Madeline Gressel

Correspondent

  • Hong Kong, China, Asia

Madeline Gressel is a correspondent who lives in Hong Kong and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. Her work can be found in The Wall Street Journal Asia, The South China Morning Post, Time Out Hong Kong, Matador Network and The Glass Magazine. Since graduating high school, Gressel has lived in Udaipur, Bombay, Montreal and Hong Kong, and visited more than 40 countries. She loves scuba diving, music festivals and searching for national renditions of fried chicken. Although most of her travel is in Asia, she holds an enduring love for Provence, Vienna, Virgin Gorda and her hometown, New York City. Russia, Turkey and Madagascar top her travel bucket list.

  • On June 11, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    What are the best hotels in Hong Kong?

    Hong Kong has no shortage of wonderful hotels, although prices can feel quite steep for the region. Choosing one all depends on what you want: 

    For Hong Kong history: The 85-year-old flagship Peninsula and the 50-year-old Mandarin Oriental are locked in an eternal struggle to be Hong Kong's most pedigreed hotel. Each hotel has much to recommend it: The Peninsula has the celebrated Felix restaurant, beautiful colonial archictecture, a famed high tea, and a fleet of green Rolls Royces; The Mandarin has a Forbes Five Star Spa, ten top-notch restaurants, including the private Krug Room, and a sinfully delicious top-floor cocktail bar, the M Bar. Really, the difference comes down to whether you'd prefer to be in Kowloon or on the Island. 

    For understated elegance: The Upper House is Hong Kong's last word in painfully chic elegance. From the grey slate exterior to the warm, inviting interiors, everything in this hotel has been perfectly thought out. Impeccable service, an open mini bar, and the wonderful food and cocktails at Cafe Grey make this the city's hippest hotel. 

    For a different view: It's easy to ignore EAST Hotel, located in Taikoo Shing, but that would be a mistake. Designed by leading Hong Kong architect William Lim, this East Island hotel blends a peaceful vibe with beautiful design and great service. There's a lovely outdoor pool and a 32nd-floor cocktail bar, Sugar. Order the Gin Collins and relax. A perfect place to escape Hong Kong's hectic pace. 

    For a futuristic feeling: Hotel ICON was co-designed by the leading icons of Hong Kong design (hence the name): William Lim, Vivienne Tam, Tommy Li, Freeman Lau, and others. And it shows. The hotel boasts a creative flair and attention to detail that few others have. Amenities include a vertical garden, a rooftop pool, complimentary cocktails, a TST shuttle service, and the popular restaurant, Above & Beyond. 
  • On June 11, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    What is the best way to see Hong Kong in one day?

    Hong Kong is surprisingly easy to get a taste of in a single day. Start on the island, where you can enjoy a delicious brunch at Oolaa on Bridges Street, or one of the many other good restaurants in SoHo. By the time you’ve brunched, stores will have opened, so you can walk through SoHo and the adorably chic PoHo district, leisurely making your way towards the Central Ferry piers.

    If you’re a shopping buff, stop into IFC and hit up Lane Crawford. It’s also a good place to great place to get lunch, housing favorites like Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, St. Betty’s, or SimplyLife Bread & Wine.

    Weather permitting, grab a beer or cider at the Beer Bay near Central Piers, then hop on the Star Ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui. Explore the area, then walk or take the MTR to Prince Edward, where you can explore the bird market, goldfish market and flower market. If you want even more, head to Temple Street for souvenirs and al fresco dinner; if you’re tired, choose one of TST’s gourmet restaurants instead, such as Felix, Above & Beyond, or Aqua, overlooking Victoria Harbour.

    Finally, head back to Central for a night of drinks, at top cocktail bars Origin, Wyndham the Fourth, or Honi Honi (perfect for gin, whiskey or rum, respectively), and dancing, in raucous Lan Kwai Fong or cool-kid club, Fly. Then off to bed, and goodnight Hong Kong! Until next time.
  • On June 11, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    What is the best way to see Hong Kong in one day?

    Hong Kong is surprisingly easy to get a taste of in a single day. Start on the island, where you can enjoy a delicious brunch at Oolaa on Bridges Street, or one of the many other good restaurants in SoHo. By the time you’ve brunched, stores will have opened, so you can walk through SoHo and the adorably chic PoHo district, leisurely making your way towards the Central Ferry piers.

    If you’re a shopping buff, stop into IFC and hit up Lane Crawford. It’s also a good place to great place to get lunch, housing favorites like Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, St. Betty’s, or SimplyLife Bread & Wine.

