Heritage Rules at Hong Kong's Hullet House

Amid this futuristic cityscape of skyscrapers, it’s rare to find any vestiges of old world China. But at the landmark Hullett House Hotel, east meets west at this impressive white-washed colonial building – formerly the Marine Police HQ on Canton Road – built in 1881 and one of four of the oldest surviving buildings in Hong Kong; now the star of a large revitalization and redevelopment project backed by the government.

Cue David Yeo, the creator of Hullett House and the high-end restaurant group Aqua, and his business partner Ian Ward (a historian and ex-mariner) who won the tender to develop this historical site from the local government, and consider themselves the proud custodians of China’s ancient culture and traditions, albeit with a touch of British colonialism and class.

Hullett House contains ten suites, five restaurants and an exclusive shopping complex, as well as a performance space for showcasing some of Hong Kong’s wonderful arts, crafts and traditions. “Built by Hong Kong for Hong Kong – we give you old Hong Kong,” pronounces Yeo. The building’s courtyard doubles as a stage for local artists to demonstrate their talents, be it shadow and live puppetry, Chinese paper cuttings or the wobbly but delicious creations of a noodle maker.

Inside the hotel, each suite is individually designed to reflect different periods of Hong Kong’s design history with private terraced balconies and spectacular harbor views. There is the Tsing Lung suite modeled after Imperial China with a large Confucian four-poster pagoda bed dominating the room. On the walls, hand painted murals depict an ancient Chinese rural scene of the Tang Dynasty with farmers working in the fields. For Chinese arts-and-crafts lover’s, this room is a must.

The Stanley suite beautifully renders the distinct influence of the British with its delicate eggshell blue bamboo trellis and songbird motif, representing 26 birds for the 26 provinces in China, and its hand painted white bamboo furniture. Perfect for the twitcher.

But the pièce de résistance has to be the Shek O suite; an orgy in red, black and gold lacquer potent enough to stun even the most hardened Chinoiserist, and is a sultry and sumptuous nod to old Shanghai. Kudos to Yeo who scoured local antique stores for some real gems that give each room not only a personal touch, but character too.

Nowhere in Hong Kong does their colonial past shimmer more brightly than at Hullett House. Whether you partake of afternoon tea or convene for cocktails in The Parlour, grab a pint or two at the Mariner’s Rest, or dine at any of Yeo’s fine culinary establishments (St. George, Loong Toh Yuen or the Stables Grill), you will be transported into a time gone by that you’ll be grateful someone thought to preserve.

Rates: Start at approx. $550.00 p/suite, p/night.
Specials: Check out their Chinese New Year Getaway – approx. $750.00 p/suite p/night for a terrace suite and include breakfast, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne, and Hong Kong homemade Chinese New Year delicacies. Valid 1-10 February. For more information, phone + 852 3988 0210 or email: reservation@hulletthouse.com

Travel Tip: Don’t miss out on seeing Hong Kong from the water aboard Aqua Luna, one of the city’s last remaining, hand-crafted red-sail junks. Departs Pier Number 9 (next to the Star Ferry) with promises of chichi cocktails enjoyed from comfy sofas.

Latest posts by Kate Ayrton

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