I’d like to start off by apologizing for the poor quality of pictures that you’ll see in this report. I’m still getting the hang of hotel reviews so I often forget to take photos of areas outside of the room. Additionally, after my 15 hour flight from Chicago, I was too knackered to adjust the lighting setting on the camera before crashing and consequently the photos turned out quite …. crap. But I suppose you’ll just have to deal with it!
If there’s one positive thing I can say about overnighting at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), it’s that swinging by the Crystal Jade restaurant on the ground floor of Terminal 1 for some xiao long bao is one of the great joys of travel.
If there’s one negative thing I can say about overnighting at HKG, it’s that booking a room at the completely overrated and overpriced Regal Airport Hotel that’s attached to Terminal 1 is the bane of my existence. Admittedly it’s location is the bee’s knees, but that’s just about the only thing going for it.
After a few disappointing stays, I decided it was time to try something less convienent – perhaps a little bit more expensive, but hopefully a better value than what Regal Airport Hotel was offering. Poking around online for a few weeks, I was torn between the Marriott SkyCity and the Novotel Hong Kong Citygate. Both had similar reviews and both were approxmiately the same price. Despite my previous negative experiences with Marriott properities (I was so frustrated at Marriott in Athens, Greece I almost set fire to the room), I decided to give the SkyCity a chance and booked my layover there.
Location & Check-In
Unlike the Regal Airport Hotel, Marriott SkyCity is not conveniently located at the airport. You cannot grab your luggage and walk directly to the lobby of the hotel within five minutes. Getting to the hotel requires you to find the hotel’s shuttle service desk immediately upon exiting the baggage claim area. It is located toward the right when you exit.
I was traveling light for this trip and didn’t have much besides my rollaboard and a small shoulder bag, which made navigating the chaotic arrivals area to the desk fairly easy. The desk was staffed with three agents who quickly confirmed that I had a reservation at the hotel and informed me that the next shuttle would be in approximately 15 minutes. They asked me to have a seat near the desk while I waited and said they’d come and get me when the time was right. Sure enough, within 10 minutes the agents came scrambling into the seating area and rounded up approximately 8 people who were headed to the SkyCity property.
We were escorted through the arrivals hall and out a side door on the right-hand side. Down a set of escalators to a waiting van we went. The driver and agents quickly deposited the luggage into the back of the van as we were instructed to climb into the tiny vehicle. My group of passengers were mostly Westerners, so the interior of the van quickly became cramped as it was clearly designed with the traditionally smaller Asian-build in mind. Regardless, the space was adequate and soon enough we were zooming away from the airport terminal toward the hotel.
As you can see from the map above, the drive is very short (less than 5 minutes I’d say) and we were soon tumbling out of the van in front of the hotel. While the Regal Airport definitely has the leg up in terms of location, the SkyCity’s shuttle service was reasonably efficient and I felt the timeline from airport to hotel was acceptable.
Service & Staff
I was unlucky enough to be the last person to have his rollaboard unloaded from the van, so I ended up at the back of the queue for check-in. Marriott is one of the only major hotel chains that I do not have benefits with through their loyalty program, so I patiently waited my turn in line for approximately 15 minutes. Once I was face to face with an agent, the process was quick and simple. I handed over my credit card for the deposit and within a minute had the key card to my room in hand.
The check-in agent asked me if I was a member of their loyalty program and I replied that I was not. He offered to enroll me in the program and stated that being a member of the program provided free internet access to guests at this property. Considering how pricey internet access can be at some of these larger chain hotels, I figured I could suffer through the additional 3 minutes it would take to register me in the Marriott Rewards program. I really appreciated this agent taking the time to notify me of this benefit and saving me a fistful of dollars.
Sadly this is about the only major interaction with Marriott SkyCity’s staff that I had my entire stay. In the morning when I came to check out and catch the shuttle back to the airport, I was process quickly but with little friendliness by the agent. I waited for the shuttle to arrive amongst what seemed like dozens of Malaysia Airlines flight attendants for a few minutes before I was whisked back to the terminal on a much larger vehicle than the one that brought me to the hotel.
While the Regal Airport Hotel has the Marriott SkyCity beat in the location category, it certainly doesn’t hold a candle in the quality and appeal of furnishings department. Upon entering the room I could immediately see that this property was better kept than any room I had ever had at the Regal.
On the right-hand side immediately upon entering was the closet. It had playful Asian tones but remained modern and classic. White frosted doors with a cloudy appearance edged all around by narrow mirrored strips. Inside the closet were standard features – plenty of hangers for clothes, a safe, a plush robe, and all the items needed to properly iron your clothes.
On the lefthand side upon entering the room was the entrance to the bathroom. The room was well lit and immediately struck me as smelling and appearing to be quite clean.
White was the overriding color of the bathroom, with hints of dark wood added to break up the space. The shower was spacious and included a marble bench that could be used to sit down while scrubbing your bits and bobbles. This was quite thrilling to me. Anyone who knows my shower habits will tell you that I view the ability to sit down while in a shower as one of the great joys in life (right up there with xiao long bao). I had to fight the urge to immediately strip out of my clothes and hop into the shower to test out the bench.
The bathroom amenities were kept in a Chinese-style box with sliding drawers. The standard shampoo/lotion/conditioner offering was paired with some cotton swabs, a disposable toothbrush, and a few other disposable beauty products.
The main bedroom/living area was also an upgrade over what I typically suffered through at the Regal Airport property. The bed provided was Western-sized and plush. It featured quite a few pillows for your head’s enjoyment, offering a variety of firmness levels and sizes.
Across from the bed was an entertainment console with a built-in shelf for holding your luggage. I don’t have much to say about the television offerings at the SkyCity since I went to sleep almost immediately after snapping all of these pictures.
The water provided on the console was complimentary if I remember correctly (I could be wrong, this was a few months back). In the corner closest to the console was a standard hotel room desk featuring a lamp and the hotel’s directory. The desk featured a few outlets for charging electronics, which is always a big plus in my book. Nothing is more annoying than having to throw your back out moving furniture to find outlets. On top of the desk was an adapter.
This is one of the few international hotels near an airport that I’ve stayed at that puts an adaptor in the room. Typically it’s noted that you need to contact the concierge or housekeeping to have someone bring it up you. I have to wonder whether they see a larger than normal amount of customers who “accidentally” pocket these…..
Finally, opposite the desk, was a lounge chair and small table. I gave the lounger a quick test and it was comfortable enough. If I were here for a longer time frame and needed to do some work, I’d definitely pick this area over the desk.
A very standard hotel room in almost every sense of the word, but quite an improvement over the Regal Airport.
After one stay at this property, I can say that I hope to return the next time I have a layover in HKG. The quality of the room was a huge improvement over what is, in my opinion, a quite dated and dour offering at the more conveniently located Regal Airport. I’m headed back to HKG at the beginning of December for a few days, so I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a good deal at this property. If the price difference was significant I’d still consider the Regal Airport since overall it’s not an awful property – I simply find it overpriced for the quality that you receive. If the Marriott SkyCity was priced lower or within $40 of the Regal Airport, I’d select this property without a doubt.
Furnishings are better kept and there is an smarter overall design to the property and guest rooms than the Regal Airport
Friendly staff who went out of their way to make my stay more affordable and enjoyable
Full size bed with a plush bedding
Distance from airport makes it less attractive than the Regal Airport Hotel
Isolated location near the airport but not attached means food and beverage options are quite limited