The crowded skyscraping skyline of Hong Kong at night is one of the most recognizable architectural sights on earth. It resembles a lift filled to overflowing with lavishly attired supermodels - almost impossibly tall angular sculptures, spangled with glittering lights, jostling beautifully together in the glamorous metropolitan twilight.
It is an extraordinary city, utterly in thrall to the power and dynamism of altitude, the most vertical on the planet - there are more people living or working above the level of the 14th floor here than any other. As if to prove its vertiginous credentials, Hong Kong is now the home of the world’s highest hotel.
Located in the breathtaking International Commerce Centre, itself the world’s fourth tallest building, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong surveys its peers nested regally in lofty luxury, beginning on the 102nd level. To put this into context, this hotel begins at 16,000 feet - a height that guests at almost all other more terrestrial hotels can only attain with a pair of binoculars.
Each of the hotel’s three hundred and twelve spacious rooms, perched atop this elegant giant of the Kowloon waterfront, features luxury interiors and all the hi-tech specifications that one would expect, and affords simply unrivalled views of Victoria Harbour, with Hong Kong’s vertical glamour arrayed behind.
As if this was not enough, epic panoramic views are to be had from both the hotel lobby on the 103rd floor and The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge, providing guests top-tier food and beverage service twenty-four hours a day. The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong offers relaxation of a most prestigious and unique kind with a spa by ESPA - a luxury spa brand behind some of the finest relaxation destinations in global hospitality - featuring floor to ceiling windows, and an extraordinary indoor infinity pool on the 118th floor.
The sense of luxury rendered on the grandest of scales is exemplified in the hotel’s six prestige dining venues, which were realized in partnership with some of the world’s top designers, including the Spin Design Studio from Japan and Wonderwall. Floor 102 welcomes guests with the enviably difficult choice of Tin Lung Heen, serving renowned top class Cantonese cuisine, the timeless simplicity of the Southern Italian cuisine served by the open kitchen at Tosca, and ultra stylish The Lounge & Bar featuring eye-catching crystal fire pits. Indulgently eponymous treats are to be found at The Chocolate Library on the 103rd Floor, whilst a voguish patisserie serves guests at the arrival lobby.
Ozone, the stunning restaurant on the 118th floor is perhaps the hotel’s pinnacle - both architecturally and in terms of the sheer heights of luxury and style that it scales. Contemporary Asian tapas, a formidably extensive wine list and signature cocktails are all served on the world’s highest al fresco terrace, a combination likely to take the breath - but not the appetite - away.
This place as a jewel in the crown of luxury dining is nothing new for the Ritz-Carlton brand - it has been a name synonymous with the finest dining at the finest hotels ever since Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier forged a working relationship in 1888 that would go on to break the mold in global hospitality.
Escoffier, the father of haute cuisine and a man whose very name conjures up a litany of adjectives to describe the sumptuous cuisine he pioneered, was the culinary powerhouse behind the partnership. Its stratospheric trajectory went from a relatively modest restaurant in Baden Baden to the Savoy, which became, under Cesar’s inspired management, the toast of London at the turn of the century.
The pair then struck out on their own, opening the soon to be legendary Hôtel Ritz in Place Vendôme. Named after its ebullient owner, this symbol of Parisian flair and sophistication became the favorite haunt of an extraordinary list of some of the most stylish and influential people of the twentieth century, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marcel Proust, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, and the Shah of Iran. Perhaps no greater compliment can be paid to the Hôtel Ritz than the fact that the queen of Twentieth century chic, Coco Chanel, lived there for over thirty years.
The brand then moved to London, where the Ritz became one of the most influential and significant hotels of the last century, and then to America, evolving into the Ritz-Carlton brand after Cesar’s death in 1918.
As they had in Europe, Ritz-Carlton changed the face of hospitality in America, offering rigorous standards of luxury, beautiful interiors and haute cuisine. Opened in 1927, The Ritz-Carlton Boston soon established the benchmarks that American luxury hotels would follow until the present day. These include such masterstrokes as instantly recognizable professional dress code - ranging from white tie and apron for waiters to morning suits for all other staff, the extensive use of fresh flowers throughout the public spaces, and smaller more intimate lobbies that made guests’ interaction with the hotel more personal.
The brand’s profound influences are proudly displayed in its logo, which, originally designed by Cesar Ritz, classically combines the crown of the British Royal seal and the leonine emblem of one of his early investors.
The expansion of the Ritz-Carlton brand continued apace throughout the Twentieth, and the beginning of the current, century. The company’s ability to evolve with the times cannot be seen more plainly than in its magnificent new hotel in Hong Kong which, with its otherworldly luxury suspended in the clouds, is a most modern hotel.
The principles of uncompromising luxury and first rate service, established by Cesar Ritz, can still be felt in every facet of guests’ experience, and which ensure that the Ritz name can still be said to refer to the "king of hoteliers, and hotelier to kings."
- Ben Stewart
Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong
Address: International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: 852 2263 2263
Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong