Choosing the Right Hotel – Location First- I wrote this post a few weeks ago and have received some very positive feedback and therefore will continue this as a series. Next in this series is Hong Kong. I visited Hong Kong for the first time last month and it was a validation of my selection process for a hotel location in a new city.
Hotel costs are the major costs on any leisure trip. Malati and I have made numerous leisure trips across the world. With time, experience and a lot of hindsight our planning and our hotel selection has become more focused and precise. Which means more comfortable and convenient stays. And it follows, of course, a more pleasurable holiday and pleasant memories !
While price is important the biggest challenge I have faced is in deciding the location of the hotel . In the past, I would have got a good price, and a great deal with lots of add- ons only to find that the hotel is far away from most places I wished to visit and nowhere near public transport. As a result the holiday became a drudge and the simple thought of a long walk to the metro was enough to dampen my spirits even before the day started! Hotel location not only impacts direct hotel costs but also indirect costs associated with transport and sight seeing . However with experience I have evolved a easy process to arrive at the best choice of the location. So lets take a look at these simple steps.
City Centre or Away? This is the first decision point in selecting a hotel location. Do you prefer to stay away from the city center where the hotels are cheaper and then use the savings to pay for expensive local transport or stay in the city center where the hotels are slightly more expensive. I always prefer to stay in the city center as it offers great flexibility in sight seeing and also gives the option of returning to the hotel during the day for a mid afternoon or early evening siesta before setting out for a second round in the evening. Hong Kong has a very good metro system and you are always less than hour away from your home. In Hong Kong city center would mean either Kowloon or the North of Hong Kong Island. Away locations include South of the island, Lantau Island or the Northern territories. If you are looking at night life such as LKF would you like to trudge home in the middle of the night after a happy evening? Availability of transport and security are issues to consider.Now for the next step
The Holiday Plan – Define the broad purpose of your visit? Sightseeing? Shopping? Beaches and landscape? History? Leisure- Lazy hotel stay? Eating ? Hong Kong offers you all options – Your broad purpose will lead you to the places of your interest – which is often different from what the tour guides say. it. So if you are a first timer do some research. Some searches on the net for starters are “What are the top 10 things to do in Hong Kong ” – “Things to do in Hong Kong ” I found Trip Advisor a great place to start. Lonely Planet is another great site. I would suggest you buy a Lonely Planet guide from the local book store particularly during your planning process. Well worth the expense. Once you have gone through a few web sites you would get a feel of the city and the distances involved -Read reviews about the attractions and you will be able to make your own list of the things to see and do in a city -This time we were traveling with my daughter and an infant as well so we had to make some changes to our usual requirements.
Places to Visit Once you have your purpose clear in mind create a list of places you want to visit or to do things.In my case the list is as follows
Hong Kong Island
- Peak Tram , Victoria peak , Sky deck and Tussauds museum.
- IFC Mall , a ferry ride across the harbour and The Michelin star dumpling restaurant – Tim Ho Wan.
- Man Mo temple.
- Night life and street food in LKF and walk on the mid level escalators.
- View the imposing buildings like the Bank of China tower and the Sky deck.
- Big Budhha , Ngoling monastery and the cable car ride from Tung Chung.
- Shopping in Mong kok – Ladies market , Nathan road etc.
- Hong Kong Museum of History and one more museum .
- Lions rock.
- Star Ferry -Harbour cruise
- Watch Symphony of Lights from a restaurant on the island and from Tsim Tsa Tsui .Promenade.
- Avenue of stars and a stroll down Tsim Tsa Tsui-
- Chun Lun monastery and Ten Thousand Buddhas
- Kowloon Park.
- Northern Territories
- The Chinese University of Hong Kong Shatin.
- Touch the Futian check post on the Chinese border.
Notice that I have not included Disneyland and Ocean park in my list – We have no little children with us who would greatly enjoy the places – You could add or subtract to this list based on your personal views.
The Visit Plot – Now plot these selected places on the map. As you can see below Hong Kong comprises of the main island of Hong Kong (island) , Kowloon Peninsula, Northern territories(bordering China off the map to the North ), Lantau Island (off the map to the west ), Lamma Island and many other small islands which do not necessarily figure on any tourist list. And so for the first time tourist most of the to-do things are either on the Island or in the Kowloon peninsula with an excursion to Macau or Lantau and for the adventurous maybe the Northern territories.
The Itinerary Having plotted the map with the places of interest make out a day wise itinerary – For example Victoria peak and its attractions is half a day. Lantau and the Big Buddha is another half day, Tsim Tsa Tsui and the promenade requires at last two evenings, LKF can occupy pretty much of the evening and night, Mong Kok and the shopping around another half day and so on – Do include periods of rest.
Once you have plotted these on a map suddenly two distinct areas of Interest stare at you from the map- ( see the map above) Kowloon Peninsula and the Central area of the Island . A third circle comprises of areas spread out to the North of the map or Lantau Island but that is too far away from the tourist part of Hong Kong. The other point to note is that nearly all the places I chose to visit were along the Tsuen Wan (Red Line) MTR line and therefore a hotel with easy access to this line would make the most sense . The Red line runs from Central to Admiralty stations on the island to Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan, Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok stations which completely access the points of my interest in the Kowloon area.Thus the hotel location that I chose was Kowloon in the Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) Area within walking distance from the TST station and the pier.
With this much planning off the map I chose the Intercontinental on Salisbury Road at the tip of the Kowloon peninsula. The hotel had easy access to the metro, overlooked the Tim Tsa Tsui Promenade and walking distance to the Jetty. A perfect location for my itinerary and met all the requirements. Each day began with a convenient short walk to TST station and then one or two stops either direction to all the tourist spots of my interest . I found that I could cover a lot more ground each day and with the Octopus card I did not end up spending too much on taxis. Taxis are pretty expensive in Hong Kong with the starting rate at 24 HKD and each red light stoppage adds many dollars to cover no distance. Lantau (off the map) was easily accessible from Kowloon as were some of the places to the North of the map and here too all that was required was one change. Besides, as a bonus I was able to watch the Symphony Of Lights each evening from the coffee shop of the hotel.
A great location to stay and the location selection process has proved itself once again!
My next post in this series is Selecting a Hotel location in Bangkok Thailand