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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

Style over Substance

Oscar Foulkes March 17, 2006 Hotels No comments

Following my sister’s good experience at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Hong Kong, I booked at their new hotel, the Cosmo, a few doors up the road. (You can get an idea at

Arrival was promising, especially with the scent of Shanghai Tang’s ginger flower spray in the reception area. From there on, it sadly went a little pear-shaped…

My room, although large by HK standards (and with a bed big enough for some serious carnal activity), smelt rather damp. The only way of getting rid of the smell was to switch on the air conditioner, except now it sounded as if I had an Airbus parked next to my bed!

As you can tell from the website they’ve tried really hard on the design front. But what you don’t get on the website is a sense of the oppressiveness of the silvery grey curtains (they’re so shiny someone could turn them into a matric dance dress).

I need to compliment them on one design feature – a little drawer with kettle and other coffee stuff, right next to a power point. Usually one has to schlepp the kettle across the room (often stationing it on the floor), or on top of a shut laptop on the only flat surface in the room. However, their choice of instant coffee and creamer was so not in keeping with the style statement they were making elsewhere. (Proper coffee, a plunger and long life milk would have been an acceptable substitute for having my own in-room espresso machine).

Having had my hot brown beverage (can’t call it coffee) I headed for the shower (as one does), only to end up with water spraying in all directions from the pipe of the hand-held shower head (hanging on the usual wall attachment). With much gesticulating I was able to explain the nature of the problem to the Chinese housekeeper.

Fortunately there was a back-up, in the form of a conventional wall-mounted shower that pumped out some serious jets. While in the shower I discovered that they also have one of those huge heads directly overhead. So, you can choose your favourite mode of showering by turning a tap on the wall (all a bit trial-and-error).

They also irritated me with a charge for broadband internet (and local telephone calls), which is very unusual for HK.

Breakfast continued the comedy. I could have cornflakes, cornflakes or … cornflakes, along with fruit. I asked for milk (for my coffee) and was told I needed to smoke outside.

That finished me. I went off to reception, where I told the assistant manager my opinion of his hotel, which by now was very much a case of “style over substance”. One of the things I did compliment him on, was the ginger flower spray in reception.

Delighted that he’d found something I liked, he even showed me where they sprayed it in reception. I then indicated that I’d like some in my room too, because it was a happy smell (I’d previously told him about the unhappy grey curtains). By now – I suspect – he was almost ready to pay for me to stay in the Shangri-La.

When asked when I’d like it sprayed (I think he meant now, or later), I leapt at the opening and told him I wanted it sprayed “every day”.

So, now you know, I’m a boy who likes to walk into rooms that smell of ginger flower…

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