Family-Friendly Luxury at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
The glamorous icon is a perfect base for visiting Hong Kong with kids (or without)
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is a top pick of mine for where to stay in Hong Kong with kids (or without). It is actually difficult to put into words how special this luxury hotel is not only to me but to many people who live and work in Hong Kong.
When we lived in Hong Kong, “The Mandarin” was woven into the fabric of our daily lives as a place to shop, dine, grab a drink after work, get a haircut, have a custom suit made and more. It’s a relationship that isn’t really common where I live in California. People here like hotels but they aren’t lifestyle spaces as they can be in Hong Kong where people, due to space constraints and culture, socialize so much outside the home.
The Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is very much a beloved institution. This is why people traveling to Hong Kong who want to feel a sense of place should absolutely stay here. To get a better sense of what I mean, read the essay about the hotel’s first 50 years in MO Magazine. Much of it is told via memories from an employee who has been there since the hotel opened.
Then, come back to let me finish telling you why it is still one of the best hotels in Hong Kong.
Table of Contents
- The History: Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
- A Central Location
- Get There Via Airport Meet and Greet Service
- State-Of-The-Art, Luxurious Rooms
- Kid-Friendly Hotel Dining
- Dining Worth A Babysitter
- Speaking of Babysitting Service…
- The Award-Winning Mandarin Spa
- The Indoor Pool
- My Daughter’s Favorite Things
- Things to Do Within Walking Distance
- Good To Know
- How to Book
The History: Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is the flagship and first property of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. It was believed that Central Hong Kong needed a luxury hotel with deeply-rooted Asian influence and these visionaries could not have been more correct. Dignitaries, royal families, and celebrities have passed through grand marble lobby over the last 50+ years and it’s still the place to see and be seen.
We visited in 2013 during the 50th-anniversary celebrations and I was given these historical photos to use courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.
No expense was spared back then, nor is it now. In 2006, we were living in Hong Kong when the hotel closed for its massive renovation. In any other city, something like this wouldn’t be so life-altering. But, this hotel is critical to those who live, work and play in Central Hong Kong that the closure was a BIG DEAL. My heart may have sunk when first heard but the Hong Kong Stock Exchange held a two minute moment of silence on the day that the hotel closed to mourn the temporary loss of their favorite watering hole.
The hotel reopened, thankfully, having maintained the aspects that locals loved while upgrading technology and decor. It was sort of like any good facelift—subtle, modern and fresh.
A Central Location
I strongly prefer Central as a base of operation for a Hong Kong vacation for convenience to shopping, the city’s best restaurants, easy public transportation and more. Don’t get me wrong, I love Kowloon and there are certainly merits to staying over there, too, but the pace (albeit still a rapid one) is more my speed in Central.
There is a lot to do within walking distance of Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong that I’ve outlined toward the end of this post. The harbour views are spectacular and I always suggest that people spring for a room with a view. Now, as the harbourfront has redeveloped, it’s possible to see the Hong Kong Observation Wheel, traditional red junks sailing and the daily Symphony of Lights display over Victoria Harbour where buildings participate in a choreographed light show (kids love this).
Get There Via Airport Meet and Greet Service
When traveling to Hong Kong with kids, it is especially handy to book Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s airport transportation with meet and greet service.
The meet and greet service means that someone at Hong Kong International Airport will meet you at the gate. The walk from the gate to customs is usually quite long, so the ability to ride in a cart is priceless after a long haul flight with kids. They will drop you off at the customs line, meet you on the side at baggage claim, assist with baggage collection and guide you to the hotel car complete with bottled water and refreshingly cold towels for the 30-40 minute ride (without traffic). When my daughter was younger, they would even have a booster seat in the car at the ready (though ask for this, if you need one).
Otherwise, hop on to the Airport Express train for the 21-minute journey to Central. Upon exiting the train, you will see taxi lines. The taxi ride to the hotel is about 5 minutes. You can walk from the Airport Express but it’s a little tricky so I would not advise a first-timer to do this with luggage.
State-Of-The-Art, Luxurious Rooms
We’ve stayed in many room types over the years but my favorite is the Harbour View room as it has these views.
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong has two styles of rooms: Taipan and Veranda. Both are quite spacious with plenty of storage space and sizable bathrooms.
The Veranda style has an office space that can be closed off (the desk is opposite of the small sofa near the window) with curtains and also features neutral colors with hints of blue. The bathroom is sleek black marble (love the double shower heads in all bathrooms) with television in the swivel mirror.
Taipan has more of an Asian feel to it.
They’re both fabulous so, in my opinion, don’t fuss about which you get. Both styles of rooms have the same fantastic amenities. They take care of everything you might possibly need from dishware to my favorite Hermès amenities. Yes, THAT Hermès.
Kid-Friendly Hotel Dining
It’s possible to only eat in the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong because the food is excellent. In fact, if my daughter had her druthers she’d totally do it.