    If the weather’s nice, grab a beer or cider at the Beer Bay near Central Piers, then hop on the Star Ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui. Explore the area, then walk or take the MTR to Prince Edward, where you can explore the bird market, goldfish market and flower market. If you want even more, head to Temple Street for souvenirs and al fresco dinner; if you’re tired, choose one of TST’s gourmet restaurants instead, such as Felix, Above & Beyond, or Aqua, overlooking Victoria Harbour.

    Finally, head back to Central for a night of drinks, at top cocktail bars Origin, Wyndham the Fourth, or Honi Honi (perfect for gin, whiskey or rum, respectively), and dancing, in raucous Lan Kwai Fong or cool-kid club, Fly. Then off to bed, and goodnight Hong Kong! Until next time.
  • On June 6, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    Where are the best places to go dancing in Hong Kong?

    Hong Kong is a city that loves dancing, but unfortunately there's not a huge range of music available. Most clubs stick to the usual top-40 and popular, well-known house or dubstep music. 

    There are a few exceptions worth experiencing, where it's particularly fun to get your groove on. Most of these clubs feature rotating DJs with a range of styles (hip-hop, d'n'b, reggaeton, indie-electro). 

    Fly perfectly walks the line between bar and club. There's a sizeable dancefloor where people really get it going, but there's also a large outside area (with swings!) where patrons mill around, chat, and smoke cigarettes. Fly features a range of DJs who know their stuff and try to keep things fresh. You can also check out the proprieter, Buzz Concept's, other venue, Socialito, but it usually doesn't carry the same cool vibe. 

    The exclusive London import Boujis is predictably fancy, with a tough door, but once you're in the music can be surprisingly good, mixing indie hip-hop in with more popular tracks. 

    Makumba offers a more laid-back scene, featuring reggae, African beats, world music, and an enthusiastic crowd. Definitely worth checking out. 

    Boudoir, in LKF Hotel, doesn't play anything new or noteworthy, but a few times each evening the club features an engaging burlesque show with genuinely talented dancers, who keep the energy up and impart a sexy vibe. 

    For Hong Kong's hippest hipsters, XXX is the word. The former basement in Sheung Wan featured a grimy, sticky BYOB dancefloor where people could really let loose and get funky to interesting music. The Wing Lok location has closed, due to noise complaints and high rent, but a new space in Sai Ying Pun is set to open soon. 

    In addition to these clubs, there are DJ acts that hop from club to club, peddling their music each weekend. For example, Black Bart is a popular duo who play indie-rock and -electro to packed floors at XXX, Kee Club, and Les Boules. 


  • On June 6, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    Where are the best places to go dancing in Hong Kong?

    Hong Kong is a city that loves dancing, but unfortunately there's not a huge range of music available. Most clubs stick to the usual top-40 and popular, well-known house or dubstep music. 

    There are a few exceptions worth experiencing, where it's particularly fun to get your groove on. Most of these clubs feature rotating DJs with a range of styles (hip-hop, d'n'b, reggaeton, indie-electro). 

    Fly perfectly walks the line between bar and club. There's a sizeable dancefloor where people really get it going, but there's also a large outside area (with swings!) where patrons mill around, chat, and smoke cigarettes. Fly features a range of DJs who know their stuff and try to keep things fresh. You can also check out the proprieter, Buzz Concept's, other venue, Socialito, but it usually doesn't carry the same cool vibe. 

    The exclusive London import Boujis is predictably fancy, with a tough door, but once you're in the music can be surprisingly good, mixing indie hip-hop in with more popular tracks. 

    Makumba offers a more laid-back scene, featuring reggae, African beats, world music, and an enthusiastic crowd. Definitely worth checking out. 

    Boudoir, in LKF Hotel, doesn't play anything new or noteworthy, but a few times each evening, the club features an engaging burlesque show with genuinely talented dancers, who keep the energy up and impart a sexy vibe. 

    For Hong Kong's hippest hipsters, XXX is the word. The former basement in Sheung Wan featured a grimy, sticky BYOB dancefloor where people could really let loose and get funky to interesting music. The Wing Lok location has closed, due to noise complaints and high rent, but a new space in Sai Ying Pun is set to open soon. 

    In addition to these clubs, there are DJ acts that hop from club to club, peddling their music each weekend. For example, Black Bart is a popular duo who play indie-rock and -electro to packed floors at XXX, Kee Club, and Les Boules. 


  • On June 6, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    Where are the best places to go dancing in Hong Kong?

