Check out Eight Kwai Fong, Happy Valley’s rare first-hand home address

Posted in Sponsored Content

The eastern stretch of Mid-Levels above Happy Valley has long been synonymous with the most elite addresses in Hong Kong. 

From the time-honoured residences located on Stubbs Road to spacious apartments and homes on Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley has always been home to Hong Kong’s most well-to-do families and professionals. But for a first-hand residence to appear in such a storied district is rare, with 75 percent of private homes in the area surpassing the 30-year-old mark. Eight Kwai Fong offers the rare opportunity for keen homeowners to have their hand in a fresh property.

Formerly launched in 2015 by New World Development, one of Hong Kong’s preeminent property developers, Eight Kwai Fong was recently acquired by Singaporean conglomerate Farzon Group — it is the business’s maiden luxury residential project in the city. 

Tucked behind a discreet, elegant entrance, the property was initially poised as a luxury serviced residence crafted around a mansion style and layout — you’ll still catch such artisanal details today, from its high ceilings to bright and lofty designer interiors, the bespoke furnishings across all the common areas to a growing contemporary art collection adorning the walls of the lobby and clubhouse.

The 28-storey single-tower residence comprises a total of 156 units, with 139 now selling under the wing of its new owners. Ranging from stylish studios to one-bedroom apartments, the luxury condos feature plenty of natural light, with private balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a gorgeous view over the sleepy Happy Valley neighbourhood.

Homes are each outfitted with Miele cooktops and hoods, whilst a residential clubhouse features a common room with large marbled kitchen and dining room accommodating up to 10: a plus for any home chef keen on entertaining guests. There’s also a 24-hour gym, reading lounge, a private garden fitted with a barbecue grill, as well as a rooftop garden for residents to enjoy and soak up the surrounding views.

Besides being located in a quiet, safe and pet-friendly neighbourhood, Eight Kwai Fong is also set in a privileged location when it comes to families with young children looking to carve a path to excellence: It’s located in the Primary School Net number 12, the district is home to some of the city’s top schools such as St. Paul’s Primary Catholic School, Marymount Primary School and Queen’s College. It’s also just a hop and a skip away from international schools such as French International School and Hong Kong Japanese School.

Neighbouring churches, mosques, old galleries and shops, not to mention a growing plethora of restaurants and bars, Eight Kwai Fong is an address that offers a balance of peacefulness and vibrancy, with transport links that take you to Central and Admiralty in just eight minutes. Whether it’s a special dinner at the storied French restaurant Amigo or a weekend browse at F11 Foto Museum, the neighbourhood’s offerings promise that there won’t be a dull moment living at Eight Kwai Fong. 

What’s more, the first 50 buyers of Eight Kwai Fong will automatically become complimentary members of Butler Asia‘s residential butler services. Conceived to be the ‘Uber’ of personal home management, Butler Asia’s services run the gamut of home cleaning, closet reorganisation, household repairs and grocery errands — all tailored according to your personal preferences so you can enjoy your home fuss-free after a long day at work.

“Happy Valley is a uniquely prestigious location in the city, and the amount of first-hand residences in the district is exceptionally scarce and limited.” said Dora Wong, Farzon Group’s General Manager of Asset Management in Hong Kong. “We always strive for perfection for every property project we are involved with and it is clear to us that the sky’s the limit when talking about the potentials of this project. The residence is perfect to act as our debut project in Hong Kong.” 

Show flats are open to the public at Eight Kwai Fong Happy Valley from 15 October, located on the ninth floor. Contact +852 2818 1388 to make an appointment.

Eight Kwai Fong, 8 Kwai Fong Street, Wong Nai Chung, Hong Kong, +852 2818 1388

This article is presented by Farzon Group.

Staff Writer

Check Out Foerni, Hong Kong’s First Monthly Furniture Subscription Service

Posted in Interior Design

Whether you’re a short-term expat in Hong Kong, adamantly against ‘fast furniture’ culture or hate committing to a single style in your home, Hong Kong’s newly launched online furniture subscription service Føerni marks a first for people to rent high-quality, modern furniture at a monthly rate.

In the world of sharing economies where a business’s core product is never owned — think Uber and its cars or Airbnb and its homes — the next big thing is furniture, according to Føerni. Officially launched on 15 July, Føerni is a new Hong Kong startup that aims to make stylish furniture affordable with flexible lease options ranging from three to 18 months. 

It is the brainchild of Pauline Wetzer, a German entrepreneur who co-founded Hong Kong co-living concept ‘We R Urban’ in 2017. It was acquired a year later by property rental platform Hmlet, which offers fully furnished properties for short term rental across the Asia-Pacific.

At launch, Føerni offers 90 different pieces from Hong Kong and international brands, with the website touting highly regarded Danish designers BoConcept, Hay, Louis Poulsen and Normann Copenhagen, among other European brands. There are also items from local partners such as Decor8 and SofaSale, as well as designer appliances and electronics on offer, such as a Dyson air purifier or a Smeg toaster.

An ideal service for landlords looking to stage their units or provide their renters with short term furniture, Føerni offers the opportunity to avoid costly upfront payment with its monthly subscription plan, which is always priced lower than full retail rate. For landlords looking to stage apartments, furniture rentals can even be as short as for one month.

Customers can benefit from trying pieces before they commit — swapping out pieces at any time with free delivery and assembling — with the option to purchase the item at the end of the rental period. The brand even states that they can also repurchase items that were previously bought from them. Items take seven to 14 days to deliver after ordering.

Working to maximise the life cycle of each piece it rents out, Føerni also aims to be a more eco-friendly alternative to combat wasteful ‘fast furniture’ culture. This refers to the inexpensive and lower quality items in the market that constantly need to be replaced, as well as simply the consumers who like to redecorate frequently and aren’t able to repurpose or recycle old furniture. 

There are new and gently used items in Føerni’s inventory, and while there appear to be no notes on the condition of each piece online, the company strongly claims that each item is vetted with stringent quality control, and professionally cleaned and restored between renters by the same service used by five-star hotels. 

Perhaps this practise is why there are interestingly no restrictions on who can rent pieces from Føerni: Smokers, pet-owners or families with young children alike can benefit from its services and others can also be assured that items will arrive in pristine condition no matter who rented before them.

In the event of more serious damage, customers will have to pay for repairs, or in worst case scenarios, pay to replace the piece. Founder Pauline Wetzer elaborates: “wear and tear is expected, but deep stains, chipped wood, ripped upholstery or any other noticeable damage (breaks, cracks, spills, etcetera) need to be repaired or the item itself may need to be replaced. Repair fees are determined on a case-by-case basis; replacement fees are equivalent to retail prices minus what subscribers have already paid in monthly installments.”

In a world where the demand for flexibility is higher than ever, rental options seem to be the way forward. Particularly in the recent shift towards a global work-from-home culture due to CoViD-19, services like Føerni can be an attractive option for those hoping to fit out a temporary office solution at home, with an array of stylish office furniture and pantry appliances available — from printers to office chairs, and even a full office phone booth and an active sitting office chair, for those looking to offset the detrimental health effects of sitting long hours at a desk.  

“Furniture should adapt to people’s lives, not the other way around,” says Wetzer. “With Føerni, subscribers rent furniture, but own flexibility.”

Learn more at Foerni.com

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Home Decor Lessons, Courtesy of I.M. Pei’s Breathtaking New York Townhouse

Posted in Interior Design

Though it sold within months of appearing on the market, I.M. Pei’s New York townhouse — a four-storey bolthole in the middle of Manhattan’s Sutton Place — is a powerful reminder of the indelible legacy left behind by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect, who passed away last year in May. He was 102. More widely recognised for ambitious modernist structures — built everywhere from Hong Kong to Doha — Pei’s longtime abode on US soil is a similarly revealing aspect of his lifelong contribution to the built environment: Drawing on characteristic elements of modernist creative movements such as natural light, tactile materials and an uncluttered aesthetic — always informed by considerations of functionality.

Prior to the sale of Pei’s New York townhouse, Christie’s International Real Estate went to exhaustive lengths to document it for a new generation of luxury property investors. Most certainly, we won’t deny that having a multi-storey home in the heart of Manhattan hurts this home’s prospects on the market as an all-time gem of interior design but, as you’ll see from the images below, there are lessons to be gleaned (largely revolving around what Pei did with the place) which can be meaningful for a broader audience. Let’s dive in.

“A clean, well-lighted place”

I.M. Pei New York townhouse
(Image credit: Christie’s International Real Estate)

Upon purchasing the townhouse in 1973 (from a cousin of US president Theodore Roosevelt, no less) I.M. and his wife Eileen embarked upon an extensive multi-year remodeling of the building’s internal spaces. A plethora of new, custom-made features were added — many of which were of Pei’s own design. The most practically significant of these was an oblong skylight, which worked in tandem with a coiled spiral staircase as a prism through which to channel natural light to all of the floors below.

