Until recently, ‘Diamond Hill’ and ‘staycation’ weren’t words I’d expect to hear in the same sentence – that is until I had a chance to relax and unwind at the pentahotel.
Hidden along a quiet industrial street in the heart of – yes, you guessed it – Diamond Hill, the pentahotel positions itself as a neighbourhood lifestyle concept designed to appeal to a new generation of travellers. With 695 guest-rooms, a gym, a seasonal outdoor pool and stacks of other amenities, everything one needs for a comfortable stay is on offer.
I was an instant fan of the old cinema light box sign above the main entrance which sets the tone for the hotel’s design persona. The exposed interior brick walls adorned with edgy Hong Kong graphics and artwork supplied by G.O.D add to the fun, quirky and modern feel – a vibe that sets the pentahotel apart from many other Hong Kong hotels
The pentahotel lobby, reception area, bar and café are combined into a single open plan space which makes for a pretty lively environment. With its dim lighting accented by pops of colour from illuminated neon signs, the eatstreet@pentalounge serves favourite local Hong Kong dishes, a variety of comfort food (think fries, toasted sandwiches and hotdogs), as well as all-day drinks.
While the pentaplus King room I stayed in was comfortable and functional, it was slightly snug in terms of space, meaning I decided to spend most of my time out and about. Having hardly done any exploring of Diamond Hill or the surrounding neighbourhoods, I saw my staycation as a good opportunity to do a bit of much-needed sightseeing. Given the hotel is just several minutes’ walk from the Diamond Hill MTR station and in close proximity to a stack of popular local eateries and attractions, getting around was a piece of cake. The pentahotel staff will help you suss wherever you want to venture, so here are my top three things to do and see and eat:
Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden
Whether you’ve lived in Hong Kong for a few years or have a friend staying for a few days, the Chi Lin Nunnery is an absolute must-do. I was blown away by this large temple complex comprised of meticulous wooden architecture, cherished Buddhist relics and soul-soothing lotus ponds. It’s a wonder how peaceful it is given it’s located next to a main road – you feel a world away from the big city.
Just a stone’s throw away (i.e. two-minutes’ walk) is the Nan Lian Garden, a public park also built in the style of the Tang dynasty. Spanning an area of 3.5 hectares, the beauty and attention to detail of this urban oasis is breath-taking. Every rock, body of water, plant and timber structure along the manicured pathway has been placed according to specific rules and methods – I couldn’t believe I hadn’t visited this TripAdvisor traveller’s choice award winner sooner.
Kowloon Walled City Park
I had no clue whatsoever about Kowloon City’s checkered past before visiting the Kowloon Walled City Park. While it’s nowhere near as pristine as the Nan Lian Garden, this park is steeped in fascinating history and still features traces of the original walled city where everything from drug trafficking and prostitution to unlicensed dentistry flourished in a compact maze of illegally constructed buildings. Art exhibitions (both fixed and temporary) are held at the park making a visit there extra worthwhile.
Get your Thai on!
If I could only eat one cuisine for the rest of my life it would be Thai, so you can imagine my joy upon discovering what essentially is ‘Little Thailand’ across the road from the Kowloon Walled City Park. Although they’re dotted around the neighbourhood, you’ll find most Thai businesses in the eastern part of the neighborhood (near the corner of South Wall Road and Nga Tsin Wai Road). I grabbed a bite to eat at cheap and cheerful Thai Hot (G/F, 30-32 Nam Kok Road) and wasn’t disappointed.
My stay at the pentahotel surprised and impressed me on all sorts of levels. From its fun and edgy interior, to the incredibly helpful and friendly staff, it was a really enjoyable place to spend a weekend. The pentahotel is somewhere I’d definitely recommend staying if you’re keen to explore a different part of Hong Kong. I’d absolutely recommend friends and family from out of town consider booking there too.