    Hong Kong is a city that loves dancing, but unfortunately there's not a huge range of music available. Most clubs stick to the usual top-40 and popular, well-known house or dubstep music. 

    There are a few exceptions, definitely worth checking out, where it's particularly fun to get your groove on. Most of these clubs feature rotating DJs with a range of styles (hip-hop, d'n'd, reggaeton, indie-electro). 

    Fly perfectly walks the line between bar and club. There's a sizeable dancefloor where people really get it going, but there's also a large outside area (with swings!) where patrons mill around, chat, and smoke cigarettes. Fly features a range of DJs who know their stuff and try to keep things fresh. You can also check out the proprieter, Buzz Concept's, other venue, Socialito, but it usually doesn't carry the same cool vibe. 

    The exclusive London import Boujis is predictably fancy, with a tough door, but once you're in the music can be surprisingly good, mixing indie hip-hop in with more popular tracks. 

    Makumba offers a more laid-back scene, featuring reggae, African beats, world music, and an enthusiastic crowd. Definitely worth checking out. 

    Boudoir, in LKF Hotel, doesn't play anything new or noteworthy, but a few times each evening, the club features an engaging burlesque show with genuinely talented dancers, who keep the energy up and impart a sexy vibe. 

    For Hong Kong's hippest hipsters, XXX is the word. The former-basement in Sheung Wan featured a grimy, sticky BYOB dancefloor where people could really let loose and get funky to interesting music. The Wing Lok location has closed, due to noise complaints and high rent, but a new space in Sai Ying Pun is set to open soon. 

    In addition to these clubs, there are DJ acts that hop from club to club, peddling their music each weekend. For example, Black Bart is a popular duo who play indie-rock and -electro to packed floors at XXX, Kee Club, and Les Boules. 


  • On June 6, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    What is the best time to visit Hong Kong?

    Hong Kong is a tropical climate, so the weather doesn't have a vast range of temperatures, but even so, there are distinct seasons. 

    Winter, from December to March, is chilly but not cold. Temperatures rarely drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so a light jacket and scarf should do it. It's a pleasant time to sightsee, but Hong Kong doesn't have the vibrant energy of sunnier months. 

    In April and May, temperatures are rising, albeit at relatively unpredicatable rates. The typhoon season is beginning, and technically lasts until November. By early May, the ocean is usually warm enough to swim in. 

    In summer, many people complain about the merciless heat and humidity, which can indeed be incapacitating. If you don't do well in wet-heat, don't visit Hong Kong from June to August. However, native Hong Kongers try to make the best of the situation, and the city does blossom with late nights, outdoor parties, boat trips and beach days. It can be a fun time to visit. Even in typhoon season, rains rarely last all day. Tropical downpours tend to occur in late afternoon and very early morning, with clear patches in between. 

    In September, the humidity has burnt off a bit, and temperatures begin to cool. Fall is generally agreed upon as the best time to visit. The weather is pleasant, and it's still swimming weather. 

    Nevertheless, as around the globe, climate patterns are increasingly unpredicatable. In 2011, December was mild, wet and overcast, whereas December 2012 was clear but bitterly cold near Christmas, reaching temperatures near freezing. 

    It's a good idea to keep an eye on recent forecasts and warnings. 
  • On May 28, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    Where can I go watch sports in Hong Kong?

    A large part of the British legacy lies in Hong Kong’s enduring love for sports, or “sport” as it’s called. 
    Horse racing reigns supreme, and you can partake in the fun for only 8 HKD. Hong Kong’s Jockey Club runs two courses from September to June, one in Happy Valley and one in Sha Tin, which together account for a full 11% of the city’s tax revenue. Even if you’re not gambling, the races are a thrill and there’s beer.

    Every year, the Hong Kong Rugby 7s attracts visitors from across the globe who come to enjoy the games, but also the event’s very unique, very raucous atmosphere. It’s tradition for spectators to dress up—often in big groups—and to get very, very drunk on the pitchers of beer and Pimms sold in stadium. Groups of Oompa Loompas, Angry Birds, Borats, Pirates: all standard sights. There are celebrations held across the city, and Lan Kwai Fong transforms into a mad bacchanal. 

    Dragon boat racing is a less inebriated, but no less fun, way to enjoy live sports in Hong Kong. Races are held all spring, but the three-day Dragon Boat Festival commences in mid-June with races around the city.

    In addition to these live events, Hong Kong is full of sports bars, particularly in Wan Chai and SoHo, where you can catch pretty much any game on TV.
  • On May 23, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    What are the five best free things to do in Hong Kong?