This conjunction (of a built, overhead light-well and an internal staircase) would eventually come to be known as a signature I.M. Pei feature — most famously incorporated into the design of the Louvre Pyramid (1989). Elsewhere, Pei was sure to add floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the property — all but guaranteeing the continuity of natural light between private and communal spaces.

Make materials matter

I.M. Pei New York townhouse
(Image credit: Christie’s International Real Estate)

A crucial part of Pei’s remodel was the widespread installation of new floors and build-in surfaces. As with notable public projects (i.e. the National Gallery East Building and the Mesa Laboratory) the architect favoured simple building materials capable of universal appreciation — no doubt by a breadth of Chinese, American, and European guests who crossed his domestic threshold.

I.M. Pei New York townhouse
(Image credit: Christie’s International Real Estate)

The majority of Pei’s home is floored in a combination of European marble and Tasmanian oak — materials chosen for their “lean and simple” style and capacity for adaption to various modes of interior design. Similarly, the four wood-burning fireplaces (one located on each floor) are framed by mantels cut from smooth soapstone; with the material serving to draw attention to the overall shape and design — once again, conceived by Pei himself.

Social space as centrepiece

I.M. Pei New York townhouse
(Image credit: Christie’s International Real Estate)

To be sure, the size (3,848 sq. ft.) and layout of Pei’s townhouse conferred tremendous boons on his ability to design a compelling domestic centrepiece: Between the dining room, internal staircase, library and private garden looking onto the East River, the property has no less than four settings for socialising. Nevertheless, depending on your lifestyle and the spaces at home which you gravitate towards instinctively, any one of the aforesaid are an illuminating starting point for your own modernist highlight. Bibliophiles would do well to take a leaf out of Pei’s tried and tested book — by turning literature into a focal decoration with the aid of ceiling-high, integrated bookshelves. Against this woody, neutral backdrop, you can dedicate more mental effort to the task of selecting the right furniture for the job — turning an often neglected part of the average home into a nook for work and post-meal chitchat.

I.M. Pei New York townhouse
(Image source: Christie’s International Real Estate)

In the event that you have to be blessed with a location as compelling as Sutton Place, a green-themed centrepiece is another obvious option. Rather than going for elaborate hedgerows or high-maintenance flowerbeds, the Peis opted to open up the majority of their backyard garden so as to take full advantage of their surrounds — including the East River and nearby Queensboro Bridge. This approach emphasises a high degree of restraint. For those looking to replicate this at home, decorative efforts work best when they are pursued with subtlety and limited to simple concepts like a few well-positioned pieces of outdoor furniture or a footpath between the internal and external spaces that is suitably engaging.

Randy Lai

Hidden Gems: Hong Kong’s Up and Coming Districts For Savvy Home Seekers

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent

The city’s luxury districts are well-documented, but when it comes to acquiring new residences, investors would do well to consider the unexpected.

When it comes to Hong Kong property in 2020, the adage of “nothing new under the sun” is a truthful one. The city’s geographical contraints mean there’s little chance for the birth of an entire district along the lines of King’s Cross in London, or New York’s Hudson Yards. The closest Hong Kong has to that kind of massive re-imagining is the ongoing development of the former Kai Tak airport. Stay tuned.

Hong Kong property
(Image credit: Kai Tak Oasis)

So when it comes to identifying Hong Kong’s most underrated, overlooked or emerging luxury districts, buyers and agents need to think creatively — and look to the future. That means considering where value can be found, and embracing the evolving definition of ‘luxury’ itself. Vibrant street life and walkability have become key considerations for buyers and tenants, neck-and-neck with the longstanding question of accessibility. With the prospect of periodic city-wide lockdowns increasingly becoming the norm, we’ll all be eyeing escapes at home — like those found in massive country parks and generous hiking trails on the western side of Hong Kong island and the water on all sides in the south. In 2020, such options on your doorstep are the definitive embodiment of luxury.

For decades, the Holy Trinity of premium living has been (and remains) The Peak, Repulse Bay and Mid-Levels, Central. These neighbourhoods are traditional bastions of space, setting and exclusivity. In recent years, Sai Kung, Clearwater Bay and, to an extent, Deepwater Bay have lobbied for a place on that list: Thanks to their close proximity to water, low housing density and increasing ease of access. But as buyers (and renters) get younger, and social habits evolve, the concept of what goes into a luxury home is morphing similarly into something more design-driven, sustainable, urban and authentic. No longer are marble bathrooms enough.

Hong Kong property
Repulse Bay

The first sign the tide was turning was the rush to Kennedy Town in 2009 (market watchers will recall the MTR Corporation announced a much-watched extension that same year). A few intrepid small investors and developers looking at the long view had already started making plans (The Merton was completed in 2005), and before long values were rising. People moved in and more elegant residential towers went up (Cadogan). Those were followed by innovative restaurateurs, cafés and retailers. Before long Kennedy Town had become gentrified and was bucking for luxury status.

Hong Kong property

There are plenty of corners in Hong Kong now flirting with a similar pattern: involving a mix of value, connectivity, and lifestyle. Lantau Island, now with sleek developments like Whitesands and Botanica Bay, is an overlooked luxury district — one which could garner fresh attention for the resort-like lifestyle it offers. For the adventurous, undervalued Aberdeen and its ingrained waterside community make for a smart long game investment — one that will mature when the South Island Line West connects it to the rest of the city. The direction Kai Tak heads in — on what will ultimately be the Tuen Mun MTR line — is anybody’s guess, though the Oasis development is a solid indication of what’s to come.

Hong Kong property
(Image credit: Regalia Bay)

Stanley, Mid-Levels West and Pok Fu Lam currently lead the pack on the value front. Prices in conventional high-end locations — the aforementioned trinity — have remained resilient (as is usually the case in times of geopolitical instability) but just a few steps away are pockets which offer tremendous value. In many cases, they’re even preferable. Stanley, for example, features beaches and greenery; a solid track record of lifestyle amenities; hip waterside dining; and a forthcoming bypass that puts it just 25 minutes away from Central — the same distance as nearby Repulse Bay. The difference being an approximate 10-15 discount on the former. Stanley flats in Regalia Bay or 22 Wong Ma Kok Road rival much of what’s available in Repulse Bay (and surpass them when you consider it’s not necessary to get in a car to run to 7-Eleven).

But Hong Kong’s real unsung hero could be Sham Shui Po. Mainly known once upon a time for pirated DVDs, fabric stores and the Golden Computer Arcade, it’s now emerging as an ultra-hip district — and doing so under the radar. Down the road, one MTR stop from re-energised Cheung Sha Wan, the streets there are now cluttered with restaurants, chic cafes, underground art spaces and young tech start-ups, many inspired by the (now-closed) Savannah College of Art and Design. As luxury continues to becoming increasingly design-led, regenerated flats in older buildings with personality are becoming more appealing to the modern, high-flying tenant. Sham Shui Po is at a similar point in its development curve as Kennedy Town 15 years ago, and the slow trickle of revitalised industrial buildings and residential towers — naturally, with a little boost from the Urban Renewal Authority — suggest the area is getting ready to kick-off its reinvention as a contemporary luxury hub.

Victoria Allan
Victoria Allan is the founder of Habitat Property, a real estate company specialising in the sale and leasing of luxury property in Hong Kong. Prior to establishing Habitat in 2001, Allan held the position of Commercial Leasing Director at Colliers Jardine. She has over 25 years experience in residential and commercial real estate across a variety of global markets — including Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and the US.

Mid-Levels Neighbourhood Guide: Prime Properties and Cultural Trails

Posted in Where to Live

Whether you’re looking to invest in a stable, proven district in the face of uncertainty, or looking to buy yourself a bolthole for premium living in Hong Kong, you’ll want to look to Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels. Here’s our beginner’s guide to the area.

Being infamous as the world’s priciest property market with an average housing price in the city clocked in at US$1.2 million (HK$9.3 million) according to CBRE’s 2020 Global Living Report, much of Hong Kong’s ultra-luxe homes belong to a trifecta of The Peak, Repulse Bay and Mid-Levels. High barrier to entry aside, these areas have traditionally offered the luxury of space, sumptuously appointed homes, and are known as the most exclusive areas to live in the city.

If you’re looking for a home with a view, there is no better place to admire the picture-perfect panorama of Victoria Harbour than the privileged vantage points offered by the Mid-Levels and The Peak. The Mid-Levels in particular stretches from the east overlooking Happy Valley, across Central and Western along the mid-ridges of Victoria Peak, whilst the Peak area itself sees standalone mansions and spacious condos dotted along the higher portion of the mountain.

Situated in the midst of abundant greenery with walking trails, historic sites, high-end restaurants and tranquil cafes all at arm’s reach, the Mid-Levels is also easily accessible to the shopping and business areas of Central, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay — all just a quick drive or walk away. It’s also well connected to a network of prestigious local and international schools, attended by the children of some of Hong Kong’s more affluent families.

