No matter your budget, there’s a boutique hotel for you in Hong Kong. From frugal, backpacker-friendly hostels rooted in place to sumptuous stays evoking centuries gone by, these heritage accommodations have a story to tell.
The Mahjong Hostel
Walk by any park and you’re sure to hear the clatter of mahjong tiles: it’s a quintessential part of the city’s lively (and sometimes deafening) soundscape. At The Mahjong, an affordable traveller’s hostel kitted out with custom-built bunk beds, personal lights and charging points, and even private security lockers, the traditional game takes centrestage. Take in the mahjong-themed detailing at every corner!
Thanks to the latest extension of the MTR, The Mahjong Hostel is now easily accessible via To Kwa Wan station.
Rooms from HK$180.00
YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel
While the area has seen rampant gentrification over the past few years, it is still home to YHA Mei Ho House, now a hostel with a café and compact heritage museum. The hostel is housed in the only remaining building from the original 29-block Shek Kip Mei Estate, which was erected in the 1950s to rehome people after the catastrophic Shek Kip Mei Fire. The building has been awarded an honourable mention by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.41 Shek Kip Mei Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Rooms from HK$290.00
Shaolin Wushu Cultural Centre
If you’re craving an escape from the CBD’s frantic pace and dizzying lights, head to Tai O. A fishing village dotted with stilt houses where you’ll find shrimp paste fermenting in large drums and salted egg yolk curing under the sun, this remote Lantau getaway will heal your city blues.
To get the full detox treatment, stay at the Shaolin Wushu Cultural Centre. Here, visitors can partake in martial arts training and Zen meditation. Along with five hostel rooms that can accommodate up to 64 guests, the compound also boasts a canteen serving authentic Shaolin-style vegetarian meals.Shek Tsai Po Street, Tai O
Rooms from HK$300.00
Going camping (or glamping) isn’t the only way to enjoy Hong Kong’s greener side. For a heritage stay surrounded by foliage, opt for Heritage Lodge. The property forms one part of the Jao Tsung-I Academy, a cultural centre dedicated to preserving Hong Kong heritage and educating the public. The cluster of century-old buildings have served numerous functions through time, including as a Qing dynasty customs station, prison, and hospital.
The lodge boasts 89 guest rooms, including five suites, all furnished in a contemporary Chinese style. In addition, the hotel welcomes pets.800 Castle Peak Road, Kowloon
Rooms from HK$545.00
Dive into Hong Kong’s industrial history with a stay at the Camlux Hotel, a flask factory turned heritage accommodation located in Kowloon Bay. Talk about a dramatic pivot!
If you’re a movie buff, you may have seen insulated flasks emblazoned with floral designs in various old Hong Kong movie frames. In the era before product placement as we know it now, many of those thermoses were produced by Camel, a Hong Kong brand dating back to 1940. Vintage Camel products have been repurposed into creative fittings throughout the common areas and the 185 rooms of Camlux, and if you’re looking for a utilitarian yet charming made-in-Hong Kong souvenir, the bottles can still be purchased from stockists around the city, including at the hotel.15 Wang Kwong Road, Kowloon Bay
Rooms from HK$600.00
The Helena May
Founded in 1916 by Lady May, the wife of Sir Francis Henry May, Governor of Hong Kong at the time, The Helena May was first established as a women’s club. Today, with its white facade and decorative moldings, it offers a striking example of colonial architecture right in the heart of Central. For female travellers on a tight-ish budget, the declared monument makes for a special stay. Visitors can choose from single or shared accomodation, or studios for long-term stays. Studios in the court building can now be rented out to men and couples.
It’s worth noting that there are no elevators on the premises, so rooms must be accessed by stairs. One of the standout features of the Helena May is its lush garden, which is home to a variety of trees and plants, including several rare species. Amble over to the Peak Tram Lower Terminus, and enjoy a ride on Asia’s oldest funicular railway!35 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong Island
Rooms from HK$630.00
Tai O Heritage Hotel
How has colonial-era law enforcement shaped Hong Kong’s built environment? Just look at PMQ, the former Police Married Quarters turned cultural hub, or Tai Kwun, the former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy, and Victoria Prison, now a premier dining, shopping and arts destination.
Similarly, the Tai O Heritage Hotel led its past life as the Tai O Marine Police Station, originally built in 1902. After being neglected for many years, the edifice was revitalised and transformed into an elegant heritage hotel with nine highly coveted rooms. Every effort has been made to preserve characteristic features, with one helpful addition: an elevator to transport guests from ground-level. Not only has the hotel received numerous awards and recognitions, but the restaurant also goes out of its way to give guests a taste of Tai O: relish dishes incorporating memorable local flavours like shrimp paste and mountain begonia.Shek Tsai Po Street, Tai O
Rooms from HK$2,000.00
FWD House 1881
One of the four oldest government buildings still standing in Hong Kong, 1881 Heritage served as the Marine Police Headquarters from 1884 to 1996 before the Marine Police moved to Sai Wan Ho. Today, the compound has been revitalised into a heritage hotel, known as FWD House 1881, and a high-end shopping complex.
1881 holds free guided tours every day to show off the different buildings of the compound. Meanwhile, festivals like Christmas and the Lunar New Year see elaborate decorations not to be missed!2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
The Peninsula Hong Kong truly needs no introduction — but we’ll venture one nonetheless. As luxurious as it is historic, the iconic hotel, located in Tsim Sha Tsui just a short walk away from the Star Ferry Pier, was built in 1928. Over the years, it has hosted numerous celebrities, politicians, and royalty. During World War Two, the Japanese military even occupied part of the property as its headquarters.
As the decades morph Hong Kong’s skyline, The Peninsula remains one of the most recognisable buildings in the city. It is also well-known for its fleet of green Rolls Royce cars, and afternoon tea, which has been served in the hotel’s lobby for over 90 years.Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Rooms from HK$5,980.00
To preserve their historic value, many older buildings do not meet modern-day accessibility standards. It’s always a good idea to communicate with the hotel/hostel beforehand regarding any accessibility needs.
Spending the night isn’t the only way to enjoy heritage properties! For example, you could book lunch, tea, or request a tour.
For more unique stays, make sure to read our guide to weird and wonderful stays in Hong Kong. Alternatively, if an outdoorsy-yet-cosy staycation sounds more appealing, check out our guide to the best glamping packages.