The city where east meets west is a fast-paced urban jungle in the most literal sense—75% of its total land mass is dedicated to protected forests and national parks, hosting more than 450 birds and thousands of plant species. With plenty of choices in yoga studios and boutique gyms, and marathons, trail runs and Spartan challenges, Hong Kong has become one of Asia’s fastest growing fitness centres. Compare Retreats Editor Rebecca Cairns shares where to stay and eat, and what to do and see in its ultimate wellness guide to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong isn’t short of luxury wellness staycations. Hosting a broad selection of five-star accommodation, Compare Retreats loves the Mandarin Oriental which hosts digital detox escapes, the Four Seasons whose spa has some of the best views in Hong Kong, and The Upper House who recently revamped their in-room spa menu.
Across the harbour in Kowloon, the W Hong Kong offers spectacular views from their 76th-floor outdoor pool (the highest in the world), while the historic Peninsula has a gorgeous Grecian-inspired spa and some of the best couple’s treatments in town.
If you want to be in the heart of the hustle and bustle, The Eaton Hotel on Nathan Road is hard to beat—situated close to many of Kowloon’s cultural sites, like the Temple Street night markets, Mongkok’s food streets, and Yau Ma Tei’s Tin Hau Temple and 100-year-old fruit market, the Eaton also has a strong sustainability ethos and regularly hosts wellness conferences and festivals focussed on community inclusion.
For wellness foodies in Hong Kong, it’s impossible to pass up on Grassroots Pantry: the nutrient-dense, plant-based meals are delicious and incredibly satiating. Hong Kong is home to a large selection of vegan and vegetarian restaurants too—for a taste of local dim sum, visit Lock Cha Teahouse or the tea room at the Chi Lin Nunnery, and the world-famous Little Bao now offers veggie versions of its legendary bao.
Protein alternatives like Beyond Burger and Impossible Meats are now widespread through the city, including big-name brands like Green Common, The Butcher’s Club, and Beef & Liberty.
If you’re looking for something a little more on the luxe side of wellness in Hong Kong, three-Michelin-star Caprice at the Four Seasons Hong Kong offers a nutritionally dense and delicious Well-Feeling set-menu, which focuses on top-notch ingredients and lighter cooking methods to create a healthier version of decadent dining. For those entertaining guests, it would be hard to walk past Cafe Grey Deluxe at The Upper House, which has an allergen- and diet-friendly set wellness menu, and views from the 49th-floor across the harbour.
Going out for a drink might seem counterintuitive to a healthy lifestyle, but the launch of Seedlip (the zero-alcohol distilled spirit) last year has meant something of a mocktail revolution: try out the award-winning Old Man for some truly tasty alcohol-free drinks.
If you are partial to a tipple, restaurants like Grassroots Pantry offer organic wine, and check out bars like Kaum by Potato Head: its bartenders are big practitioners of locavorism, a movement towards minimising waste in cocktails.
For something decidedly healthier, skip the bars completely and grab a freshly-squeezed juice from NOOD or Genie Juicery—your body will thank you when you hit the trails at 6am.
Hong Kong is a haven for wellness warriors keen on active sport and adventure. Runners can enjoy races on roads and trails almost all year round, and hikers can likewise appreciate the stunning views across the city and tropical beaches on paths of varying difficulty every month of the year—Dragon’s Back is the ultimate hike for beginners, while the Twins is a great challenge for leg day. Bowen Road is one of the Island’s most popular five kilometre running routes with great views across Wan Chai and Admiralty, though for something a bit longer head out to Shatin and enjoy a 10+ kilometre run along the waterside promenade. Cyclists can hire bikes on Cheung Chau Island or at Tai Po Promenade and explore on two wheels.
Yogis should drop into the many yoga studios around Hong Kong: Kita is one of our favourites, not least because of its proximity to Teakha, which has one of the best soy chai lattes in town—thank us later. ClassPass and Guava Pass can help those passing through the city get a one-off entry to classes in studios that otherwise require membership.
