The St. Regis Hong Kong opens in Hong Kong with interiors designed by award winning architect André Fu.
When the St. Regis Hong Kong opened its doors in April, its sleek and sophisticated interiors, designed and curated by the architect André Fu, received critical acclaim in a city famous for its luxury hospitality offering. The 27-storey tower has a glittering, graphic presence on the Hong Kong waterfront in Wan Chai, one of Hong Kong’s oldest districts, which the trams still pass through.
Wan Chai is home to traditional pawnshops, the old police station and the Bauhaus-style market that Fu cleverly incorporated into his design, taking the visitor on an immersive, layered visual journey where personal memories are interweaved with the city’s heritage, resulting in a rich and evocative experience. The heritage of Hong Kong is referenced throughout the hotel; old gas street lamps from Duddell’s Street, colonial columns from the old Wan Chai police station, and panelling, inspired by the colonial Hong Kong mansions. Art is an important element within the hotel and Fu has been a major influence on the art collection, which features internationally renowned artists.
Fu’s initial inspiration was the first St. Regis hotel built in New York by John Jacob Astor IV in 1904; Fu has taken this cultural landmark and infused it with his own childhood recollections of growing up in Hong Kong. Says Fu: “I wanted to go deeper than the stereotypical concept of lanterns, junks and temples and tap into my own memories of the city.”
The Entrance and Arrival
Walking into the hotel conjures up a sense of walking into a private Manhattan mansion from the turn of the century. André’s gift is to fuse together a sense of the scale and grandeur of New York City with historic Hong Kong, allowing the guest a sanctuary from the frantic urbanity of modern Hong Kong.
At 580 square metres, the porte cochere sets the scene for a dramatic arrival while the stone clad 8m walls work in harmony with the marble reception desk. An almost 8m high waterfall cascading in stone is featured not only for its rippling sound but also for the fluidity it introduces to the floor plan. Opulent lanterns, and sconces inspired by the 19th century gas lamps of old Hong Kong, create a soft and sensual glow. Oversized bronze panelled doors four metre high, by Solomon and Wu, lead to the vestibule, paying homage, through abstract silhouettes, to the skyscraper city of Hong Kong.
Entering the vestibule, the guest discovers two connected spaces, an antechamber with elevators, and a small salon where the concierge is located.
Fu’s dramatic design stretches the vertical heights of the vestibule to make it appear even taller, with bronze screens that evoke the old window frames that were typical of colonial Hong Kong. Mouldings engraved in the marble on either side of the elevators reflect the classic New York vernacular of the first St. Regis.
From the street level lobby, guests can ascend to the second level into a corridor bordered by classic wooden panelling with a jade green vestibule that frames an over scaled authentic Chinese snuff bottle on display by Chinese artist Cao Yuan Hua.
The Great Room
The second floor represents the major public area of the hotel, comprising the Great Room, the Drawing Room, the Terrace and the St. Regis Bar. A dramatic transition, from the low ceiling lift lobby to the 8m high ceiling, leads guests into the Great Room. Within this spacious room, a sense of drama is created through the soaring ceilings and expansive windows that flood the room with light, while the palette of cool greys and sage greens add to the sense of luxury, grandeur and airy openness. The space is also bordered by lush topiaries, which evoke a sense of oasis – a rare thing in Hong Kong. Two silver marble reception desks bring a sense of symmetry to the space, with a distinctive solid modular form that has a strong architectural quality. A massive chandelier, called The Skyline – as a tribute to the city’s impressive skyline – has been designed by Fu especially for the space, a bespoke arrangement of his TAC/TILE lighting collection, created by Czech glass specialist Lasvit.
The adjacent Drawing Room connects the Great Room to the Terrace and creates a transitional area between the two, with a relaxed and inviting setting. Here, mid-century inspired furniture is arranged in cosy groupings, adding privacy and a sense of intimacy. The Terrace offers a peaceful open-air haven with chairs and tables from Fu’s Rock Garden collection by Janus et Cie. Here guests encounter a stunning marble water feature which leads to a 2.5m high moon gate, a traditional element in Chinese gardens. The Terrace offers a sense of cultural nuances subtly fusing with the use of ornamental topiary and vertical bamboo.
