Whole China below a single roof

The Great Motherland of ChinaIsland Shangri-La, Hong Kong


I love hotels with exclusive sightseeing-effects. In the case of Hong Kong’s Island Shangri-La Hotel this affection is satisfied by the world’s largest silk painting. The whole thing is called “Great Motherland of China”, and it covers 714 square meters (2343 sq ft), stretching over 16 levels until very scarcely below the translucid roof of the building, which is part of the Pacific Place complex in the Admirality district on Hong Kong Island.


It is said that whole China is illustrated on this total work of art, which contains 250 piece parts. I discovered mountainous landscapes, the Great Wall, waterfalls, little villages with traditional houses and, further down, ships. Forty artists from Beijing had been working on this masterpiece for more than half a year. It was unveiled in 1991, in the course of the hotel’s opening.


It’s hard to believe this hotel has been existing already for more than twenty years, as it looks rather new in pretty much every corner. However, the spirit behind the interior design is much older. As noted in the hotel’s media information the design concept meant to „revive the style, ambience and tradition of Grand Hotels”. It’s not only words, but real: The dignified lounge of the Horizon Club makes you feel like in a venerable establishment somewhere in Europe – if you manage to fade out the wonderful view out of the windows on the 56th level: solid wood paneling and noble chandeliers evoke associations with England and France.


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Right aside this venue smokers hide in Hong Kong’s probably loveliest smoking room, called Roof Garden, where dozens of orchids fight against the fume. During my visit the service quality and the food & beverage selection at the Horizon Club can be classified as absolutely perfect.


Apart from a beautiful China pot filled with fragrant Jasmine tea and besides preserved plums as good-night-goodies, the tested room was 100 percent Western style: Heavy, cushioned seating furniture was arranged next to a solid, dark-brown desk and a huge leather-covered office chair. A neat chandelier was decorating the ceiling. Next to the bed lay a corporate edition of James Hilton’s novel “The Lost Horizon”, the source of the Shangri-La myth. As in many other Hong Kong high-end hotels, the magnificent marble laid-out bath room was equipped with L’Occitane products.


My room was situated in one of the top levels. The abundantly nice harbor view was literally heightened by the fact that the hotel tower was constructed on a hill. The only cutback was a restrained smell, which might had come out of the carpets.


Among several culinary establishments in the building, the restaurant Petrus on the top floor is deemed to be the best. I had the pleasure to sniff about over some of its French cuisine dishes. The service was excellent, and so were the creations by Chef Frederic Chabbert.


However, maybe due to my sightseeing-approach my attention this time was caught most by the Café TOO. Buffet restaurants like this are very popular among Hong Kong’s inhabitants, especially at week-ends, when these places are packed with families. You can watch grandpa and grandson eating ice-cream cones with the greatest pleasure you could ever imagine, while father is dissecting his beef fillet. Mother’s seat is vacant as she is lining up in front of the desserts. What a spectacle!


I went there with my good old friend and approved travel partner Stefan Tauchhammer. At one of approximately ten open kitchen stations we discovered a cook cutting off white noodles from a flabby compound. Mixed with several other ingredients it tasted great. Not spicy like Sichuan dishes, nor focused on the ingredient’s own taste, like the Cantonese cuisine, its complex flavors made the dish something completely different. This was “Huaiyang”, he said, a cuisine style in East China. In mainland China highly estimated, it is totally unknown in Europe. That was the moment when we decided to fly to East China. The reviews of that trip will be published, one by one, within the next few weeks.


We checked out at afternoon tea time, while a Western string quartet was spreading relaxing vibes in the spacious main lobby. It was afternoon tea time. We would have wanted to stay longer.


Hotel website

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