There is no shortage of high end hotels in Hong Kong. This fast-paced city is well endowed with luxurious lodgings - with a price tag to match. But an affordable new concept hotel which opened in Hong Kong's downtown Jordan district in late 2018 is shaking things up with its commitment to sustainability and social activism.
The Hong Kong Bird Market is located within easy reach of the Hotel Eaton Hong Kong. Author image.
The four-star Eaton Hotel Hong Kong does everything differently. There's no in-house spa - but you can participate in complimentary Tai Chi classes led by a local master, enjoy the healing benefits of in-room Himalayan salt lamps, or explore the wellness centre which comes complete with a rooftop pool, yoga studio and juice bar. The hotel amply accommodates business travellers but is equally adept at catering to creatives, who might need access to facilities such as a recording studio. There are plenty of food options on site, but rather than trying to cater to all tastes via 'big hotel bland', they offer tightly-focussed authentic slices of Hong Kong cuisine.
The Eaton Hotel boasts simple but stylish rooms. Author image.
The Eaton Hotel Hong Kong aims to shine an eco-friendly light on hospitality practices - having banned all plastic straws and single-use plastic cutlery from their restaurants, and encouraging the use of BYO water bottles via complimentary water dispensers. The hotel is so serious about creating positive change that it even publishes information upon its environmental footprint and progress.
Eaton Hotel Hong Kong's commitment to social activism can be seen in the events it hosts. For example, at the time I visited, the hotel was midway through the inaugural Women's Festival Hong Kong featuring dance and movement workshops (such as belly dancing and partner yoga), skills training (on a variety of topics like non-violent communication and Japanese vegetarian cooking), concerts, and art and craft (including incense making and inner child drawing). More recently it hosted the Human/Progress Festival.
Eaton's welcome fruit and sweet platter. Author image.
What I liked most about the Eaton Hotel Hong Kong was the high value it places on creative pursuits. Hotel rooms are decorated with works by local artists and makers and the neon signage is inspired by the works of filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, who shot many of his 1990s classics in this very neighbourhood. Eaton Hotel Hong Kong is also home to a radio station where artists can come on to discuss their work. Even the welcome fruit and sweets platter which materialised upon my arrival to the hotel was styled like a work of art.
Stepping into Yat Tung Heen is like entering Hong Kong of yesteryear.
The onsite dining options are also worth shouting about. The Astor is a basement dining room which offers buffet breakfasts, lunches and dinners, in the style of Hong Kong's cha chaan teng culture. The fabulous Foodhall with outlets such as Mum, CoCo and the Trusty Congee King provides a hawker-stall style experience (but with the comfort of air-conditioning). And the one Michelin-starred Yat Tung Heen provides a classic Cantonese dining experience in a 1920s style Shanghai tavern setting.
Steamed baby lobster with garlic and soy sauce formed one course in the Yat Tung Heen banquet menu. Author image.
The Eaton Hotel Hong Kong is situated smack bang in the heart of traditional Hong Kong. Here, you're within easy walking distance of attractions such as the Bird and Flower Markets, as well as curiosities such as fortune tellers and the city's busiest night markets. (The Eaton Hotel Hong Kong offers free walking tours to the nearby Temple and Jade Street markets, which is perfect for those who are hesitant to explore on their own.) If you're feeling a little footsore, or you'd like to journey further afield - perhaps to the New Territories or Hong Kong Island - the MTR (underground railway) is also easily accessible.
Blossoms for sale at Hong Kong's famous Flower Market. Author image.