We had a staycation at EAST Hong Kong and it was best weekend we have spent together as a family in a long time. Here's why!
Psst. Come closer. I want to tell you a secret.
My family and I had the best staycation a few weeks ago. It wasn’t anything fancy. But in this feverish season of “revenge spending,” I think the “unfanciness” was exactly what made it the best weekend we have spent together as a family in a long time.
We didn’t book any spa treatments. We didn’t indulge in any buffets. There were no staycation special programmes or featured amenities. Size wise, the room was intimate for the three of us (although it easily accommodated a trundle bed for my daughter), but the view was so great that it more than made up for it.
We ate at the same restaurant for two days in a row, and everything was delicious. We basically spent as much time by the pool as the hotel allowed, and enjoyed the buzzy thrill of being in the thick of things on Hong Kong island—which was a novelty since we live on Lantau.
Where was this miraculous, perfect, unicorn family staycation? I both want to tell you because it was so good that I feel guilty for not sharing, but I also don’t want to tell you because I’m afraid that word will get out and it will be spoiled.
But, okay, fine. Pinky swear that you won’t wreck it?
Our summer holiday saviour: a family staycation at EAST Hong Kong.
The concept of a staycation is a funny thing. I don’t think my parents have ever spent money on one. Certainly, when I was a kid, there were more urgent necessities on which my family spent money. Things like shoes and school supplies, for example. But we also lived on four acres of land in rural southern New Mexico. So when we wanted to get away, we did so by taking a long walk straight out the front door.
Quite a bit different from the 500 square foot apartment in Hong Kong that my five year old daughter currently calls home. (Although, she can also take a long walk straight out the front door and into the mountains on Lantau. But I digress.)
In more hopeful times, earlier this year, I had planned to take my daughter back to the US to visit her grandparents over the summer holiday. But when it became clear that was not to be (thanks Delta variant), we hunkered down for a long, hot summer at home in Hong Kong.
And we started thinking about staycations.
It seemed like everyone was doing it. Every time I bumped into a friend, they had either just come home from one or had just booked one for an upcoming weekend. Merits were debated; Disneyland or Ocean Park? With kids or without kids? In-room dining or buffet bonanza?
As a family, we have tried to be pretty COVID cautious. So I was apprehensive about the possibility of a mandatory quarantine order as a result of a hotel stay. But as Hong Kong’s vaccination rate improved, I started to have compelling fantasies about a blissful weekend with no laundry to be folded, no groceries to be bought, no meals to be cooked. We had airline miles that were expiring (like everyone else), and my husband’s birthday was coming up. So we said, why the hell not?
Family Staycation at EAST Hong Kong
It turns out that our timing was perfect! EAST Hong Kong, part of Swire Hotels and located in the heart of Taikoo Shing on the east side of Hong Kong island, has recently completed a top to bottom design refresh. We were impressed by the thoughtful design elements in our room and—as previously mentioned—blown away by the spectacular harbour view.
We checked in on Friday afternoon and I headed upstairs to Domain, EAST Hong Kong’s part-cafe/part-coworking space, to finish up some work while my husband and daughter bounced (literally) off to an afternoon at nearby Ryze Hong Kong trampoline park. The baked goods selection at Domain is dangerously delicious, and I was tempted, but instead I treated myself to their newly released Bao Beer. A collaboration with the Hong Kong microbrewery H.K. Lovecraft, Bao Beer was inspired by a sustainability initiative to reduce food waste by converting Domain’s surplus bread into a consumable product. The end result, I am happy to report, is an amber beer with malty and toasty flavours, balanced by a slight bitterness from the subtle German hops. It was so good, that I ordered it again later that night at our dinner at Mr & Mrs Fox. My husband and I both ordered the grilled salmon with zucchini tagliatelle, but the scene stealer was my daughter’s macaroni and cheese from the children’s menu. In a true act of love and self-sacrifice, my husband let me have the last bite of her leftovers.
Saturday was the ultimate chilled-out family day. I would like to tell you that we slept in but—blackout curtains be damned—my daughter is constitutionally incapable of it. So my husband and I made ourselves some espresso with the in-room Nespresso machine, and then pottered about in our pajamas—checking out the view, cuddling, reading stories, and playing games with our daughter. Eventually she demanded that we feed her and so we headed down to Domain. Alas, no beer for breakfast, but the cappuccino was on point, as was the brioche breakfast bun with fried eggs, avocado and pistachio pesto.
In the afternoon, we enjoyed the pool—which is fortuitously partially shaded by surrounding buildings from about 2pm onward—followed by sunset drinks at the rooftop bar, Sugar. My daughter snacked on popcorn and waited patiently for us to finish our cocktails before asking to go back to the room for some television time. (She’s a big fan of the animal programmes on the BBC Earth channel, which we don’t get at home.) And since the view from our room was almost as good as from the rooftop bar, we had no objections. In-room dining sorted dinner, and we were all tucked into bed by 9pm. And it was HEAVEN.
The next day followed much the same, and we were all more than a little sad to drive away in the taxi after checking out in the afternoon. The generous staff at EAST took such good care of us all weekend, that we were able to really escape and enjoy being in our own little family cocoon. I can’t wait to come back for another family staycation at EAST Hong Kong.
EAST Hong Kong, 29 Tai Koo Shing Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, p. 3968 3968.