The Langham And Cathay Pacific World Class Experience: Manchester To Hong Kong To Sydney
| 2nd December 2015
It was a surprisingly sunny Thursday morning in Manchester and I was packing my bags for what was to become one of the most astonishing and enjoyable press trips I have ever had. By this time Friday I would be in Hong Kong making Dim sum with Michelin-starred Chef Kwong in the European style Langham Hotel kitchen whilst on route to Sydney, Australia.
I absolutely love to travel and, in my late teens early twenties, I pretty much went from one corner of the world to the other! I enjoy meeting new people from different cultures and experiencing new things and I’m lucky enough to have a mother who has been an air-hostess for the last eighteen years. Upgrades on flights are pretty much standard for me but, as we boarded the Cathay Pacific 777 300 ER at Manchester airport and started getting comfortable in the business class, I was quite blown away by the high standard of this exceptional airline and what it had to offer.
Cathay Pacific Airways is a Hong Kong-based airline offering scheduled passenger and cargo services to nearly two hundred destinations in Asia, North America, Australia, Europe and Africa, using a fleet of more than one hundred and forty wide-body aircraft. It was named “World’s Best Airline” for the fourth time in the 2014 annual Skytrax World Airline Awards.
You literally had your own luxurious cabin in Business Class which stretched out into a full lie-down bed. From the inflight entertainment, the food and drink, to the cute little overnight bags and the friendly service, you could see why Cathay Pacific had earned so many awards.
Although it was the most comfortable I had ever been on a flight, the excitement adrenaline kicking in made it hard to sleep. I was kept entertained throughout the eleven hour flight watching movies, listening to different genres of music – including a bit of Asian K Pop. My favourite part of the flight was ordering myself a midnight snack which consisted of a traditional English pork pie, Lye Cross Farm Cheddar and apple pear chutney; all accompanied by a Cathay Pacific signature drink, the Cloud Nine cocktail. I was living the mile high dream!
‘Welcome to Hong Kong.’ For me this was the part of the trip I was most looking forward to as I had never stepped foot into Hong Kong before but I had heard so many great things about this thriving city from my friends. Exiting the airport, the humility hit me hard but Hong Kong knows how to do air-con pretty well and before long myself and my fellow travelling-journos were soon in the coolness of The Langham’s newly refurbished Club lounge – which was inspired by the fashion district that the hotel inhabits. After helping ourselves to the Cantonese breakfast (which, can I just say with amazement, served marshmallows among other delicious delights) we made our way to our hotel rooms for a quick chill before starting the day’s itinerary.
The Langham Hong Kong, which has recently earned the prestigious Forbes Five-Star rating, is an elegant European-style sanctuary located in vibrant Tsim Sha Tsui, surrounded by designer boutiques in the fashion district of Canton Road. The hotel is within walking distance of all major attractions, such as the historic Star Ferry and Victoria Harbour.
The hotel boasts an expansive, multi-million-dollar (U.S.) refurbishment and features four hundred and ninety-eight guest rooms and suites, all equipped with state-of-the-art technology and modern comforts. Signature amenities include Blissful Beds (and when I say blissful, I have never had such a good night’s sleep in a bed before. I wish I could have taken it home with me) deep bathtubs, Nespresso machines and a bespoke British minibar.
Hotel attractions range from the scenic rooftop pool and the Michelin Two Star T’ang Court, to having “The Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood” at Palm Court and sipping bourbon creations and gin specialties at the award-winning concept bar from London, the Artesian. The Food Gallery showcases interactive International and Asian cooking stations, while guests can also indulge in Burgers, Reuben’s and Milkshakes at Main St. Deli and steak and seafood at The Bostonian restaurant.
All refreshed and eager to explore this city before my jet lag set in, I met with my companions down at the well-established Cantonese restaurant in the hotel, T’ang Court for a Dim-Sum workshop with Michelin-starred Chef Kwong. T’ang Court has long been regarded as one of Hong Kong’s finest Cantonese restaurants. With its Michelin Two-Star status, the restaurant showcases authentic Cantonese dishes and serves up a repertoire of time-tested classics in a luxurious ambience, reminiscent of the glory days of the Tang Dynasty.
It might have been the jet lag kicking in or the fact that I had eaten so much dim sum and dumplings at lunch but I suddenly started to feel sleepy whatever the reason I found that I was very much looking forward to a traditional Chinese massage at the Chuan Spa located in The Langham’s sister hotel, Cordis, (cordishotels.com) the next place on our itinerary.
