Happy birthday THE PENINSULA HONG KONG, celebrating its 95th birthday this year. How does she retain her flush of youth? Girlahead went to find out, and purely in the cause of research, you understand, had a 60-minute youth-enhancing facial in the hotel’s 14-room spa (tip, it is easier to get an appointment in the morning as bookings are heavier later in the day). Tip. 2, yes, it worked. Margy’s Algae Active Ageless products from Monaco combined with skilled finger techniques from a charming Hongkonger resulted in someone immediately commenting on looking good, that someone obviously overlooking a 12/5-hour flight a day before.
So, The Peninsula never closed during the pandemic, it never laid anyone off, it was busy with staycations. One big draw was a real flight simulator. If you can’t fly in reality just pretent. Hotel boss Joseph Chong loves creative experiences. He turned the hotel’s mezzanine into a railway station for New Year. For its 95th birthday, he’s partnering with Kowloon bus company to station a 1945 Leyland double-decker in front of the hotel. Birthday afternoon tea, upstairs or down. He is taking over a ferry from Star Ferries – 125 this year. World Star will be imagined inside in classic Peninsula style and will be used for a myriad of events.
In fact ‘classic Peninsula style’ is evolving. All 297 bedrooms seem lighter and even brighter, and there are now plenty of USB ports and bespoke Angel Cheung toiletries in sustainable metal tubes, so much more stylish than pump pots. Girlahead also loves the pale grey Quagliotti bedlinens.
Joseph Chong explained how Gaddi’s has also subtly changed during the five years he has been here. It is still reached by elevator, or 43 carpetted stairs if you want to build up an appetite. The ceiling is still hung with two oversize mostly-metal chandeliers from the Kadoorie home in Shanghai. But there are now lots of flowers, live music is subtle and enjoyable, and Normandy chef Albin Gobil’s menu is delightful. Yes, you can choose six courses of truffles, or of mere dégustation, but we went à la carte (the extras were so outstanding you barely need actual ‘dishes’). There were golfball-sized fougères, and canapés that looked like miniature sea urchins, and breads with orange, or yellow, butters, and double-walled clear glasses of amuse, something below and white foam above.
There’s a beautiful book, The Story of Gaddi’s, which does suitable homage to this gretto of gastronomy. As one long-time Gaddi-guy says, ‘You get fine people there who dress elegantly, undeer the best food and wines’. In our case, we were about to begin a meal-proper. A six-cm flat wheel with alternate ‘spokes’ of Hokkaido scallop and smoked duck breast, with Périgord truffle liberally and generously grated over, tableside. After a discreet silver-roller swept away any minutiae that had dared to dot the tablecloth, a pair of herb-crusted Aveyron-area lamb nuggets arrived, artichoke barigoule, black garlic purée, and hay lamb jus: the lamb is Lacaune, the breed whose milk makes Roquefort.
Girlahead calls this ‘modern French fine dining’, and very agreeable it is. It is similarly a delight to be surrounded not only by tables of four, or more, mostly matures or nearly-so, but also several tables of two, Gen-Zs up to young-Millennials. These had not yet learned the art of gastronomic conversation though they were obviously well schooled in the demands of mobile ‘devices’. Hey-ho, 95 and younger every year. Happy birthday The Peninsula. always up to date (question, now, alongside Stefano Ricci and St John fashion brands flanking the front turning circle of the hotel, will we see a Pharrell Williams does Louis Vuitton?) Always up to the minute is this young ladyl