If money is no object, there are many pluses to obtaining a luxurious pied-à-terre in the most traditionally affluent part of Hong Kong — though thankfully, there are also a growing number of accessible entry price points — particularly scattered around Mid-Levels West — that make it feasible for young professionals and small families. We outline the perks of the Mid-Levels below.

Residences to know

With high-rise buildings cutting through the mountains, Mid-Levels residences all boast grandstanding panoramic views of the city and the Victoria Harbour — with equally impressive price tags to match.

The Opus, 53 Stubbs Road
(Image credit: Wiki Commons)

For a glimpse of what is synonymous with the opulence of the area, look to The Mayfair, one of the most well known developments in the area, just 10 minutes away from Central and the Peak. Completed in 1998, the 30-storey property looms large in the heart of Mid-Levels with units sized from about 2,100 to 4,500 sq.ft. and equipped with harbour-facing balconies. Its last transaction was in 2016, where a 2,838 sq.ft. apartment sold for HK$155 million.

Mid-Levels is also home to residences that spotlight incredible architectural craftsmanship. Look to The Opus and The Morgan. The Opus was Frank Gehry‘s first residential project in Asia in collaboration with Ronald Lu & Partners. The 12-storey building is located on Stubbs Road on the east side of Victoria Peak, with comfortably sized units ranging from 6,000-6,900 sq.ft., including two duplexes with pools.

The Morgan is equally if not even more impressive, high above Mid-Levels with stunning views of the city, the Robert A. M. Stern Architects-designed tower has scored multiple accolades since the building’s completion in 2016. Featuring 34 duplexes and a penthouse on the 30th floor, it exemplifies the epitome of contemporary luxury living within our concrete jungle.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - terrace
The Morgan on 31 Conduit Road
(Image credit: Lit Ma Common Studio Ltd.)

Nevertheless, the Mid-Levels also offers small to mid-sized homes. Slated for completion in March 2021 is Central 8: Located in Mid-Levels West with 99 units ranging from 181 to 491 sq. ft, it plans to offer both studios or one- to two-bedroom apartments for singles and young families.

Education

St. Paul’s Co-educational College

The Mid-Levels boasts some of the most prestigious schools in Hong Kong, ranging from preschool level to higher education. To the west, the Mid-Levels is home to the esteemed University of Hong Kong. Some of the finest secondary schools also loom large in the Mid-Levels, including St. Paul’s Co-Educational College, St. Paul’s College for boys, St. Stephen’s Girls’ College as well as international schools under the English Schools Foundation such as Island School. For kindergartens, the International Montessori School of Hong Kong and the Woodland Montessori Academy both offer competitive advantage to fledgling leaders of the future.

Around the Neighbourhood

A predominantly residential neighbourhood, the Mid-Levels is interspersed with small businesses catered towards families such as tutoring centres and mom-and-pop diners, all steps away from leafy walking trails, parks and cultural sites showcasing some of Hong Kong’s British colonial past.

Ohel Leah Synagogue

(Image credit: Avi Alpert/Flickr)

Neighbouring the Jewish Community Center and Jewish Recreation Club, Hong Kong’s Modern Orthodox Synagogue has been the nucleus for the social and religious activities of the Jewish population in Hong Kong for over a century. Established in 1901–1902, the Ohel Leah Synagogue commemorates Leah Sassoon, the mother Sassoon brothers Jacob, Edward and Meyer — part of a wealthy merchant family often referred to as ‘the Rothchilds of the east’ — who donated the land on which the Synagogue stands. Nearby, check out Sabra at the Jewish Community Center, which serves kosher international dishes and traditional Jewish deli favourites. The restaurant also offers a full Shabbat dinner, which requires advanced booking (note that Sabra is currently closed until August 2020).

Ohel Leah Synagogue, 70 Robinson Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong, +852 2589 2621

Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences

(Image credit: Ystsoi/Flickr)

Hong Kong’s resilience in the fight against infectious diseases dates back hundreds of years, and this history is succinctly showcased at the Hong Kong Museum of Medicinal Sciences. It was formerly a Bacteriological Institute built in response to the 1894 Plague outbreak. These days, it’s an informative museum that outlines the scientific discoveries across Chinese and Western medicine throughout the years, as well as a shining example of built-heritage conservation.

Hong Kong Museum of Medicinal Sciences, 2 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong, +852 2549 5123

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum

(Image credit: Edwin.11/Flickr)

As the name suggests, this museum is dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat-sen, influential philosopher, politician and physician, and the founding father of the Republic of China. As the place where Sun was educated for his secondary and tertiary education, Hong Kong is considered the bedrock of his early revolutionary thought, and traces his activities in Hong Kong from establishing the Xing Zhong Hui (Revive China Society) in 1894 to the founding of the Republic of China in 1912. Housed in the historic Kom Tong Hall — the original residence of local businessman Ho Kom-tong, half-brother to Sir Robert Ho Tung — the museum opened in 2006 to commemorate the 140th birthday of the icon. The museum is located just a hop and skip away from the Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum, 7 Castle Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong, +852 2367 6373

Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

Dating back to 1846, Flagstaff House is considered the oldest surviving example of Western architecture in the city. It used to be the residence of the commander of the British forces during Hong Kong’s years under colonial rule. Eventually it was converted into a museum dedicated to the art of tea appreciation and ceramics. Aside from a permanent collection and revolving special exhibition, don’t miss the opportunity for a meal at Lock Cha Tea House — at one of the city’s most picturesque locations of the venerated tea brand — where you can step back into the past and sample delicious dim sum and a wide selection of freshly brewed teas.

Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, 10 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2869 0690

Bowen Road Fitness Trail

(Image credit: Marc van der Chijs/Flickr)

Running along the lower slopes of Victoria Peak is the Bowen Road Fitness Trail, which is popular with runners and dog walkers in the area. Breathe in the fresh air provided by the lush foliage of palm, vine and bamboo as you go on your daily jog, whilst taking in the view of the streets of Wan Chai far below. Although a manageable 2.5km route, the fitness trail is paved, and fully equipped with restrooms, playgrounds, park benches and emergency phones. Looking for a date idea with your other half? Find the stairs to Lover’s Rock above the trail — dubbed the ‘Bowen Road Lover’s Stone Garden,’ tradition has it that women go up to pray for fortune in love and marriage. Whether you’re superstitious or not, the landmark is still worth a visit for its incredible vista over the city.

Bowen Road Fitness Trail, Bowen Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong

The Central–Mid-Levels Escalator

(Image credit: Wiki Commons)

Being the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, the escalator conveniently links the Mid-Levels to the main shopping and dining areas in SoHo and Central. On a cooler day, try hopping on the escalator from start to finish — discovering SoHo’s different restaurants and bars, upstairs pampering destinations, heritage sites and hidden alleys up and down each lane.

Central–Mid-Levels Escalator, Central, Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

(Image credits: Michael Neil Thomas/Shutterstock)

With over 300 animals residing here including orangutans and flamingoes, Hong Kong’s Zoological and Botanical Gardens provides a fun-filled day for families with young kids. Interact with birds and mammals at a tour through its aviaries, greenhouse and the fountain terrace garden. Guided tours about primate and bird care and conservation efforts are also available.

The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, Albany Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2530 0154

Staff Writer

How Hong Kong Design Firm Bean Buro Elevates Chau-kei Ngai’s Yoga Studio with Natural Light

Posted in Interior Design

Through a consultation with Hong Kong design firm Bean Buro, we take a closer peek at a case study on how to elevate yoga guru Chau-kei Ngai’s new Discovery Bay studio, YogaUp.

When envisioning the perfect space to practice yoga, what comes to your mind? Typically, it’s an airy, spacious studio that invites you to stretch out your limbs and soak up natural light as you do your sun salutations. And when you’re looking to ace an indoor-outdoor vibe, the right windows can really be all the difference.

As one of Hong Kong’s pre-eminent design studios, Bean Buro’s team are experts in creating minimalistic abodes that have an illusion of extra-spaciousness thanks to the clever manipulation of light and materials.

As for their proverbial weapon of choice? Bean Buro turns to frequent collaborator JS Aluminium Window — a longtime premium European window purveyor in Hong Kong — which offers a plethora of tools to help you transform any space and instantly give it a more breathable, resort vibe.

A little context about the client: Like many who pursue the lifelong passion of yoga, Chau-kei Ngai documents her daily practice on her social media feed: You’ll find endless photos of her wrapping herself up in pretzel-like poses with plenty of strength-testing finesse. In particular, you’ll find snapshots of her tackling a difficult pose at her recently launched yoga studio YogaUp in Discovery Bay, which features a sunny terrace space with ocean-facing views.

The venerated yogi — named the International Sports Federation champion in 2013 — is a regular headliner at wellness festivals. She teaches at centres across town, at Adidas pop-ups, and at her own studio, which provides teacher training, boutique classes and pop-up retreats.

Ngai struggled with chest pains and breathlessness all her life, a result of being born prematurely where she required a ventilator to survive her first few months (her parents, as a result, had named her ‘the miracle in the fall’). A high-pressure stint in interior design in Taipei after graduating university in Vancouver also exacerbated this breathlessness. That all lasted until she discovered yoga in 2005.

