Like fireworks against Victoria Bay's night sky, Hong Kong is a sensory explosion of dazzling contrasts. This is an international powerhouse of a city: smog-filled, crowded, cacophonous, rich with odours and rampantly consumerist. Street markets, shopping malls, designer brands, the latest gadgets, great culinary experiences – all are here in abundance, and many of the best places to stay in Hong Kong are well located to explore all of the above. For those who'd prefer a city apartment, these can also be found - though it's quite a hard task (we recommend the selection from our online partner, Booking.com).
Still rooted in tradition, old Hong Kong lives on beside new Hong Kong: ultra-modern developments are aligned with care according to the advice of feng-shui masters. Just steps away from traffic jams oases of peace can be found in neighbourhood temples. And historic trams rumble above one of the world's most advanced subway systems. Chinese culture mixes with the West: Have dim sum followed by afternoon tea to a soundtrack by this week's Cantopop sensation.
This may surprise you - considering Hong Kong's reputation as a bustling city of glass skyscrapers and traditional markets crammed full of treasures, and the fact that it's one of the most densely populated places on the planet - but over 70% of Hong Kong is mountains and country parks. So there's plenty here to appeal to the outdoor adventurer too.
Hong Kong 'city' is centred around the Kowloon peninsula and the strip opposite it on Hong Kong island. Tsim Sha Tsui, at the tip of the Kowloon peninsula, is the main tourist area, and is one of the best places to stay in Hong Kong if you're looking for reasonably priced accommodation. In basic brush strokes, the Kowloon side is less colonial, more Chinese, and you might find that prices are generally a little cheaper.
Hong Kong Island is where the colonial ties are strongest, so more English is spoken, and there's more old fashioned luxury. Some of the harbour side hotels have reputations for being the best places to stay in Hong Kong which span many, many decades.
Many people come to Hong Kong aiming to shop. Or explore the markets. Or see the rugby, or the races. But even if you have a plan, there are a few highlights you should't miss.
⁃ Wherever you stay, you should definitely try and see the harbour from the harbour. One of the best and cheapest, ways to do that is on the Star Ferry. It's also worth doing in the evening when Hong Kong is all lit up. Every night at 8pm they put on a colourful light show using Hong Kong's skyscrapers as the backdrop.
⁃ For another good view of the island, promenade the waterfront.
⁃ If you're interested in old Hong Kong, the Shek Kip Estate is worth a stroll through, and Shanghai Street is worth a stroll along. Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin, a Taoist Temple is also worth visiting. As is the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre and the Hong Kong Museum of History.
⁃ If you want to see some of the local colour take a turn round Kowloon Park, where you may even spot an opportunity to try some Tai Chi.
Once called Victoria, the main hub of Hong Kong business and administration, is now called 'Central'. Lan Kwai Fong, to the southwest of Central station is where you can find a lot of the restaurants, bars and clubs. Soho is the other entertainment district. Sheung Wan is probably the area where Hong Kong's colonial past is most evident, and Sai Ying Pun is probably the island's most traditionally Chinese neighbourhood.
⁃ The Peak Tram is an obvious first trip, taking you up to Victoria Peak, where Hong Kong's wealthiest citizens jostle for the best harbour views. Take some time to walk a bit higher than the tram stop and you'll see just how opulent some of these buildings are.
⁃ Man Mo Temple is Hong Kong's oldest, dating from the 1840s. It's also in amongst the antique shops of Hollywood road. So the whole area is worth a stroll. Careful though, many of the antiques for sale are clever forgeries.
⁃ It's also worth taking a spin on 'the escalator'. It's 800metres long, and the world's longest outdoor escalator. It runs downhill between 6AM and 10AM and then uphill between 10:30 and midnight.
Hong Kong (Mid - Levels)
A well placed hotel with unbeatable views at reasonable prices. The bedrooms boast fantastic harbour views from large windows. A generous outdoor pool gives an opportunity to relax in this buzzing city. Walking distance from the commercial downtown. An ideal city crash pad.
Located in the former industrial area of Wong Chuk Hang, Ovolo Southside references the hotel's past in its warehouse design. The popular restaurant serving steakhouse cuisine is covered in graffiti art and lit with filament lights. Minimalist rooms with metal fixtures enjoy huge windows and views.
Hong Kong (Kowloon)
Situated in Hong Kong's famous "Golden Mile" shopping and commercial district. This hotel offeres convenient, comfortable fun at a reasonable price. Modern decoration, fantastic restaurants, as well as business, fitness, and wedding facilities.
Hong Kong (Kowloon)
Glossy Langham Place in an earthy, authentic Chinese neighbourhood. Contemporary but supremely elegant in style - rich wooden furniture, neutral tones, white linens. Fantastic spa, roof top pool, and even a Chinese art collection.
Hong Kong (Kowlon)
An exceptionally modern hotel with fantastic facilities - Michelin-starred restaurant, electrifying open-air lounge bar, and underground spa. A hotel master-planned for rest and relaxation, all in the utmost style.
Hong Kong (Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowlon)
Colourful, stylish decoration and thoughtful details are highlights at this upbeat hotel. Glossy rooms and suites in oranges and greens. A great place to stay in the heart of the Tsim Sha Tsui area close to all the shopping and tourist attractions.
Hong Kong (Island East)
Stylish, comfortable, well-designed business hotel in the redeveloped Quarry Bay. Equipped with every mod con. A 24 hour gym and swimming pool provide rejuvenation at all hours. Ideally situated to move around the city. An award winning restaurant. The ultimate base while on business.
Hong Kong (Kowloon Station)
Hip hotel in the trendy the West Kowloon Cultural District. The stylish rooms are opulent and original with wonderful views of the harbour. Panoramic views of the city from the spectacular rooftop infinity pool, fantastic gourmet cuisine, and unrivalled spa and fitness facilities.
Fantastically modern hotel on the waterfront. Rooms with state-of-the-art technology vary between sleek Western style, with silk-panelled walls and marble-floored entry foyers, and contemporary Chinese style. It caters for business, weddings, and leisure.
Hong Kong (The Landmark, Central)
The smaller, trendier and more exclusive little sister to Mandarin Oriental, in a knock-out location for hitting the shops. Stunning modernist decoration, with sleek artistic touches. The double Michelin-starred French restaurant and mammoth two story luxury spa are not to be missed.
Hong Kong (Kowlon)
A legendary hotel with all the colonial elegance and allure of a bygone era. Harbour views from glamorous rooms, afternoon tea, and a fantastic selection of world-wide cuisine. The ultimate city break steeped in old world nostalgia.
This Hong Kong icon, famous for its impeccable service, has been given a super revamp. Its classic traditionalism now has contemporary comforts to match. State of the art bedrooms and bathrooms parallel the spectacle from the roof top bar and delight of the restaurants.
Hong Kong (Pacific Place)
A uniquely, and superbly, designed, Andre Fu, hotel that combines the best of boutique with typically giant Asian luxury. Huge stylish bedrooms and bathrooms with ceiling to floor windows and all the mod cons craved for by technology junkies. A refreshing city stay.