Conrad Hong Kong – above – is a luxury hotel for gourmets, for food-lovers who want the best of tastes. The standards are maintained, says the gal, because the boss of this 513-room beauty, Thomas Hoeborn, is a former chef who must have been born with Good Taste in his mouth. This visit, we returned to Nicholini’s for yet more of its real Italian food. Even the table-setting was gastronomic: the centre-piece was a display of fresh white truffles under a glass cloche. Oh the aroma when we lifted that cloche! I started with chef Riccardo Catarsi’s burrata pugliese, with pesto powder, and went on to tajarin, egg-yolk noodles topped by truffles.
The hotel’s Executive Chef, Claudio Rossi, came to join us at the table and we talked about how restaurant concepts should not suddenly change. They need, rather, to evolve and adapt, and be continually enlivened with events. Last time the hotel had a pop-up promotion, they launched it not with the usual gala dinner but with a moveable feast for 170. The entire eighth floor of the hotel, including the Cheese Room, hosted serving stations and diners progressed accordingly. And up on the 59th floor, every evening there is something special at the Club lounge.
It was Hoeborn who designed this space, with two back-to-back rooms, one with full kitchen and servery, the other with facilities that can provide backup at peak times. Every evening during the two-hour cocktail period there is a particularly good selection of wines, and enough food to provide a proper meal. What I also like is two wall-set ovens, with oven gloves, so you can help yourself to, say, slices of fresh-baked spinach quiche. In the morning, the ovens similarly hold still-baking croissants and Danish that put out delicious aromas.
So many memories from this hotel… while back in the club lounge for a post-breakfast meeting, window cleaners descended. This reminded me how, many years ago, in the days of the Hong Kong Hilton, legendary GM James Smith always had cleaning ladies unnecessarily sweeping the escalator up to the Captain’s Grill just as CEOs and their ilk were going up for their near-daily business lunches. No, the sweeping was not needed but it gave a feeling of meticulous care and cleanliness, and I cannot be the only one who remembers that. Conrad Hong Kong is another luxury hotel that leaves lots of lasting touchpoints.