Clipper Lounge: It’s an institution for afternoon tea (famous also for rose petal jelly) and one of my daughter’s favorite buffet breakfasts in the entire world for having all of her favorite foods represented, including Chinese. I might have to agree with her. The vibe is relaxed.
Cafe Causette: Offers all-day international dining including local favorites, salads, and sandwiches. It’s light and bright with kids menus and activity kits that include a full set of markers.
The Mandarin Cake Shop: Grab sandwiches, fruit salad, muffins and sweets to-go or eat at the counter between marveling at the amazing cakes. My daughter’s 1st birthday cake was the American cheesecake from here.
In-room dining: We tend to order the nasi goreng or Hainanese chicken rice. When my daughter was younger, her favorite order was sweet and sour chicken or kid’s Caesar salad with a side of mango.
Dining Worth A Babysitter
You will certainly want to plan time to dine in the hotel. Reservations for dinner and afternoon tea are definitely advised as these restaurants are popular.
Man Wah: Still looking fabulous after decades, the signature Cantonese restaurant is a local favorite. Try the beef tenderloin dim sum that’s delicately wrapped in something like 100 layers of pastry. I love the lacquer and rosewood along with the painted Chinese silks on the wall.
Mandarin Grill + Bar: Formerly our go-to spot for a wine-filled steak dinner with friends. It was renovated by Sir Terence Conran and is still a great place for a power lunch.
Captain’s Bar: Going strong for 50 years, this is another local institution that offers perfectly-mixed martinis and crazy-good bar nuts. I also like the chicken tikka and have lounged here until closing more times than I can count.
Pierre: Go for Michelin-starred, modern French cuisine with floor to ceiling views of Victoria Harbour from the 25th floor.
M Bar: This swanky lounge is also on the 25th floor is one of my favorite places to sip a craft cocktail while admiring panoramic harbour views.
The Krug Room: As the name implies, prestigious Krug champagne is paired with a multi-course meal in this intimate dining room that seats just 12. It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Book in advance.
The Chinnery: For when you have a hankering for British fare and a spot of whiskey, come here.
Speaking of Babysitting Service…
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong uses a highly-regarded nursing service for babysitting that I have taken advantage of for the last seven years. It’s the same service that Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong has used since before my daughter was born. The babysitters are either registered nurses or nursing students who know CPR and how to handle other emergencies. My daughter especially loves Millie, who often comes armed with origami paper and fun activities.
The Award-Winning Mandarin Spa
If you need a reason to book a sitter, The Mandarin Spa should be it. Renovated to include three stories, it incorporates the holistic spa, indoor swimming pool, fitness center, Mandarin Barber (my husband used to get his hair cut here), and Mandarin Salon. The decor is Shanghainese-inspired zen with gorgeous woods, sleek lines, and Asian flourishes.
One of the most famous treatments is a Shanghainese Pedicure by the famous Samuel So, which is worth inquiring about the minute you’re certain of Hong Kong dates. I can also attest to a few hours at the spa as a perfect remedy for jet lag.
The Indoor Pool
The Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong pool is small and usually quiet but a nice place to unwind at the end of the day. It plays a video on the wall from what must be an outdoor camera to give you a nice sense of space. We are often so busy in Hong Kong that we rarely have time to use it. But, there are benefits to an indoor pool during times of year where it’s summer rain or a bit chilly in winter.
My Daughter’s Favorite Things
We were in the hotel so much socially when my daughter was a baby/toddler that she associated a fan with Mandarin Oriental before she knew it was something to cool you down on a hot day.
My daughter has spent seven years in a row at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. She’s almost 11 now and will tell you that her favorite things are:
- the fun amenities we find in the room. One year it was her birthday and they filled it with balloons.
- the stuffed animals themed by zodiac year (she collects them).
- buffet breakfast at the Clipper Lounge with loads of dim sum and Chinese noodles. We’ve also been a few times to Easter afternoon tea.
- the mango lassi smoothie at Cafe Causette (by request).
- honeydew and/or watermelon juice at all dining outlets.
- croissant donuts from The Mandarin Cake Shop. They come in plain and chocolate flavors. We can vouch for both.
- watching the Symphony of Lights, searching the harbour for red-sailed junks and watching the Hong Kong Observation Wheel spin from Harbour View rooms.
- the “MOments of Delight” Mandarin Oriental video that plays on the house channel.
Things to Do Within Walking Distance
Grab a map from the concierge desk and head out on foot to explore the best of Hong Kong.
