HONG KONG, CHINA – PLAYING WITH SPACE (HOTEL REVIEW)

When it comes to capsule hotels, you belong either to the can or can’t group. Luckily for me, I’m with the former, feeling more cosy than claustrophobic when it comes to small spaces.

Coming across L’etoile de Mer was a big relief for me, given how expensive accommodation in Hong Kong can get. And flying in late for my first night, I didn’t want to spend too much anyway.

For SGD$45 a night through Agoda, I thought the hotel to be a steal. Not only did it open this year, it comes with a great location. Because it was located at Causeway Bay just next to The Excelsior, I took the Airport Express in and then hitched a free shuttle bus H3 there, before walking to the next street where L’etoile de Mer was.

 

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In Hong Kong, a lot of the businesses are tucked inside residential buildings so don’t be surprised that you seem to be going to the wrong place at times. L’etoile de Mer is no different.

I spotted the entrance easily thanks to the email instructions sent before my trip, and following the given instructions, keyed in the code. I didn’t hear any buzz but I tried the door after a few seconds and it opened anyway. Joining a few other locals in the lift, I went up to the fourth floor.

The corridor is quintessentially Hong Kong. Lit with fluorescent tubes flickering their last few lumens, painted walls an odd hue of grey and green, tiles matted over with grime – it’s all you need for an authentic experience. It held no promise of a spanking space-age stay but be assured that when you head down to the end, you’ll find a kiosk waiting for you.

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For most guests, you would key in your appropriate code and an access card key will be dispensed, allowing you entry. I had no such luck. Because of a miscommunication between Agoda and the hosts, I had to dial in to a number and sort it out with the owners verbally, and later over chat app Line.

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For a few moments I was worried when I overheard that they had no space that night. But they promised to resolve the issue and had their on-site helper open the door and allowed me to rest at the coach.

After a while, I was offered a spare bed – except that it was in the female section.

The entire space was divided into two segments on the same floor. You enter into a small kitchenette and reception area, and behind that is the mixed area where 6 capsules are placed.

On the other side of that is a mirrored wall with more coaches and lockers. Cleverly hidden behind one door is the main bathroom, while the other led into the female dorm where another 12 capsules were placed.

One of them was mine.

As grateful as I was that I had a place to stay, it’s awkward nonetheless to have to tiptoe through wide-eyed ladies with their hair bundled up in towels. I tried my best to minimize my movement in and out of my capsule, which I managed thanks to the nifty gadgetry within.

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The capsule was roomy and one could sit up easily with some head room allowance. Once you slot in your key card, the unit lights up and it feels even airier with the strategic lighting. At the control panel, one can control the temperature, air circulation, charging outlets as well as plenty of individualized lighting control.

I must admit this hobbit spent a good few minutes playing around with the settings.

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The capsule was comfortable as it was functional. The mattress and pillows are nice enough but I was also greeted with an extra cushion and soft toy penguin. Also fitted inside is a foldable table for hardworking folks like me, as well as a safe for small valuables.

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The only request was for me to use the main bathroom outside of the female dorm. This was located behind the other secret door beside the kitchenette.

The bathroom was pretty impressive, with rain-shower and bidet facilities and plenty of toiletries to choose from.

If one ever feels a little cooped up, there’s always the main area with coaches to sit at. The views from the generous windows also let in a lot of much-needed light, and features nice views of the surrounding area.

L’etoile de Mer is also conveniently located near Causeway Bay MTR station, and nearby you’ll find plenty of 24-hour shops to fill up any gaps in needs. One of the favourite destinations of Singaporeans, Ichiran Ramen, is also around the corner, along with many other restaurants and cafes.

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Combining space-age with space-play, the capsule concept is  brought to another level with L’etoile de Mer. The self-contained pods are a welcome retreat and addition to the offerings available in Hong Kong.

L’etoile de Mer
Unit B, 4th floor
Hoi Tao Court, 275 Gloucester Road
(Building entrance at no.23 Cannon Street), Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Featured photo: Agoda.com

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