Shama Central is one of several service apartments that the Shama group operates in Hong Kong and cities in mainland China. The Shama Central and the Shama Causeway Bay are the only ones currently rented on a daily basis in HK. We stayed in a standard one-bedroom unit during the Xmas holidays. We wanted something bigger than a hotel room for the 3 of us, with a kitchen for snacks in the evening or if jet lag had us waking early in the morning. We made the reservation by phone from the U.S. with their English-speaking HK office. If you book 5+ days you can get a “weekly-rate” discount off the daily rate. We booked with the discount but then called 48 hours before arriving to shorten the stay, so our rate reverted to the normal daily rate, still a bargain compared to hotel rates. The rate they quote covers everything – no tax, service charge or internet fees on top of that.
This apartment is not really located in Central, it’s in the trendy south of Hollywood (SoHo) district close to the mid-levels and a couple blocks beyond the Escalator. Insert the address in Google Maps and you’ll get an accurate fix on the location. The apartment is on Peel Street, a pedestrian-only street of boutique restaurants, bars and street vendors. Your taxi will drop you off at the top of the block at Hollywood St. Call ahead so the apartment will send a porter to help get your luggage down the hill. This location is a little difficult for taxis to navigate to because of one-way and closed streets, but you can always get a taxi quickly at the Hollywood intersection. It’s also a fairly long (6-8 blocks) walk to the Central or Hong Kong MTR stations. On the other hand, the immediate neighborhood is full of local color (see photos) with fish mongers, vegetable stands, and all kinds of clothing and trinket street vendors, as well as wonderful high-end and low-end restaurants.
The apartment building was newish-looking; the Shama web site photos of the building and units are accurate. The office was on the second floor (3rd floor by U.S. standards, as the first floor is the “ground” floor) and seemed to be manned 24-7. The staff was calm, extremely friendly and had a desire-to-please attitude that was genuine and not the plastic, trained friendliness you find in hotels these days. Every staff person we ran into, in the elevator or hallway, would greet you as if you were a family friend. This resulted in a very homey feel to the place. The office had two Mac computers for guest use and a printer. (I believe there is a charge for printing.) Free cookies were laid out and a Nespresso espresso machine with a free selection of regular and decaff coffee pods was available all the time. I would pop down a couple times in the morning for a brew to take back to my unit. Since the number “4” is unlucky in Chinese, there was no 4th, 14th or 24th floor – but there was a 13th floor!
Our unit had a tiny kitchenette with stove, microwave, under-counter refrigerator, hot water boiler, toaster, pots, plates, glasses, utensils, chef knives/scissor and cleaning items. There were single-serve instant coffee packets and a selection of teas. Two bottles of water were set out on arrival and sometimes (not always) replaced by the daily maid service – you can get more (sometimes but not always) from the office. Despite what the website says, there was daily maid service even on holidays. There were air conditioning units in the living room and bedroom with remote controls, but no heating. As this was during the cool period in Hong Kong, they brought in a portable sealed-liquid electric radiator which did the job nicely. There were many windows which opened to allow in fresh air. When we made the reservation, they said there were no non-smoking rooms so we wanted windows that open as we’re sensitive to smoke. But our room surprisingly had none of that residual stale smoke odor. In fact, during our entire stay we never saw (or smelled) anyone smoking in or around the apartment building. It was also very quiet, to the point where we wondered whether anyone else occupied the two other units on our floor. We never heard any noise from the unit above, or from the street. There are no real views from the windows except rooftops of apartments below.
Furniture was of medium quality, not new but in good condition. The bed was equivalent to an American king size (very large). The mattress was very hard, which was fine with us, and the linens were white high-quality finely-woven cottons now found at all high-end hotels. The sofa was not a sofa-bed, the management brought in a roll-away bed for our son and waived the HK$200/day fee. There was a small dining table with two chairs and a bench. Lighting was plentiful, with ceiling indirect dimmer lights in the bedroom and living room. The bedroom had a large closet with drawers and plenty of wooden hangers. Two bedstands also had drawers. A small electronic safe accommodated a 15 inch laptop and paper files. There was an iron but I don’t recall if there was a hair-dryer.
