When John Jacob Astor IV opened the doors of the first St. Regis Hotel at Fifth Avenue and 55th Street in 1904, his vision was to build a glamorous place where he and his well-respected mother Caroline Astor could host and entertain the luminaries of New York. Key to this vision was that guests would receive the same level of top-notch, personalised services he was accustomed to in his own home. No effort – or money – was spared to construct the famous beaux-arts structure, lavished with crystal chandeliers and marble flooring.
A century later, the hotel group has become a byword for luxury and has brought its hospitality values to more than 60 St. Regis-branded hotels around the world. Its latest Asian outpost, Hong Kong, opened in April and is set in the heart of Wan Chai, formerly the old Hong Kong Exhibition Centre and the Chinese Arts and Crafts department store.
While it may lack the aristocratic grandeur and storied past of its New York counterpart, its stylish and modern upgrade more than make up for it. From the exterior, the diamond-like 27-storey modular building stands out as sunlight reflects from the three-dimensional, pyramid-motifs scattered on its metallic facade, glistening over the area's concrete jungle and reflecting the architectural dynamism of the city.
The hotel's interior is narrated by homegrown design maven (and Perspective 40 Under 40 alumnus) André Fu, and his intent to echo Astor's founding vision and create the ultimate Hong Kong mansion is achieved with a sensible juxtaposition of Gilded Age glamour and Chinese elements. Features such as vintage gas-lamp-inspired lighting and wall panels that resemble old Wan Chai shop shutters are evident throughout the property. The choreography of art deco-inspired art pieces reaches its climax at the St. Regis Bar where a specially commissioned mural – a tradition in every St. Regis location in the world – depicts the history of the Wan Chai neighbourhood, featuring its colonial past and its iconic signage.
Fu's highly refined aesthetic is evident throughout. A subdued palette colours the 129 guest rooms with warm-toned wood flooring and generous marble accents. Its subtlety is warmed by occasional, but never overpowering, embellishments – think orange-lacquered panels, terracotta leather details, and fresh flowers replaced daily. The bespoke butler service and the floor-to-ceiling windows that provide views of the dramatic skyline, instantly transform the hotel into a welcoming experience away from home.