Tai O Heritage Hotel, Hong Kong
A great Hong Kong accommodation alternative, Tai O Heritage Hotel is a not-for-profit social enterprise.
Last year we spent a happy couple of hours wandering around Tai O on Lantau Island – the last, historic, stilted fishing village in Hong Kong – so when we were thinking of a stop-over on our flight to Milan recently we were pleased to discover that it is possible to stay in the village at the Tai O Heritage Hotel.
Nestled on the side of a steep hill and built in 1902, the old Tai O police station is now a Hong Kong Grade II Historic Building. The station closed in 2002 and was left vacant and dilapidated, but has been rescued and restored under the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme which endeavours to reuse buildings, while retaining their original spirit of place.
The rooms are beautifully appointed and finished with all of the comforts a traveller could want. Our room had not one, but two double beds – one for each of us. The beds were extremely comfortable and made up with top quality linen, ensuring a great night’s sleep.
The bathrooms are stunning, with lots of marble, double heritage-style basins and generous showers with excellent shower heads – all very luxurious. No magnifying mirrors though, which is a source of frustration for those of us with poor eyesight and something I’d love to see in every hotel bathroom.
The views from the hotel are gorgeous, looking back towards Tai O in one direction and out to the South China Sea in the other.
The village charmed us yet again with it’s simplicity and easy pace, although the odour as we walked past the shrimp paste production area would take some serious getting used to. Mind you, it attracts plenty of the local cats who don’t seem to mind it at all.
The hotel is not really straightforward to get to – especially for the elderly or infirm. It is only accessible by either a water taxi ride and a slightly hairy scramble on to the boat landing or a two kilometre amble through the village and around to the point – dragging your luggage behind you.The staff will assist with the boat transfer and were one of the hotel’s best assets – they were all extraordinarily pleasant and helpful and inexplicably refused to accept tips.
The only thing which does let the hotel down is the restaurant whose offerings are prosaic at best and pretty bad at worst. We had dinner there, but almost immediately wished we hadn’t. There are a number of fantastic seafood restaurants and cafes in the village whose food is cheap and cheerful and served with an icy beer.
However, I can forgive them for this as the hotel operates as a non-profit social enterprise with profits being used for the conservation of local historic buildings and the promotion of the cultural heritage of Tai O. Such a nice change from the usual accommodation offerings in Hong Kong.
Lambs’ Ears and Honey stayed at Tai O Heritage Hotel at her own expense.