So, you’re off the vibrant hustle and bustle of Hong Kong – excellent choice! Sure, it’s tempting to book a room by the harbour, close to all the tourist attractions and bars. But to get a real sense of the crazy world that is Hong Kong, I would recommend securing yourself a room in the heart of Mongkok.
When I stayed in the Dorsett Mongkok hotel back in the summer of 2012, it was called the ‘Cosmo Hotel’. Now, rather confusingly, that name seems to have transferred over to its sister hotel over to the south of the harbour. Reassuringly, however, the Dorsett is just as I remembered it in its old guise.
The first thing we saw when we pulled up in our taxi was the McDonalds across the road, sitting beneath a flyover which supported a rush of cars and buses going past at all hours of the day. To say we were underwhelmed was an understatement. However, as my friend and I had just stumbled off a plane after 14 hours, we were just grateful to collapse into bed and away from the crowds (not even caring that we just had one double bed to share).
When we woke up the next morning and brushed the jet lag out of our eyes, we decided to take on the outside world. After receiving directions from the front-desk staff, we set off out into the humid atmosphere towards the nearest metro station (around a 10-minute walk away).
Inevitably, we got lost. Several times, in fact. We got caught up in the frenzied crowds rushing into grocery stores, 7/11 shops and the ever faithful McDonalds. We were transfixed by people working in the streets as they hammered down objects and set up their work-benches. After a few hours, we quickly realised we hadn’t seen a single other tourist all morning – THIS is what it feels like to really live in Hong Kong, I remember telling myself.
While the typical touristy sights may be a few stops away on the metro, you can’t beat Mongkok for really throwing yourself into every-day Hong Kong life. The area has pockets of land perfect for a short stroll and a lunch-time picnic, such as the Nam Cheong Park down the road. The infamous flower market, bursting with colours and smells of a whole host of orchids, tulips and roses, is also a few streets down.
The hotel itself was a relaxing base for the duration of our stay. With a large TV for our night-time relaxation, and a huge shelf for all our make-up, hair bits and accumulated tourist brochures, we were set. The room we had even came with a fridge containing water bottles – a welcome treat for when the June heat became just too much. It’s also worth saying that we felt extremely safe in the area, despite it being a little further away from all the other hotels.
The only downsides were the slightly see-through glass for the shower (WHY DO HOTELS INSIST ON DOING THIS?!) and the fact our window looked out onto, uh, a wall. Nothing else, just a dark wall, around a metre from us. Sure, that’s got to be expected in the built-up city of Hong Kong, but if I stayed again, I would definitely request a room with a view, or an upgrade.
When we stayed last time, the only way we could get Wi-Fi was in the hotel reception area, which often got rather busy with folks in the evening. Now, it looks like people who book on the hotel’s website get FREE in-room connectivity – bonus!
The Dorsett Mongkok costs around £49 a night, depending on season. If you’re booking more than 30 days in advance on their website, you can also receive a 28% discount on their best available rates.