Southeastern China, a peninsula and cluster of islands jutting into the South China Sea.
It’s arguably China’s most cosmopolitan city, and with its rich history as a trading port and — for better and worse — a British colony, it’s undoubtedly the Chinese city that’s most connected to the West, creating a striking contrast of tradition and modernity everywhere you look.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is one of the busiest in Asia, with connections to just about every corner of the globe. Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s major airline, is one of the world’s best.
Hong Kong is home to some of the region’s most outstanding contemporary art. World-class galleries can be visited year-round, while February through April brings a series of art, literary and film festivals.
Since the arrival of the heavyweight galleries to Hong Kong — from Gagosian to White Cube and Pearl Lam — the city has become a bona fide player on the international art map. Following the success of Art HK fair in May, the formidable Art Basel Hong Kong fair launches in May, and a number of edgy new creative districts are springing up around the city.
Hotels are responding with innovative art tie-ins. New(ish) kid on the block The Upper House takes its art collection very seriously – they’ve employed an art consultant to constantly review the collection. Artwork is integrated into every part of the hotel, from the ceramic works of Hong Kong artist Man Fung Yi in the lifts to Gerard Bookle’s silk and wood textured pieces in the Upper Suite.
Meanwhile the Mandarin Oriental, Art Basel Hong Kong’s official hotel, turns to its executive chef to create an art-inspired gastronomic extravaganza. Last year’s offering included an edible reinterpretation of the Berlin Wall, and a framed “landscape” made of beef, fried egg and truffle oil.
Over in Kowloon the Peninsula’s Art of Hospitality program offers guests a look at the city’s art scene from a curatorial perspective. This can mean delving into the warehouse scene over in the New Territories, or visiting the Cattle Depot, an abattoir turned art collective. Guests staying at Langham Place can take their own tour of the hotel’s 1,500-piece collection of contemporary Chinese art, using a specially programmed iPod. Works, chosen by art consultant Angela Li, include some by Chinese artists Wang Guangyi and Jiang Shuo.
Nurturing new talents is also high on the agenda. The Mandarin Oriental, in collaboration with the Sovereign Art Foundation, held a competition in October to find the next budding Damien Hirst amongst the city’s schoolchildren. Guests helped to choose the winners, which were displayed in the hotel’s Clipper Lounge. And in November, design hotel The Mira held a competition to find the most stylish piece of hotel furniture design as part of Hong Kong’s 2012 Design Year; winning entries included a chair made entirely out of stainless-steel balls.