MY NIGHT IN THE CLOUDS AT THE RITZ-CARLTON HONG KONG - IT'S THE HIGHEST HOTEL IN THE WORLD AND OFFERS BREATHTAKING VIEWS FROM A HEIGHT OF 1,600FT

The lift is one of the city's fastest, travelling at 30ft per second. Which means it takes one minute and 10 seconds to reach the check-in desk on the 103rd floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, where you pick up your key and see the view for the first time.

At least that's the idea. But as the highest hotel in the world, it is so high that for much of my stay all I can see are clouds.

Still, it's quite a thrill, and explains why people pay around £380 ($480) a night for such an elevated perch above the twinkling skyline of Hong Kong's Kowloon region.

The hotel occupies floors 102 to 118 of the International Commerce Centre (ICC), a glass beacon made possible only by the 1998 closure of an airport famous for requiring hair-raising descents, as planes passed between skyscrapers and towering apartment buildings.

The superlatives come thick and fast. The Ritz-Carlton has the world's highest swimming pool (at nearly 1,600ft or 490m), and its Ozone bar, at the top of the hotel, wears the title of 'Asia's highest rooftop bar' with pride.

The hotel is 46 floors higher than The Shard in London, which has a mere 72 floors, and is 505ft (153m) taller than the Eiffel Tower. I had arrived on the Airport Express train, which conveniently pulls into the basement of the ICC (though I'm an anomaly among other guests, who turn up in chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royces).

It's disappointing not to be roomed at the very top of the tower, but any grumbles are quickly diminished when I open the heavy door to my deluxe suite and step into a huge living room, with a desk, chaise longue and padded window boxes.

The angular floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the South China Sea and Hong Kong Island. Some of the skyscrapers look so small that you feel like picking them up and putting them in your pocket. After a quick shower following my 13-hour flight from London, I head to the pool and gym on the 118th floor to encourage an appetite.

I return two hours later to find that my view has been repainted by the clouds. They feel intimidatingly close - all I can see is white, as though I'm on a plane going through a storm.

Much of my day is spent exploring Hong Kong Island's bustling markets and back streets, which are full of locals and tourists. They queue outside tiny teahouses and noodle bars, while men push trolleys piled high with steaming dim sum.

That evening, I head to the 102nd floor of the hotel to Tin Lung Heen for dinner. 'Sorry about the view,' the waiter says as he takes me to my table - rain is dripping down the window. I can just make out some of the city's highest towers.

Next day at breakfast, I'm asked: 'How are you this morning, Mrs Sime?'

'On top of the world,' comes my reply. He doesn't pick up on my attempt at a joke, and before I know it, I'm being whisked 118 floors back down to earth - in more ways than one.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Harriet was hosted by the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, where doubles are priced from £377 ($480) a night. Visit www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/hkgkw-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/overview

Cathay Pacific return flights from Heathrow to Hong Kong cost from £566 (cathaypacific.com). 

Pros: Incredible views, friendly staff, spacious rooms, delicious food.

Cons: Located in a fairly charmless business district.

Rating out of five: 4.5 stars

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2024-06-23T14:29:02Z dg43tfdfdgfd