Every now and then it’s good to get out of town for a bit of peace and quiet, but as any parent knows, spontaneous weekends away become a thing of the past with a child in tow! Luckily there are plenty of hidden corners of the ‘Kong to explore, and as I had shamefully never set foot on Hong Kong’s very own Gold Coast (despite having visited its Aussie namesake which is much further afield!) it was time to set that straight with a staycation.
Arriving at the Gold Coast Hotel, I was immediately struck by the fact that – from the outside at least – it looks very much like a 1970’s office block. Thankfully, that that’s where the similarity ends, as the hotel itself is modern, well equipped and packed to the rafters with things to keep the wee ‘uns busy while you chill out. It’s a large place, with over 450 rooms, situated right on the waterfront of the Gold Coast development in Tuen Mun, and nearby to the new Harrow School. Nearby is a small ‘Piazza’ area, with the usual lineup of shops (Pacific Coffee, Watsons, Marketplace by Jasons), a few waterfront restaurants with views across the marina, and a cute little arts and crafts market (the amusingly-titled Montmartre,) running at the weekend.
Our room was the standard Deluxe Balcony Seaview, but there was nothing standard about the size – this was huge! Perfect if, like us, you are sharing with an easily-woken toddler, as there was ample space for his cot to be tucked away from main bed, ensuring everyone got a good night’s sleep. The room also featured a small lounge area, but best of all was the generously sized patio overlooking the hotel’s peaceful gardens and marina. This gave us somewhere to sit and enjoy the (glorious) weather while our son napped inside undisturbed. Although the décor was a little tired, it was as clean as it was spacious, and the large marble bathroom was a pleasant place to enjoy a (splashy!) bathtime.
Facilities-wise, there’s not much to find fault with. As well as a rotating weekend menu of organised kids’ activities including crafts and cookery workshops, the hotel can arrange boat trips to Lantau’s Tai O and to spot Hong Kong’s famous Pink Dolphins. You are right on top of the (narrow, but sandy) beach, with a side gate leading directly out from the hotel onto the promenade. On site, there are two large open-air pools with shallow areas for kiddos to paddle, a huge outdoor play area with climbing frames and slides, and an arcade, soft play and indoor toy room open to hotel guests and the public – although some of this was subject to extra charges which I felt was a bit unfair for paying guests.
So what about filling tiny tummies? As well as the aforementioned restaurants on the Piazza, the hotel has a fair few in-house options. But we opted for Yue, which promises traditional Chinese food with a modern twist. Although I was initially alarmed by the plush furnishings given that my little dining companion has a habit of hurling whatever is on his plate once finished, the staff could not have been more accommodating, rustling up highchairs, kids crockery (unbreakable – phew!), and watching with amusement as my boy happily chowed down on everything presented to him and still walked off with half the fruit platter clutched in his sticky little fists. The food was delicious, light, beautifully presented, with an emphasis on fresh seafood. My husband and I both agreed that we would make the trip back just for dinner, (although if you wanted to check it out without the schlepp, there’s also a branch of Yue at the City Garden Hotel in North Point.)
If you’re planning on a staycation here, then I’d recommend a visit to the Crossroads Foundation, a five-minute walk from the hotel. Having only previously heard of Crossroads in the context of them collecting unwanted household items, it was a real eye-opener to take a wander around their site. As well as hosting a local farmer’s market every Saturday, there’s a cute little Fairtrade café selling scrummy cakes that are made by a Hong Kong community project, and the very impressive Global Handicrafts shop selling fairly-traded food, toys, gifts and craft items from around the world at very reasonable prices. Crossroads are in the process of developing their site to include a new Global Village designed to teach participants about some of the issues facing impoverished people today, which will make for a fascinating visit for older children when finished. Check out their website for more details.
I’d definitely recommend a staycation at the Gold Coast Hotel for families who fancy a break from their own four walls for the weekend without getting on a plane. The combination of great facilities and activities designed with kids in mind make this a particularly good family option, whether your kids are tiny or teen.