In March 2019, I checked into the N3 Grand Deluxe at The Murray Hong Kong, a luxury business hotel which occupies a historic 1960’s government office building along Cotton Tree Drive, along the periphery of the central business district. Set between two major roads, the 336-room property is situated opposite St. John’s Cathedral between Hong Kong Park and Botanic Gardens, and is minutes away from Central and Admiralty MTR subway station.
Apart from booking directly with the hotel, guests can also make their reservations through the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) programme as well as curated luxury travel platform Mr & Mrs Smith.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Chic, contemporary, gold-kissed monochromatic sanctuary in Central Hong Kong.
The must-dos (if any): Spend time in the chic and contemporary rooms, have a drink at Murray Lane, take a dip in the indoor lap pool, enjoy afternoon tea at The Tai Pan.
Characterised by its deeply recessed windows, dramatic three-storey arches and distinctive white facade, the original The Murray Building was designed in 1969 by British modernist architect Ron Phillips, with architectural design and engineering firm Foster + Partners (responsible for South Beach Singapore as well as the iconic Apple Store along Orchard Road in Singapore) leading the preservation and hotel redevelopment project.
While the facade of the property is suitably intimidating, austere and in line with its government building origins, the hotel interior plays it all contemporary opulence by way of glossy gold, black and white. The hotel premises are lovingly caressed by both the on-site verdant greenery as well as the generous rays of sunshine filtering through the hotel’s windows. The Lower Ground lobby possesses a similar aesthetic to other new hotels such as Park Hyatt Bangkok and Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur.
The intriguingly-named “The Arches” on the 1st level, essentially made up of hallways comprising formidably high arches and ceiling criss-cross lines, is an Instagrammer’s nocturnal emission reverie, playing like a valentine to the eponymous structures which have since become a trademark feature of the hotel. A down-sloping path leading to the Upper Ground floor entrance is a popular spot for Instagram-worthy portraits, while the aforementioned entrance is another frequently photographed destination, being dramatically framed by a soaring arch and with clean lines and gold accents in the backdrop.
Located on the 3rd level and comprising both a gymnasium as well as various spa suites, Wellness at The Murray offers a range of bespoke massage treatments and beauty rituals using products from Grown Alchemist and Kerstin Florian, with the spa suites equipped with their own private steam/sauna facilities. The wellness concept takes itself very seriously – a personal wellness and nutritional consultation and assessment (which comes with the use of a Body Composition Analyser) is available for raise-arms-while-topless enthusiasts and the spin class-obsessed.
The hotel’s lush greenery-walled indoor lap pool and (curiously cold) sci-fi space capsule-esque vitality pool is located on the Lower Ground level.
N3 GRAND DELUXE
Possessing a clear view of the nearby St John’s Cathedral, famed for being the oldest surviving Western ecclesiastical building in Hong Kong, the 50sqm N3 Grand Deluxe carries on the property’s predominantly white, gold and black colour agenda. Muted, earthy tones as well as the use of plush rugs, hardwood floors, rare stones, leather and textile surfaces give the room a designer and sophisticated yet laid-back and residential feel. The recessed windows, oriented to avoid excessive direct sunlight, ensure that the room remains brightly illuminated without ever getting too warm.
The comfortable bed, dressed in 1,000-thread-count linens and with a taupe, ceiling-tall headboard, sits next to the framed window closest to the cathedral, with bedside controls as well as concealed in-drawer power and USB ports in convenient reach. A work desk with an (intentionally?) obstructed view of the television sits in front of the room’s other picture frame window. The pantry is equipped with bottled Antipodes still water, TWG tea and Nespresso coffee facilities, as well as a selection of soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages. Booze is limited to a modest selection of beer, wine and small bottles of spirits.
