Take a stroll through any one of Hong Kong’s major shopping districts and you’ll probably make the same observation that I did on a recent visit: it feels like there’s a Chanel store on every other corner. The estimation, in actuality, wouldn’t be too far off—Hong Kong has a whopping nine Chanel outposts (compared to just three in New York City). Other upscale retailers like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, Hermès and Cartier each have between eight and 12 locations in the city. And the shopping is only one part of the luxury equation. Hong Kong is also home to some of the world’s best hotels, a slew of Michelin-starred restaurants and a booming art scene, making it an ideal destination for those seeking once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Thinking about planning a trip? Here are eight of the Chinese city’s most exclusive offerings.
1. MAKE DIM SUM with a MASTER CHEF
Learn the delicate art of dim sum—which means “to touch the heart”—in a private cooking class taught by Chef Henry Fong, a 20-year veteran of the culinary field. For the workshop, you’ll head into the immaculate kitchen at Spring Moon, a Shanghai-inspired art deco restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel. There, Chef Fong carefully guides participants through the intricate process, which includes making dough from scratch before filling and folding shrimp and vegetable dumplings. Fong can churn out a single, hand-made dumpling in less than four seconds, yet he instructs with the patience of a saint—especially given that he doesn’t speak English. (A translator is on-hand.) The workshop, which is limited to six people, is part of the hotel’s Peninsula Academy, a program of exclusive experiences available to guests.
Spring Moon Restaurant, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Approximately $260 per person; hongkong.peninsula.com
2. BUY a CUSTOM SUIT from ASIA’S BEST TAILOR
Custom tailor shops are a dime a dozen in Hong Kong, but there’s only one that really matters, and it’s Sam’s Tailor on Nathan Road in Kowloon. To be clear, the man behind the magic is Manu, not Sam—the store is named after Manu’s father, who opened the business 57 years ago. Since that time, the family has earned the sartorial respect of presidents (Clinton and Bush) and pop stars (David Bowie and Michael Jackson) for its custom made-to-order suits. It’s a highly personalized experience that consists of two to three separate fittings if you have the time; if not, Sam’s lives up to its “24-hour suit” reputation and can have the final product delivered to you in a single day.
Sam’s Tailor, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Suit prices vary based on fabric, but start at around $400; samtailor.com
3. EXPERIENCE the BEST HOSPITALITY in the WORLD
While five-star hotels are aplenty in Hong Kong, The Peninsula is consistently regarded as the best of the best—and with good reason. The experience starts from the moment you step foot off the plane. At the airport, a concierge will greet you and escort you to one of the hotel’s custom “Peninsula Green” Rolls-Royce Phantoms. (They send chauffeurs to train at a Rolls-Royce facility in the U.K.) The attention to detail continues at the property where a gorgeous in-room display of fruit and petits fours is replenished each day, and laundry is returned in a luxe, leather-bound box topped with a fresh flower. The suites, which have harbor views, are outfitted with technology so advanced, you’ll find it hard to believe that you’re still in the 21st century. In-room tablets have an answer for just about everything, from room service on-demand to a button that instantly transforms your suite into “spa mode” by incorporating calming music and dim lighting. If you book the sprawling 4,111-square-foot Peninsula Suite on the hotel’s 26th floor, you might be tempted to stay on the property forever.
Price upon request; call +852 2910 1628
4. SIP BUBBLY at the WORLD’S FIRST CRISTAL BAR
On the third floor of The Galleria in Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, you’ll find the very first Cristal bar and restaurant, Le Dôme de Cristal. The 10,000-square-foot space is precisely what you’d expect from the beloved bubbly brand—over-the-top, elegant and filled to the brim with champagne. There’s an oyster bar and chic dining room, which serves European-style tapas, like chili garlic basil prawns and Alaskan crabmeat with imperial caviar. After dinner, check out the restaurant’s massive outdoor terrace, the ideal setting to enjoy a glass of Louis Roederer’s coveted Cristal 2005—one of the 21 different Roederer bottles on the menu.
Le Dôme de Cristal, Central, Hong Kong
Prices vary; cristal-hk.com
5. EXPLORE YOUR FUTURE with a FENG SHUI SPECIALIST
The art of Feng Shui is a time-honored tradition in China, and while most think of it as a way to balance the energy flow within the home, it can also be used to predict the future and inform major decisions in life and business. Have your hotel concierge put you in touch with Peter So Man-fung, one of Hong Kong’s most high-profile Feng Shui masters. (He only works based on referrals.) In the 45-minute consultation, he’ll read your face and palms and then use information about your birth date and time to help predict the future.
Approximately $1,030 for a 45-minute consultation; masterso.com
6. TAKE FLIGHT in the ULTIMATE FIRST CLASS
Cathay Pacific recently introduced a daily direct 16-hour flight to Hong Kong out of Newark (in addition to the four daily flights out of JFK), making it the fastest route to South East Asia from the U.S. The Hong Kong-based airline has a cushy business class and an even more impressive first class cabin, where suites are equipped with a plush lay-flat bed, an organic sleep suit and designer amenity bags (Ermenegildo Zegna kits for men; Trussardi for women). Best of all, the made-to-order meal service feels like fine dining—especially because they’ll pour you bottomless flutes of Krug Grand Cuvée champagne.
Approximately $28,000 for a round-trip flight; cathaypacific.com
7. HOP ABOARD a CHARTERED CHOPPER
Hong Kong’s multifarious terrain shifts from city to seaside to steep mountain ranges in the blink of an eye, so the best views are naturally from above. Head to the rooftop helipad at the Peninsula hotel for a private 30-minute tour of the island on board a brand spankin’ new six-seat chopper. The pilot pulls double duty as a charming tour guide, providing expert commentary along the route from Victoria Harbour through the Sai Kung archipelago.
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Approximately $2,300 per person; hongkong.peninsula.com
8. GET V.I.P. ACCESS to the HOTTEST INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR
Ever since Art Basel made its Hong Kong debut last year, the international fair has quickly earned a reputation for luring an impressive roster of art world bigwigs. At the fair’s second year this past May, there was over one billion dollars worth of art up for grabs, including works by luminaries like Tracey Emin, Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst, who sold a single piece for $1.3 million. To say the city has become one of the most lucrative players in the art business would be an understatement. Plan ahead for next year’s show—which takes place in mid-March—and enroll in Basel’s V.I.P. network, which affords members early access to opening day, special invites to private events, V.I.P. tours and more.
For more info, visit: artbasel.com