The newly renovated Murray in Hong Kong has lost none of the building’s 1960s vibe
BUILT SOME 50 years ago and home to various government offices over the decades, the Murray Building has now become a home away from home for travellers from around the world.
Standing tall on the Hong Kong skyline, The Murray was brought back to life early this year and transformed into a luxury landmark hotel through an extensive preservation project by world renowned architects Foster + Partners. The Murray is part of the “Conserving Central” programme, a government-backed initiative that aims to preserve what remains of the historic heart of the city.
The Murray is the new flagship property of the Niccolo Hotels brand.
The exterior of the colonial-era building designed in 1969 by British architect Ron Phillips, was left mostly untouched by the new architects, who considered the original architect’s sustainable design way ahead of its time, especially in terms of responding to the climate of Hong Kong. The windows are recessed and the building’s orientation avoids the harsh tropical sun.
The new design retains the facade, the arches, a vehicle ramp leading to a covered car park and even the century-old tree in the forecourt of the main entrance. Other aspects have been upgraded and the building’s life extended by introducing new functions appropriate for the changing demands of the city – giving it a sustainable legacy for years to come.
One of the main goals was to reconnect the building at ground level with a new street front, transparent and open ground floor space, and landscaping of the surrounding grounds.
Decorated with marble and bronze stainless steel, the luxurious lobby features a black, white, and gold palette that is minimalist but elegant. At the higher end of the lobby, a chandelier called “An Aggregation – 20170106” made of charcoal dangling from nylon threads created by Seoul-based artist Bahk Seon-ghi also draws the eyes.
The hotel lobby leads to an eyecatching charcoal mobile art piece by Seoulbased artist Bahk Seon-ghi.
The 25-storey sanctuary boasts spacious rooms and suites with more than 75 per cent of them an impressive 50 square metres or even bigger. Each of The Murray’s 336 rooms have floor to ceiling windows, the frames of which are recessed to let in more light while still maintaining the thermal level.
All rooms in the hotel are angled so each offers either a stunning view of the green oasis that’s Hong Kong Park or the Central business district and, in the distance, Victoria Harbour.
The Murray Suite goes one better with three panoramic views of the city. Designed especially for well-heeled travellers who are used to the finest of creature comforts, the 225sqm suite includes a bedroom with an oversized en-suite bathroom, his and hers walk-in wardrobes, separate living and dining areas, a pantry, study, and fitness zone, as well as the option to connect with an additional deluxe room for added space.
I spent two nights in a Grand room on the thirteenth floor. Billed as a standard room and measuring 50sqm, it has a contemporary interior with a fabulous carpet covering the beautiful hardwood floor and other surfaces dressed in rare stones, glass, leather and textiles.
The room layout and the furnishings give off the impression that you are staying in a residential apartment rather than a hotel. Unlike typical hotel room layouts, the wardrobe is positioned at the side of the bed instead immediately at the door.
For me though, the highlight is the view and I’m no sooner through the door than I’m rushing to the two huge windows to witness the full scenic view of the city. While tourists in Hong Kong may feel bottled in by the ubiquitous skyscrapers, I see only the green tranquillity of Hong Kong Park.
The Grand room features a luxurious bathroom with separate bath and shower in black-and-white marble. Next to the huge free-standing bath and the golden metallic rain-shower is a range of organic aromatherapy bath amenities imported from Australia. It also features a huge sliding door with magic glass that goes translucent at the push of a button.
Another feature making for a more pleasant stay is what I call the “smart switchboard” that helps you control the lighting and mood of the room by pushing one switch to select how light or dark you want the mood as well as swapping the sheer blinds for blackout ones.
Guests can enjoy a serene and surprisingly green view of Hong Kong Park through the huge windows inside room.
A corner, with a square window also looking out at the park, is dedicated to a working area equipped with a desk and multi outlet home with power strip surge protector.
There’s complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, broadband internet access, and Smart TV which you can watch while snuggling into the leather cushion in the rest area.
One of the reasons tourists love Hong Kong is the food. The Murray has five restaurants and bars offering a variety of cuisines in different atmospheres.
I would recommend Popinjays, the rooftop bar and restaurant, that delights with panoramic city views and an energetic atmosphere. Due to fully open in July, it will serve an even bigger range of the finest European dishes. It’s named after the original name for a parrot in English, because they always occupy the rooftop.
I wanted Chinese food so ordered Abalone congee and stir-fried noodles with Wagyu beef served with home-made XO sauce.
You can burn off all those extra calories at the hotel’s 24-hour gym on level three, which is equipped with the new generation of fitness equipment from Technogym or just relax at the adjacent spa with a massage and beauty rituals.
The Murray is close to the Peak tram station and surrounded by the old streets that make up the Central neighbourhood. You can choose to wander through this maze of art, culture and archetypal neighbourhoods then admire the quirky artistic landmarks on Hollywood Road.
AT A GLANCE
High point: Good location, with surrounding greenery, energy-efficient design and spacious rooms
Low point: Not enough seats in the hotel lobby
Pay for it: Prices range from HKD4,000 (Bt16,300) for a Grand room to HKD53,000 for The Murray Suite
Find it: 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong
Contact it: (+852) 3141 8888 and [email protected]
Browse it: www.NiccoloHotels.com and Facebookcom/TheMurrayHK/