The bathroom – in particular, the enclosed bathtub and rainfall shower area – is the part of the N3 Grand Deluxe which most strikingly plays up the hotel’s gold accents, with the Calacatta marble playing noble canvas to the gleaming gold surfaces. The glass surface between the bathroom and living room is made of an arch-tessellated “magic glass” which miraculously turns opaque at the touch of a switch, a feature which comes in handy for kinky exhibitionist shows or peek-a-boo gaming. Bathroom amenities are from Australian brand Grown Alchemist, which (as I noted elsewhere in my review of Six Senses Maxwell in Singapore) may trigger an urge to writhe in evaporated milk and become a glass of bandung (rose syrup milk drink).
DINING AND BARS
Breakfast is served jointly at both The Tai Pan and Garden Lounge on the Upper Ground level. Aside from a modest continental spread comprising pastries, cold cuts, juices and cereals (as well as an impressive spread of fruits), guests can opt for hot dishes from either the Western menu (sample dishes: Quiche, Two Eggs, Ham Toasted Sandwich, Classic French Toast) or Asian menu (sample dishes: Seafood Congee, Steamed Assorted Dim Sum, Pan Fried Pork Bun, Stir Fried Egg Noodles). The highlights from the Asian selection were indisputably the pleasingly sweet and indulgent seafood congee as well as the smartly-lubricated and beansprout-crunchy stir-fried egg noodles.
Afternoon tea is served at Garden Lounge, the garden level space which offers creamy shades of high society elegance as well as calming, good-for-the-eyes garden terrace seating. Across the hallway, The Tai Pan is an international restaurant decked in distinctive burgundy leather which contrasts boldly with the hotel’s gold-kissed monochrome black and white marble underpinnings. My stay was booked under the “Our Birthday, Your Indulgence” rate which came with afternoon tea for two, and we managed to sample both the Western-style “The Murray Afternoon Tea” menu (sample dishes: Beetroot Tart, Pastrami, Green Apple with Mascarpone and Dill Shooter, Tarragon and Blueberry Cake, Mint and Bergamot Milk Chocolate Tart) and the “Flavours of Asia Afternoon Tea” menu (sample dishes: Kimchi Beef Roll, Pomelo Shrimp Salad, Mini Baked Portuguese Tart, Osmanthus Jelly, Crispy Golden Custard Bun). Both afternoon tea sets were as visually captivating as the afternoon tea offerings I remember vividly from Aman Tokyo and Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
The 26th level rooftop concept Popinjays, accessible via a separate lift on the 25th level, comprises both a European restaurant (with its own afternoon tea experience) as well as a cocktail and tapas bar concept. The latter is a casual, laid-back space with live music as well as outdoor tables offering panoramic city views.
Located within a stand-alone pavilion on the Upper Ground level and designed by famous architect Andre Fu (who designed Andaz Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel), Guo Fu Lou is a Michelin starred dining destination serving exquisite Cantonese cuisine. “Do not take pictures, our boss will not be happy,” an older female staff chastised right after I snapped an interior shot, which effectively killed any existing interest to try their luxuriously-priced offerings.
Located on the Lower Ground level next to a staircase leading up to the Upper Ground level, and with more mirrored surfaces than The Evil Queen’s castle, the sophisticated bronze and gold-accented Murray Lane is the hotel’s signature bar concept. Murray Lane offers a range of signature cocktails inspired by both Wall Street as well as the Cassia Javanica, a distinctive tree located along the hotel driveway which is listed in Hong Kong’s Register of Old and Valuable Trees. My direct booking under the “Our Birthday, Your Indulgence” rate came with complimentary cocktails at Murray Lane, and I ordered the beautiful, ginger-forward and citric-charged Aviation (Sipsmith gin, osmanthus, creme de violette, apple, ginger, lemon) which kept me in a light-headed space for the next hour.
The hotel is steeped in heritage, memorable, Instagram-beautiful and impossibly chic. Being one of the few new hotels in Hong Kong launched in the last decade (the hotel only launched in 2018), the property demands your consideration if you seek a modern, sophisticated luxury hotel experience in Hong Kong.
The Murray Hong Kong
22 Cotton Tree Drive
Central, Hong Kong