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Upper House Bows in Hong Kong

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

A sense of arrival awaits guests at The Upper House, Swire Hotels’ new small intimate hotel in Hong Kong. Rising above Pacific Place in Admiralty, the hotel’s Asian influenced and timeless design reveals an understated calmness throughout the hotel above the bustling city.

Andre Fu of AFSO, hailed by Vogue UK as “Design Wunderkind” and Conde Nast Traveler US as an “Asian Design Sensation,” is behind the design of The Upper House. Andre’s previous notable projects include Piacere Italian Restaurant and Nadaman Japanese Restaurant for Shangri-la Hotel Tokyo, Cassia Chinese Restaurant at Singapore’s Capella Resort, Agnes b. La Loggia Flagship Store in Hong Kong, JIA Shanghai’s eclectic lobby as well as the private residence of international actress Michelle Yeoh.

Natural materials, original sculpture installations and seamlessly proportioned spaces are integrated to create a sophisticated and modern Asian-influenced residence. “With an intention to create a small intimate hotel reminiscent of a private residence, I have purposely conjured a sense of tranquility throughout the design and ambience of the hotel,” says Andre Fu.

Dean Winter, general manager of The Upper House, adds: “Our hotel was created to provide a retreat removed from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. We’ve certainly achieved that by appointing Andre Fu as the designer for The Upper House.”

Entry through a Bedonia stone doorway façade by Thomas Heatherwick evokes the image of a curtain being opened to welcome guests to a private residence. A subtly-lit driveway then leads to a dramatic 13 feet high textured nickel front door, enveloped by floor-to-ceiling glass walls that appear to sit on top of pools of water.

Inside the entrance, a circular bamboo enclosure called the Lantern, marks the beginning of the upward journey along a dimly-lit escalator with walls lined with bespoke lamps leading guests into Level 6, flooded with natural daylight. Located at Level 6 is The Lawn, a lush grassed area for relaxing with cocktails and bean bags for lounging under the sun.

Each of the hotel’s 117 spacious guest rooms is designed to provide a sense of understated luxury. The contemporary monochromatic design features natural timber, shoji glass, limestone and lacquered paper panels. All rooms including 21 suites and 2 penthouses are presented in two color schemes: Bamboo, with solid ash flooring, bamboo timber and lilac upholstery, and Celadon, featuring green tea upholstery, limed oak flooring and creme oak timber.

The room layouts offer abundant space, including 300 square feet bathrooms with walk-in rain showers, dressing areas and free-standing bathtubs with breathtaking panoramic harbor or island views. Lined with Italian Perlato Svevo natural limestone floors and Beige Turkish Terre d’Oriente limestone walls, the bathrooms are simple and uncluttered.

The highlight of the “upward journey” is Level 49, which showcases the architecturally intriguing Sky Bridge. Infused with a skylight above a 131 feet high atrium, the Sky Bridge leads to the Sky Lounge and signature restaurant & bar, Café Gray Deluxe. With a centerpiece fireplace and intimate sofa seating in soft hues of green tea and mineral blue, the warm and inviting Lounge serves drinks and cocktails throughout the day.

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Café Gray Deluxe, a 21st century grand café overlooking Victoria Harbor, marks the return of celebrated Chef Gray Kunz to Hong Kong. The vibrant restaurant is highlighted by a 46 feet long open kitchen and equally long bar, serving “everyday dishes” with an accent on local organic produce and relaxed service.

The main dining room seating approximately 100 offers spectacular panoramic views. Semi-private dining areas are designed with full view of the open kitchen stations. A private room for 12 is available for exclusive harbor view dining. The bar and lounge, seating 88, is contemporary and vibrant.

Displayed around the entire hotel are fascinating contemporary artworks and sculptures in sandstone, ceramics, marble and bronze, perfectly complementing Andre Fu’s over-riding concept of serenity.

Opening in October 2009, The Upper House, sister hotel of the award winning The Opposite House, is the second hotel to be opened by new hotel group, Swire Hotels. The Upper House was named to symbolize an “upward journey” to a retreat above the bustling city.

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