8 May 2011


my city: hong kong by sam lennon

Story by Claire Sullivan

New Zealand designer Sam Lennon shares some of his favourite spots in his new hometown.

Departing New Zealand earlier in the year to take up a role as lead designer for a design and production company based in Hong Kong, furniture designer Sam Lennon has since worked on some enviable projects. Specialising in events for such companies as the uber chic Lane Crawford department store, Lennon recently transformed an empty warehouse into an exhibition space to showcase films commissioned by designer Phillip Lim. The space included custom designed bars, furniture and lighting. Currently in the process of designing a temporary pavilion for Hennessey for the roof top of a hotel in Macau, Sam took a moment out of his intense schedule to show us the sights in his new home town – Hong Kong.

Sense 99 was my first introduction to Hong Kong nightlife and on first impressions I loved it. However, it was the last place I would have expected to exist here.  Ascending up a steep flight of stairs you will find Sense 99.  A two level private bar, live music venue, exhibition space and chill-out lounge, open only on weekends or for special occasions. Sense 99 is set in a old prewar building with high ceilings, original tiled floors and small outdoor terraces overlooking the street; this combined with the mismatched vintage leather chairs and revolving artwork sets the scene for a no fuss or frills lounge bar. The first floor is the bar and the second floor is where you’ll find the microphone, piano, drum kit & guitars waiting for whomever wants to give it a go. There is also a great mix of chilled out characters here and it’s always a good place to post up for a few beers, a laugh and some general chit chat. (2/F-3/F 99F Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong)

Lei Dou is right in the thick Lan Kwai Fong which is Hong Kong’s party central (apparently there used to be a secret bar and hangout on the second level but now it has moved to the ground floor, however, it has no signage and if you didn’t know it was there you would be oblivious to its existence). It’s cluttered with old European furniture, antiques, pot plants and mirrors. It’s always playing really good loungy music. It also has a little smokers’ lounge out the back. It’s a great spot for after work drinks or a great place to finish the night.
(G/F, 20-22 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong)

South Bay Beach Club so you’re looking to escape your shoe box apartment, have a late lunch, laze around and get some sun. Or if you’re fond of a good Sunday session then this is the spot. South Bay is about a half an hour excursion from central involving a bus and a small walk or taxi. It is the beach of choice for a lot of expats due to its private location and amazing surroundings. Set at the foot of steep hills and surrounding bush is the sandy beach and the South Bay Beach Club.

The Beach Club is the only building there, it faces the ocean with DJs  playing good tunes, has a fully stocked bar and a kitchen that serves a quality grill-oriented menu. On a sunny day there is a good crowd of people here and it is a great place to get away from the city. A good place to hang out and watch the sun go down.

The Pawn is a three story establishment housed in an atmospheric heritage building and named after what it used to be in the old days – a pawn shop. The interior is an eclectic mix of vintage furniture with a dash of contemporary detailing, namely the re-use of old timber as a vertical wall lining in a number of the rooms. There is a narrow sheltered outdoor terrace off the dining room and bar areas where you can sit on the comfy couches and have a few vinos whilst overlooking a classic scene of Hong Kong’s street life: neon lights, the passing trams and of course the skyscrapers. On certain nights there’s a jazz band that plays live music. A good place to start the night and another great spot for a few casual drinks. (62 Johnston Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong)

Shanghai Lane is my frequented restaurant of choice for lunch. It serves traditional Shanghai style food. The interior is nothing to write home about but the food is damn good – you can pretty much close your eyes and point to anything on the menu and you’ll be happy (don’t play this game elsewhere, I’ve tried and it generally ends in tears…or in a napkin). Shanghai Lane is located on Gough Street in Soho, Central and has a few really good furniture and design shops around it so it’s always a long lunch break for me. (35-37 Gough Street, SOHO, Central)

Barista Jam is good. There is not much in the way of good coffee out these ways but Barista Jam located in Sheung Wan is worth the short walk from central to get your coffee hit. I think we are super spoilt with good coffee spots in Auckland so you really appreciate a good coffee when it’s taken away from you.  Barista Jam is a two level semi-industrial styled cafe selling great coffee, great sandwiches, small sweet treats and all the stylish coffee paraphernalia you need to make a good coffee at home. (126-128 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan)



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