You might not have heard of Ovolo Hotels in Europe. They are an independent and fast-growing brand in Hong Kong and Australia.
We went to check out Ovolo’s newest hotel: Mojo Nomad Central in Hong Kong. They proudly proclaim themselves as the world’s newest boutique micro-chain of hotels. And when you visit their latest hotel, you will be dumbstruck by their ingenuity of turning a sliver of a building cramped in between two nondescript high-rises into one of the funkiest hotels in town.
Sheung Wan is the up-and-coming district at the moment, with trendy bars and restaurants migrating west due to the high rents at more established nightlife areas like Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo.
The only problem with all the narrow, winding roads in the area is getting to the hotel might be tricky; taxis can’t stop right outside the hotel and the MTR and trams are a short walk away. However, without luggage, it is relatively easy to stroll along to the Central district where you can find upmarket designer shops and countless hip restaurants in Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo.
Even before you walk into the hotel, just by looking at their website, you realise Mojo Nomad Central is very designed-focused. It is all about brightening up mundane spaces and bringing a smile to customers’ faces. As we travel up the tiny lift to the hotel room, there isn’t generic elevator music but U2’s It’s a Beautiful Day pumping out.
Make no mistake, the rooms are not massive, but the interior design work that has gone in to creating the rooms is phenomenal. Gone are the typical hotel wardrobes to save space, but a strategically placed, exposed coat rail still seems to work. The walls are brought to life with a sea of blue geometric shapes and funky retro posters.
They love giving away freebies at Nomad Mojo Central, we were welcomed with a decorative plate of meringues and chocolates. Then there is free bottled water, free WiFi, free local calls and free newspapers (in the common areas). And yes, the micro-bathroom still has space for a rainfall showerhead.
However, they try to encourage you to spend more time out of the hotel room and in their other spaces. To this effect, they have a well-designed co-working space, a small twenty-four-hour fitness centre, and a very trendy restaurant and bar, Te Quiero Mucho.
You might expect Cantonese or Italian, but they’ve gone for the exotic and offered up a Mexican restaurant. Their bottomless brunch is very reasonably priced at HK$278 which includes unlimited tacos, tostadas and salad and one main course dish.
They’ve caught on to the Trump bandwagon by offering The Trump Taco: a lot of beef tongue and a wall of chicharron. The free-flowing tacos didn’t quite work, as they came one piece at a time. We would have rather they charged it as a starter course and offered three instead. However, the main courses were filling and the vegetarian amongst us always approves when there are huevos rancheros.
If you are a fan of well-designed venues, then you must check out Dear Lilly too – a medium-stroll away from the hotel at the massive IFC Mall in Central. This floral fantasy world ups the ante compared to places like Peggy Porschen and Elan cafe in London.
The 19th-century Parisian-themed restaurant is spectacular to admire from the vast array of dried roses hanging from the ceiling in perfume bottles to the heart-shaped booths to the beautiful handwritten motifs on the floor to even just the view of Hong Kong harbour. This is a venue designed for jaws to drop on arrival.
You might expect a restaurant like this to be all style and no substance, but the food is of an incredibly high standard. Scallop carpaccio is the best I’ve had anywhere in the world and is a work of genius combining it with blood orange and yuzu dressing to offer tremendously tangy, citrusy, vibrant flavours.
There was no skimping of ingredients. Their seafood linguine had shrimps, calamari, octopus, mussels, and even lobster butter and our vegetarian got the fright of his life as he sunk his teeth into an impossible burger. Yes, it was plant-based and ‘meatless meat’ as described on the menu but this is as close to the real thing as you will ever get. They use an ingredient called haem, which is an iron substance that is normally in abundance in animal muscle to recreate those moreish, meaty flavours.
If you are a fan of clever interior design, both Mojo Nomad Central and Dear Lilly are places not to be missed.