The bathroom was tiled with a marble-top counter. It was clean, but didn’t have that antiseptic, hospital-clean feeling that you get in some hotels. The sink counter had two drawers. Toiletries were high-quality Bulgari shampoo, conditioner, lotion and shower gel. There was a large shower stall (no bathtub) with a rain-type shower head. This didn’t produce the high-power fire hose spray that some people like. As is standard in Hong Kong apartments, there was a switch (on the lighting switchplate) for the water heater which you need to remember to turn on a few (2-5) minutes beforehand. The hot water in the shower sometimes varied hotter or colder during a shower. There was a standard 110 volt – 220 volt electric shaver outlet that took U.S. and European two-prong plugs.
This apartment came with a 42-inch Hitachi flat panel TV and a Toshiba DVD player that played US region-1 DVDs that we brought from home. The visual quality of the DVDs played on this setup was among the best I’ve seen, better than what we had at home. English-language TV stations included CNN, BBC, CineMax, HBO and Discovery. There was a small “boom-box” type stereo that we didn’t use. In the bedroom was a small stereo with iPod dock. There was no TV in the bedroom. Shama shrewdly anticipated that guests would use the dining table as the office desk, so the wall next to it had two electric outlets plus (and I’ve never seen this anywhere else) a 4-outlet power strip, in addition to the LAN high-speed network cable. All outlets were Hong Kong 3-prong UK-style, so you’ll need adapters (we had several so didn’t need to ask Shama for any). My laptop also detected a Shama unsecured wireless node, but I didn’t use it. The free wired internet worked great. There were phones in the living room and bedroom. Local calls were free -- which means calls anywhere in Hong Kong (that’s why storekeepers will let anyone use their phone – the territory is so small you can’t make a long-distance call). The room came with a direct-dial phone number that you can give out so others can call you directly at your apartment. A voicemail system takes a message if you’re not there.
In addition to expensive laundry/dry cleaning service like you get at hotels, the Shama had a self-service laundry room on the 6th floor with three washers and two high-capacity dryers. Amazingly, these were free; you only needed to provide your own detergent. The laundry room also had a wash sink, an ironing board with iron, TV and sofa.
There’s no restaurant or room service at the apartment. Outside, if you go down Peel Street and turn right on Gage Street (also mostly pedestrian, with an occasional delivery truck wading through the sea of shoppers) there’s a Park-N-Shop grocery store with the essentials (e.g., laundry detergent). Before there is the Lan Fong Yuen restaurant. This is a well-known local spot for cheap Hong Kong/English style comfort food. Breakfast of milk tea or their special milk coffee plus their specialty roll with butter and condensed cream costs about HK$20. Their grilled pork bun (the picture on the wall made it look like a hamburger) also was a cheap local specialty that’s quite tasty. For lunch, I had a wonderful fish in white sauce over rice.
A block over from Peel at 17 Aberdeen Street is the Red Tavern, a high-end continental restaurant. A relative took us there for dinner and it was fabulous. HK$350-400 got you a complete dinner with hors d’hoeuvres, appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, entrée, dessert and coffee/tea. Each plate they brought out was surprising and wonderful and by the end we were stuffed. They had no wine menu, so our host, a connoisseur of international wines, stopped by the Park-N-Shop and bought an unexpectedly good wine– so good that she bought a case and had it delivered to her home. The Red Tavern doesn’t charge a corkage fee. Book ahead as it has only about 7 tables.
We toured all the room configurations at the Shama Central. Our apartment was about 725 square feet. There was a larger “luxury” one-bedroom apartment with a separated living room with a pull-out room divider that can make it into sort of a bedroom separated from the kitchen/dining area. That unit also had a small TV in the bedroom. The full two bedroom unit has a second half-bath (toilet and sink only). The studio unit was much roomier than a hotel room and a good value.
In summary, we found the Shama Central to be a comfortable and quiet alternative to a hotel, particularly for a family, that generated a home-away-from-home feel, and we enjoyed the local color. We wouldn’t hesitate to return there on our next visit.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located on Peel Street, in the heart of Central, our 56 chic contemporary serviced apartments provide calming retreats in the perfect location. The city’s most vibrant neighborhood boasts traditional market stalls, fashionable restaurants, antique shops and stylish boutiques all nestled side by side and offering a true slice of Hong Kong life. With their unparalleled location, lavish furnishings and our staff’s uncompromising care, the apartments of Shama Central exemplify luxurious city living. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Shama Central Hotel Hong Kong
- Shama Central Serviced Apartment Hong Kong