Travel Tips

Suzy Gershman’s Postcard From Hong Kong: Shopping, Spas & Salon de Ning

Locations in this article:  Bangkok, Thailand Beijing, China Hong Kong Las Vegas, NV Paris, France Seoul, South Korea Shanghai, China

Hong Kong skylineDear Peter,

There’s something about Hong Kong that will always make it home to me—I think because I stay in a handful of hotels regularly and people there remember me, which it adds another layer to a stay that makes everything cozier.

But wait—there is also a bunch of new hotels in town, many with gimmicks, and there are some new tricks for the old faithful, so there is much to tell.


Intercontinental Hotel Hong KongIn these days of economizing and figuring out what to give up and what to splurge on, I decided that maybe I didn’t need the official car service from the InterContinental Hong Kong when I arrived.

They do know how to pamper you, but as an Old China Hand and a Woman of Independent Thoughts, I decided to take a taxi instead.

The entire taxi scheme at the HKG airport has been re-done so you must pay attention as everything is color-coded by destination: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories, etc. The taxi costs about US$30, a large savings over hotel car service (usually about US$100).

More Hong Kong info: Off the Brochure Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China.

The Peninsula’s Rolls Royce FleetNonetheless, when it was time to leave Hong Kong carrying our heaps of bags, we decided to take the Rolls Royce Phantom from The Peninsula Hotel.

Worried that we really needed a van, we called the concierge who sent up a luggage inspector and announced that the hotel’s custom-made stretch Rolls would do nicely, thank you, madame.


We always stay at a variety of hotels to test them out, so besides InterConti and The Pen, we looked at The Fleming Hotel in Wan Chai, a small boutique hotel in the hottest part of town—especially for young people who eat and club around here.

Fleming Hotel Hong KongThe Fleming’s new schtick is a “Her Space in-Room Spa,” with treatments that begin around US$50—not bad!

Then there is the Upper House, another boutique hotel, cousin to Opposite House which has been the talk of Beijing for about a year. Both hotels are owned by Swire Hotels.

The new Hong Kong branch is named for the upward progression of the eye and spirit as one moves from the harbor to The Peak. The hotel is conveniently located at Pacific Place, adjacent to the mall at the beginning of what locals call The Mid-Levels.  (Opposite House in Beijing is also next door to a lot of shopping.) These hotels are for the guest who needs to be up on the latest designs and trends and who wants a smallish hotel in a great location.

Looking for a great culinary experience in Hong Kong? Try Asian Culinary Vacations: Noodling Around in the East.

Salon de NingThe real knock-out of our trip was the visit to the just-opened Salon de Ning in the basement of The Peninsula Hotel. There’s a small, very discreet sign out front that I thought said “salon dining”—which shows you how crazy a little jetlag can make you.

This is a brand-new club and party place, meant to detract from the scene in WanChai and to satisfy your needs for glamour and whimsy.

Ning is a fictional fun lovin’ gal from Shanghai in the 1930s; all of her favorite international haunts are schemed into the club—you can have drinks in her closet or in her ski chalet in Switzerland. This place is tricked out with so much décor that you almost forget about the rest, which includes a DJ or live music and a mighty fine chrysanthemum tea martini.

Explore Hong Kong’s history and culture with A “Belonger” Looks Back at Hong Kong As Its Capitalist Heart Beats On.


The biggest trend in the store wars is that due to the times, many stores have closed and many have down-sized and changed to more oddball locations with lower rents. This coincides with the increased demand for the somewhat new Western Tunnel, which anchors the W Hotel, the soon-to-open Ritz-Carlton Hotel and the Elements department store on the Kowloon side and leads to Western District on the Victoria Island side—and all sorts of neighborhoods you may have never visited.

If you’re doing some shopping Hong Kong, be sure to check out: Duty-Free Shopping: Is It Really a Deal? And for more shopping adventures nearby, don’t miss Suzy’s Postcard from Shenzhen, China

Wah Tung ShowroomTop of your to-do list must be to visit the new Wah Tung showroom in the Chueng Fat Building which has downsized from four floors of warehouse space in the boonies of Aberdeen to an easy-to-handle showroom of six to seven salons divided by style. (For example, one room features only blue-and-white ceramics.)

As you enter, stop at the display table that features gifts for under US$100. Wah Tung ships; they will also make lamps from their vases and china, or do a custom dinner service for you. I just like to buy gift items here and feel the china of China.

Blue & White Kisses,

By Suzy Gershman for Visit Suzy on the Web at and join her on a shopping research tour of Vietnam this fall! She’ll be scouting locations for her spring tour from November 5-13, 2009, complete with her trademark shop & show lectures, market visits, food tastings and cooking lessons. For more information, contact Sarah at srlahey @

And for in-depth Hong Kong travel information, check out our Off the Brochure Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China.