    As cities go, Hong Kong can feel heavy on the wallet. But if you're ready to take a rest from the fabulous shopping and the gourmet dining, there are many ways to do it. Here are five fun ways to defer your spending. 

    1. Beach: Hong Kong is blessed with outlying wilderness of astounding beauty. One of the best ways to take advantage of the landscape is to head to the beach. Shek O is pretty, and there's a cute village worth exploring as well. Take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan and then switch to Bus 9. If you stay on a little longer, you'll reach Big Wave Bay, which is smaller but more secluded. If you're willing to venture farther afield, head to Sai Kung where you can take your pick of beautiful stretches of sand. Both Shek O and Sai Kung are surrounded by hills with accessible and scenic hiking trails. 

    2. Art: Many of Hong Kong's museums are free on Wednesdays, including the Heritage Museum, the Musuem of Art, and the historical Sun Yat Sen Museum on Hollywood Road. At the Asia Society, the star exhibits are ticketed, but the beautiful building holds a fair share of public art, and is worth visiting as an attraction in its own right. 

    For a total education in contemporary art, go on a walking gallery tour. Many of Hong Kong's best art galleries are clustered around Hollywood Road and in Sheung Wan, so it's easy to see even 20 in one afternoon. The art shown is world-class, international, very diverse, and often quite cutting edge.

    3. Trams: The trams aren't strictly free--they cost HK $2.40, but they are a cheap and charming way to see the city. Board in Kennedy Town (or anywhere on the line) and ride all the way to the end of the line. Sit on the top deck and take in daily life as you go. 

    4. IFC Roof: On the roof of IFC mall in Central are a number of bars where you can drink al fresco. But the seating is public space. You can bring your own lunch, or a bottle of wine, and sit above Victoria Harbour, watching the clouds drift by. 

    5. Hong Kong Botanical Gardens and Hong Kong Park: The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens are home to over 1,000 species of plants and over 500 birds and animals, including orangutans, lemurs, pythons, and flamingos. Admission is always free.

    Nearby is Hong Kong Park, which is a pleasant, fountain-filled place to pass an afternoon. While you're there, check out the Flagstaff Museum of Teaware, where you can take advantage of the free tea appreciation class. Bottoms up. 
  • On May 21, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    What is public transportation like in Hong Kong?

    From the moment you leave the terminal at Hong Kong International, public transportation is a joy and a relief. The airport express costs 100 HKD, takes 20 minutes to the center to the city, and leaves from right within the arrival terminal. You don't even have to take an escalator. If there's an easier trip from airport to city, I haven't seen it.

    The same goes for inner-city transportation. The MTR is clean, comprehensive, accessible and efficient. Taxis are omnipresent and affordable (though not all drivers speak English). Buses go everywhere, as do their ragtag counterpart, the minibus. And though its reach is limited, the tram is a charming and cheap way to explore downtown.

    Servicing the outlying islands is a network of ferries, which run from the Central Piers. Kowloon is easily reachable by MTR, but the famous Star Ferry is an attraction in itself, and an especially scenic way to cross Victoria Harbour, especially at dusk, or when paired with the Hong Kong light show.

    The easiest way to get around is with an Octopus card, which is like New York’s Metrocard or London’s Oyster. A hundred dollars-worth (plus a fifty dollar redeemable deposit) should last you about a week. Octopus cards can be used on virtually every form of transportation, but they can also be used at many shops, including any 7-11 or Starbucks.
  • On May 21, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    What are the best Hong Kong museums?

    When it comes to museums, Hong Kong is no Paris, London, or New York. The city’s largest museum, the waterfront Hong Kong Museum of Art, is generally accepted to be a dud. If you’re tight on time, gallery hopping is generally a better way to soak up culture. 

    Still, there are some museums worth visiting. The Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of History, and the Hong Kong Science Museum are all highly regarded. In Hong Kong Park, you’ll find the peaceful Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware. And Sheung Wan’s Museum of Medical Sciences is a fascinating place to learn about the formative history of plague in the area.

    Perhaps most impressive is the newly built Asia Society Hong Kong Center, located in Admiralty, across from the Conrad Hotel and the British Consulate. The Former Explosives Magazine, as the Center is called, is composed of four revitalized heritage buildings, sites where the British Army used to make ammunitions. Designed by top American architects Todd Williams and Billie Hsien, the site is built into the lushly green hill face and oriented on the horizontal so that it seems to spread outwards like a tree-house, a welcome respite to Hong Kong’s generally tall and narrow buildings.