Fourteen years of teaching yoga later, whilst her lung ailments are a thing of the past, fresh air, light and breathability are indispensable design elements — not to mention crucial pillars of yoga — that Ngai keeps conscious of in her practice as well as at YogaUp.

Ngai’s spacious studio (pictured in its current untouched stage below) already frames the idyllic Discovery Bay landscape and places its relaxing balcony in the spotlight.

Yet, to make the most of the ocean-facing unit, Hong Kong interior design firm Bean Buro has envisioned ways to enhance the light-filled quality of the studio, namely using slim hardware and sleek, barely-there accessories. Here’s their recommendations on how to complete an indoor-outdoor vibe in this kind of space:

Skylight

Bean Buro founders Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui and Lorène Faure selected slim-framed roof windows to really maximise the light in the studio. As opposed to having simply horizontal-facing windows, a skylight can bring in plenty more light from above, while also showcasing stunning blue skies on days when the weather is great. They can also come with retractable sun shades as needed.

Rainstorm-proof Folding Doors

An indoor-outdoor vibe can seemingly allow the interior space to stretch outwards, giving it the illusion of even more square footage. JS Aluminium Window recommends using window systems by Belgium brand Aliplast or German label Solarlux: These sets of folding doors can withstand high wind load and prevent rainwater leakage, working exceptionally well against Hong Kong’s torrential monsoon weather (However to make them fully typhoon resistant, you’ll also want to install additional Alulux shutters). They open up create a space-saving area that really bring the beautiful ocean view to the centre of attention, while also ensuring no leakages during the strongest storms.

Slim Sliding Doors

Sometimes, the original hardware that comes with the apartment, studio or living space can be rather clunky. These trim line sliding doors by German brand Solarlux minimise the blockage to the spectacular vista. Part of the Cero range, these lightweight sliding doors feature large-format panels that make the room appear taller than it is, drawing outwards from the centre to create an almost seamless view out onto Discovery Bay.

Oversized Retractable Shading

These slick-looking translucent window blinds from Canadian brand Phantom Screens are not your average insect screens. Featuring a wide span of up to 40 feet, the sleek look of the blinds create a subtlety that doesn’t distract from the overall design of the room. They’re, of course, functional — JS Aluminium Window recommends them to control solar gain and glare into the yoga studio, which is especially handy to temper against the hot sun in the mornings and afternoons — or to quietly dim the room during the savasana or meditative portions of a class. Moreover, the blinds are fully controlled with automation, leaving less hassle for the instructor when they want to roll them up or down.

Comforting Accessories

To further accessorise a space designed for yoga, the designers were inspired by ‘the body,’ with a comfortable, fleshy, visceral aesthetic accentuated by the voluptuous Roly-Poly chair by Faye Toogood, a curvy geometric rug by Patricia Urquiola, and a rose gold pendant lamp.

Ocean Blues

Watercolour sketch by Bean Buro

To offer a stylistic link to the ocean view, Bean Buro imagines installing a unique backdrop: A wavy feature wall inspired by the late Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Using a muted blue surface, it’s meant to form an intriguing dialogue with the undulating waves of the sea as you look outside — once again bringing the outside inwards.

Accessories chosen by Bean Buro. All window products are available from JS Aluminium Window, Unit 1C, Tai King Industrial Building, 700 Prince Edward Road East, San Po Kong, Hong Kong.

This article is presented by JS Aluminium Window.

Staff Writer

Q&A: Heidar Sadeki on Contemporary Luxury Living at The Morgan Sky Duplex

Posted in Posh Penthouses

Hong Kong is synonymous with incredible properties; yes, for their notorious sky-high prices, but equally also for the level of ingenuity and design knowhow required to make the most of the spaces nestled within our compact concrete jungle. The Morgan is of no exception: teetering high above Mid-Levels with the heart of the city below, the prestigious 31 Conduit Road address is home to some of the most spectacular apartments one can imagine.

The Robert A. M. Stern Architects-designed tower has won scores of awards since the building’s completion in 2016. It’s a residential high-rise made to exemplify contemporary luxury living: the 30th floor penthouse, for instance, was designed by Robert Cheng, founder of Brewin Design Office (BDO).

The tower features 34 duplexes — the largest of which is the 28th floor Morgan Sky Duplex, a 2,343 sq.ft. three-bedroom unit designed by Heidar Sadeki, co-founder and creative director of Richardson Sadeki. The renowned architect has designed luxury condos all around the world, including Hong Kong’s Tai Koo Place Serviced Apartments (now East Residences), Mount Parker Residences and 3 Julia Avenue in Ho Man Tin. He’s also no stranger to the hospitality and spa industry, with notable designs including the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the Bathhouse Spa at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay complex and more.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - terrace
The outdoor terrace is perfect for entertaining guests, and features a roll-out awning for rain or shine.

The Morgan Sky Duplex is the only one featuring an expansive terrace, measuring up to 460 sq. ft., with an 800 sq.ft. foyer and living room. It was recently purchased for HK$188.8 million — setting the record for price per square foot for duplexes in the development, and standing as a testament to Heidar Sadeki’s design tastes warranting some of the highest prices in the city.

We had a chance to sit down with the architect to chat about his favourite features of the apartment and his overall approach to design.

Heidar Sadeki

The Sky Duplex opens up into this incredible foyer and dining/living area that looks out onto the terrace, how did you approach the design of this large space?

We wanted to create this phenomenological transparency between the indoor and the outdoor, in mirroring the outside. That couch outside is made the exact same way as this sectional inside, but with waterproof material. On a nice spring day, you can have a nice gathering here, and do both indoor and outdoor cooking.

Within the existing design, you can have up to seven areas of sitting: one that’s more individual, for you to listen to music or read a book; and another area for twos or threes. For the size of the apartment, the socialising possibilities are expansive.

There’s also a contrast between the two spaces: if this darker dining room wasn’t looking at the living room, it might feel a little congested and heavy. When I’m sitting in the living room, I do enjoy seeing the darker, richer space in contrast. I think it is looking at the opposite space that brings the balance around.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - dining area
While the design team were unable to fit a traditional round Chinese dining table (“which would have been my preference,” says Sadeki), they instead custom-built a rounded rectangular table with an in-laid marble turntable.

You did some extensive renovations upstairs, removing one bedroom and one bathroom. The corridor has also been expanded from the usual one-metre width. Can you elaborate on how you changed the layout?

We got rid of a second bedroom and ensuite, originally between the guest bedroom and the master bedroom — I actually took half of that guest bedroom and made it a walk-in closet for the master bedroom. That takes a lot of convincing. Now at about 2,400 sq. ft., it feels much larger than that.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - kitchen
This spacious kitchen is a rare sight in Hong Kong, and features a beautiful mini herb garden and breakfast nook, looking out with an urban view over Central.

Once you reach upstairs you’ll find the bar, and we have another entrance here. If your partner or spouse is entertaining downstairs, and you can’t stand people — you can just enter through the 29th floor. If you do, it’s a kind of family room — where you catch your teenage daughter stealing your scotch, perhaps!

This corridor, now an art gallery after opening up, functions as a kind of gasket that separates the master bedroom from the other areas. I wanted it to have its own character, rather than just be a corridor that just takes you someplace else. It no longer comes across as that, and with the reflection of the black mirrored doors there’s an expansive sense of space.

What’s your absolute favourite feature of the duplex?

Definitely the master bathroom. Both the bathroom and the bedroom can be seen like its own wing, but if I had to choose between the two, I would sleep in the bathroom! It is a massive bathroom — one you’ll spend time in. You know how some bedrooms kind of result in divorces? I don’t think this one will.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - master bathroom
The master bathroom is the most striking feature of the duplex, with wraparound views of Victoria Peak.

You’ve had ample experience creating luxury spa environments, did that influence you in the design of this amazing bathroom?

This tepid room, so to speak, is designed around the Turkish notion of hammam. It warms up, it’s not as hot as a steam room, and it’s used for you to soap up. The most extensive version of that design I did in the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi — there are very large heated chairs in large black rooms. When I was a child, my mother and my sisters would go to this very elaborate hammam, they would go in the morning, take their food there, and come back in the afternoon. You go for all sorts of massages, there’s a room where you can nap… In the Middle East, it’s not considered something fancy that you do only if you’re rich, it’s part of the culture.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - master bathroom
To the right is the tepid room, inspired by Turkish hammam experiences for a personal home spa — with two rain shower heads to boot.

What kind of person did you picture buying and living in this residence?

I think a buyer would consider this as a place for living rather than for working. That’s why we thought we could easily get rid of one bedroom and a bathroom, because if you actually want to maximise functionality with the number of bedrooms, this is not the apartment for you.

I have a specific character in my mind: This person has a very specific interest in books, and that’s how I go and choose my books. That’s how we choose the music. What we create is actually more than the design of an apartment, it’s a branded lifestyle.