Central MTR Station: The Island, Tsuen Wan (to Kowloon), and Tung Chung line that leads to Hong Kong Disneyland all stop here. You can also now take the MTR to Admiralty and shift to the South Island line to get to Ocean Park within minutes. Walking time: 3 minutes
Prince’s Building: It’s adjacent to the hotel with a gourmet grocery store called Oliver’s that carries tons of snacks and baby food. Not to mention, the third floor has a toy store, bookstore, drugstore and designer kids’ clothing stores galore. If you forgot to pack something for the kids, this is where to go. Walking time: 1 minute
Chater House: This is paradise for lovers of Giorgio Armani. In addition to Armani Fiori (a gorgeous flower store), there’s Armani shops galore and even Armani/Privé, a lounge that transforms into a nightclub. Walking time: 3 minutes
The Landmark: Walk through the Prince’s Building to this designer mall haven where Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Ladurée and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon are located. Walking time: 3 minutes
Mid-Levels Escalator: The longest escalator in the world leads to festive dining and shops in the Mid-Levels neighborhood as well as the Chinese antiques on Hollywood Road. Walking time: 10 minutes
The Lanes/Pottinger Street: The best local market style shopping in Central is The Lanes, which are Li Yuen Street East and Li Yuen Street West. If walking along the Queen’s road toward the Mid-Levels escalator, the entrances to both streets are on the harbour side (look for a McDonald’s and GAP). Here, you’ll find stalls and stalls of trinkets, Chinese-style clothing, fabric, toys and more. This is where I go to buy inexpensive extra suitcases if I shop too much. Do not buy from the first person you see and you can bargain a little. Across Queen’s Road from The Lanes is a set of stairs that will lead you to Pottinger Street, a year-round costume mecca. You’ll also find hair accessories, Chinese New Year trinkets, yarn and a random assortment of other things. Walking time: 10 minutes
Hollywood Road/Man Mo Temple: Shop for art and antiques here while stopping for a coffee or juice. You’ll eventually hit the stunning Man Mo Temple as well as Ladder Street and Cat Street markets for trinkets. Walking time: 10–20 minutes, depending on where you go.
IFC Mall: Another designer mall haven with a lot of to-go food options and a movie theater. Walking time 10 minutes
Lan Kwai Fong: Book a sitter and experience some of Hong Kong’s nightlife or dine here during the day with the kids. Walking time: 10 minutes
Star Ferry/Ferries to Outer Islands/Maritime Museum: Keep walking past the IFC Mall and you’ll arrive at all of the Central ferry terminals to Kowloon, Discovery Bay and the outer islands. The Star Ferry to Kowloon is here in addition to the Maritime Museum. Walking time: 10 minutes
Hong Kong Observation Wheel: Take a spin on the Hong Kong Observation Wheel for a fun view of the city. Walking time: 12 minutes
China Club: One thing I truly miss about Hong Kong is our China Club membership. Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is one of the only concierges in town who can secure a reservation at this exclusive club that is decorated with the private art collection of David Tang. Order the Peking Duck. Walking time: 5 minutes
Peak Tram: Take this historic funicular up to The Peak for spectacular views of Hong Kong, walking trails, shopping, Madame Tussauds, the Trick Eye Museum and more. Walking time: 12 minutes
Hong Kong Park: Kids will particularly love this green space in the middle of the urban jungle. Here, they can enjoy turtles in ponds, fountains and the aviary. There is also a restaurant and a small teaware museum. Walking time: 10 minutes
You can also absolutely walk further afield. In fact, my daughter and I have walked all the way to Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong from the Peak through the Mid Levels. Graham Street market in Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and more and the cool places to eat in Sheung Wan are also walkable for those up for the challenge. When all else fails, hail a taxi or hop on the ding ding trolley.
See also: Over 50 Things I Love to Do in Hong Kong
Good To Know
I’ll say it again—when traveling to Hong Kong with kids, there’s no need to worry about packing diapers, jarred food and other baby essentials. Though I agree it’s always nice to have your own, these things are easily purchased within steps of the hotel.
The concierge at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong can book tickets for you in advance for things like Ngong Ping 360 cable car to the big Buddha, Ocean Park and more. After booking in, I would highly recommend corresponding with them in advance to arrange your itinerary so that you don’t have to worry about it after landing. This is what I do.
How to Book
See also: 21 Best Family Hotels in Hong Kong (Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is on this list)
As a member of Mandarin Oriental FAN Club and Virtuoso, I can book you into this Hong Kong luxury hotel with VIP amenities that can include complimentary breakfast for two, upgrades based on availability and many more special promotions. Send me your dates and I’d be happy to see what rates and amenities are available during your stay,
Tips for families of four or more: Maximum occupancy at most Hong Kong hotels in rooms and suites is three people due to fire laws. This means you will likely need connecting rooms which are certainly available in Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. There are some circumstances where a family of four may fit into one of the smaller suites. I can help you figure out what is best to do.
Hong Kong with kids (or without) is easy if you stay in the right place. Have you checked into Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong?
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
1 Connaught Road
*Spa, Mandarin Barber, Salon, fine dining restaurants and exterior hotel photo are used courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.