REVIEW: iClub Sheung Wan Hotel, Hong Kong
Smartphone door entry & a free WiFi mobile hotspot? This Hong Kong hotel is high on tech and low on prices
Hong Kong has the fastest internet and the most tech-savvy people in the world, so it’s perhaps no surprise that there’s a trend towards hi-tech hotels. However, this 38-storey building in the megacity’s busy Sheung Wan district goes further than most by offering all guests free WiFi, smartphone door entry and even a personal mobile WiFi hotspot.
Given that most travellers are here for shopping and sightseeing, the stripped-down iClub experience puts WiFi front and centre, and that makes a lot of sense for most modern travellers. Although the keyless door entry was what attracted me to the iClub chain, it’s actually the provision of a personal mobile WiFi hotspot that proved most useful. Providing WiFi via Hong Kong’s most powerful CSL 4G LTE network, I had no trouble uploading photos and surfing the web throughout the city. Not that the keyless door entry is less impressive, but it does involve downloading an app, logging-on to the hotel’s WiFi, and getting a PIN code sent via SMS. Not quite the time-saver it should be.
Most hotels will give you a map of the city, but the iClub even manages to update that old fashioned habit of hotels. Although you can have a paper map – a customised version just for the local area around the hotel – a barcode on the back means you can simply scan it with your phone if you’re a paperless traveller.
This isn’t a full-service, five star hotel. Those usually empty on-site restaurants and bars have been swapped for a WiFi-saturated area of tables where free coffee and a simple bread breakfast await. There’s no pool or gym, but just a few rowing machines on a pleasant deck squeezed between the skyscrapers up towards the famous Peak. It’s comfortable, the rooms are immaculate (and actually pretty big for Hong Kong), and the prices are a third of the full-service chains nearby. A spin-off of the Regal chain, iClub has three properties in Hong Kong (and three more opening soon), and one in China.
This is a mid-range hotel, but the tech touches are impressive. In the room is a 42-inch Sony LED TV, but also an innovative desk tidy area that includes a bank of connectors including USB, a couple of plugs (natively UK 3-prong, as in all of HK), and even an HDMI input. Bring an HDMI cable for your phone and you can watch a movie or photos stored on your phone. What an awesome idea! Ditto the under-bed pull-out luggage rack to save on space in the smaller rooms, though I didn’t find them as cramped as in similar hotels I have stayed in. The hotel includes twin and double rooms as well as business-style rooms, an iSuite (with a double bedroom, lounge and two bathrooms), and an iResident package, which includes two bedrooms off a small corridor, and a larger living area.
I arrived at the iClub just after the hotel had finished a marketing exercise involving the new Ricoh Theta S 360-degree camera; proof if any was needed of both the iClub’s attitude to technology, and to the kind of customer it’s trying to attract. Perfect for tech-aware travellers in HK for short or long periods – and awesome value – the iClub Sheung Wan is a comfortable and fully connected experience.