Most architects have an idea of who they are designing for, but most end up in the trap of just thinking about the functions. Thinking of these characters keeps my design approach consistent. You look at it as a whole, so it doesn’t end up becoming the body of Frankenstein.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - master bedroom
“You know how there are some bedrooms that end in divorces? I don’t think this one will.”

We imagined the owners of this apartment to be a couple in their mid-40s to 60s, who have a grown-up daughter, maybe, who doesn’t live with them. The design of the guest bedroom is such that it doesn’t feel like your son’s room and someone has to sleep in it; hence I wanted it to have more of a hotel feeling, very clean, the tonality of colours used being greys, a slight amount of pinks and purples.

What’s the main quality you focus on when designing a residential project?

My background is in cinema, and I design my spaces based on a cinematic narrative. The details are less important to me than the narrative of the space. The primary approach to my design is: “What is the first thing you see when you walk in? What is the second thing? The third thing?” And then what’s the juxtaposition of these experiences… that’s what creates the narrative, that becomes essentially your memory of seeing the space. Or, what I call the aura.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - walk-in closet
The moody, stylish walk-in closet belongs to the second bedroom, potentially imagined for a grown-up son or daughter of the homeowners.

That consistency also comes across with the materials used throughout the duplex. Can you tell us a bit more about the significance of the chosen materials?

One of the design languages I wanted to bring was the choice of Turkish travertine as materiality for the wall. This was an influence from the stones used outside, and also the language that Robert A. Stern used for the tower itself. It’s that neoclassical language of heavy stones that create stability and exclusiveness, to a certain degree.

By doing that, an almost exterior language comes into the interior, tying the tower to the interior of the apartment, connecting the public space to the private space.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - living room
Sadeki explains that he enjoys lower coffee tables, as when you place bowls of fruit or flowers on top, they won’t dominate the vertical space as much.

You’ll be surprised, but in terms of the types of wood and stone that I’ve used in my projects in the past is fewer than the fingers on one hand. I’m very frugal — I keep a very tight palette. For me to choose a new material to work with takes years.

Johann Sebastian Bach came up with the 12-note system: It’s all variations of the same 12 notes. The challenge is what I do with the same materials. If you look at the Bathhouse Spa project, I used one material only — Brazilian black slate — but I have treated the texture in five different ways.

Have your projects inspired you to add similar touches to your own home?

Oh absolutely — I would love to go back home to that chair [below, left]: ever since I designed that chair I’ve been thinking it should be named “Fat Joe” — it’s like a playful, chubby child.

the morgan - living room
Space is a luxury: “At about 2,400 sq. ft., it feels much larger than that.”

All image credits: Lit Ma Common Studio Ltd.

This article was originally published on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong in 2018.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Kowloon Tong Neighbourhood Guide: Hong Kong’s Premium School and Residential District

Posted in Where to Live

A prime neighbourhood in Kowloon spanning both the Kowloon City and Sham Shui Po districts, Kowloon Tong was developed as a leafy, low-density residential area in the 1920s, as a salve for the cramped high rise living on Hong Kong Island. It’s steadily become one of the wealthiest residential districts in Hong Kong. You’ll find plenty of luxurious free-standing houses and townhouses all around the area, and amongst them, a full range of prestigious schools from kindergartens all the way to universities, some of which have a rich history dating back to WWII.

Kowloon Tong MTR station takes you to Kowloon’s bustling shopping districts (such as Tsim Sha Tsui) to the south; and to the New Territories in the north, all within 20 minutes. Located along the East Rail Line, Kowloon Tong is also a useful interchange station that leads all the way towards the border of mainland China, making it a good choice for those who wish to remain close to the city, but are also frequent travellers to Shenzhen or Guangzhou.

Education

Kowloon Tong has long been the dream residential location specifically for families with young children, as it remains to be Hong Kong’s finest school district. Due to the allocation systems of first-year primary school admissions, children living within the same area of the school get an overall higher chance of acceptance, which drives many to reside in the area with the sole purpose of being within the particular school net.

Some of the most elite institutions within the area include Maryknoll Convent School for girls and La Salle College for boys (both with primary and secondary school divisions). There are also kindergartens including Kentville Kindergarten and Cannan Kindergarten, universities such as Hong Kong Baptist University, along with American, Australian and a range of other international schools.

Residences to know

As an upscale, low-density residential area, there is no shortage of luxury homes in Kowloon Tong, which range from large detached houses to gated communities, protected heritage villas and a mix of both modern and Colonial era low-rise buildings. These are spread across enclaves of low-rise luxury apartments along La Salle Road (bordering Ho Man Tin district); Yau Yat Tsuen to the east, and Beacon Hill and Broadcast Drive to the north and northeast.

Prices for Kowloon Tong homes can range from HK$7.75 million for a 287 sq.ft. starter flat to an opulent 5,767 sq.ft. villa priced at HK$230 million.

To get a better picture of the more well known residences in the area, a recent listing of a 2,004 sq.ft. duplex four-bedroom apartment unit at One Beacon Hill, featuring a private outdoor space, was priced at HK$78 million, whereas another 2,190sq. ft. four-bedroom unit in the same development, with a balcony and roof top, has also just been listed with an asking price of HK$118 million. Meanwhile, a 1,674sq.ft. five-bedroom unit with a walk-in closet in the master suite will cost you HK$65 million.

One very important thing to factor into your decision of where to live is that while both One Beacon Hill and Mount Beacon are both located in Kowloon Tong, only the former counts as within the Kowloon City school network (no. 41), which is where all previously mentioned top-tier schools are listed.

What to See & Do

Festival Walk

Apart from its school offerings, Kowloon Tong also boasts a great set of supporting facilities from private hospitals to shopping malls. The large-scale Festival Walk shopping mall was developed in the 1990s, and offers 200 retail and restaurant outlets in the upper-mass sector — such as Longchamp, Max & Co., Simplylife, Greyhound, Coffee Academics, Cova — complete with one of the city’s largest ice rinks and a cinema.

Kowloon Tong Club

The members-only Kowloon Tong Club is located on Waterloo Road, and was established in 1935 to provide residents with a place to socialise over leisure and recreational activities from badminton to billiards, tennis, lawn bowling and more. The club continues to thrives today with over 2,299 members. Like most elite members club, those who wishes to be part of its community will have to apply through an existing member that holds special voting rights.

Kowloon Tsai Park

A more economical alternative is the Kowloon Tsai Park, which is situated at Inverness Road, Kowloon City, for public use since 1964. The government-owned park spans an area of 11.66 hectares, and features multiple outdoor facilities including swimming pool, basketball court, soccer pitch, dog park, sports ground, jogging track and more. Visitors are encourage to check out the Bauhinia Garden, where you’ll find over 120 Bauhinia trees all blossoming in a sea of beautiful magenta shades during its flowering period, which is typically from September to June — a popular time for outdoor weddings at the venue.

Cindie Chan

Should you Invest in Hong Kong’s Property Market during CoViD-19?

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past 10 months, you’ll know that Hong Kong’s real estate sector has been experiencing its sharpest decline in nearly a decade. Amid the worst economic contraction in the region’s history (8.9 percent in the first quarter), commercial investments have proven particularly vulnerable — hit by the lethal one-two combo of months-long anti-government protests, then the global coronavirus pandemic.

Data released by investment firm CBRE indicates these factors (and the resulting slump in consumer confidence) contributed to one of the worst quarters for retail property transactions since 2009: only 20 deals, roughly amounting to HK$7.5 billion, have been made so far this year.

By contrast, though there remains an air of caution among consumers, experts’ prognosis of the city-wide housing market is steadily improving. To make sense of the government’s quantitative easing policies, the latest price data, and ultimately, whether you should wait longer for the market to bottom out; we phoned up Victoria Allan — an ex-director at Colliers who now manages her own premium realty firm, Habitat Property, here in Hong Kong.

Let’s start with an overview: what sort of shape was Hong Kong’s real estate market in at the end of 2019 versus around the time that the first wave of coronavirus infections hit? What are the most noticeable changes?

VA: Towards the end of 2019, the city’s property market already wasn’t in a great way — given all of the (ongoing) political protests. Those had a significant unsettling effect on the market, pushing prices down across the board by about 10 percent. As for CoViD-19, market sentiment was already becoming negative as early as Christmas 2019 — that’s because it was playing out in conjunction with a wider global downturn brought on by the pandemic.

Given the current position of the housing market, have there been any changes in government policy that have made it easier to purchase residential property?

VA: As a result of the pro-democracy protests, the HKSAR government actually altered the policy for first-time homeowners: enabling them to gain easier access to property valued at under HK$10 million (by reducing the amount they’d have to pay in their deposit). At this time, no further adjustments in policy have been made to take into account the economic impact of CoViD-19. It’ll be interesting to see if the government relaxes these policies. However, having had tight restrictions on lending over the last decade, there’s very little debt in the Hong Kong property market which can help to support price levels.

What have some of the most obvious impacts been on buyers since the property market was hit by Covid-19?

