The country’s banking hub is brimming with hidden historical hotspots and new hip hangouts
By Mavis Teo
The financial hub of adrenaline-fuelled Hong Kong is already very popular with Singaporeans who love the concentration of the world’s best labels along streets like Queen’s Road Central, Pedder Street and Chater Road, and the kooky little multi-label boutiques in Soho. But what remains under the radar for many of these weekend-trippers from Singapore is the bustling art scene in the CBD.
The biggest proof of this: The joint events of Art Basel and Art Central held in Hong Kong every March that sees a phenomenal turnout both from local and international visitors. Both events may have come and gone but Central is still chock-a-block with art. Whether it’s seeing a riotous burst of colours from street art or spending a lazy afternoon browsing through art galleries opened by international names that strikes your fancy, Central has it all, including the coolest places to hang out after an arty walk.
PMQ is where you can get to enjoy art and also buy knick-knacks if you feel buying an artwork over a weekend is too big a purchase. The former Police Married Quarters now decorated with graffiti art celebrates local creativity by giving up-and-coming fashion and artists a space to showcase their works by offering them a centralised location at heavily subsidised rental rates. Definitely drop by Cecila Ma Couture for an evening clutch. The local designer makes handbags and purses which are conversation pieces that are a mix of quirky, cheeky and cute. If you have four hours to spare, check out the classes offered at Oscary Art. Do some acrylic painting on canvas or a tote bag. You can even learn to make leather crafts.
The hotels in Central also provide a visual feast for the art lover. And you can take your pick from hip and cool, to classy and chic. For the former, check into Ovolo Central. You can also see how creativity is not hampered by a lack of space. Modern murals grace the public areas which encourage guests to gather and mingle with work areas in the lobby and even laundromats and a fashionable-looking. Inside the rooms, industrial chic vibe are aplenty while cheeky text on guest amenities makes you chuckle (or raise an eyebrow).
If you like being inspired by history while staying amidst beautiful interiors, pop by The Pottinger, located on the historic stone cobbled Pottinger Street that holds a Grade I historic status given by the Antiquities Advisory Board of Hong Kong. The design aesthetic reflects the east-meets-west history of the area. The colour palette is a mix of pale pinks, jade greens and beiges, drawn from Chinese artwork, porcelain, cloisonné, and lacquer work – elements of Chinese antiques which can be seen in soft furnishings such as upholstery and drapes while furniture is distinctively European-influenced in the form of wing-backed chairs and chaise lounges. There is also artwork – original sepia-toned photographs by Hong Kong photographer Ho Fan that showcase the history of the area, found in each room.
H Queens is a brand new 24-storeyed tower in the focused on art and luxury lifestyle. Its gallery tenants include international names like Pace, Tang Contemporary Art and David Zwirner. 3One of the most talked about features here is that the floor-to-ceiling glass windows can be fully opened to allow bulky artworks into the building, instead of going through a lift. With 30 per cent of its space dedicated to restaurants and retail, there are enough attractions for those who are less into art. Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet has its first AP House in Asia over two floors in this building, to give guests an more intimate experience and deeper insight into the brand.
Please Don’t Tell
Aesthetics come in many forms. Besides the street art in Soho, you can also find accessible art with a high dose of luxury and exclusivity at the newly opened Please Don’t Tell (PDT). Look for the entrance to this international outpost of the famous New York speakeasy in the form of a phone booth at the Landmark’s MO Bar. Those who love design will appreciate the space that interiors designer Nelson Chow has created – a cosy speakeasy with nine high-top seats, and cosy leather booths around the walls. Take your pick of heady cocktails from a curated menu and munch on a gourmet hotdog while enjoying a tete-a-tete amidst music that still allows conversations to be heard. Reservations are a must to secure a seat.