Design And Style-Driven Experiences At Carlyle & Co. In Hong Kong

Nine years ago, Sonia Cheng, CEO of the Rosewood Hotels and Founder of Carlyle & Co, envisioned a landmark, private club that would challenge and redefine the traditional members-only experience in Hong Kong. In June of 2021, after six years of careful conceptualization, thoughtful design, and meticulous preparations, Carlyle & Co finally opened its doors on the 55th floor of the Victoria Dockside in Kowloon. Since day one, the 25,000 square feet social club has drawn its rich, sensorial narrative from New York’s iconic bastion of luxury and style, The Carlyle , A Rosewood Hotel.

Designed by Studioilse’s Ilse Crawford, walking into Carlyle & Co feels more like entering a beautifully appointed Upper East Side penthouse. A distinct sense of place imbued with elements unique to The Carlyle in New York informs every corner and nook of the club. The expansive floor plan is configured to accommodate the activities, events and needs of its members throughout the day. Areas like the library, game room, dining room, chef’s table and living room are decidedly discreet and intimate yet inviting and warm. These spaces, which can be booked for private get togethers and events, are nothing like your usual, generic-looking hotel function rooms. They are expressions of the community’s impeccable style, and its pursuit of the fine life.

The club is a reflection of elevated design inclinations. Murals and commissioned pieces meld seamlessly with custom furniture and design-forward decor to create a visual play of color and texture. The team at Carlyle & Co shares, “Rather than creating somewhere to see and be seen, the spirit of Carlyle & Co is one of generosity and familiarity. A playful sense of charm is threaded through the layering of rich colors and textures, whimsical illustrations, and tactile materials that delight the senses and capture the imagination.”

Bespoke suites located on the 54th floor distinguish Carlyle & Co from other members-only clubs. This added feature extends the brand’s ethos and lifestyle codes to the accommodations and luxury travel category. The club writes: “When you’ve been at the club far too late on a weeknight, but need to be on point and perfectly presented for breakfast in the Brasserie the following morning (at a shockingly unsocial hour), it’s far more convenient to stay.”

There are eight pieds-a-terres, each one designed to honor the stories and celebrate the notable personalities who have shaped The Carlyle’s rich history. These icons include: singer-actress Eartha Kitt, singer-pianist Bobby Short, Bemelman Bar’s longest serving bartender Tommy Rowles, interior decorator Dorothy Draper, and artist Ludwig Bemelman.

During a recent work trip to Hong Kong, I was billeted at the Ludwig suite, which allowed me to access the various amenities and unique experiences at Carlyle & Co. “Whilst you’re a guest in our Bedrooms, you are an honourary member of the Carlyle & Co,” explained the team in an email days before my arrival. Apart from food concepts and private function rooms, there was an option to utilize the health and wellness club, which features a fully-equipped gym and pool . Members, even the honourary ones, could also get a suit tailored by the Armoury Atelier or book a grooming session at the barber shop.

Following seamless transfers from the airport and check-in, I found myself in a well-appointed room that featured an impressive bar stocked with some of the finest spirits. “We want to make sure that our guests enjoy their favorite cocktails, even when they are in their rooms,” said staff candidly.

The room was also tastefully dressed with illustration books by Bemelmans, artwork by Jean Philippe Delhomme and a beautiful mural of Paris overhead. The team explains, “Ludwig Bemelmans, known insomniac, Madeline illustrator, once posted a map of Paris onto the ceiling of his Gramercy Park apartment. He’d lie in bed on sleepless nights with a torch in hand, flickering through the Parisian arrondissements by way of flashlight.” A silver flashlight had also been thoughtfully placed on my bedside.

It was almost sunset by the time I had fully settled into my suite. An invitation for sunset cocktails on the 55th floor brought me to the city’s largest private terrace, conveniently located in the club. During golden hour, well-heeled members are inclined to lounge al fresco while enjoying happy hour libations and unparalleled views of the harbor. Dawn at the club’s terrace is like flipping through the style pages of Asia’s top fashion magazines. Here, some of the region’s tastemakers hideout and hangout in stealth manner.

There was ample time to explore the various areas of the club before dinner at the iconic supper club, Café Carlyle Hong Kong. A beautiful lobster linguine, fine wine, and live jazz music by Reuben James were on the menu. Walking around the expansive club after dinner, there was a sense of something magical lurking in the next room or behind the walls. Just beneath a panel lined with bronze sculptures lies a speakeasy-style bar called The Counter. This hidden cocktail gem, which can accommodate up to 16 guests, celebrates the fine art of mixology by whipping up off-menu delights for the after-hours.

There is always a reason to linger and spend prolonged hours at Carlyle & Co. Apart from the unique dining and bar concepts, pocket events keep members engaged and immersed in the growing community of taste makers. Leading up to the club’s third year anniversary, for instance, Carlyle & Co invited select members to an intimate dinner with Kristina Blahnik, CEO of luxury footwear brand Manolo Blahnik and niece of the iconic shoe designer. More recently, British artist Clym Evernden visited the club for the first time for a fireside chat with members to talk about all things art, design, and creative processes. The club’s team furthers, “In the days following, members will get to see the master at work as Clym paints live in-club, putting finishing touches on a large-scale piece commissioned specifically for our third anniversary.”

The late night hour confirmed that it was a good idea to stay in one of the rooms at Carlyle & Co. Back in the Ludwig suite, the bed had been turned down for the evening. A tray of soothing tea and sweet nibbles had also been laid out on the sitting area. Although I was ready to fall into a deep, undisturbed slumber as soon as my head hit the pillow, I simply couldn’t resist reaching for the flashlight. In the dark of my room and wrapped in the warmth of my duvet, I shone the light on memorable arrondissements from my past life in Paris. Outside, the bright lights of the Harbor City danced and sparkled.

During my short stay at Carlyle & Co I felt like I was in several places simultaneously–inside an artist’s apartment in Gramercy Park, at the Carlyle in New York, roaming the streets of Paris, and 54 floors above the heart of the Kowloon. It was that magical, transcendental quality about the space that make it much more than a members only club. It was an experience has forever reshaped my notion of traveling in style when in Hong Kong.

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