The magic of Hong Kong hits you before you even land. Arriving at night, the harbour is sprinkled with the lights of hundreds of container ships while the dense glow of the high rises beam up into the night sky. We're here as guests of The Peninsula Hotel, and from the minute we touch down we are treated like royalty. As we step off the plane, an escort collects our luggage, and navigates us effortlessly through Customs and out to our awaiting Rolls Royce Phantom, which sweeps along the smooth road to the heart of this glamorous city.
The Peninsula Hotel understands luxury and the demands of those who expect it. The hotel's doors first opened in 1928 and ever since it has strived to create a reputation synonymous with quality. We are greeted at the door and taken directly to our suite to sign in. Our suite oozes modern elegance and looks out through floor-to-ceiling windows over Victoria Harbour.
Everything is state-of-the-art, from the interactive digital bedside panels to the LED touch-screen wall panels. Your every move and wish has been pre-empted, from the executive work desk to the nail dryer in the bathroom. Guests at the hotel also have the option to be driven around in the fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms or in the more nippy Mini Cooper S Clubman. We opt for a spin around the city in a helicopter, which takes off from the hotel's roof - perfect for airport transfers.
The Peninsula Spa combines European, Oriental and Ayurvedic treatments and the fitness centre has the most gorgeous Roman inspired swimming pool and sun terrace on the eighth floor. When it comes to shopping, you need never leave the hotel, as the Peninsula Arcade is lined with the likes of Prada, Louis Vuitton, Van Cleef & Arpels.
There are 10 bars and restaurants to choose from and one of the best ways to experience these is the hotel's Culinary Journey - a progressive dinner. As media, we are given VIP treatment and start out with Champagne and canapes in the Peninsula Suite on the 26th floor. This 377 sq m suite comes with its own your own gym, grand piano, private cinema and servants quarters. I try to imagine the type of people who stay here - rock stars, oligarchs, Chinese businesspeople - and imagine the kind of deals signed around the giant meeting table.
We return to Earth for our first course in The Lobby, with its soaring ornate ceiling and towering columns. Sipping glasses of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay we tuck into carpaccio of Scottish salmon, and marinated hamachi. From here, we move to Spring Moon, the hotel's flagship Cantonese restaurant - all dark wood and antiques - and tuck into sauteed spider lobster with matsutake. The presentation is as exquisite as the food.
This moveable feast is fun, and we take the lift to the the first floor, stepping out into Gaddi's and what feels like another era. Chandeliers hang overhead, silver candelabras and red roses take centre stage on each table, a band serenades the diners, and our Bresse pigeon is ceremoniously delivered and revealed in unison from beneath silver domes.
We are told Gaddi's is the finest gourmet French restaurant in the East, and we are loathe to leave this elegant experience, but there is more to come. On the 28th floor is Felix bar, with its soaring windows looking out across the sparkling city, its dark, moody, avant-garde interior created by Philippe Starck. We are giddy with the glamour of it all - or is it too much Champagne? - and barely take time to savour the white chocolate mousse and red berry jelly dessert.
To round off the night we head down to the basement bar Salon de Ning to drink Ning Slings, wallow in the ambience and listen to live jazz. And the greatest pleasure of all? Knowing my big, beautiful bed is just a few floors away.
• Amanda Linnell flew to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific and stayed at The Peninsula as the hotel's guest. Cathay Pacific offers a daily service to Hong Kong. For full details and reservations check cathaypacific.co.nz. For more information or to book at The Peninsula Hong Kong visit peninsula.com.
OFF THE TOURIST TRACK
Hong Kong is a city of extremes. Wedged between sparkling high-rises are tiny noodle bars, and seaweed dries in baskets on the footpath next to a parked Porsche.
• We lunched at the elegant Duddell's on the top floor of the Shanghai Tang Mansion in Central, on a delicious medley of dim sum - barbecued pork with honey, shrimp dumpling with pumpkin, pork dumpling with mushroom and dried fish, and sauteed kale in ginger juice - all washed down with a crisp chardonnay. We were surrounded by stylish locals engrossed in business lunches.
• We took a trip to Repulse Bay and were amazed at how it felt like we were in the south of France. The road hugs the coastline, passing pretty beaches with tucked-away restaurants. Lunch was at Spices in the former Repulse Bay Hotel, which was popular with the likes of Marlon Brando, George Bernard Shaw and Noel Coward, and has featured in a number of movies. The restaurant was full of elegant expat ladies-who-lunch, and we dined on barbecued duck and tandoori Atlantic salmon - delicious.
109 Repulse Bay Rd.
• Tang Tang Tang Tang was our destination for homewares with a sense of Asian opulence. This is the latest venture by Sir David Tang and you'll find everything from Chinese zodiac pyjamas to silver tumblers and elegant ceramics. 66 Johnston Rd, Wan Chai.
• We discover some of Hong Kong's young creative talent at PMQ (the former Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters), which is now a series of stores and studios aimed at nurturing young designers and their fledgling businesses - from fashion to homewares, and art to architecture. 35 Aberdeen St, Central.