One of the highlights of the hotel is The St. Regis Bar, which celebrates the atmosphere of old New York City and Hong Kong with the feeling that one is in exclusive private members only bolthole contrasting with the grandeur of the adjacent spaces. Rich warm tones, tweeds and brass details along with bronze oak panelling and olive leather upholstery give the bar a cosy and welcoming atmosphere. A centrepiece is a hand painted mural by Beijing artist Zhang Gong, inspired by a similar mural by Maxwell Parrish in the St. Regis New York, which depicts many of Hong Kong’s most famous historic features such as old Wan Chai, the Hong Kong Star Ferry and Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong’s rich vegetation and natural foliage, and colourful street scenes set against the old buildings.
Rùn Chinese restaurant is inspired by traditional Chinese tea pavilion architecture – inserted as a pale stained oak pavilion within a pavilion. The pavilion is an abstract architectural expression with intricate interlocking details akin to traditional Chinese architecture, expressed throughout the structure with geometric architectural forms that punctuate the space. Furthermore, the integrated cast glass lanterns add a sense of modernity to the whole visual experience. A colour palette of taupe, greys and browns with cinnabar red lacquer accents reference Chinese architectural tones. Two private dining rooms each feature their own lounge areas as well as an over scaled cast glass chandelier.
L’Envol French restaurant, decorated in soft cream and beige, is Fu’s own interpretation of the contemporary French salon, fusing art with couture and haute cuisine by Chef Olivier Elzer. Hand painted silk murals are exuberantly splashed with gold, and hectares of ivory Carrara marble underfoot convey a sense of luxury and glamour. The primary dining area looks onto an open kitchen and is arranged in a banquette style on either side of a 3.3 m long marble table. Bespoke hexagonal chandeliers, composed by antique brass and precious ivory agate, hang from the ceiling. ‘On The Edge’, an abstract marble sculpture by artist Helaine Blumenfeld, chosen by André Fu for its poetic qualities, is the centrepiece of the room. The Private Room features canvas work by French conceptual artist Laurent Grasso. Lastly, there is a wine and cheese salon to further the curation of experiences.
With just 129 bedrooms, including fourteen deluxe suites, two premium suites and a Presidential Suite, the hotel prioritises space and comfort over maximum efficiency. All of these are staffed by St. Regis personal butlers, and many boast panoramic views of the city and harbour. The interiors are a clever interplay of classic versus modernity, with an intricate juxtaposition of cultural influences that, to Fu, represent Hong Kong. Colours are chalky white, warm mineral grey and taupe; beds are dressed in white linen with mauve cashmere throws, rugs and wall hangings to give a sense of comfort and serenity. In some, Fu introduces a wake-up call with vivid orange lacquered doors.
One of the most outstanding elements of the St. Regis Hong Kong is the lighting throughout the hotel. André Fu balances natural light with soft light by night playing on reflective luminous surfaces. Unafraid of the mystery of shadows, he has resisted flooding his interiors with light, creating instead a sensuality of mood. The interiors shimmer and glow, an effect enhanced by the silks and damasks of soft furnishings and the luminous lacquers, marbles and metals. In contrast to the bright lights of Hong Kong’s dazzling sky by night, he has kept the lighting throughout the hotel refracted through double layered fabric shades, or layered glass shades with fluted inner chambers. Cut glass pendants framed in steel alludes to traditional gas street lighting in Hong Kong streets in the nineteenth century.
There are numerous table lamps with fluted glass shades on bronze and marble stands. Sconces with cut glass shades that refract the light recall New York at the turn of the century, in contrast with the almost Brutalist assemblage of textured glass cubed wall lights on arrival in the lobby.
Perhaps Fu’s most ambitious project to date, the St. Regis Hong Kong combines elements of time and place that both reinforce and elevate the spirit of the brand. With its blend architectural creativity, cultural diversity and timeless elegance, the St. Regis Hong sets a new benchmark for the next generation of luxury hotels and resorts.