If you think that Hong Kong is just glass and steel, you are very much mistaken.
Sure, this pearl of Asia is lustrous, but shuck the husk and you'll discover profound riches that shine even brighter. There's no time like the present for a trip to the Fragrant Harbour to discover a metropolis that's blossoming before your eyes. Beauty sleep seekers rejoice; there are plenty of places at which to steal forty winks.
Traditional wooden sailboat sailing in Victoria Harbor (All photos: Shutterstock)
From Hong Kong's veritable Grande Dame, The Peninsula (peninsula.com), which reigns supreme from its picture-perfect Victoria Harbour vantage point, to understated sky-high style courtesy of André Fu-designed The Upper House (upperhouse.com), via Central's boutique newcomer, The Pottinger Hong Kong (thepottinger.com), there is a suite to suit all tastes.
Hong Kong was once a city content to follow trends. A newfound confidence in its own taste means it's now leading them. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the culinary scene. A distinctly Hong Kong style of cuisine is emerging, led by homegrown chefs who champion local flavours in innovative new ways.
Central District: Traffic and city life in this Asian international business and financial center
Among the trailblazers is two-Michelin-starred haute Cantonese salon Duddell's (duddells.co) and a slinky, subterranean farm-to-table Chinese den, Mott 32 (mott32.com). The former dazzles with modern-minimalism meets gallery chic; the latter beguiles beneath seductively appointed vaulted ceilings, envisaged by the Hong Kong-born designer Joyce Wang.
And it's not just glitzy gourmet haunts that have come to define the dining-scape of the city. A plethora of private kitchens have popped up, offering a far more intimate glimpse into the consciousness of the city's gastronomes. Take Ta Pantry (ta-pantry.com). Chef Esther Sham, who was born in Hong Kong but educated overseas, showcases the flavours of Asia, America and beyond from her North Point locale. It does not serve typically Cantonese fare, but still evinces an identity inspired by the city.
The Aberdeen Fish Market in Hong Kong is a must try! There is a fisherman's cafeteria serving the best high quality and fresh seafood
The food undeniably embodies the Hong Kong of the present; the architecture narrates its colonial past. Current trends dictate that heritage is hot and here to stay, which is good news for some of the city's stateliest of structures. We've already witnessed the rebirth of Aberdeen Street's former police married quarters as PMQ (pmq.org.hk) - a hub of independent, arty boutiques and eateries, as well as one of the finest event and gallery spaces around.
Up next: Central Police Station(centralpolicestation.org.hk), a colossal project overseen by architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron. It isn't due for completion until 2016, but local-pride lovers don't need to wait to experience the self-preserving spirit making its presence felt, as erstwhile forgotten neighbourhoods are experiencing something of a renaissance.
Oriental Golden Pavilion of Chi Lin Nunnery and Chinese garden, a landmark in Hong Kong
Districts such as Sai Ying Pun in the west, Tai Hang to the east and Wong Chuk Hang on the south of the island are boasting grassroots galleries, dining and shopping destinations. The south side in particular is a region in transition and well worth visiting for its industrial units-turned-exhibition spaces.
Standouts include 3812 Contemporary Art Projects (3812cap.com), which is dedicated to emerging talents, and photography warehouse Blindspot Gallery (blindspotgallery.com). Finally, reward yourself with a post-gallery steak at the Butchers Club (butchersclub.com.hk) to complete a culturally, and corporeally, enriching afternoon. For further insight and insider tips, visit luxecityguides.com