When you picture Hong Kong, you might imagine a bustling hive of people and a bunch of towering skyscrapers huddled on a tiny island. On our recent trip there, we wanted to see what else the region had to offer – that’s why we decided to stay at Hotel Jen Hong Kong. It’s in a non-central part of the island, which gave us a chance to see a different side to the city.
If the Hotel Jen brand name rings a bell, it’s because we reviewedHotel Jen TanglinSingapore, not too long ago. Hotel Jen is actually a relatively new brand from the Shangri-la group, launched in 2014. Their motto is to ‘Leave Boring Behind’ and they want to connect curious travellers with new destinations, cultures and experiences. Hotel Jen Hong Kong certainly achieves that goal.
Hotel Jen Hong Kong is located in the western part of Hong Kong Island, in Sai Wan, which is a district with a lot of potential. Only 30 minutes from Hong Kong International Airport, it’s relatively isolated from major commercial zones. It didn’t get its own Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station until late 2014. So, it’s kind of been left to its own devices up until recently.
Since the opening of the MTR station, locals and tourists have been slowly transforming the area. There are cool new shops and cafes popping up around it. We used an app called Townske to look for the best spots around the area and found a pretty good cafe called Ethos, just around the corner from the hotel. It was run by a few nice guys who embrace a stripped-back kind of aesthetic. There’s also a curated clothing and home goods shop attached to the cafe.
The MTR station, which is called ‘HKU’ after the nearby university, is the largest and deepest in all of Hong Kong. It’s also literally on the doorstep of Hotel Jen, which is very convenient.
Sai Wan isn’t quite as busy as other parts of Hong Kong, but it’s still chock-a-block with tall buildings. We loafed around the streets and got a sense of how the locals survive living all on top of each other. We went up the hill, up Hill Rd actually, and marvelled at the overpass that ran between the buildings. It’s a great photography spot, our photos turned out looking like they were sci-fi CGI renders.
If you’re stuck for things to do, the friendly staff at Hotel Jen are wholly committed to giving their guests a memorable stay in Sai Wan and Hong Kong. They have made a guide of the best things to do in Hong Kong in 24 hours. Some of the recommendations include taking a trip out on the MTR to Tai Po. It’s apparently a great hiking spot with waterfalls you can swim in. Also on the list are the street art at nearby Sheung Wan and the Peak Tram, which I remember riding as a kid.
If you’re not part of the Instagram scene, you might not be aware of this but not 400 metres away from Hotel Jen is ‘Instagram Pier’. There’s a nice promenade that winds along the foreshore of Belcher Bay. But, without a doubt, the main attraction here is the pier. It’s officially called the Western District Public Cargo Working Area and the government is trying to restrict public access. But who are they kidding, it’s already called “Instagram Pier” on Google Maps!
We checked out the pier at sunset. As you’d expect, the place was packed full of Instagrammers and photographers alike, doing all sorts of creative poses. We learned later that Instagram Pier is best visited after some solid rain. This clears up the sky and creates a spectacular mirror effect with the water. The pier juts out from the land at almost due west, so the photos can be positioned to look like you’re walking towards the sunset.
The hotel itself was quite nice. The room was decently sized and comfortable – about what you would expect of a moderately-priced 4-star hotel. The aesthetic is quite minimalist, with lots of creams, off-whites, and mid-tone timber. The wow factor comes from the natural light and the views of the waterside.
Hotel Jen Hong Kong has only one restaurant: Cafe Malacca on level two and it’s really good. It’s even popular with the locals which is always a good sign. With Head Chef Sunny Tse (formerly of Island Shangri-la, Hong Kong), Cafe Malacca was recognised as a Bib Gourmand restaurant in the Michelin Guide in 2014 and 2015. It’s very reasonably priced and you can count on friendly service.
The Wrap-Up – Hotel Jen Hong Kong Review
All in all, Hotel Jen Hong Kong is a solid choice for the traveller who wants to see a different side of Hong Kong. On your stay here you can fill your Instagram feed with worthy snaps, check out a fast-changing urban landscape, and observe dense urban-living first-hand.