterilisation procedures, and masked staff throughout.
Due to its location and design, the arrival experience at The Murray is more discrete than that of the city’s other big five star hotels, with their expansive lobbies and broad forecourts. Instead, guests are escorted into a double-height but slender lobby in black onyx and Art Deco-esque brass accents. At one end is Murray Lane, the hotel’s intimate, Wall Street-inspired cocktail bar, and above another street-level entrance, one of two fascinating pieces by Korean artists Back Soon-Ghi that depicts a school of charcoal birds in flight. The ambiance is that of a chic residential complex, perhaps just off the park on New York or discretely hidden down a Belgravia lane.
After a quick check-in process, I make my way to the elevators and up to one of The Murray’s 336 sophisticated suites and guest rooms.
The Murray prides itself on the size of its guest rooms, which are some of the city’s largest. This is a major consideration for those looking to do a staycation and with over 75 percent of guest rooms at 50sqm or larger, you’re assured plenty of space, refined interiors that include natural fabrics, leather, and plush textiles, and great cityscape views through those iconic, deep-set windows.
There is a modern elegance to the rooms and suites of The Murray, something that’s residential and comforting despite their unashamedly contemporary styling. While rooms are somewhat minimalist in their decor, there’s also intelligence to their layout – there’s everything you need and nothing you don’t, from the Nespresso machine to the ‘magic glass’ of the bathroom that turns opaque at the touch of a button.
My N2 Grand category room is no exception. A beautifully-large main bedroom area that includes a huge wall-mounted smart television, a king-sized bed with 400-thread count linens, and elegant hardwood floors gives way on either side to a workspace and a marble bathroom with a free-standing bathtub, rain shower, Toto multi-function toilet, double vanities, and amenities by Australia’s Grown Alchemist. There’s high-speed wifi, plush carpeting, a comfortable couch and coffee table, and views to St John’s Cathedral from both the bed and the desk. It’s a pretty heavenly space for those looking for a change of home scenery.
Like any luxury hotel worth its salt, The Murray offers a variety of dining experiences, ranging from classic cocktails at Murray Lane, a popular spot with the city’s black suit brigade, to elegant afternoon teas at the Garden Lounge.
During my visit, I start off (and so should you) with a few very well-made martinis on the wraparound terrace of Popinjays (above), the hotel’s modern European rooftop restaurant and an alfresco hotspot, before heading to the hotel’s modern bistro concept The Tai Pan (below), where an elegant staycation set menu was being served by attentive and cheerful wait staff. The Tai Pan is also where staycationers will enjoy sensational breakfasts (best enjoyed alfresco on the Cotton Tree Terrace), so be sure to leave time to graze.
This is where The Murray falls a little short of some of its competitors, if only in the name of architectural preservation. Guests visiting the tiny indoor pool, which seems to be hidden in the bowels of the building, have to skirt the lobby in their swimwear and will often as not discover (especially on weekends) a pool already packed with families. You were warned.
There are also five well-appointed spa suites at the hotel spa, but to be honest, with the great city views and stunning guest rooms, you could be forgiven for popping the kettle on, grabbing that Do Not Disturb sign, and watching the day go by from bed instead (especially if you have some sinfully good company).
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A Modern Classic
Marrying Hong Kong architectural heritage with contemporary hospitality, The Murray should be your first luxury staycation option.