VA: We’re seeing many buyers seize the opportunity to invest — especially where it’s for self-use. Market prices are being discounted by 10-20 percent (as compared to 12 months ago), so it’s actually an opportune moment for those who want to purchase their first property or sell the one they currently own and upgrade. Sellers also need to keep a closer eye on personal liquidity, so it’s easier to negotiate with them for a reasonable price.

Hong Kong property
The sprawling penthouse in Repulse Bay has come down to a price (negotiable) of HK$95 million over the past two months. (Image source: Habitat Property)

In the case of new homeowners, it’s a great time to enter the market with either a small investment or property for self-use. Ditto for listings where the price is below HK$10 million — that’s a huge opportunity to buy at lowered prices whilst being able to finance at a higher level (i.e. up to 90 percent financing for properties priced below HK$8 million; and 80 percent for those below HK$10 million).

Hong Kong property
The Villa Helvetia penthouse includes amenities made possible by the surrounding environment of Repulse Bay – including a terrace, private garden and fibre optic cabling. (Image source: Habitat Property)

Foreign investors are also starting to re-examine the Hong Kong property market, as experts generally see it as a market with more medium-term stability than Europe and the U.S. As the number of CoViD-19 cases increases in those regions, their economies are projected to be worse-hit than Hong Kong.

Continuing in that vein, could you give a brief rundown of the opportunities that investors now have that mightn’t necessarily have been available if they were purchasing pre-CoViD-19?

VA: Absolutely! In addition to the reduction in market prices that has averaged 10-20 percent, another side effect of the public health emergency has been that a more varied range of properties has come up for sale. Even though we’re seeing some evidence that suggests the market hasn’t yet bottomed out, most buyers can be confident that if they buy now they’ll be able to take advantage of some discount.

Which residential districts in Hong Kong do you think best support these findings about the current market?

VA: For the purposes of easy illustration, the most dramatic reductions representing good ‘value’ can be found in high-end areas like Repulse Bay. The median price for a three-room apartment in developments like Ruby Court, for instance, has come down to HK$53 million.

Hong Kong property
Buyers and nascent investors will find the best, most dramatic bargains in non-urban neighbourhoods such as Repulse Bay (pictured) or Stanley.

To wrap up: can we get you to make a top-line prediction about the market’s trajectory over the next 6 to 8 months?

VA: Personally, I think that the market is already starting to stabilise — there’s more confidence locally given that Hong Kong seems to have the total number of CoViD-19 cases under control. However, the region’s borders still haven’t been reopened — which raises the possibility (however remote) of a third wave of cases. Last but not least, we have the reoccurring issue of protests: that’s bound to keep a lid on consumer sentiment and pricing. All told, I think the market could fall another 5-10 percent in 2020 before making a full recovery.

Hong Kong property

Victoria Allan is the founder of Habitat Property, a real estate company specialising in the sale and leasing of luxury property in Hong Kong. Prior to establishing Habitat in 2001, Allan held the position of Commercial Leasing Director at Colliers Jardine. She has over 25 years experience in residential and commercial real estate across a variety of global markets — including Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and the U.S.

Randy Lai

Kennedy Town Neighbourhood Guide: Hong Kong’s Seaside Suburb

Posted in Where to Live

For a long time, Kennedy Town’s seaside locale and its distance from the city’s major commercial hubs without convenient transportation links have given it the character of a sleepy fisherman’s suburb. Kennedy Town is at the end of the tramline running along Hong Kong Island, and previously only reachable via car or bus.

But since the MTR was introduced in 2014, the area has been fast gentrifying, with old vehicle repair shops and local greasy spoons making way for luxury high-rises and upmarket bars and restaurants. Still, the area retains its charm and affordability with a mix of old walk-up properties and street-level shopping. At the same time, it has also been attracting scores of young couples, families and foreigners who love the stylish new pads and remodeled loft-style abodes.

With its proximity to various prestigious schools in and around the Central and Western District — particularly bilingual or international schools such as Island Waldorf School, Harbour School, Kennedy School, not to mention the University of Hong Kong, this western district on Hong Kong Island has been particularly popular for growing families and older students alike.

Residences to Know

With many apartment buildings practically at arm’s reach to the waterfront, Kennedy Town’s residences often boast of sea views and are typically equipped with harbour-facing balconies. 

The Merton (Image credit: Wiki Commons)

Located in the six-block radius of the town centre and just minutes’ away from the MTR, one of the most well-known residences in Kennedy Town is none other than The Merton, a three-phase luxury high-rise complex built by New World Development in 2005, with units ranging from 276-802 sq.ft. Just two minutes’ walk away is Cadogan, one of the area’s newest and most stylishly appointed apartments completed in 2014, featuring small to mid-sized homes from 346-911 sq.ft. Close by is Manhattan Heights, completed in 2000 with also small to mid-sized homes spanning 434-714 sq.ft. Part of the property is operated as serviced apartments.

Cadogan (Image credit: Wiki Commons)

Larger families will want to head outwards from the town centre in favour of more space. The Belcher’s is a popular choice: Shun Tak Property Management’s longstanding six-building complex was completed between 2000 and 2001, and comprises 2,213 units ranging from over 800 to more than 3,300 sq.ft. For added convenience, it’s attached to Westwood Mall, which provides various eateries and shops for day to day necessities. Harbour One is also popular with tenants looking to stretch their legs, with apartments ranging 662–2,624 sq.ft. and equipped with well-appointed amenities, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

With modest apartment sizes ranging 285-323 sq.ft., millennials and young couples may prefer to flock to the stylish surroundings and conveniences of Eight South Lane. It’s one of the newest residences in the area, completed in 2015, and is just steps away from the HKU MTR station.

Over at the western cusp of Kennedy Town you’ll find The Sail at Victoria, a single-building luxury property by Hongkong Land, one of Hong Kong’s most highly regarded property developers, built in 2009. 

With a mix of residences new and old and of various sizes — from studio apartments to four-bedroom family abodes, older structures to lavish developments built in the last five years, Kennedy Town properties can fetch selling prices between HK$4–20 million, while rents can range from HK$6.2k to just over the HK$100k mark a month.

Where to Eat & Drink

% Arabica

Arabica’s Kyoto flagship was founded by coffee enthusiast Kenneth Shoji, world latte art champion Junichi Yamaguchi and architect Masaki Kato. Rapidly expanding throughout the region, it’s considered one of the most stylish coffee shop chains in Hong Kong. This two-storey Kennedy Town location boasts sea views and ample space to lounge to go with winning brews.

% Arabica (Kennedy Town), Shop 4, G/F, Grand Fortune Mansion, 1 Davis Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2326 4578

Alvy’s

Alvy’s is a neighbourhood taproom by local brewery Young Master. Craft beer aficionados who want to pair their local tipple with a New York-style slice will want to make a beeline for this charming tavern. The pies here are made in-house with brewer’s yeast, perfectly paired with one of the refreshing seasonal brews.

Alvy’s, 8 Holland Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2312 2996

Bistro Du Vin

Living in the heart of Kennedy Town can be encapsulated with experiences like this — charming neighbourhood eateries that offer that certain je ne sais quoi and can satisfy cravings easily on any day of the week without breaking the bank. Bistro Du Vin is a friendly bistro serving up familiar provincial French dishes — think coq au vin or escargots on bone marrow — that are perfect for sharing with loved ones.

Bistro Du Vin, Shop 1D, Davis Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2824 3010

Little Creatures

Kennedy Town locals love a waterfront stroll at the New Praya, and one of the quintessential pit stops would be Little Creatures. Hailing from Fremont, Australia, this craft brewery set up shop in a former sugar and flour factory space, boasting high loft ceilings and an airy, convivial atmosphere to taste test some excellent new brews — all made in-house.

Little Creatures, 5A New Praya, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2833 5611

What to See & Do

Instagram Pier

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Day and Night #西环码头

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Originally a cargo dock, this strip of industrial land by the sea is a motherlode of Instagrammable backdrops featuring Victoria Harbour — hence its playful moniker. On the weekend, you’ll catch young couples and friends, dog owners and keen anglers spread out about the quay, selfie sticks (or fishing rods) in hand. Head here if you’re looking to snap your next handsome new profile photo. It’s also a fantastic spot to catch the sunset. 

Western District Public Cargo Working Area, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

Wheat and Wood

If you’ve got a few hours to while away on an afternoon or evening, head over to Wheat and Wood, Kennedy Town’s thriving board games bar for a strategic game or three. Test your wits with games such as Articulate!, fool your friends and foes with Avalon, or settle down for a round of Monopoly — or pick from dozens more on their ever-growing shelf.

Wheat and Wood, Shop 6, G/F, Brilliant Court, 28 Praya, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong +852 2399 0433

Lo Pan Temple

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#temple #KennedyTown

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A Chinese temple dedicated to the patron saint of carpenters, builders and contractors, Lo Pan. First built in 1884, Lo Pan temple is listed as a Grade I historic building in Hong Kong and is also part of the Central and Western Heritage Trail. The building sees significant celebrations during the 13th day of the sixth lunar month each year — also known as Lo Pan’s birthday. Those belonging to the construction industry flock here to pay their respects and pray for success and safe work in the coming year.

