The Mira's two-year renovation has certainly succeeded in dusting off its previous old and dated reputation.
The Mira, Hong Kong
You could be forgiven for walking straight past the the Mira (previously the Miramar). Having recently emerged from a US$65m (Dh239m) makeover, the hotel's unassuming exterior gives almost no indication of what lies behind its black, mirrored glass doors. Once inside, however, the glossy lobby - with its monochrome palette, oversized suspended chandeliers and futuristic furnishings - is a refreshing escape from inner-city life.
The Mira is about as central as a hotel could be. Located on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, in the heart of one of Hong Kong's busiest shopping and commercial districts, the hotel is a short walk to the subway (MTR), bus links, as well as the Star Ferry. Adjacent to the hotel are a number of shopping malls, boutiques, bargain outlets, as well as your pick of cheap and upscale eateries. The hotel is also situated directly opposite Kowloon Park and many of the rooms have leafy views - the higher the better in this 18-storey hotel.
I was a little disappointed when, after a seemingly smooth check in, I was left with no alternative but to carry my own luggage to my room. Granted it was only a small overnight bag not a hefty suitcase but I had expected more from a five-star hotel. That hiccup aside, the staff were approachable, friendly and polite. And the service, both in the restaurant and in the spa, was attentive without being overbearing.
All standard double rooms are furnished in one of four different colour schemes - red, green, silver or purple. Each room is also equipped with a Nokia mobile phone, plus a complimentary local SIM card - a nice touch, I thought, as there is nothing worse than coming home from a long trip and being landed with unexpected roaming charges. My room was green, featuring a grass-coloured Egg chair by Arne Jacobsen and a firm but comfortable queen-sized bed. Plenty of high-tech amenities were offered: a Bose iPod dock, a large flat-screen TV, a wireless PC, dependable Wi-Fi and, for those sticky Hong Kong summers, powerful air conditioning.
Whisk is the hotel's signature European restaurant run by chef Justin Quek. Set dinner menus are available but for à la carte offerings try the baked miso marinated cod (HK$272; Dh129) or the tagliatelle with sautéed Maine lobster ($288; Dh136). For dessert, house specialties include the raspberry soufflé ($140; Dh66) and the flaky apple tart with roasted almond and caramel ice cream ($200; Dh95). Not your average thick-crusted apple pie, this is made from a thin, crispy puff pastry and is not to be missed.
On the same floor is Vibes, a garden lounge that is destined for parties. Striving to be a spot of fresh-air fun, Vibe boasts DJ booths, lotus-shaped firepods that light up at night, and flowing waterways. Downstairs is Cuisine Cuisine, which offers modern Cantonese food and is perfect for entertaining larger groups. Local favourites, such as dim sum and roasted meats, as well as Peking duck ($380; Dh180) are served here.
Designed by celebrity lifestyle guru Colin Cowie (who planned Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball and John Travolta's 50th birthday) and Miami-based interior architect Charles Allem, the Mira's new, intergalactic facelift has done its share to attract a younger, hipper crowd. The hotel, however, is still predominantly patronised by working professionals and the majority of people I saw ranged from Japanese and mainland Chinese businessmen to married couples.
The MiraSpa. The 1,670-square-metre space houses an indoor infinity-edge pool, jacuzzis, a bar serving smoothies and snacks, nine treatment rooms, and a flotation lounge, where after my treatment I relaxed on one of the three heated waterbeds to a calming playlist from my own iPod and mood-altering light therapy. Bliss. All treatments are performed using products by the cult London brand Elemental Herbology and the Parisian cosmetologist Anne Semonin. After scouring the long menu of facials, massages and body therapies, I opted for Inner Sanctum, one of the spa's four signature ritual treatments. My therapist quickly became my new best friend, as she used Himalayan salt to scrub away my dead skin cells, before massaging my tired muscles using acupressure techniques, and finishing with a custom-made facial ($1,950 [Dh922] for two hours and 45 minutes). The spa, which opened in January, is also kitted out with a nail bar, as well as a hair salon manned by Private-i, one of Hong Kong's top hair salons.
The boxy, windowless fitness room, with its rows of gym equipment and tiny plasma screen, was not the most inspiring environment for a workout. Fortunately, Kowloon Park is a mere stone's throw away, where those who prefer stretching their limbs outdoors can go for a jog at dusk or join in on one of the many morning Tai Chi classes.
The Mira's two-year renovation has certainly succeeded in dusting off its previous old and dated reputation. If the hotel's opening night - which featured American popstar Katy Perry belting out her hits in the grand ballroom before hundreds of screaming and cooing guests - is anything to go by, the Mira has not only established itself as one of Hong Kong's best boutique hotels but also a venue capable of hosting trendy A-list gigs.
A double room costs from HKD$1,500 (Dh710) including breakfast buffet and taxes. The Mira, 118 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon (www.themirahotel.com; 00 852 2368 1111).