Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hulett House and 1881 Heritage Building

I've been trying to find spots in Hong Kong that my parents would enjoy seeing.  They have visited a number of times already and each time I have tried to show them something new.  This time, I was thinking of taking them on an "Old Hong Kong" tour.  And one of the first things that came to mind was visiting Hulett House and the 1881 Heritage Building down in Tsim Sha Tsui.

I had the afternoon off, so I called the hotel and arranged a mini tour for myself to learn a bit of the history of the buildings.

Hulett House was once the headquarters for the Hong Kong Marine Police.  The building was then renovated to become a hotel and shopping complex.

The tour began at the Mariners' Rest.  My tour guide told me that this pub was once the reporting room and holding chamber for criminals.  There was also a trap door near the fireplace that she said is thought to have been an escape route leading to Kowloon Park.  There were three jail cells in the back, which my tour guide joked, "We call them the First Class, Business, and Economy cells."  The First Class cell had a window and toilet, the Business class had light from the first cell's window and no toilet, and the Economy cell had no window or toilet.

The second stop on the tour was the 50 Pigeon's Courtyard, so named because it was home to 50 messenger pigeons that resided there.

Pigeon coup

Another stop on the tour was the stable area, which has since been converted to the Stables Grill.  My wonderful guide said that up to four horses were kept there at a time, while the rooms above the stables were used as lodging for the stable workers.  The stables were also home of Hong Kong's first flushing toilet.  When we went to see the flushing toilet...I realized it was just a "toilet" where you would have to pour a bucket of water down to drain!

Old stable doors
These were the highlights of the tour, but we also walked the grounds.  We checked out the Signal Tower, the Indian Constables Office, and the landscaping.  Right in front of the stables was a palm tree that was relocated here from Egypt.  She told me that sailors who would bring plants from overseas would get a free round of drinks and accommodations for the night.  That was another little story that I loved to hear about!

Besides being able to tour the grounds, Hulett House is also home to one of the most highly acclaimed afternoon tea experiences on the Kowloon side.  Afternoon tea at The Parlour runs at just under $400 HKD for a party of two!  So, a walking tour of Old Colonial Hong Kong and a relaxing afternoon tea...what more can I ask for...a perfect afternoon!