This is the fourteenth in a series of posts documenting my January 2019 trip around the world, which took me to Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Chiang Mai, and Hong Kong. You can read my last post, which reviewed the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui, here.
Given the prices of hotels in Hong Kong, it was a good place to use my annual Intercontinental Ambassador BOGO weekend night certificate. There are two different Intercontinentals in Hong Kong, so I went with the cheaper one, the Grand Stanford. It still wasn’t cheap, but I was able to book a room with lounge access with a nightly rate of about $319. For two nights, with lounge access, it was a good deal, and although the hotel was fairly dated and the location in Tsim Sha Tsui East wasn’t the best, I don’t regret the choice. The stay did have a bit of drama, alas – all of which was my fault, worked out fine, and I will chalk up to the harried pace of my around-the-world in 11 days journal.
It didn’t seem like that long a walk from the Hyatt Regency on Google Maps, though I had to do several underground subways with my luggage and then a long schlep up a driveway. I waited on a confusing line to check-in, but a friendly agent eventually helped me. She took my passport and spent awhile looking at the computer, then asked me for my confirmation. I took out the paper copy I had….and she informed me I was at the wrong Intercontinental. Whoops. The crazy thing is I knew there were two Intercontinentals, and had the right one starred in my phone—which was closer to the Hyatt where I’d started out. She offered to call me a taxi, but I hadn’t actually had a chance to go to an ATM yet. So I called an Uber, which was supposed to arrive in 3 minutes but took nearly 20 minutes to arrive due to terrible traffic, which I then sat in for the short 1 km ride. It actually would have only taken about 15 minutes to walk between the two but it was sunny and I was tired.
I ended up at the Grand Stanford at about 12:30pm. The lobby was definitely tackier and less contemporary than at the other Intercontinental, and the area around it was very 1980s/1990s architecture. I waited on line to check-in, and when the agent pulled up my reservation, was directed to go to the lounge for check-in, since I had booked a Club rate. An agent escorted me up one flight in the elevator, and down a long corridor that looked down into the lobby into the Intercontinental Club.
I paid about $60 extra to book a room that came with lounge access, which was a great move, as it came to about $30 a night, and included three meals a day, as well as the service of the lounge staff.
As soon as I arrived, I was helped immediately at a desk at the front of the lounge. Someone took my suitcase, and I was helped by a team of staff, who presented me with a whole bunch of stuff and offered me a welcome drink. There was a leather-embossed luggage tag, which was my Ambassador gift; a welcome letter; and vouchers for two free drinks in one of the bars on-site as a Platinum Elite. I also was given 1000 IHG points.
While I was waiting at the wrong hotel, I had gone to take out my Ambassador BOGO certificate from my travel wallet where I have always kept it, but couldn’t find it. I checked the folder I had all my documents in, and I couldn’t find it. Crud. Although some hotels I’d stayed at hadn’t asked for the voucher, most have. Sure enough, the agent at the lounge asked for it, and I told him I would get it from my luggage, and he said not a problem. Of course, when I got to my room and searched my luggage, I could not find it anywhere. I must have accidentally thrown it out somewhere on the trip. I emailed with Ambassador customer service, and they told me they would mail a new certificate to my home, and to talk to the hotel, and try to pay for two nights, and then mail them the new certificate when I got home. That’s what I did and it all worked out, and the team at the lounge at the Grand Stanford was phenomenal in helping process ut. In the end, all it cost me was the price of mailing the paper certificate to Hong Kong, but I’m glad the paper certificate system is gone. It was stupid because it’s easy to lose the paper certificate, but also you could theoretically sell it or give it away to another Ambassador, since the certificate wasn’t hard-linked to specific accounts. Now, it’s all electronic which makes much more sense.
Shortly after booking, my reservation had been updated to reflect a one-category upgrade per the Ambassador program from a Premier Room to a Premier Side Harbour View Room. My assigned room was on the top floor of the hotel, the 18th. Oddly, the elevators only go to the 17th floor and then you have to walk up stairs the rest of the way. Thankfully, my suitcase had already been delivered to the room when I arrived.
The room was a lot more contemporary than the rest of the hotel. It wasn’t super large but was pretty nice. It had a slightly odd shape in order to have a small side harbor view window. Otherwise, the room was dominated by a king-size bed. Near the window were two armchairs. There was also a fairly large desk and chair. There were lots of mirrors which made the room feel larger. There were plentiful universal outlets.
The views from the small side window were definitely nice, especially at different times of day.
Along with the closets, there was a Nespresso machine, as well as a minibar and tea kettle setup. My Ambassador fruit and water was also awaiting. It was definitely one of the less-impressive Ambassador fruit plates I’d received.
The lounge has three main services, and I experienced each one- as well as great views at three different times of day.
First, I went to the evening happy hour, which was incredibly crowded and it was hard to get suitable seating. There were a number of cold stations with bread, canapes, salads, etc, as well as a hot buffet. The hot food was fairly random: tandoori chicken, dumplings, cheese pie. There was also Moet & Chandon champagne on offer. On my first night, the salad and hot items were picked almost completely bare when I got there. There were waiters coming around for drink orders, but my second glass of champagne never came. My second night it was a little better.
In the morning, for breakfast there was both a hot and cold buffet, as well as large a la carte menu with Western and Chinese options. On both mornings, somehow my omelet order got messed up, but it was a much calmer experience than the evening.
Finally, I stopped by for afternoon tea once, which was traditional British style, with finger sandwiches, cakes, scones, etc.
I did explore a few other of the facilities on my stay. I went to “Tiffany’s New York Bar” to use the free drink vouchers I was given; it was a bit of a depressing dark, subterranean space but free drinks are free drinks. There was a separate menu for the free drinks, which had well cocktails, beer, and wine.
I also checked out the gym which was on the 18th floor. There was also a pool there, but it was temporarily closed. The gym was two separate rooms, not huge – but decent equipment, particularly for a hotel that seemed to be serving mostly Asian clientele. One room was a variety of about 15 cardio machines, and the other room had a variety of weight equipment, including a bench press, leg and other machines, and free weights.
In terms of location, the Grand Stanford is in a pretty boring area, with cruddy shopping. It’s also fairly far from the MTR, about 10 minutes’ walk to the Hung Hom Station, the Tsim Sha Tsui Station, or the Cross-Harbor Tunnel buses. But I’m not walk averse so it wasn’t a big deal. In all, I found the stay quite pleasant, but I don’t think it was a $350/night stay (including the 10% service charge).