Southside stays arty

Ovolo Southside staircase

From art galleries to art walks to walls of street art, it’s no secret that Wong Chuk Hang is home to a growing art scene. It’s also home to Ovolo Southside, Hong Kong’s first New York-style warehouse turned hotel that proudly supports artists and their work.
As Hong Kong turns the spotlight on the art scene this month, I headed over to see how arty a stay in Wong Chuk Hang could be.

What I do know before I arrive is that the hotel was originally designed in 1976 and was a multi-use industrial building. It is one of nine hotels under the Ovolo umbrella and the group’s only property to be included as a Design Hotel™. The redesign was helmed by studio HBA, under Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), who sought to embrace the building’s former life and fuse modern elements which they had achieved with the addition of mid-century utilitarian furniture, poured concrete floors and exposed brickwork. 

Ovolo Southside dining

From street level, the hotel entrance is reminiscent of its industrial past. In place of what used to be a loading bay is now an event space called G.I.G.. Complete with projectors and removable curtains, it’s been used for product launches, gallery events and private parties while the room still has a working vehicle rotator installed, giving a nod to its origins. 

As I arrive at the lobby on the first floor, I do get the overwhelming impression of ‘cool’. Neon signs of popular phrases to my left, grouped with a human form sculpture made out of iron chain by South Korean artist Seo Young-Deok and a collection of paper mache pandas made by French artist Paul Grangeon and adopted by Ovolo Hotels during the 1,600 Pandas world tour in 2014. Modern music culture-inspired pieces from the hotel owner’s personal art collection also hang on the walls. I find myself absorbed as I wait for my tour guide, Assistant Guest Relations and Events manager, Monique Yip. 

Ovolo Southside art space

As she arrives, she walks me through the Komune Lounge. Bright and welcoming, diner-like tables, coupled with a communal workspace and a pool table on the other side of the room make for a very relaxed multi-use space. Complimentary coffee and snacks are available, while Yip tells me the container bar, which literally looks like a shipping container, serves guests free drinks for happy hour between 5pm and 7pm. In fact, the hotel supports a concept of ‘effortless living’, so lots of aspects are covered when you arrive. Free breakfast, free daily replenished mini-bar, free self-laundry services and in-house 24-hour gym. 

Ovolo Southside bar

One floor up is their restaurant, Komune. From the terrace facing south to the second terrace looking onto Wong Chuk Hang Road, the restaurant is clearly designed to maximise light and space. Diners can even watch the action in the kitchen thanks to glass walls. Beverage wise, there is one more option the hotel offers on the top floor called ABOVE. The view stretches over the police training ground, Ocean Park and into Deep Water Bay. If you look back at the bar from the terrace you might notice the mural by Canadian born artist and Hong Kong resident Paul Yuill. 

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>> Wong Chuk Hang—a rising star in the South

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>> Art events around Hong Kong

Ovolo Southside bedroom

The hotel is home to 162 rooms ranging from 215 to 300 square feet and can accommodate families, solo adventurers and corporate guests. With a focus on maximising space and light, large glass windows and especially made room divisions that double as wardrobes make for a comfortable reprieve for both long and short stay guests. Each room is also home to a piece of original art by Zhenggang Xiong, echoing the urban, industrial, creative theme that permeates the building. As I’m shown the rooms, I can’t help but notice the pop art mural in the corridors. Made by a group of young Hong Kong artists called, Parents Parents, it’s a loud eclectic mix of Chinese and English calligraphy, images and printed patterns that embrace an east meets west theme. 

Ovolo Southside corridor mural

As my tour concludes, I’m shown two more pieces of street art back at the entrance of the building. A mural of a roasted chestnut cook using spray paint by New Zealander Rodney Stratton and a large colourful geometric mural by two street artists and illustrators, Messy Desk from Hong Kong and SeeNaeMe from Korea. Inside and out the Ovolo Southside has got a traveler covered for art, food and rest.

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