if you build it, they will come

                    looking down onto the tops of skyscrapers

“If you build it, they will come.” The Eiffel Tower is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris; visitors will pay and wait in line to take the elevator (or walk) to the top of this iconic tower to enjoy the views of Paris from the top. Tourists to New York used to pay to take the elevator to the observation deck of the World Trade Center (and still do pay to ride to the top of the Empire State Building). So it should be no surprise that when Ritz-Carlton planned a hotel on the very top floors of the new ICC Building in Hong Kong, the fourth tallest building in the world, it would attract a lot of attention.

And it has. With 312 rooms starting on floor 103 of the ICC building, two restaurants — Tin Lung Heen (Chinese) and Tosca (Italian) on floor 102, and a bar (Ozone) that serves drinks, sushi, and Asian Tapas on the very top floor in Hong Kong, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is a hotel with a buzz. During my site inspection on Saturday afternoon, every table in the Lounge was occupied by visitors enjoying Afternoon Tea. No wonder!

High-speed elevators whisk guests to the main lobby on the 103rd floor in just 52 seconds; your ears do "pop" both on the way up and on the way down. Interior styling is very contemporary with an Asian motif. The lobby has marble floors, black lacquered wooden walls, and a painted ceiling in the medium of ancient ink on canvas. There is nothing at all understated about the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong; its use of colors and materials is intentionally dramatic. But nothing is quite so bold and dramatic as the "Peak-level" views afforded from each guest room in the hotel.

Guest rooms are 540 square feet, and each bathroom offers dual vanities, separate step-in showers, and complimentary internet. But most importantly, each room offers dramatic views in every direction from high above the city. The "smaller" skyscrapers of Kowloon seem strangely tiny from the view high above them. Deluxe rooms face north away from the harbour over Kowloon. Deluxe Harbour rooms have a very interesting view to the west over Kowloon's port. But if you can possibly do it, book a Harbour Island room for its unforgettable views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong. The most dramatic rooms in the house are found in the Suites, all of which occupy corners of the hotel. (And given occupancy levels, especially on weekends, you shouldn't count on an upgrade).

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong has an unique Club Lounge in that it is open 24 hours per day with six food presentations, although alcohol is only served when the Club is attended. Cocktails are available, and wine by the glass is served from an Enomatic wine machine.

For the best values, book the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong through a Ritz-Carlton STARS agent in order to receive exclusive amenities: complimentary daily buffet breakfast, upgrade if available at check-in, customized welcome amenity, and late 4 p.m. check-out.

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong (search here on Google)

copyright (c) 2011 by David J. Ourisman. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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