Lo Pan Temple, 15 Ching Lin Terrace, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Q&A: Award-winning interior designer Fiona Barratt Campbell

Posted in Interior Design

Though most design boffins will recognise her considerable body of work throughout Europe, Fiona Barratt Campbell is making rapid headway here in Asia. The Northumbrian designer — who has headed her own interiors firm in London for well over a decade — is best known locally for collaborating with The Upper House, and recently completed work on one of K11 Artus’s 3,703 sq. ft. penthouses — bastions of stylish living, nestled high above the revitalised Victoria Dockside development. With her first regional project in the bag, we thought now would be the perfect time to grab Barratt’s hot takes on all things design: from her love of historic architecture to challenges facing the industry in 2020.

First up, tell us how you got into the industry — it’s well-known that you initially studied at the Chelsea College of Art and Parsons School of Design. Did you always suspect you would end up designing interiors?

Fiona Barratt Campbell

As a child I enjoyed creating and building things. I’d originally planned to study architecture at university, however I quickly realised that my passion lay within the home. After graduation, my first job was for a well-known design firm in London. I gained about three years of invaluable experience there, before going on to establish my own firm — that was 14 years ago now. I’m very much a people person, so the main object of my practice as a designer is to understand and interpret someone else’s vision. The personal journey and evolutionary process you go through with each project is something that I’ll never tire of — every client is unique.

You always credit Sir Lawrie Barratt as a significant mentor and influence on your work. Tell us a little about how he nurtured your talent and/or supported you when you made the decision to start your own studio in 2006?

My grandfather [founder of Barratt Homes] was a major inspiration. I always enjoyed the fact that his job yielded something physical, and that he was creating opportunities for people to actually own a home (he was instrumental in creating the first affordable housing of its time). He was incredibly supportive of my passion for design. Point in fact: he helped me secure placement for work experience at a London-based architecture firm. That said, he had a pretty tough philosophy that every generation of our family must begin their own business without help — as he had done.

You often speak about how historic and naturally occurring phenomena has been a strong theme throughout much of your work. What about it speaks to you?

Fiona Barratt Campbell

I grew up in Northern England — where we’re fortunate to be surrounded by a variety of wonderful, very inspiring World Heritage sites that can be dated to the Roman era. I was fascinated by how progressive their building style was for their time period. That inspiration is everywhere: from the shape and pattern of their drinking vessels to the columns they used in temples and choice in building materials. In particular, I gravitate to how the Romans used natural wood. It’s a material that’s in a state of constant evolution and there are an abundance of different textures, colours and materiality — often within a single species. There’s also something very comforting about it: wood is literally grounded in nature, so there’s some aspect that’s relatable to everyone.

As somebody who works on numerous residential projects, what’s your biggest challenge when it comes to practically realising the desires of a client?

The first rule of thumb is always to foster a strong sense of mutual trust: the client has agreed to let you create their home; and so it has to reflect their own ideas and living requirements. That’s not to say there’s no underlying philosophy threading its way through every project: it’s just manifested in a unique way depending on the client. A ‘good’ interior is one that enhances, not dictates, the way in which you live. For the K11 Penthouse, I worked closely with Adrian [Cheng] to deliver on his vision for a showcase that was very artisanal, yet at the same time, capable of co-existing alongside all the unique artwork he’d sourced for K11. So the challenge was to tell the story of British craft in Hong Kong, albeit through my own philosophy of design and experience.

Just expanding on that: what were some of the unique challenges and advantages associated with the K11 Penthouse project?

Actually, the main challenge associated emerged right at the beginning. We took several months to do spatial planning, as K11 were highly specific about what amenities — storage being a key one — needed to be incorporated within the space. We managed to create a fantastic fluid layout, incorporating a view from every room. For me, the latter element was fundamental to the project because its location is so unique. On the one hand, you’re basically on the water but also have unbelievable views of Central and lush green mountains beyond. As [Fiona Barrett Interiors] are known for our unique use of texture, it was obviously crucial to include a selection of specialist finishes within the space too.

In the master bedroom, the wall flanking the steam room/shower was actually clad in antique barn wood that’s 100 years old. The wood has been tinted with silver paint that is then coated in resin, in order to make it waterproof. Whenever we sample wall finishes or joinery, we work very closely with local craftsmen — communication at every level is really key whenever you’re translating such a meticulous detail into reality.  

If we can get overly critical for a moment, what are some of the biggest challenges that have developed in the design industry over these past few years?

For me, it’s the blatant plagiarism of a brand’s products — typically furniture pieces and lighting. I have my own furniture brand [FBC London] and we’ve seen many of our own designs plagiarised in other projects. Also, in a way the deluge of information on the internet (e.g. Pinterest, Instagram) that we’re exposed to on a daily basis has made it increasingly difficult for clients to be decisive — they’ve been overexposed to so much choice.

You’ve described the object of your design philosophy as being “to enhance, not dictate, the way [clients] live”. Care to expand on that?

Homes are one of the most important spaces you’ll inhabit throughout your life. They are shelter; comfort; and an incubator of memories made amongst family and friends. Ultimately, home should be a place where you can recuperate from the toil of everyday life. So naturally, there are a lot of factors that go into creating a unique living space. I firmly believe that the interior should always enhance a building’s external elements and take the surrounding location, heritage and materiality into account. In a previous project in Mallorca — a private villa — we took some of the sand and small stones from the surrounding beach and incorporated them into a specialised plaster that we used to finish the walls of the home. We also used woods like iroko and teak, selecting those materials for their suitability and relevance to the project.

Now for something a bit more personal: what’s one indispensable trick/tool that you use to boost productivity during your work day?

I don’t eat breakfast. Everyday I fast until lunchtime and that keeps my mind sharp (along with several cups of black coffee). I also allocate blocks of time to the completion of specific tasks and try to stay vigilant about these.

Finally, if you could travel back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be?

Fiona Barratt Campbell

I’m reminded of Oscar Wilde. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” That advice is particularly resonant for this day and age — when everyone and everything’s business is so very visible. Better to stay true to your core beliefs and vision.

Randy Lai

Makeover your terrace with Paola Navone’s resort-ready decor

Posted in Interior Design

Italian designer Paola Navone’s new collection for Ethimo has arrived.

For the uninitiated, Ethimo is an Italian company that crafts high-quality outdoor furnishings and décor. The company pulls design inspirations from the Mediterranean landscape, while priding themselves on a craftsmanship that keeps comfort and practicality in mind, with an aesthetic that enhances any outdoor area. 

The new collection, designed by veteran architect and interior designer Paola Navone, includes a range of daybeds, coffee tables, lounge chairs and more.

Navone pulled inspiration from her surroundings and travels in order to craft this Rafael collection. “The slats that form the backrest are all different and held together by big metal staples,” Navone said. “This woody, organic shell forms a soft nest of cushions.”

The collection is crafted from distressed natural teak, with marble and lava stone slabs for tabletops.

The chairs and daybeds see left-hand and right-hand orientated designs, which allows the owner to put them side by side, combining them into a single, seamless and larger piece — ideal for expansive terraces or poolsides for a more convivial feel.

The coffee tables also matches with an irregular shape, washed with cerulean and ocean-inspired colours throughout that really bring to mind those holiday vibes of the Mediterranean every time you lounge on them.

“We have dedicated Rafael to a very special home.”

Paola Navone’s collection is now available and you can head to Ethimo’s online shop to order your favourite pieces.

Austin Miao

5 Ways to Change up your Home Decor for Spring

Posted in Interior Design


With all this downtime on your hands, you might be gazing to the four corners of your home with an itch to redecorate. Turn to these recent spring collections and catalogues for inspiration on how to transform your home decor for the season.

Zen Neutrals

spring decor - boconcept

Danish design brand BoConcept has launched a set of minimalist accessories for Spring/Summer 2020, and we are all for it. Balance out intricate lines of other pieces in your home with these short and podgy abstract vessels from the new Pillars series, which offer an intriguing understatement of whatever you place in them — be it blooming plants, letters, keys or seasonal fruit.

Available from BoConcept

Pastel Masterpiece

With a number of classic Italian design house Cassina’s signature pieces now available at Lane Crawford and at the firm’s flagship showroom in Central opened last year, it’s more accessible than ever if you’ve ever been hunting a mid-century modern masterpiece for your home. We’re particularly obsessed with the timeless appeal of certain pieces, such as how the sweet robin’s egg hue of these Mexique low-level tables — first created between 1938 and 1939 — stand out in a room of warm neutrals. It’s also available in coral, tan and black, as well as matte or gloss finish. A stylish trick to borrow, for sure. 

