Tradition and Modernity Meet at the St. Regis

Hong Kong’s newest luxury hotel draws on its rich history and goes beyond


The St. Regis hotel brand has a storied history. Launched in 1904 by New York magnate John Jacob Astor IV, son of the Mrs Astor, the hotel was originally a sister property to Astor’s part-owned Waldorf Astoria, and he famously brought his own house staff to work there to ensure guests received the best service possible.

For 95 years, the original property remained the only one until, following the wave of acquisitions that has swept the hotel industry in recent decades, it was passed on to new owners who recognised the value of the luxury brand – the Hong Kong property, close to the Wan Chai harbour front, is number 46.

The original property was known for its rituals, as were the Astors themselves, and those are both respected and updated here. The 1904 version likely did not include in-room check-in and butlers available via WeChat, but the 24-7 availability has endured. Some traditions have survived much as they were: every day at 5:30 a champagne bottle is sabred to signal ‘violet hour’ in The Drawing Room, replete with gin-and-tonic trolley. Others, though, have been localised: afternoon tea is served from trolleys like dim sum, so guests can satisfy their sweet or savoury palettes without the limitations of a tray selection.

Of course, as quaint and enjoyable as these touches may be, they need an appropriate space. That’s provided here by Hong Kong’s André Fu, who was inspired by the Hong Kong of yesteryear — his on memories and Wong Kar-wai’s classic In the Mood for Love key inspirations — as well as the original St. Regis New York.

Throughout, grand and cosy areas complement each other and elevate the experience. They start out grand: the vast porte cochère leads to a generous ground-floor anteroom. Upstairs, the choreography continues with an intimate lift lobby whose lacquer ceiling, geometric bronze framing and monolithic vase prefigure some key elements. The intimacy is left behind on entering lobby The Great Room, its 10-metre ceilings and full-height windows maximising the surprising amount of natural light and lending a sense of New York Deco-style verticality that pervades the hotel. On this level, The Drawing Room provides a relaxing open space for casual fare and the afternoon tea and violet hour; the adjoining, intimate St. Regis bar offers Hong Kong- and New York-inspired cocktails and, true to the brand DNA, a mural that the bartender can explain the story behind as you sip your drink. Muted, plush seating, tones of grey and green, and soft lighting from bronze and crackle pendants provide a suitable atmosphere for some quiet engagement.

This level also houses Rùn, the hotel’s Cantonese restaurant inspired by a tea pavilion. Up one floor via the signature grand staircase is L’Envol, fine French dining in a palette of beige, white and gold accented with pastel marble and brushed bronze.

Upstairs, the guest rooms continue the theme. Framing, often in bronze, and layering provide visual interest from all angles. The muted palette is warmed with touches of orange, and glossy lacquer that echoes pawn shop shutters is complemented with softness in furnishings. Wood and stone feature strongly, and the whole is capped by Fu’s decorative touches – no detail is small enough to escape his eye for shape, proportion, colour, materiality and sheer interest. There’s not only attention to detail, but a palpable sense of attention to detail that plays a major role in transforming space into experience.

Text / Philip Annetta
Images / Courtesy of St. Regis Hotels & Resorts