    The gorgeous site itself is reason enough to visit, but inside there’s an exhibition center featuring world-class shows. An upcoming exhibit will feature the works of Communist China’s persecuted artists, including Ai Wei Wei. While visiting, make sure to book a table at AMMO, the Asia Society’s elegant modern fusion restaurant.

    The list is growing. Construction on the much anticipated M+ in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District is underway, and hopefully the art museum will open in 2017.
  • On May 21, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    What are the best places to hear live music in Hong Kong?

    Unfortunately, Hong Kong doesn’t have a vibrant a live-music scene to rival neighbors Manila and Singapore. Fortunately, this is changing. Event organizers like Your Mum are working hard to bring popular pop and indie-rock acts to Hong Kong on the regular, transforming the city into one with its finger on the pulse.

    Sometimes these shows, featuring international acts like Grimes and The XX, are held in charmless venues like AsiaWorld Expo or KITEC. It can be worth the trek, but luckily some are held at Grappa’s Cellar, a funky pizza-parlor-turned-venue in Central where you can see genuinely big names perform in close, intimate quarters.

    For a more local slice, head to Hidden Agenda, which occupies a totally unique and valuable niche in  Hong Kong's music ecosystem. The beloved Kwun Tong livehouse plays host to independent mainland, international and local rock bands in an industrial space. It’s also home to events like HKXO, an attempt to unite the disparate Western and Chinese rock scenes. For a glimpse into Hong Kong’s local youth scene, you can’t do much better.

    Finally, Hong Kong’s clubs are increasingly inviting major names like Hot Chip, Massive Attack, and Chromeo to play DJ-sets. Check out Fly, Socialito or the painfully hip, literally underground XXX to see where you can dance the night away. 
  • On May 20, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    What is Hong Kong’s restaurant scene like?

    Dining is one of Hong Kong's main attractions, and understandably so. Eating in this city is truly a treat, whether you're on a budget or ready to splurge. 

    At the top end, Hong Kong is filled with more than its fair share of celebrity chef-led international restaurants. Many of these are located in 5-star hotels accross Central and Tsim Sha Tsui, such as Cafe Grey at the Upper House, Felix at The Peninsula, or the brand-new Sushi Yoshitake at The Mercer. Many of these restaurants also feature spectacular top-floor views of the city. 

    Cantonese fare abounds, in both the fine dining and the dim sum varieties, but Hong Kong is also home to a wide range of regional Chinese food, such as spicy Sichuan, Shanghainese and hearty Northern. (Try Monogamous Chinese for Northern or Ye Shanghai for Shanghainese.) 

    Simply wandering up Hong Kong's hills and through its diverse neighborhoods is a great way to find dinner--the streets are filled with wonderful restaurants or traditonal street stalls, where you'll be served up a steaming bowl of noodles. But if you're feeling less intrepid or tight on time, mall dining should not be underestimated or dismissed. Many of Hong Kong's best restaurants are located within malls like the ifc, Pacific Place, and Elements. (Look out for St. Betty's, Peking Garden, and Mango Tree, respectively.) 



  • On May 15, 2013
    Madeline Gressel answered the question: Madeline Gressel

    What are the best attractions in Hong Kong?

    Within the limits of Hong Kong Island, it’s not a matter of sightseeing so much as observing and absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells of daily life. But once outside the city, there are a few sites not to be missed. 

    Tai O This small fishing village on the Western side of Lantau, sometimes called the “Venice of Hong Kong”, offers a welcome view of what life was like pre-colonization. A full day can be spent wandering through the streets and canals and sampling the street food, which is some of Hong Kong’s best. The pang uk, stilt houses, are built in an open plan that provides a real glimpse into daily life. You can also take a little boat out in the ocean to look for white dolphins. Don’t miss the “Chinese pizza”—more like an omelet, but it’s delicious.

    Tung Chung/ Big Buddha Skip the long line to the peak tram, and head instead to Tung Chung where you can wait on a (slightly) shorter line to board the Ngong Ping cable car, which will whisk you high above the cloudy green hills of Lantau and deposit you at the foot of an 112-foot high Buddha. Although the Buddha is only 20 years old, the breathtaking serenity of his face is timeless.

    Street Markets
    No where is Hong Kong’s hustle and bustle more pronounced than in its many street markets. Even if you’re not in the market for tropical birds, goldfish, or jade, the markets are a great place to practice your bargaining skills and pick up a souvenir, like a personalized chop stamp. Jordan’s Temple Street Market is lined with delicious and raucous al fresco eateries (dai pai dongs), so choose one for dinner and tuck in.
  • On May 15, 2013