Review: Harbour Plaza Metropolis Hotel & The Metropolis Harbour View Chinese Cuisine

It is rare that I would stay at a hotel for long enough to make a meaningful judgement, but on this occasion I stayed at the Harbour Plaza Metropolis Hotel in Hung Hom, Hong Kong for 23 days. I will be reviewing as a parent with a 5 month old baby, since the hotel is supposed to be baby friendly and provides cots for free. As you will see what we expect from a 5 star hotel in Australia may be vastly different to what we can expect from a (reportedly) 5 star hotel in Hong Kong.

Booking

With a rack rate of HK $1600 for the standard “superior” room, we were surprised that the hotel’s website was fully booked for the whole period was wanted to stay. This was the same when we called directly. However several online hotel booking sites had the same room going for around HK $1300 with plenty of availability.

The Hotel

The hotel was decorated in an 80’s style. It was grand enough but some of the decor seemed a bit dated.

We arrived at the hotel at 8pm, and it didn’t seem to be a busy time. However our room was not ready. It was a bit of a problem, since we had a baby who had just flown 10hrs and who was tired and cranky. Given that we booked and confirmed the room almost three months before, I expected a bit better.

We had to sit for a little over half an hour before they could give us a temporary room where at least we could feed and change the baby. There we stayed for another half an hour before moving to our actual room.

The Room

A superior room is 25sqm including the bathroom. In other words really small. This photo was taken with a 104° angle of view. This usually makes a room look very spacious and is the type of photo you see in many real estate ads. However as you see here the room still feels a bit cramped.

The bed is actually two single beds pushed together. We put the bedside unit under the desk so that we could fit the baby cot next to the bed. The cot was reportedly large by HK standards but only about 75% the size of an Australian cot.

Water

The hotel provided two complementary bottles of water on the first and second days of our stay. This was because the tap water in HK was not drinkable without boiling for at least 3min.

However when they didn’t provide any new bottles the next few days we asked them why. Apparently they were only for the first day.We thought this was a bit annoying as we would have to buy our own water for the rest of our stay.

Each bottle cost HK $3 at the convenience store downstairs and we didn’t get any discount for the room for subsequent days. To save that piddly amount was it worth alienating guests?

The Bathroom

The bathroom was relatively large, taking up a third of the total room area. Again this was a 104° angle of view with me standing in the bathtub against the wall.

Amenities

As mentioned before the amenities were a bit dated. For example the mirrors lacked the anti-fog heating that most modern hotels now have, making them useless after a shower.

Cleanliness

While in general the hotel room seemed clean, there were signs of mould growing in most of the tile grouting. This should be both easily preventable and easily remedied by off the shelf cleaners.

In other corners of the bathroom there was accumulated dirt that showed some areas hadn’t been wiped down in a long time.

Room Service

As we had a baby we asked for an extra towel (for a total of three) so we could wash him. The staff obliged, however during our stay of 23 days there were four occasions when we were provided with only two towels and we had to ask for the extra towel again.

We would have expected that such details be noted down for the room staff, or that they simply replaced the towels with same number they removed.

Phones

The phones were pretty standard issue, but the calls were not. In HK, people pay a monthly line rental fee, after which local calls are free and untimed. Mobile owners pay for calls to and from the mobile phone. Thus most hotels don’t charge for calls and even have courtesy phones in the lobby. Most retail shops will even lend you their phones for use when asked.

However the Harbour Plaza Metropolis Hotel charges HK $5 per local call. That is double what an Australian hotel would charge for a call.

Internet

The hotel has wired and wireless internet. However it is not included in the room fee, and is charged at HK $130 per day per device! Given that most people who live in a hotel go out most of the day, the fee seems a bit preposterous.

Note that a 3G unlimited internet access sim costs HK $78 per week and a 2G unlimited internet access sim costs HK $78 per month. A 300mbps unlimited fiber optic home plan costs HK $298 per month. I can’t help but think the Harbour Plaza Metropolis Hotel was blatantly trying to rip us off.

Air conditioning

When we were in HK the ambient temperature was between 10-15°C. As you can see the temperature dial on our room goes up to 30°C. Naturally we set it around 23°C, but we still woke up cold in the middle of the night. We kept turning it up bit by bit, but even at 30°C it seemed quite cold.

When we called the front desk the next day, we were informed the room had no heating! A 5 star hotel without heating?

They offered us extra blankets, but you can’t sleep a baby under a pile of blankets in a 15°C room. After a bit of back and forth they offered us a heater which we kept for the rest of our stay.

While it solved our immediate problem it also meant our already cramped room got a little smaller.

Restaurant

The hotel contains a cafe on the lobby floor and two restaurants on level 8. One is a (ridiculously expensive) black pork 黒豚 themed Japanese restaurant while the other is a traditional Chinese restaurant – The Metropolis Harbour View Chinese Cuisine.

We didn’t visit the Japanese restaurant but we ate at the Chinese restaurant several times throughout our stay. The food was fine but there were a few incidents I wanted to highlight.

  1. During a lunch session, a wait staff spilt a significant amount of soy sauce onto my bag while serving a dish. The puddle she spilt was a circle of about 15cm in diameter. She looked down at what she’d done, then hurried away hoping nobody had noticed. When we informed the head of staff, we were offered no compensation for the incident.
  2. At a dinner session with 16 people crammed around a table for 12, we asked for the bill. I asked to charge it to my room and signed the bill and gave my room number. Even then (and the staff knew me by name by that time) the waitress asked for a credit card as well, as if somehow 16 people including 2 babies and 2 small children could somehow run out on them.
  3. After a dinner session, we were stopped by a staff member as we were leaving. She claimed they had charged the lunch rate for the tea fee on the bill instead of the dinner rate, and demanded the difference. The difference she claimed was HK $20, although she didn’t print out a new bill. This amounted to AU $2.50 and just over 1% of the bill. Note that a 10% service charge was already applied on the bill. We suspect the HK $20 went into her pocket.

These are certainly not things I would have expected to encounter in a 5 star hotel restaurant.

Porters

Since we had a baby with us, almost every day we traveled by taxi with our pram. Most of the time we went out or came back, there was a porter stationed at the driveway. However about a third of the time the porters were too busy chatting to help us unload the pram from the boot, or even to open the taxi or hotel doors for us.

Checking Out

When we checked in, we had asked the hotel to remove items from the minibar and to disable phone calls etc, so that we would have no charges on check out.

However there was still no way for us to check out quickly. Unlike many other hotels we had to wait in the same line as people checking in. The staff then had to check a lot of paperwork before we could go. Most other hotels allowed us to simply return the key cards to a special counter to check out.

Conclusion

The Harbour Plaza Metropolis Hotel isn’t a very welcoming one. At five star prices we got a room the size you would expect from a two star hotel. Apparently other hotels in the same price range had rooms over double the size. We also felt nickel and dimed and the service was nothing to write home about either.

From what we saw most of the other hotel guests were tour groups. This may be the reason the hotel doesn’t feel the need to work hard on its services. If you are visiting Hong Kong I would definitely recommend staying clear away from this hotel.

Gallery

1 Comment

  1. by Tony Lau on May 19, 2012  2:17 PM Reply

    I read with interest about your review of the hotel, and am equally surprised at their level of services offered.
    I knew that there is an even more expensive sister hotel nearby where our former Chairman Jiang ad a few of our top Chinese officials stated. Therefore, I was very disappointed about their service.
    As you mentioned, may be that is the reason why you saw many group tours.
    Tony L

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