Hotel Review: Hong Kong’s Ovolo Central is slim in stature, large in value & newly renovated

The Ovolo Hotels brand is one that you’ve probably seen popping up quite a bit of late, with new openings in Australia (including this one in Brisbane). But the brand all started in Hong Kong about 18 years ago. It was a hotel placed in a slim building in the heart of Hong Kong (literally an area called “Central”), which was 15 minutes walk from Hong Kong Station, and home to Lan Kwai Fong, a nightlife hub with over 90 restaurants and bars.

Dubbed Ovolo Central, the hotel recently celebrated its 18th birthday with a big renovation, with the hotel’s 41 rooms filled up with updated amenities and individually commissioned rock-and-roll artworks. And these aren’t just in the rooms – you’ll find playful art sitting in the lobby, my favourite being a painting of the queen blowing a bubble next to some exquisite furniture. Not a bad place to relax. The hotel also has a new sculpture out the front, Polo’s “Reflection Man”, and you’ll find more art and complimentary sweets sitting next to the elevators.

Music sits at the heart of the brand, with a play on famous lyrics like “Hello! Is it me you’re looking for?” on the front of the magazine about the hotel, that sits on the desk in your room, and “is this just real life? Or is this just fantasy?” on a screen in the elevator, as Indeep’s “Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life” blasted through the speakers. There’s a guitar on the luggage transport, and there’s always music pumping out of the front of the hotel and in the elevators.

The first thing you notice when you enter your room, is that there’s a massive flat screen TV is hidden opposite the bed, behind a glass structure and against the window that looks like it could double as a fireplace. It comes out by way of a white remote to put it up and down again. There’s about 34 channels, in a mix of languages – you’ll find Australia Plus Television in there, and plenty of sports and news channels. USB and AC plugs are on either side of the bed, with a mass converter on one side. There’s also light switches for the whole room on both sides. And at the centre of the room is a western King sized bed in that it’s not rock hard like you often find in this part of the world – it’s very, very comfortable.

There’s Alexa and Apple TV in your room, and a complimentary minibar, with beer, soft drinks and a couple of spirits, with free snacks in the loot bag – including potato chips, almonds and lollies. You really do have everything you could possibly want or need in here. And for anything else, you can order from the restaurant Veda downstairs.

There was a delicious rain shower in a marble panelled bathroom, with plenty of room, and great water pressure. Biology was the amenity of choice, and you’ll find more than your usual assortment of inclusions – such as mouthwash, in addition to the usual shampoos and body washes. There was even a hair tie, and a heat lamp that you can turn on for five mins at a time.

There were only 2 hotel rooms on my floor – I’m not sure if that’s the case for all 27 floors (on the top of which you’ll find the “radio suite” if a sign in the lift is to be believed), but it’s a slim hotel. The rooms are sizable and comfortable, and cleverly designed to give you ample storage space – there’s even a little enclave next to the shower that gives you some handy hanging space for your robe and towel. The robe is thin but very comfortable – and the room is easy to control temperature wise. There are great slippers, too.

The blackout blinds which are accessible form buttons next to the bed are excellent, though the room isn’t going to be pitch black as normal blinds sit in then bathroom – so there’ll be a little bit of light coming in from there. I thought this was actually a great design move, as often a pitch black space can be disorienting, especially when you’re travelling.

I have to give a shout out too to the incredibly helpful front desk staff. They helped me with calling the airline when I had an issue, and though the midday check out is great, they seem pretty helpful for an extension if you need it – pending room availability of course. They looked after my bags during the day I left the city and were just all around excellent hosts.

Food in the area?

The Diner next door is an American style diner that serves burgers, all day breakfast and other western cuisine staples like milkshakes and buttermilk fried chicken. I didn’t come to Hong Kong to eat burgers though. I wandered a few minutes down the road to Dumpling Yuan, where for about A$10 you can get yourself a plate of dumplings or dumpling noodle soup until 11pm. There’s also a great dim sum place, Ding Dim 1968 just around the corner, where they do a platter of dumplings for 1 for about A$15, which is a dream. There’s plenty of other options around the area, but look out for overpriced tourist traps. And the best stuff is going to be cash only.

A late night meal at Dumpling Yuan. Wanton noodle soup and an iced tea.

If you eat at the hotel, you’ll do so at Veda. Breakfast is served from 630 to 1030, and was inclusive in my stay, as was the fast and free wi-fi. If you book directly through the Ovolo website you’ll get the same treatment. The restaurant has made some waves by being the first ever vegetarian hotel restaurant in Hong Kong.

The breakfast is mainly eggs or avocado toast, with a juice, coffee or tea and one breakfast item included every morning. I had a pretty amazing dish – Nargesi – Persian style eggs served with sourdough. Veda is an Aussie style cafe, ultimately, with Aussie wines and coffees like flat whites available.

What else to do nearby?

You’re in Central, so there’s a lot of shopping, and food options in the area. You can pretty much get anywhere you need to in Hong Kong, too, thanks to both Central and Hong Kong Stations being within a 15 minute downhill walk from the hotel. And Lan Kwai Fong is here, so all your nightlife is at your fingertips. But you’re also across the street from one of the most exciting new art attractions in the city.

Viewable from your hotel room, Tai Kwun used to be a police and prison complex, and is celebrating its 101st anniversary. However, it’s barely a year old as a centre for heritage and arts. There’s exhibitions to enjoy, dining options and the building itself – both new additions and old restorations – are an architectural dream.

The Murakami vs Murakami exhibition at JC Contemporary is running until September 1st and seemed to be instilling a lot of excitement in the area from people young and old; there was a long line to get in shortly after the gates opened. See more of what’s on offer at the arts centre HERE.

Final Verdict

The location is unbeatable. The renovations fantastic. The staff absolutely superb. I couldn’t have felt more welcome in Hong Kong. Highly recommend a stay at this wonderful hotel. And don’t forget to enjoy the snacks in your Loot Bag, there’s some good treats in there which are very welcome after a long flight.

FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Ovolo Central is located at 2 Arbuthnot Road, Central, Hong Kong. To book your next stay at Ovolo Central in Hong Kong, head HERE.

The author travelled to Hong Kong with Virgin Australia and stayed as a guest of the hotel for one night. All photos by the author.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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