Cordis Hotels and Resorts is the new upscale global hotel brand of the Langham Hospitality Group. It’s been recently renovated and has six hundred and sixty-four rooms and suites with stunning views and spacious marble bathrooms outfitted with oversized bathtubs. Over one and a half thousand pieces of exquisite contemporary Chinese art adorn the walls and public spaces of the hotel. Having entered the spa through the moon gate and immersed in the smell of aromatherapy oils we answered a few questions to see which traditional Chinese Medicine Wu Xing principle would be most suitable for us, choosing from wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Chuan Spa is inspired by this concept.
After a ninety minute, full body Chuan Harmony massage, which stimulated a sense of wellbeing and relaxation throughout my entire body, I went to the dream room to relax with a herbal tea and to enjoy the view across Hong Kong only to fall asleep and wake up pretty confused as to where I was!
You can’t go to Hong Kong and not visit The Peak! (thepeak.com.hk) Wanting to soak up more of Hong Kong’s living culture we headed to the Garden Road Tram Lower Terminus and boarded the steepest tram I have ever been on! Riding The Peak Tram is the quickest and most scenic way to arrive at The Peak. This is one of Hong Kong’s most popular attractions. It’s more than just stunning vistas or great shopping and dining. It’s an amazing collection of unique must-visit attractions, providing you with a diverse fun-filled experience as well as offering a stunning three hundred and sixty-degree panoramic view across Hong Kong.
Another stunning attraction is Repulse Bay. It’s considered the most spectacular bay in the region with a mixture of luxurious residential apartments, dining, and aquatic activities. With temperatures ranging from 16ºC (60.8ºF) to 26ºC (80.6ºF) year round, the beach is popular for locals and visitors alike and has extensive facilities to cater for barbecues.
After a fully packed morning of visiting some of Hong Kong’s most famous attractions, it was time to indulge in some more Chinese cuisine at Mott 32. (mott32.com) This restaurant represents modern Hong Kong. It embodies the Chinese culture and philosophy of farm-to-table cooking that has been shaped from generation-to-generation. Embracing flavours and ingredients from both China and around the world, Mott 32 delivers home-cooking in a rustic and honest way.
As we were going on the Hong Kong Street Walking Tour later that day, (yes more food) we paced ourselves and shared a few different dishes from the menu, from Duck Pancakes to Dim Sum and Dumplings.
Hong Kong has a big eating-out culture because the apartments are so small and quite a lot of them don’t have ovens or dishwashers. I really love my food. It’s always exciting to discover new tasty dishes and to try things on a menu you would never have thought you would like, so the Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tour (hongkongfoodietours.com) was right up my street. There are two tours you can take, one in the Central District and the other in Sheung Wan District. Your tour guide will take you to six different small restaurant or cafes, to taste different local-style dishes, from noodles, roast meat, sugar cane juices, preserved fruits or dim sum. The private neighbourhood walks and food experiences take you to a delicious, hidden Hong Kong that might otherwise take you months or years to find on your own.
That evening we put on our glad rags and set sail, while drinking cocktails, across Victoria Harbour on the Aqualuna (aqualuna.com.hk) This luxurious Chinese sailing junk, named after the infamous Cheung Chau pirate (also known as “Cheung Po Tsai” in Cantonese) who used to terrorise Hong Kong waters, offers patrons high-end service with unforgettable sunset views of the Harbour. With fifteen hundred square feet of cabin space and an alfresco deck, the boat was created – using age old designs and traditional materials – by an eighty-year-old local craftsman.
This was one of my favourite experiences of the trip so far, Hong Kong looked truly spectacular from the boat all lit up across the harbour water. After forty-five minutes sailing, we docked and it was onto the SEVVA (sevva.hk) for more cocktails in the rooftop restaurant and bar. The SEVVA has a wonderful view of the ‘Symphony of Lights’ Laser Show from Hong Kong Island and offers some of the best signature cocktails in the city. Much more than just a stylish restaurant, SEVVA evokes the ambience of entertaining clients and friends in a fine home. Set in the heart of the City’s Central district, its penthouse location and wide wrap-around terrace make it perfect for lounging or simply enjoying the stunning views of Hong Kong harbour and the city skyline.
A fair few cocktails later and we were in the mood to check out what Hong Kong’s night life had to offer so we hit Lan Kwai Fong which is central and hosts some of Hong Kong’s biggest bars and clubs including the famous Dragon-i.
The next morning, with a slightly sore head, I spent a few hours exploring the sights and sounds of Mong Kok markets. I had been told there was a pretty good ladies’ market where I could barter for some knock-off designer handbags and I just couldn’t leave without doing a bit of survivor shopping.
After Ladurée Afternoon Tea back at the Langham, in the newly refurbished Palm Court, we said our goodbyes to the hotel team that had looked after us so wonderfully for two days and headed to the airport for our next destination, Sydney!
Whilst waiting to board our Cathay Pacific flight, we thought it only right that we should check out The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong airport.
