#theWanderlist: SOJO’s East Side, Architectural Playground For Style-Hunters and Guests of Hotel Indigo
(via EDWARKB INSTAGRAM)
My experiences in Wanchai pretty much defined my first few years’ experiences in Hong Kong as a whole. You see, Wanchai was the location of the first design office that I worked in, and it’s also the neighborhood where I moved into 9 years ago when arriving to this city. No, I’m not talking about “Suzie Wong’s” red-light Wanchai special, I’m talking about “SOJO”, the area South of Johnston Road defined by cool cafes, and destination bars, restaurants, design stores, with a sprinkling of unique fashion shops, designer furniture store, and art galleries.
Below, Brunch at Stone Nullah Tavern.
What defines SOJO as different from today’s Sheung Wan, is that SOJO is still pretty much an up-and-coming neighborhood, with more affordable rent, less expats than Central, and still a bit flexible for designers to set up a home or a shop front. Additionally Wanchai’s SOJO district has a much bigger stake of the city area than Sheung Wan, with various blocks to explore off Queen’s Road East and Johnston Road for style savvy city-trekkers like me.
If I wanted to explore Wanchai’s SOJO on foot, I’d start my journey getting off the A3 Exit at the Wanchai MTR, explore the markets across the street on Wan Chai Road, while finding my way up to Queen’s Road to explore architectures that range from Old Heritage like the Old Wanchai Market or the Blue House, to 80’s modern, to completely contemporary buildings, like the Hotel Indigo by Aedas and the Opus by Frank Gehry, which can be seen from the street.
Other side streets off Queen’s Road East not to be missed, the future re-development of Lee Tung Street / Wedding Card Street as a pedestrian only shopping haven, Ship Street the location of the famous 22 Ships Restaurant by Jason Atherton, and St. Francis Street which connects to Moon, Star, and Sun Streets, where the Monocle Magazine Bureau and Kapok Shops are located.
Below, late night drinks at Tai Lung Fung
That said for my weekend stay last month, I started my everyday exploration at the Hotel Indigo, where the team there graciously invited me to stay for two nights in exchange for a blog post about them and the surrounding neighborhood. Writing about design and boutique hotels, are right up my alley… pun intended.
Because I’ve written so much about Ship Street and Star Streets on this blog, I thought that the stay at Hotel Indigo would be a great opportunity for me to really explore everything on the Eastern end of SOJO. Historical buildings not to be missed include the Old Wan Chai Post Office constructed in 1912, and now an Environmental Resource Centre. Of course it is hard to miss the Blue House on Stone Nullah Lane, for its strikingly iconic blue painted façade. The Blue House and the adjacent Yellow House behind it are currently being renovated to become a “living museum” which should be open in a few more years. Up the road is the beautiful Pak Kai Temple, worth a visit. The Old Wanchai Market from the 1930s has been converted into a residential tower podium which some may find garish, while others may just appreciate for the fact that it was never torn down at all.
Hotel Indigo was a real pleasant surprise, in that the hotel was playful without being overtly theatrical like most boutique hotels in Asia. The interior design moments in each of the spaces within the tower’s 29 floors were sensual without it being too dark or trendy-try-hard. The best part of the hotel, thank God, are its 138 rooms, which generally come in two tiers, a studio type suite, or a 1-Bedroom + Living Room Grande suite.