Asia’s best new business hotel

The Murray, the third opening for the China-based Niccolo Hotels group, made its debut in January on Hong Kong’s ritzy Cotton Tree Drive, right on the periphery of the financial district. Within walking distance of Goldman Sachs’ office, it faces Hong Kong Park and its neighbouring botanical gardens — just one indication of the convenience-meets-comfort factor that makes the hotel so successful.

These days, a great business hotel is about much more than its location, or its in-room desk, for that matter. According to research from the Global Business Travel Association, corporate travellers want hotels to be smarter than ever, with amenities such as text-based concierge systems (which the Murray lacks) and clear e-folios for expense reports (which the Murray delivers).

Considering how quickly the technological landscape has shifted, few business hotels have proved nimble enough to excel across the board; the Murray, however, comes very close.

Despite being six months old, the Murray has deep business roots: The 25-storey modernist tower was a prominent government building in the 1960s, and its former office spaces now make up 336 elegant rooms designed by Foster + Partners. Much of the classic facade was preserved in the US$1 billion (RM4.6 billion) renovation with Niccolo Hotels going as far as bringing back the building’s original architect, 90-year-old Ron Phillips, to consult on the project.

Need to spread out? I spent an afternoon at a giant table in the Garden Lounge with my laptop and papers, enjoying high-tea service as I handled a stressful negotiation on the phone. Many others were doing the same. Between an ample snack menu and the feeling of camaraderie among fellow workers, it’s a nice alternative to feeling cooped up in a hotel room.

Like most luxury Hong Kong hotels, the Murray presents a strong culinary programme: Five restaurants provide a wide variety to meet your clients’ picky palates or your own corporate expense budget. If you need to impress, beeline to the hotel’s outpost of Michelin-starred Guo Fu Lou, a Cantonese concept; the Jasmine tea-smoked whole chicken is a knockout.

Don’t expect light morning meals, either, as breakfast is a lavish affair. Besides the American and Chinese menus, you’ll find a buffet stocked with exotic fruits, lavish pastries, breads and Jamón Ibérico. One morning, I ended up eating an omelette, pork pot stickers, sticky rice, a fruit plate, toast with smoked salmon and some of the best egg-custard buns in all of Hong Kong — a veritable feast. At HK$475 (RM276) it may seem like a splurge, but it’s actually the hotel’s best value, as the ingredients are top-shelf and can fill you up for the whole day.

If you’ve seen one too many snoozy conference rooms on your travels, breathe a sigh of relief: The Murray has seven boardrooms, all with 65-inch flatscreen TVs and ample windows that overlook Hong Kong Park. There’s also a 4,500- sq-ft events space (with two LED projection screens); a garden terrace that can accommodate 100 people; and a semi-outdoor event space called the Arches, which is actually a converted parking garage. It’s a perfect size — and glamorous enough — for runway shows or large-scale installations. (It’s already been used for film galas and fashion events, including a party for Hong Kong Tatler.)

Even if you’re swamped and jet-lagged, the Murray makes self-care feel effortless. An in-house nutritionist can assess your diet and guide you toward healthy choices at the hotel’s restaurants (which might mean skipping the excellent egg-custard buns). A swimming pool and “vitality” pool are in the works; like the spa, they’ll be open until 11pm.