Following an extensive renovation, the newly opened lounge is located at Gate sixty-three in the North West concourse. With a maximum seating capacity of two hundred and thirty-one, the new lounge expresses the heartfelt warmth, considered simplicity and contemporary Asian values at the heart of the Cathay Pacific new brand design ethos. Open to First Class passengers, Diamond Marco Polo Club members, and Emerald Oneworld members who are departing or transiting in Hong Kong, this crème de la crème lounge is the perfect place to relax while waiting for your flight!
At 8:45am Sydney time we touched down in one of my favourite countries! I have been to Australia a few times in my younger days but back then it was a case of staying in the cheapest places I could find such as backpacker hostels, campsites or Formula One hotels, so it was great to be back and this time staying in style at The Langham, Sydney!
The Langham is Sydney’s newest and most exclusive harbourside address and has been listed in the prestigious US Robb Report’s Top One Hundred Hotels In The World Listing. Nestled in the historic Rocks district on Kent Street, this beautiful five-star retreat – which has recently undergone a grand transformation and multi-million dollar redevelopment – boasts the largest guest-rooms in the city. I have never stayed in a bed so big, if you know me then you’ll know I’m a pretty big girl, you could fit five of me in a Sydney Langham guest-room bed. Described as Sydney’s most sophisticated guest-rooms, these rooms are complete with either opening windows, Juliette balcony or private terrace and feature personal espresso machine, silver wedgwood clock, hardcover vogue books and elegant sitting and dining areas. Sydney has one of the most beautiful harbours in the world and it is within walking distance of The Langham so by midday we were straight out to explore. We headed down to The Rocks, Sydney’s most historic suburb, where Captain Cook first landed in Australia. The Langham is situated in The Rocks, making it a perfect walk from hotel, through cobblestone streets, past Gothic churches, down to the iconic Harbour foreshore, featuring Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
To complete the journey the Langham had provided us a beautiful picnic on Observatory Hill, just opposite the hotel, with spectacular views across to Sydney Harbour Bridge. This area is one of the most famous places for weekend picnics, watching the annual New Year’s Eve midnight fireworks and many wedding proposals.
After a really intense itinerary in Hong Kong – not that I’m complaining as we got to experience so many things in such a sort period of time – it was nice to relax and be in the Ozzy laid-back ethos, chilling in Langham’s, Palm Court Bar that evening. I casually dined, tasted a few of their signature cocktails and reflected with my fellow journos on our trip so far.
The next day we started our Sydney morning in luxury in The Day Spa By Chuan located on the bottom floor of The Langham. This is Sydney’s first day-spa and is very famous amongst Sydney-siders. Ten treatment rooms plus poolside experiences have treated some of the world’s most famous celebrities – who return year after year – including the Kardashians who had been there just one week previously. I must also mention that staying at the hotel while we were there was actress Drew Barrymore and local girl Toni Collette who was giving Drew a hometown tour of Sydney ahead of the Australian première of their new movie, ‘Miss You Already.’
The swimming pool connected to The Day Spa is one of Sydney’s most iconic, complete with a perfect replica of the Southern Cross on the roof for swimming under the stars, day or night. We relaxed by the pool whilst opting for a foot scrub, then completed our spa experience with a full body massage in one of the treatment rooms.
Afternoon tea in Palm Court allowed us to indulge in some Laurent-Perrier and pastries by Chef Miguel Jocson, who hand-curates each piece.
That evening I met up with a couple of old school friends who moved to Australia some years previous (lucky buggers) and, as you can imagine, we had a lot to catch up on. We hit the town, bar-hopping from The Rocks right into the heart of Sydney central. (Please note a Sydney rule which I discovered, after midnight bars and clubs will not serve you spirits, cocktails or shots only wine and beer)
Over the next couple of days we experienced Sydney like in a way you wouldn’t believe; boat trips to Manly Beach, dining at Darling Harbour, shopping at Paddy’s market, an evening watching performances at the Sydney Opera House, taking the Pink Taxi tour across the city to Bondi beach, experiencing the top local bar hangout joints and dining at the chef’s table in the Kent Street Kitchen back at the Langham.
On our final night on this trip and I found myself with my fellow journos on The Langham terrace suite watching an incredible sunset over Sydney while drinking farewell champagne and eating the famous Langham club sandwich laid on by our lovely host Lauren Brown.
As I watched the sun disappear into the ocean I started to reflexed over the previous seven days and it suddenly hit me how lucky I’d was to be on this world class experience! It’s going to be extremely hard to travel by any airline other than Cathay Pacific from now on and whichever city I travel to next, I just hope they have a Langham!
Cathay Pacific: Flies four times a week between Manchester and Sydney with fares starting from £3369 in business class. For more information visit cathaypacific.co.uk
THE LANGHAM HOTELS: For more information, room rates and bookings go to langhamhotels.com or call
(852) 2375 1133