Hong Kong has a growing boutique fitness scene where you can enjoy focussed and unusual workouts in a tight-knit, passionate community: Flex is Hong Kong’s largest Pilates studio with a location in Stanley and Central Hong Kong, while XYZ is a must for spin-fanatics. For something a little quirkier, don’t miss out on BounceLimit and acrobatic gym Trybe.
If you’re looking for a high-intensity workout, why not try one of the boxing studios around town? Warrior Academy is well-equipped for a full-on boxing session, while LIGHTS//OUT is an alternative boxing experience that guarantees you to sweat. If you’d like something more traditional—and a lot grittier—train with the former World Muay Thai Champion and his team of professional Muay Thai fighters at Santichai Fitness in Mongkok.
Hong Kong also has a comprehensive selection of water activities: during the winter months, Shek O Beach and Big Wave Bay are popular with surfers, and Sai Kung’s clear water is excellent for wakeboarding, waterskiing, paddleboarding, kayaking and windsurfing.
A relaxing spa staycation might seem unlikely in somewhere as hyperactive as Hong Kong, but you’d be amazed at how much zen you can find if you know the right place to go.
The Four Seasons and Landmark Mandarin Oriental are home to two of the top spas in the city: centrally located and with stunning water facilities and relaxation rooms, they offer top-of-the-line massages, facials and body scrubs. The Chuan Spa is one of the top spas in Hong Kong and is particularly renowned for its men’s spa treatments.
For a different kind of relaxation, visit Enhale Meditation Studio in Central, which welcomes visiting practitioners to run various kinds of meditation workshops. Red Doors Studio in Southside offers gong baths and singing bowl meditations, which provide a deeply relaxing meditative experience.
Sometimes looking good means feeling good, and Sponge is the mobile beauty service to help you look your best self with hair and makeup services. Those looking for a proper haircut should visit The Mandarin Salon, where trichologist Andrea Clark is on hand for scalp issues, or take a trip to BrunBlonde Salon at the Grand Hyatt for a killer blowout. Beauty Avenue at The Landmark Mall is perfect for anyone looking to pick up organic or healthy beauty supplies.
Hong Kong has a great selection of athleisure clothing and sustainable shopping ventures for those more concerned about the health of the ecosystem. For sportswear, don’t miss out on Mong Kok’s “Sneaker Street”, where you can find all your standard Nike, Adidas and sports stores, along with a dedicated ‘sports mall’. For uniquely Hong Kong brands, check out Ohemia in Central.
For sustainable shopping, pre-loved luxury online platform HULA are launching a pre-owned fashion warehouse in Wong Chuk Hang, so you can try before you buy and peruse their collection in person. LiveZero in PMQ has you covered for all your reusable cup/straw/kitchenware needs, and The Mills in Tsuen Wan is heritage redevelopment project which hosts multiple local Hong Kong design businesses aiming to reduce waste and reuse materials, like Alt.
If you time your trip to Hong Kong just right, there’s plenty of fitness-focussed events happening year round. IRIS: Your Wellness Escape is Hong Kong’s biggest outdoor yoga festival and usually happens twice a year in March and September. The Asia Yoga Conference, returning for a second year, takes place annually in June, and the Spartan Race, held twice a year in April and November, is another big draw for adventurous travellers. For something a little different, The Garden Gathering, Hong Kong’s first alternative wellness festival, is now in its fifth year and takes place usually in November.
With Fivelements opening a new city-centre meditation centre in Causeway Bay in May 2019, along with the just-opened Rosewood and spa brand Asaya adding to Hong Kong’s wellness landscape, the city’s fitness-focussed mentality is about to get a healthy dose of holistic spa therapies. Cathay Pacific has just added a yoga sanctuary to their business class lounge, Four Seasons launched their first urban wellness retreat package in February 2019, and Class Pass launched in Hong Kong in October 2018, which also means dropping into the city for a stopover doesn’t mean ditching your healthy habits from home.