I did a lot of research on what airline to fly, so I obviously did a lot of research on where I should stay as well. I don’t recall where it was that I read about SOHO being a great area to stay – or was it that ex-pats live there? – but I stumbled on a lot of old articles about budget accommodations. I originally wanted to get an AirBNB like I did with Paris, but after asking around and doing my research I discovered that there was no inherent additional value to doing so. Especially when you consider what I paid and what I got.
Knowing that I wanted to explore as much as possible and not spend a lot of time (or money) on my hotel, I chose what looked like a boutique hotel close to the MTR (Hong Kong’s public transit system, which is AMAZING) – Sohotel. Booking through their website was super easy, and I paid roughly $100 USD a night. Granted, my room above is essentially the entire room – you walked down a narrow hall and there was the room, with the bed taking up the entire space. No room for a chair, no closet (in the pic, on the left above the bureau was a rack with hangers, where I hung all of my dresses). A small fridge, a little rolling table, a TV… it was literally the barest minimum and yet I found it cozy and comfortable for my needs.
And this was the bathroom – a narrow shower stall, a toilet, and a sink. What else do you really need, though? The toiletries they provided and refreshed daily were sufficient, and the entire staff was super pleasant and nice. The person who checked me in gave me his card and told me to call him if I needed anything, absolutely anything – I think this is part of their training – and every morning or every time I walked in or out of the lobby, he (or someone else) was ready to greet me with “Ms. Sin” and a smile. I felt very comfortable there, and they were so friendly… it was like personal service. It was awesome.
Did I mention that breakfast was included? Nothing fancy, but you could ask for coffee or tea (coffee for me) and tell them what time every morning. Someone would bring up this tray and knock on your door at the appointed time, leave the tray with you, and then clean it up when they made up your room while you were out exploring. The egg is a simple hard boiled one, and though I didn’t snap a shot of the inside, it was perfectly cooked and the yolk almost orange – sigh, the kind of eggs I wish were more readily and inexpensively available here. The croissant was fine, and the coffee super strong and delicious. Most mornings I would eat the egg and half the croissant; the perfect fuel to keep me from being too hangry before our first stop. It was just a nice little touch.
Also, had I wanted, they offered tea (or coffee) service anytime. I think you just ring them and they bring you tea to drink, which is obviously a popular Asian culture thing where you drink tea to unwind or relax. I can’t have caffeine at night so I never used the service, but I know my neighbors did sometimes because I heard the knock.
I happened to be there during the HK Wine & Dine festival, and my hotel provided these flyers to me and a friend for our use. We did go to the festival, walk through, decided it was too much of a sh!tshow and left, but it was at least interesting to see the difference in a food festival thing there versus what I’ve attended here (the venue was on Victoria Harbour; packed with people; far less security than any venue here would have had).
And finally… the touch that literally took my breath away and ensured that I would stay with them on my return visit.
My second to last day there was October 27th – my birthday. When I’d checked in, as is customary at hotels with international guests, they’d asked to see my passport and taken down my relevant information. I didn’t think much of it, so on my birthday when the knock came with my breakfast, I answered the door less than fully dressed. Every morning previously, an older woman had appeared with my breakfast (and I’d been near-ready to go each morning, so fully dressed). But this morning I had intended to laze around a little bit before getting on my way, so I was totally shocked to open the door to not one person… not two people…
but three people, including the man who’d checked me in on my first night, one of them holding my breakfast tray and another one holding the below tray.
I’m sure my face was totally slackjawed as they burst into song, “Happy birthday to you!” and I was mortified as I was literally wearing very skimpy shorts and a big tee shirt, nothing else. The man who’d checked me in (who was roughly my age) seemed embarrassed for me, and the song ended very quickly with them all wishing me happy birthday and then disappearing as soon as they’d laid this down.
Okay, I can’t tell you how touched I was. They brought me a cake (a very delicious, softly sweet cheesecake – which I think is really popular in HK as I saw this style of cake at a lot of bakeries), it’d been personalized to include my passport name on it, they all signed a little card for me, and they gave me a gift. See the little black thing Jinx is standing in front of? It’s a zippered pouch, inside which was a converter (or is it an adapter?). Totally super useful, as I travel fairly frequently and am not always sure which country I need what.
Hospitality and customer service? This place has it in spades.
I highly, highly recommend it to anyone staying in Hong Kong anytime soon. They have bigger rooms if you want to spend a little more.
Oh! I didn’t even tell you one of the biggest reasons I opted for a hotel instead of AirBNB. One of the nifty things a lot of the hotels in HK seem to be doing is bundling an unlimited data cell phone in with your room. In the first pic of my room, you can see the bottom edge of an orange-wrapped cell phone. That’s not my personal cell phone, it was one that the hotel ‘rented’ to you free of charge. It came in totally handy to look things up, even to install Facebook on there so I could communicate with my friend (whose hotel also gave him a similar cell phone) while we were out and about, Google Maps was loaded on it and ready to go… I mean, this is a genius idea. I wish more hotels offered this!! I know you can rent cell phones or WiFi hot spots when you travel, but occasionally the pickup/dropoff points are so far out of the way that it’s not reasonable or worth it to get them. This is already in your hotel and super simple to use!! It was a nice little perk that I definitely made full use of.
Again, I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Sohotel. Excellent service, a warm and friendly staff, included breakfast and an unlimited data cell phone — there are too many pros to list. The only con would be if you like more room in your room, but I honestly thought it was perfectly fine for a 5-6 day trip alone. With another person in the room might be a bit stuffy.
It’s a pretty quick walk from the Sheung Wan MTR station, too, if you don’t get lost like I did my first time (before I had the cell phone!). And super close to the Macau Ferry.
Next HK post will be focused on food… I promise 🙂