Above: The Chinnery.
Old-world elegance pervades the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. Designed by Don Ashton, the art director of the 1957 film Bridge Over the River Kwai, this was once the city’s tallest building (at a towering 26 stories). Despite numerous revamps since opening as The Mandarin in 1963, the property still emphasizes an intriguing mix of oriental and colonial influences. Below, useful conversation fodder for when youâ€™re sipping whiskey at the Chinnery.
The Captainâ€™s Bar
A pit stop for an after-work tipple, this has been an establishment of Hong Kong’s nightlife for over 45 years. Found next to the lobby, it’s famed for serving draft beer in the silver tankards proudly displayed behind the bar (some are reserved for honored old-timers — or even engraved with their names). While the bar was spruced up during renovations in 2006, its original layout and old-world feel remain intact. The plush red leather seats and brass furnishings make for a stylish yet cozy atmosphere, made even more so by live jazz and blues. No wonder thirsty punters park themselves here for hours on end.
The Chinnery was long a gentleman’s playground, with women allowed entry only since 1990. Tucked away on the first floor, the bar is named after British artist George Chinnery, who lived in Hong Kong and Macau in the 19th century and whose paintings still adorn the wood-paneled walls. The bar’s real claim to fame, though, is a collection (among the largest in Asia) of over 120 single-malt whiskies. Sink into one of the deep upholstered armchairs with a tumbler and cigar, or wash down bangers and mash with an ice-cold beer at the bar. They might let the ladies in now, but this place still oozes testosterone.
The Clipper Lounge
If the Chinnery is where the chaps settle in, the Clipper Lounge is where the tai-tais gather to gossip. Famous for its high teaâ€“â€“with scones, sweets, and the hotel’s signature rose petal jamâ€“â€“the lounge has earned the fond epithet of â€śHong Kong’s living room.â€ť Faithful to its original design, the lounge takes its name from the golden figurehead that stands at its entrance (originally designed for the prow of the sailing ship in the 1962 film Billy Budd and transported to Hong Kong by Ashton). A relaxing daytime retreat among mink, taupe, and mandarin furnishings, the Clipper Lounge often hosts guest chefs and themed buffets.
The John Lobb Shoe Shine Service
Lending an elegant touch to Hong Kong’s tradition of sidewalk shoe shining, the hotel has partnered with the renowned London shoe and accessory designer John Lobb. Customers sit in one of only four John Lobb chairs in the world, designed by the late Rena Dumas and made of wood and Hermes buffalo leather. To ensure top-quality service, the hotel employs four butlers trained by Paul Brogdenâ€“â€“a shoe shining expert who has worked with John Lobb for over 21 years.