Hotels. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. For many travellers, a hotel is simply a place to rest their heads at night, after a long day of sightseeing. If it’s in a good location and you’ve got a somewhat comfortable bed and a place to take a hot shower, you can survive.
But for some people, where you sleep is an important part of the experience itself. And in recent years, with the rise of sites like Airbnb and Homeaway, you can find some truly unique and interesting places to stay a night. Forget the typical room with crappy old carpets, a wooden desk with the Book of Mormon in the drawer, and dim lamps. Nowadays you can break away from the usual hotel experience, and stay in a place you’ll never forget.
For the adventurous traveller, who doesn’t mind being a bit out of the city centre, here’s our list of interesting, unique, and even strange accommodation in Hong Kong, that few people even know exist.
1. Glamping by the Big Buddha
The Tian Tan ‘Big Buddha’ is one of Hong Kong’s top attractions, but why not turn your day trip into a unique overnight experience? The Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association runs the Ngong Ping SG Davis Youth Hostel on Lantau Island, with regular hostel rooms as well as cute ‘glamping tents’, which can sleep up to six people. They provides pillows, blankets and beddings, sleeping pads, tent lighting and tea tables, a communal kitchen, and BBQ pits. Be sure to take an evening stroll to the Big Buddha—an incredible illuminated sight few tourists ever get to see.
2. Capsule hotels
Originally developed in Japan and now world-famous, capsule hotels are a recent arrival in Hong Kong. There are only a handful in Hong Kong, all of which are close to MTR stations, making this a good option for short stays. The sleep capsules are for single occupants, but some places offer adjoining capsules (both mixed and female-only). You can also use lockers, check-in kiosks, a common room and kitchen, showers, and secure baggage storage. L’etoile de Mer is one of the newer ones, with branches in Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Mongkok, and the prices can’t be beat. Discounted nights in Hong Kong’s first capsule hotel, SLEEEP in Sheung Wan, can be booked online.
3. The Helena May
Located in the heart of Central, The Helena May is one of Hong Kong’s most elegant heritage buildings, with a special old-world charm. Established in 1916 as a club for women and girls, The Helena May offers affordable rooms to female travellers (sorry, guys). You can choose from single or shared accommodation, or studios for long-term visits. Staying here is like stepping back in time, with classic colonial architecture, high tea and scones in the dining room, and a more-than-a-century-old library. The Helena May is a stone’s throw from the Peak Tram Lower Terminus, and an easy walk to Central and Admiralty MTR Stations, giving it a prime Central location.
4. Noah’s Ark
One of Hong Kong’s more quirky spots, Noah’s Ark on Ma Wan (Park Island) claims to be ‘the world’s first full-scale Ark replica’. The giant ship juts out of Park Island as though washed up on shore, and has a number of attractions kids will love. The hotel itself is actually really nice, with spacious rooms with lovely views. There are twin and double rooms, and the family rooms can sleep either four or eight on bunk beds. The Park Island Beach is also a really nice spot—and at least you know you’ll be safe in the event of a flood. It’s a quick 25-minute ferry ride from Park Island to the Central Ferry Piers on Hong Kong Island.
5. Saiyuen Camping Adventure Park
What’s it going to be—a North American teepee, an African safari tent, a star-gazing geodesic dome, or a Mongolian ger? Saiyuen Camping Adventure Park, located on beautiful Cheung Chau Island, has a number of inventive accommodations, one of the most interesting being their ‘Romantic Tree Coccoon’.
Cheung Chau can be reached by a 30-minute ferry from Central, and is a lovely, laid-back island with sandy beaches and great seafood.
6. Mingle Farm
Mingle Farm on the coastline of rural Yuen Long is becoming famous for its inflatable sleep bubbles called Aecospheres—some of which are completely transparent. If you prefer a little privacy they also offer campervans, cabins, and super cute Fantasy Mushrooms that sleep up to four people. (Because who wouldn’t want to spend a night in an inflatable mushroom?)
7. Stay on a houseboat
As an alternative to tiny, expensive apartments, some people in Hong Kong choose a unique lifestyle on the water. Houseboats and sailboats are typically moored in areas like Aberdeen and Sai Kung. Sometimes you can find these available through Airbnb, but if you really want to get away, go with a professional charter company. Saffron Cruises offers overnight stays, with the option to cruise around and anchor in a quiet bay for the night. This won’t be convenient if you need to get into the city, but a night on the water is one you won’t forget.
8. Mei Ho House
This housing estate from the 1950s has been revitalised into a unique youth hostel. Located in the heart of Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, Mei Ho House is a historic H-shaped building which has not only a hostel, but also a museum and a cute cafe which looks like it’s still back in the ’50s. The rooms are clean, modern and spacious—something that’s not easy to find in Kowloon.
9. Shaolin Wushu Cultural Centre
If you’ve got a passion for martial arts, then combine your trip to Hong Kong with some light training and Zen meditation at the Shaolin Wushu Cultural Centre. Located in Tai O, a really remote village on Lantau Island, you can stay overnight and even take part in training sessions to learn basic Shaolin skills. Tai O is a fascinating and unique village, famous for its stilt houses, markets, and boat trips to see pink dolphins. Not into martial arts? No problem—there are lots of other places to stay both in Tai O and on Lantau Island.