Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees – A Comfortable Stay Option In Hong Kong
Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees is located in Tokwawan district of Kowloon, Hong Kong, and it takes about 45 minutes (depending on the traffic) to reach there by road. From the outside, the Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees looks like just any other building on the road. When you enter the lobby, you can be forgiven for feeling disoriented, and it is then that the reason behind the name Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees becomes obvious.
Everything in the lobby is designed at an angle of 8 degrees. That, coupled with the optical illusion created by the flooring design, creates the impression that everything is tilted ! It takes some getting used to. Once you adjust to it, it become clear that no, the floor does not actually have an incline.
The lobby itself is not very big. Facing the front entrance are the Reception Counters, and to the right hand side is the bell desk. On the left side of the lobby is a small café, appropriately named the Corner Café, with some limited seating. Apart from the seats in the café, there is no other seating available.
Our flight had arrived early and we reached the hotel at about 0900. The standard check-in time is 1400, so the room was not immediately available. We were, however, anticipating this as we had been forewarned that most hotels in Hong Kong were running full capacity due to the ongoing summer vacations in Mainland China. The lady at the check-in completed our registration formalities and told us to wait while the room was made ready, and promised us that she would try to have it done as soon as possible.
And so we headed to the Cafe Corner to have a cup of coffee and to decide our plan of action, as it was obvious that it would take more than a couple of hours for the room to be allotted. The coffee that they serve was amazing, as were the pastry and fish ball in hot onion sauce. While having coffee we came to know that the hotel provides a shuttle service at regular intervals to Tsim Sha Tsui – the heart of the shopping district in Hong Kong, as well as to Hung Hom MTR Station, which is a major station for taking the trains to Shenzhen and the Mainland. Since the seating in the lobby is very limited, we decided to hop on to the shuttle and go to Tsim Sha Tsui for a while, and come back later to try our luck with the room.
The shuttle coach service is in fact very convenient. The coaches have 28 seats which are available on a first-come-first-served basis, and usually run to full capacity. There are two routes. One is direct to Tsim Sha Tsui, and the other one is via Hing Hom station, running alternately. The service is operated at conveniently spaced intervals, till late in the evening. To come back to the hotel, you can use the same service. In fact, they hand out leaflets with the coach schedule printed on them, and it is a good idea to keep one handy so that you know exactly when you can board the return coach from the city to the hotel. The service is provided free of cost to the hotel guests.
We returned back to the hotel at about 1300 and sure enough, our room was ready for us. The reception handed us the keys and a bell-boy escorted us to the room along with our luggage. We were allotted a Deluxe Patio Room on triple sharing for three adults. Contrary to our expectations, the room was surprisingly spacious, and done in a contemporary style. There was a queen-sized double bed in the room near a full-width glass window. The window overlooked a residential complex with a nice garden, and looked down on the swimming pool. There was a stone shelf running along the full length of the window, which also made for a nice sit-out, or could be used as a space for placing the suitcases. Opposite the bed were a writing table and a chair. The narrow table was built along the wall. In continuation of the table, built into the woodwork itself, were a full sized wardrobe with an electronic safe, and after the wardrobe, a microwave oven installed high in the woodwork, and below that a full-sized concealed refrigerator. Next to them was small kitchenette counter, complete with a hot plate and a kitchen sink. Basically all the amenities of a suite were available in the room, without it being a suite. On the writing table was a kettle with tea & coffee facilities, and three 500 ml bottles of water. The tea / coffee sachets and the water were replenished daily.
On the side, there was a small dining table with two chairs, which was later pushed next to the bathroom to make place for a roll-away bed. However, despite the roll-away bed being placed there, we did not feel cramped in the room.
The bathroom was behind a frosted glass partition, next to the entrance door. There was good utilization of the space there, as despite the small size of the bathroom, they had managed to cleverly fit in a bath-tub along with the toilet seat and wash basin. It seemed spacious enough. However, in my view, the toilet seat was placed very close to the bath tub, which can be a problem for someone who is big built like me, as my left leg would get jammed against the tub each time I used the seat !
Apart from this slight discomfort, I could not find any other fault with the room. One thing I must mention here is that their housekeeping staff is very efficient and courteous. When we had got the room, the extra bed had not yet been placed – perhaps they were planning to provide that in the evening. However, we were tired after our flight and after the wait for the room to be allocated, so we requested for the cot to be provided in the afternoon itself.
The lady from housekeeping who came with the cot was very friendly and efficient. Within 5 to 7 minutes she had the bed set up along with the supply of extra blankets, extra towel etc. In fact we interacted with her over the next two days also, and she was always cheerful and smiling. Whilst on the subject of their staff, I must mention here that each of the staff that we interacted with during our stay of 4 nights – be it the reception staff, the bell boy, or restaurant staff – was very polite. Not once did we face any issue there.
Buffet breakfast was included in our booking, and it is served in their main restaurant – Café 8 Degrees – on the ground floor. It is a spacious restaurant and has a decent sized breakfast spread, although the options for Indians were rather limited. If you are a typical Indian who seeks Indian food everywhere, you may be in for a bit of a let-down, and may have to manage with Continental breakfast. We had breakfast there on four mornings and the only Indian item we could find on the menu were miniature samosas. However, there was nothing Indian about the taste of the samosas as the filling seemed to be made mainly of mashed potatoes with little flavor.
Apart from that, if you are adventurous with your food, there is plenty to choose from. There are various varieties of breads and breakfast rolls, several cereals with hot or cold milk, baked beans, sausages, potato wedges or has-browns, and several varieties of oriental food, as well as fresh fruits. You can also get cold yogurt in different flavours and three to four varieties of juices. There is also a live egg counter where you can order eggs to your choice.
We did not have any other meals at the hotel so I cannot really comment about the quality of lunches and dinners. But we did try their Cafe Corner in the lobby on several occasions and one can get reasonably priced light bites there, including sandwiches and some desserts.
Among the other facilities available to the guests are a decent sized swimming pool and a reasonably sized gym. Free wi-fi is available for house guests for a maximum of two devices per room. One excellent facility that they provide in the room is the free use of their Handy Phone – an internet enabled android phone that you can use during the stay and can make unlimited local calls as well as calls to five specified countries (including India). This really came in “Handy” during our stay.
On the day of our departure we had requested for a late check out at 1500, which they agreed. However, I must mention here that the hotel is fairly busy most of the times, with lots of group movements so one can usually find queues for checking in and out. For check-out it is advisable to be at the counter about 30 minutes earlier than you plan to depart, as you may find several people ahead of you.
I must say that overall we had a very comfortable stay at the Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees and won’t mind staying there again.
Rajiv Bajaj asserts his right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author. All copyright and pictures are the property of the author.