Mexique table available from Cassina, 2-3/F, 38 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong

Not your Nonna’s Florals

“Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.” Miranda Priestley a la Meryl Streep famously quipped in 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada. But this stunning new motif by storied wallpaper house De Gournay is nothing cliché — and possibly just the thing to revitalise a staid wall or room (provided your furnishings aren’t already too busy, that is). This new design has been two years in the works as a collaborative effort between De Gournay and UK Fashion designer Erdem Moralioğlu, who has made a series of dresses with the same print. The hand painted wall motif features spring in full bloom with florals and birds in dynamic composition. It’s available on four design colourways on four dyed silk grounds: ‘Imperial Yellow’, ‘Golden Yellow’, ‘Adam Grey’, and the new ‘Kelly Green’.

Available at Altfield Interiors, Unit 1101, 9 Queen’s Road Central, +852 2524 4867

A Natural Touch

spring decor - tree

They don’t call it ‘spring cleaning’ for nothing. In your effort to Marie Kondo your apartment and keep only the clutter that brings you joy, we propose a back-to-nature approach to really clean up your living space. These storage solutions from Tree belong to the Kayu collection, featuring a gorgeous untreated grain from solid reclaimed teak. The luscious texture of the shelves make for an attractive backdrop to showcase your indoor plant collection, your curated knick knacks, and all the sweet, newfound space.

Available from Tree

The Greater Gatsby

Velvet upholstery, while popularised in the autumn/winter seasons of late in lush jewel tones, is fresh again for the spring season when you play around with geometric-cut patterns and exuberant tones. This mesmerising collection of textiles by Jim Thompson pays homage to the Jazz Age (hence its name), and is perfect for everything in the room that you want to make pop: from headboards to throw cushions. It is the 20s, after all.

Available from Altfield Interiors

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

7 Luxury Candles, Essential Oils and Incense to Try at Home

Posted in Interior Design

We all have our favourite scents. Perhaps yours is freshly cut grass; a burst of zesty citrus; a field full of lavender; or bread baking in the oven? Whatever your scent, it’s likely to be your favourite because it relaxes you. For centuries, ancient cultures have used fragrances and scented oils as a form of aromatherapy to soothe and relax stressed souls. Today, we use scents in the form of candles, essential oils and incense to create a calm and relaxed ambiance at home. Ahead, we’ve gathered seven of our favourite to light up and try at home today.

Aesop Anouk Oil Burner Blend

Anouk oil burner blend HK$250 / Brass oil burner HK$1,250

All you need is three to five drops of this calming Anouk oil to relax. In fact, Aesop claims that it is the “perfect antidote to stress and hurriedness”. And that it is, with a mood enhancing mix of ylang ylang with lemon and bergamot rind to alleviate stress. We recommend to drop the citrus and floral oil into Aesop’s Brass Oil Burner which is a little Objet d’art in itself. It’s crafted in solid brass and designed by Studio Henry Wilson.

Available at Aesop

Byredo Bibliothéque Candle

HK$620

For me, the woody bibliothéque scent by Byredo smells like sweetness mingling with the seductive. Top notes of fruity peach and plum dance with floral uplifts of patchouli while leather and vanilla ground the fragrance. At its heart, violet and peony add to its distinctive romantic character. It’s a great candle which burns for up to 60 hours in its black wax and mouth blown glass holder.

Available at Lane Crawford

Oribe Cote d’Azur Incense

HK$620

Crafted by the Koh-Shi aroma masters on Awaji island in Japan, Oribe have created incense sticks infused with their signature Côte d’Azur scent. The sticks burn for 20 minutes at a time and emanate notes of Calabrian bergamot, fresh lemon, plum, blackcurrant and Sicilian orange over white butterfly jasmine, sandalwood and crisp amber. The set comes with the incense holder and is the perfect mood-setting ensemble to use at home.

Available at Net-a-Porter

Diptyque Fleur D’Oranger Hourglass Diffuser 2.0

HK$1,630

Diptyque turns any home into a sensory experience with its luxurious hourglass which fills a room, up to 215 sq. ft., with its deliciously fruity aroma in just an hour. The double glass ends and centre wick design allows the fragrance to drip from one end to the other, releasing honey orange blossom bursting with citrus and sprinkled with spices to brighten up your home with the sweet smell of spring.
Available at Lane Crawford

Cire Trudon Joséphine Candle

HK$700

Inspired by Napoleon’s wife, Joséphine, this scented candle by French candlemaker Cire Trudon is a wonderfully fresh floral scent filled with Turkish rose, Egyptian jasmine and Chinese camellia. It’s lifted with notes of bright bergamot, kaffir lime and spices, before more earthen scents of sandalwood, white musks and iris ground the fragrance.

Available at Harvey Nichols

Gucci Esotericum Bamboo Incense Sticks and Cat Incense Burner

Esotericum incense sticks HK$630 / Cat incense burner HK$1,850

As the luxury Italian brand delves into more home décor, it has resulted in these fantastically fun fuchsia incense sticks that are crafted from bamboo. Infused with the scent Esotericum, the sticks emit an aroma of zesty Seville oranges with sweet, delicate jasmine, blended with warm notes of leather and salt. There are 25 sticks included in each set and are best used with the equally exuberant pink porcelain cat incense burner.
Available at Gucci

Fornasetti La Chiave Nero Diffusing Sphere

HK$4,045

The Italian decorative arts company is the epitome of whimsical craftsmanship, but you best believe that the scents are just as splendid. The Fornasetti La Chiave Nero diffusing sphere is a ceramic piece of art to put in pride of place at home. It also will perfume the air with their Otto scent, which brings together an infusion of thyme and lavender with sweet floral orris, incense and clean birch. The diffuser set comes with 5 reed sticks and 500ml of oil.
Available at Net-a-Porter

Fontaine Cheng
Born and bred in London, Fontaine is a self-proclaimed foodie with extensive experience in the luxury lifestyle landscape. When not exploring the world — discovering cultures and tasting new dishes — she can be found sipping a nice cup of tea (or G&T) hoping to adopt a puppy.

Live the Suite Life: The Hotel-Operated Residences in Hong Kong Worth Staying in

Posted in Where to Live

Hotel residences are a popular and rapidly growing type of mixed-use development which, thanks to a hotel’s branding, luxury amenities, and high-quality services, are now seen popping up all around the world. So whether you’re looking for a new, second or third space to settle, or even just keeping an eye on the residence properties on the market, here are the ones to watch (and stay in) when you’re in Hong Kong.

Rosewood Residences

Located at the epicentre of Kowloon’s harbour front district, Rosewood Hong Kong offers exclusive residences in the form of 186 luxury accommodations for extended stays. The residences include a range of units including studios, apartments and duplexes, some of which come with its own outdoor terrace. The design mirrors the ultra-luxe aesthetics of the hotel with of course, the incredible harbour views too. What’s more, residents can also take advantage of the five-star facilities which include a dedicated club on the 53rd floor, an indoor swimming pool and private fitness centre, amongst others. Rosewood Residences also accommodate pets with trusted care options. From HK$57,000 per month.
Rosewood Residences, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 3891 8610

East Residences

The residential counterpart to East Hong Kong, East Residences is located in prime real estate at commercial building complex Taikoo Place in the heart of the city’s eastern business district. The residences include 106 units from well designed studios, to one-bedroom or two-bedroom suites, and penthouses. Residents that stay for a minimum of one month can make use of the 24-hour gym, stylish lounge, reading area with refreshment corner and landscaped terrace overlooking the neighbourhood of local eateries, bars and the event space Artis Tree. From HK$30,000 per month.
East Residences, 23 Tong Chong Street, Taikoo Place, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2901 3628

Waterfront Suites

Perched on the shore of the Eastern waterfront, these bright and airy residences offer some really rather stunning harbour views. Opened by the Lanson Place Hospitality group, Waterfront Suites have 75 fully-furnished sea view apartments that range from studios, one or two-bedroom duplexes, and penthouse spaces with jacuzzi or pool. Other facilities include an outdoor wellness pool, BBQ and function area, gym, yoga garden, and a self-service launderette; other services such as housekeeping, security and concierge are also included. From HK$28,800 per month.
Waterfront Suites, 1 Oi Tak Street, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2178 2288

K11 Artus Residences

Another residence within Victoria Dockside is the K11 Artus Residences. Having dubbed themselves Asia’s first “Artisanal Home”, this luxury, design-lead residence comes with comprehensive hotel services in an environment made for cultural creatives and worldly travellers. The units range from studio spaces, one-bedrooms (with or without a study), two-bedrooms, three-bedrooms and the Penthouses, with 80% of them offering wrap-around balconies too. What’s more, K11 Artus are also donating 1% of room revenue to conserve and rejuvenate Chinese craftsmanship through the K11 Craft & Guild Foundation. From HK$57,000 per month.
K11 Artus, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong; +852 2107 770

Fontaine Cheng
Born and bred in London, Fontaine is a self-proclaimed foodie with extensive experience in the luxury lifestyle landscape. When not exploring the world — discovering cultures and tasting new dishes — she can be found sipping a nice cup of tea (or G&T) hoping to adopt a puppy.