Moving to Hong Kong six months ago, my immediate instinct was to live in the Mid-Levels. However, days of relentless yet unfruitful apartment hunting started to change my mind. Most flats I saw were extortionately expensive, impossibly small and more often than not, shabby around the edges.
So I decided that I needed to widen my search. Having lived in Primrose Hill in London (a small section of North London only ten minutes from the centre but with its own community and village appeal), Happy Valley seemed like the perfect option for my husband and me. Famed for its village feel, lower property prices and higher quality and wealth of amenities, we snooped around and finally found our dream pad… And have been bringing everyone we know over to our neck of the woods to show off Happy Valley’s many splendours ever since! So here is our Sassy guide to Happy Valley’s hotspots!
FOOD & DRINK
A decidedly French bistro owned by the same people as Pastis on Wyndham Street in Central. The decor is truly evocative of a real Parisian hotspot with fantastic bar stools perched in the open window, perfect for people watching with a glass of white Burgundy. The food includes traditional French staples at high prices but not the most impressive quality… think pre-dinner drink or post dinner cheese and wine session instead.
Saint Germain G/F, 1A Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong, 2836 6131, www.french-creations.com/saint-germain
Amigos has been in Happy Valley for over 30 years and is instantly recognisable due to its Italian name, Spanish style building and gourmet French fare. It’s exorbitantly expensive but you go for the experience. Many waiters have been here since the start, they wear black tie (including gloves!) and after your meal, you get serenaded by the house band. The food is pretty tasty too, even if there are some Asian twists to French classics! Worth at least one visit in your HK stay as it’s a unique experience.
Amigo G/F, Amigo Mansion, 79A Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, 2577 2202, www.amigo.com.hk
Happy Valley Bar & Grill and The Jockey
OK, so they are two separate bars but they’re right next to each other and both frequented by the HKFC crowd. Perfect for a quick pint or lingering drink on their patios on a hot evening. Both serve up tasty and affordable comfort food too.
Happy Valley Bar & Grill, 38 Wong Nai Chung Rd, Happy Valley, 2250 5722, www.elgrande.com.hk/outlets/HongKong/HappyValleyBar/page1
The Jockey, 33 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, 2572 2266, www.thejockey.com.hk
A tiny place that fills up quickly every evening serving the best Yakitori in HK. You can watch the Japanese chef cooking your sticks of meat, which range from chicken, beef (delicious covered in garlic butter), foie gras and all sorts of vegetables. You couldn’t get further from Yardbird if you tried.
Yakitoritei, Shop C, G/F, 49-51, Shing Wo Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong, 2838 5377
Dim Sum The Art of Chinese Tidbits
The sign is in Chinese apart from the words ‘dim sum’; the door is heavy-set wood, the atmosphere is stereotypical with bright harsh lighting and paper ordering sheets… but Dim Sum serves up memorable MSG free dim sum every day of the week at all times of day. Having shot to fame when Gwyneth Paltrow herself recommended it in her GOOP newsletter, this is the perfect place for whenever you need a quick dim sum fix!
Dim Sum The Art of Chinese Tidbits, 63 Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong
No need to expand too much on what Classified serves up as it’s renowned throughout HK, but Happy Valley has its very own branch with an open front and private tables, as well as those more suited to groups and a little open terrace at the back.
Classified Shop B, G/F, 13 Yuk Sau Street, Happy Valley, Hong Kong, 2891 3454, www.classifiedfood.com
HEALTH & BEAUTY
Bodywize (Yoga and Retreat and Day Spa) boasts a fabulous yoga studio with a very full timetable and a relaxing spa both located in Happy Valley, satisfying many a Valley girl’s health needs. Check out our review of the spa here.
Yoga @ Bodywize G/F, 1 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley
2838 5686 www.bodywizeyoga.com.hk
Retreat @ Bodywize Shop C, 16 Sing Woo Road Happy Valley, Hong Kong
2838 5885 www.bodywize.com.hk
Day Spa @ Bodywize Shop 18B, 18-20 Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley
2838 5808 www.bodywize.com.hk
There are hundreds of nail salons scattered around so try them out and pick your favourite. I go to the two on Yuen Yuen Street.
Open during non-race times, the inner track of the Jockey Club racetrack can be accessed via subway tunnels and offers up a 1.4km track perfect for running around. One of the largest bits of open space in HK, it even has a little exercise area with bars and other equipment for pull-ups.
OK, so if you’re looking to satisfy a shopping spree urge, Happy Valley isn’t the place to head to (for that, go down the road to Causeway Bay!) but there are plenty of options for your other shopping needs, including:
An exciting new offering called Naboo, a boutique gift shop stocking all sorts of enticing vintage jewellery, bags and other divine offerings. There are also a few other independent fashion boutiques dotted around the neighbourhood.
Naboo 5 Yuen Yuen Street, Happy Valley, 2838 3586, www.facebook.com/naboohk
A frightening number of pet shops and pet grooming parlours dotted along the roads, producing the best looking animals in HK!
Numerous wine boutiques, including Benson Crab & Wine and Ponti Wine Cellars.
Benson Crab & Wine Shop 3, G/F, Yee Fat Mansion, 2 Min Fat Street, Happy Valley
2893 1500 www.benson.com.hk/…
Ponti Food And Wine Cellar, 3 Yuen Yuen Street, Happy Valley, 2972 2283 www.pontiwinecellars.com.hk/…
If you require groceries, head to Fusion by Park n’ Shop, which has everything you ever wanted and more. For more foodie types wanting gourmet speciality food, Pacific Gourmet serves up fresh meat and fish from Australia in a charming shop that also sells cheese, wine and deli food. Il Bel Paese promises to satisfy all of your Italian desires as well as having a fresh deli counter should you need lunch on the go.
Fusion Stall No. 8 & 9, G/F, 32-40 Village Rd, Happy Valley
2573 6016 www1.parknshop.com/…
Pacific Gourmet 23 Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley
2838 1212 www.pacificgourmet.com.hk
il Bel Paese Shop A, G/F, 18 Yik Yam Street, Happy Valley
2868 2818 www.ilbelpaese.com.hk
Finally, on the road back up to Causeway Bay and hidden behind a big iron gate is Chun Hing Garden (Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, 2572 6430), a fantastic garden centre that occupies part of the graveyard and sells beautiful plants. It is also the best place to go for your annual Christmas tree!
There are two main things to do in Happy Valley if you are looking for entertainment. The first is obvious – go to the races! On Wednesday nights, Happy Valley comes alive and with the traffic into the area stacking up, us locals merely need to wander along after grabbing a bite. Get more info on the race schedules, restaurants and Racing Museum at Happy Valley Racecourse here.
The second is more of a surprise. Up nearer Causeway Bay on the West side of the racetrack is Hong Kong Cemetery (Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley) graveyard. It is beautiful inside and full of history with many of the graves dating back to the nineteenth century. Definitely worth an amble around, but maybe in daylight… !
So there you have it, my ultimate Happy Valley guide. With all of the above I don’t see myself ever moving anywhere else… Well, unless someone offers me a mansion on the Peak!