LANDING IN HONG KONG CAN BE A LITTLE DISORIENTING. You look up and can’t see the sky, crowded out by the city’s world-record 7,740 high-rises (that’s about 1,600 more than Manhattan, if you’re counting). Navigating the winding, overstuffed laneways can feel like you’re trapped in the world’s largest pinball machine.
Slow down a bit, though, and you’ll find an inexhaustible supply of things to love down at ground level. The streets are crowded for a reason: Hong Kong is home to a surplus of modish hotels, clandestine cocktail bars and off-kilter boutiques that perfectly complement its life-altering food scene. Here’s where to begin.
The hipper younger brother of the neighbouring Marco Polo Hotel, Gateway blends design-driven, boutique-y good looks with the scale and service of a stalwart luxury chain. Book a room on one of the three Continental Club floors, and you’ll be greeted with a private lounge, complimentary evening cocktails and personalized butler service. The biggest lure, though, is its location: nestled above Harbour City — Hong Kong’s largest designer shopping mall — it’s steps away from both the heart of Kowloon (HK’s Brooklyn) and the ferry to Central (its Manhattan). marcopolohotels.com
With two Michelin stars on its mantelpiece, there’s no better place to experience Cantonese cuisine elevated to the level of art. The sleek, light-filled dining room and adjoining rooftop garden — designed to evoke the elegance of midcentury Hong Kong — serve as the ideal backdrop for the wonders streaming from the kitchen: succulent barbequed pork; crisp broccoli slathered in a rich hairy-crab bisque; and a spectacular oversized oyster baked in port wine. duddells.co
Ho Lee Fook
Yes, the name is hilarious. But this bustling cool-kid hangout delivers on way more than just clever puns. Taiwan-born, Vancouver-raised, Sydney-trained chef Jowett Yu uses his inimitably askew vision of Chinese cooking to concoct a slew of knockout, taste-bending plates. The juicy short ribs are topped with a potent mix of green shallot kimchi and jalapeño purée, while the fried Brussels sprouts and cauliflower come with a cupful of so-good-it-hurts chili-bacon jam. holeefookhk.tumblr.com
Skip the unwieldy crowds and excessive wait times at Tim Ho Wan (the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant) and head to this lesser-known gem for a more serene, civilized dim sum experience. Pitch-perfect renditions of traditional favourites like har gao and siu mai are served alongside more inventive fare — the delicate abalone tarts and Wagyu beef buns are not to be missed. miradining.com
Kam’s Roast Goose
You can’t leave Hong Kong without feasting on its most iconic dish: roast goose. Arguably — and believe us, the food-obsessed locals will argue with you about this — the best spot to do so is Kam’s Roast Goose, a low-key eatery that churns out plate after mouth-watering plate of its namesake fare, heaped over rice or noodles, for a measly 48 Hong Kong dollars (about $7 Canadian) apiece. 226 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
If you’re having trouble finding the beauty amid Hong Kong’s concrete confusion, head to this stylish 25th-floor hotspot at dusk, have a drink or three on its sweeping terrace, and then watch the sun disappear over Victoria Harbour. Problem solved. sevva.hk
The moody, seductive environs at this below-ground watering hole are a welcome respite from the pandemonium at street level, but the exquisitely engineered cocktails — made with small-batch spirits and house-cured ingredients — are the real stars here. Saddle up at the bar and let the bartenders do the rest. thewoods.hk
Its mahogany fixtures and ladder-accessible shelving make this small but formidable menswear shop feel a bit like the private library of a Lindbergh-esque explorer. Which is fitting, because its wares are sourced from artisans the world over: grenadine ties from Drake’s in London; calfskin monkstraps from Carmina in Majorca; tweedy sportcoats from Ring Jacket in Tokyo; and classic dress shirts from Hong Kong’s own Ascot Chang. thearmoury.com
With six locations across the city, this budding boutique empire stocks the latest looks from buzz brands like Études and Beams alongside an extensive selection of smartly designed stationery and home goods. Stop in for a few minutes of window-shopping and you’ll find yourself wondering how in the hell you’re going to fit that mint green steel drinks tray into your luggage. ka-pok.com
W.W. Chan & Sons
On every street corner in Hong Kong, about a dozen guys will offer to make you a custom suit and a half-dozen shirts in 24 hours for the price of a tank of gas. Ignore them. Instead, pay a visit to this renowned, 50-year-old tailor shop for a true bespoke experience. We’ll warn you now, though: once you sample the house’s signature blend of time-honoured Shanghai tailoring techniques with the very best fabrics and silhouettes from Europe, theirs will be the only suits you’ll ever want to wear. wwchan.com
TAKE A HIKE
If you’re feeling a little claustrophobic downtown, these trails will be a (literal) breath of fresh air.
MacLehose Trail Stage II
LENGTH: 13.5 KM
BEST FOR: Beach Bums
This hilly trail passes through several picturesque inlets — don’t be ashamed if you abandon the hike halfway in favour of a sunny spot in the sand.
Lower Shing Mun Reservoir
LENGTH: 4.6 KM
BEST FOR: Beginners
A laidback two-hour stroll through shady paths laden with trees, quiet streams and the occasional macaque monkey.
LENGTH: 8.5 KM
BEST FOR: Budding Photographers
The panoramic views from atop this awesomely named ridge make it the perfect spot to snap that epic Instagram shot you’ve been waiting the whole trip to take.