Where to Stay

Heritage site turned into youth hostel

Mei Ho House was built in 1954 as a resettlement block to accommodate those living in squats in Shek Kip Mei who lost their home to a fire on Christmas day in 1953. Together with other blocks, it was the first public housing estate – Shek Kip Mei Estate – in Hong Kong and marked the beginning of the city’s public housing policies.

Since no other public housing estates with a “H” shape and dating back to such a long time ago exist, Mei Ho House has been designated as a Historic Building and preserved, and lately converted to be a youth hostel with 129 rooms and dormitories. The hostel commenced operation starting from October this year. For a single room with breakfast included, the price is about HK$300. A double room with breakfast included is about HK$700. Given the high rent in Hong Kong, the prices look reasonable to me, and the rooms seem so much more spacious than the normal hostel rooms you can find in Hong Kong.

Inside the youth hostel is a museum showing the history of Hong Kong’s public housing from 1950’s to 1980’s. Those having visited the museum told me that the exhibits are reminiscent of their childhood and the daily items their homes once 1 photo 3 The old Hong Kong can also be experienced in the hostel’s cafe with decor reflecting the old time.cf7434fef207fe283c95be624f5db1b5

Check out  Mei Ho House Youth Hostel website for more details. 

Where to Stay

Affordable accommodation in Kowloon

A friend stayed in USA Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, and raved about its convenient location and affordable price. For those on budget, this hotel can be an option. But be warned that the room is extremely small. “I have never stayed in such a small room. It feels suffocating,” she said.

Strangely, the English pages have no prices listed. On its Chinese website, the prices of select room types (all with toilet and shower room) are listed for reference:

Small-bed single room (36 inch single bed ): from HK$180

Big-bed single room (50 inch single bed): from HK$220

Twin room (2 36-inch single beds): from HK$220

Take note that the website says the quotes are for reference only and the prices are the basic price, “from” which any price is possible.

But no doubt this hostel offers some of the affordable accommodations in town with one big advantage – excellent location. It is in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, near Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Hong Kong Arts Museum.

There is a website I always use for finding affordable accommodation around the world, i.e. Hostel World. Through it, you can find Hong Kong’s affordable accommodation with review from all the past users, which is very useful.

Please write in to recommend accommodation in Hong Kong.

Where to Stay

The legend: Chung King Mansion

Chung King Mansion is legendary. A building located at 36-44 Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, a busy tourist area, Chung King Mansion is famous for its curry restaurants, low-budget guest houses and the mingling of the Africans, South Asians and the locals doing trading.

Hong Kong has over 700 licensed guesthouses and nearly 25% of them, a whopping 160, are located in Chung King Mansion. This is a stunning figure. So if you are looking for a cheap place to stay, go to Chung King Mansion and you are almost guaranteed that your wish will be granted. Chung King Mansion has the city’s cheapest guesthouses and accommodation. And the advantage is not only its low cost but also its convenient location. Located in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, the MTR station is just right across the road, with tourist spots such as Star Ferry pier, Hong Kong Art Museum, etc just a stone’s throw away.

I viewed a documentary about Chung King Mansion lately, which unfortunately is in Cantonese.  But if you go through it quickly, the visual can still give you a sense of what the Mansion is like and what the cheap accommodation in it is like. (And, you can use “translate” function of Youtube to help you understand! An English-speaking anthropologist speaking upfront also helps! )

“For the past ten years, I have not raised prices. It is still HK$60 per bed. I will not raise the prices either in the future,” a guesthouse owner vowed. His 40-year-0ld guesthouse is therefore very popular with backpackers. And this guesthouse owner is surely a character. Hong Kong’s latest inflation rate is over 7%. And he insisted on not raising prices. Chung King Mansion is legendary partly because of characters like him.

The lower-end accommodation in Hong Kong all has commonality: very small space with full array of facilities such as 24-hour hot shower, clean shower rooms/toilets, water facility, storage service, laundry room, etc. If it is an ensuite twin room, the room will have everything, including a TV set on the wall to save space, and a tiny shower room with toilet. But be prepared that the room is only slightly bigger than the space for a bed, and you have to pay HK$250-300 (US$32-40) per person per night.

Hong Kong As It Is Where to Stay

Hong Kong housing: crazy

For those wanting to rent a short-term apartment in Hong Kong, maybe you can first acclimatize yourself with the living condition and housing price here.

This video, a project by a Hong Kong student, has gone viral. It is a parody of how Hong Kong’s real estate companies go to extreme lengths to promote their flats (including the surroundings and the construction materials used) in order to fetch an exorbitant price.

Towards the end, the video shows what the cubical flat is really like without decoration. It is such a true representation. We all know the tricks of the property companies – showing you a very nice show room before the building has been completed, to lure you to buy in advance, and then you find that the flat you have bought is so different from what has been shown in the show room.

Btw, the small cubical flat in the video, just big enough to put down a small mattress, was rented by the student for 3 days for filming the project. The rent is US$13 per day, and US$400 per month.

The property in the project is called King’s Cube, whose name is similar to a new luxury property in the real world – the Queen’s Cube complex in Wanchai. When the flats in Queen’s Cube were open for sale late last year, the price was HK$10M (US$1.3M) for a flat of 580 sq.ft (53 sq. m), which is floor size only. The actual size is a mere 65% of it. The rent? HK$26,00 – 28,000 a month. It is furnished with balcony, but only one bedroom, and hardly any view.

I still don’t understand why a government organization, Urban Renewal Authority, tasked for the city’s re-development has worked with a private developer to develop a property that sells for such a crazy price. Isn’t it wrong and not justified?? This is what the city’s redevelopment is like?? Luxury properties for the rich??

Where to Stay

New hotel icon

Hotel ICON stands atop the Hung Hom Cross-Harbour Tunnel at Kowloon side

A new four star hotel located in Tsim Sha Tsui east, Hotel ICON, has added to the ranks of Hong Kong’s hottest hotels. There have been rave reviews on the hotel since its soft opening in April. It will be officially opened in September.

I introduced this hotel because it is not a profit making hotel, but a research and training hotel owned by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), one of the major universities in Hong Kong. If you book now, there are special offers for a stay of up to three nights.

Hong Kong has two research and training hotels. One is Hyatt in the New Territories, which is the research hotel of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. This research hotel by PolyU has one obvious edge – its strategic location in the hotel area in Tsim Sha Tsui and near the Hung Hom station and Tsim Sha Tsui East station.

The hotel boasts designs by some of the most famous designers in the city and in the world. The hotel has one of the world’s largest vertical gardens, for instance, which is designed by Patrick Blanc, the French creator of the vertical greenery concept. The hotel is also decorated with designs by such famous home-grown designers as Vivienne Tam and Freeman Lau, and architects like Rocco Yim.

Check out the hotel website here.