Inspired by the city’s iconic Star Ferry, the latest addition to Hong Kong’s boutique hotel scene is a handsome gem in the buzzing Wan Chai neighborhood.
HONG KONG - For a certain kind of traveler, myself included, finding an attractive, moderately priced hotel can make a trip. After spending a few days on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, I was feeling ambivalent about the city. The traffic was intense, the high-rises were overwhelming, and the mall culture wasn’t vibing with my love of all things indie. Despite what I’d been told by many reliable sources, I was starting to wonder if Hong Kong was totally devoid of charm — until I checked into The Fleming.
Set in the lively Wan Chai district, the newly refurbished boutique hotel was made over by two childhood friends with the help of Hong Kong design studio A Work of Substance. The duo wanted to create the kind of sophisticated and stylish hotel you might find in a major metropolis, like London or New York, but with a distinctly Hong Kong look and feel.
Drawing inspiration from the city’s iconic cross-harbor ferries and unique maritime heritage, The Fleming is outfitted in dark wood furniture, nautical stripes, and brass accents. The hotel is modern with just the right amount of nostalgia. The fact that it looks like something out of a Wes Anderson movie doesn’t hurt either.
The Fleming is small and doesn’t have much in the way of amenities — a stylish Italian restaurant takes up most of the first floor and a compact lobby can be found on the second floor — but the guest rooms are just right. A series of thoughtful details show how much love went into crafting the guest experience. Photographs by local Hong Kong artists are propped on ledges built into the walls; desks are adorned with terrariums and a custom-stationery set that includes a kraft-paper notebook; the heavenly scented peppermint and eucalyptus hand soap was so irresistible that I bought a bottle to take home.
Paired with a heart-stirring hike along Dragon’s Back ridge and a visit to the indie-centric Star Street Precinct, my two-night stay at The Fleming changed my mind about Hong Kong. There’s a certain charm to the former British colony. I just had to look a little harder to find it.
The Fleming is tucked away on a side street in Wan Chai, a busy and diverse neighborhood with a mix of office buildings, wet markets, and trendy restaurants and bars.
Old-school Hong Kong with a contemporary twist.
This Place Is Perfect For
Solo travelers, couples, or friends looking for a stylish, moderately priced hideaway, as well as those who appreciate design details.
What’s on Site
Just the essentials: A 24-hour concierge desk and an all-day, coastal Italian restaurant with a complimentary continental breakfast of fresh fruit, croissants, yogurt, and a stash of international newspapers.
Number of Rooms
The 66 guest rooms come in four sizes, ranging from small to a nicely sized extra-large, which happens to be bigger than the average Hong Kong apartment.
The free WiFi is great, as are the custom Shen Nong bathroom amenities, which were tailor-made based Chinese apothecary principles. Flat-screen televisions with Apple TVs, goose-down duvets and luxury linens, blank notebooks for jotting down travel plans, and a bespoke Luxe city guide are among the many thoughtful details found in each room.
The absence of amenities like a spa, gym, onsite swimming pool, and spacious common areas makes the hotel best suited for short-term stays.
Rooms are equipped with Handy phones, a free mobile phone available for guests to use while staying at the hotel. Because I’m a devoted Google Maps user when navigating a new city, having a Handy meant that I was able to avoid using my personal cell phone, thus saving me from paying costly international service fees.
Good to Know
Complimentary access to a nearby gym with cardio and weight machines, a spin studio, group classes, and sauna is available to guests.
What to Do Nearby
Hong Kong’s bustling Wan Chai neighborhood is home to many of the city’s most interesting restaurants, including Samsen, a Thai noodle joint, where I enjoyed one of the best meals of my trip. The restaurant, which opens out onto the street, is popular and doesn’t take reservations, so plan on standing out front with the rest of the masses for at least a half hour while you wait for a table. Order the stir-fried fat noodles with Wagyu and wash them down with a calamansi lime and salted plum soda. Don’t skimp on dessert: Young coconut ice cream topped with toasted peanuts, shaved coconut meat, and sweet corn is an unusual but delightful combination.
If you’re looking to shop and malls aren’t your speed, head to the charming Star Street Precinct for a smattering of design-centric shops, like Kapok, Lala Curio, and Odd One Out. You will also find a selection of boutique eateries, including Jouer, an alfresco patisserie, and Le Petit Saigon, a grab-and-go Vietnamese sandwich shop.
For first-timers looking to get their footing, the Introduction to Hong Kong, from Colony to Financial Superpower walking tour with Context Tours is a great way to learn about the city while exploring the Central and Sheung Wan districts. Most importantly, it gives you access to an English-speaking guide (often a scholar or specialist), who can answer the five million questions you will inevitably have about Hong Kong.