I do a big China trip every January to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family. This year was particularly special because I brought Adrian with me to meet my Dad for the first time. I have never brought anyone with me back to China before and my Dad has never met any of my boyfriends (crazy right!), so this was a huge deal. Adrian and I were both so excited and anxious for the trip, so we decided to book a few nights at Upper House Hong Kong first before meeting my Dad. The trip started off pretty well and everything was normal…until we heard news of the coronavirus. But before I get into that, let’s take a look at the fabulous Upper House Hong Kong.
The best way to describe Upper House Hong Kong is that it’s one of those hotels where you can see yourself living in for the rest of your life. I first found out about this hotel on Instagram 2 years ago, and this time when I was looking for a Hong Kong hotel, I came across several reviews that said the Upper House is the best hotel in Hong Kong. I am happy to report that the reviews were right. Upper House Hong Kong is undoubtably one of the most comfortable, luxurious, and attentive hotels I’ve ever stayed at. From the moment you walk into the lobby, you are personally escorted by a guest manager up to your room, where you are given an in-depth room tour and provided with anything else you need. The rooms themselves are the kind of room you never want to leave. Every room in the hotel is bigger than the size of a studio apartment in NYC and comes with a stunning city or harbour view in both the bedroom and bathroom. The staff is endlessly attentive – on the first night, a dessert was sent up to our room with a custom handwritten note. On the second night, we had an issue with the toilet (which turned out not to be an issue at all when maintenance came up), so the staff sent up two glasses of champagne for the inconvenience. When my laptop was having trouble connecting to the WiFi, a technician hardwired the IP address onto my laptop. This is the kind of service that goes above and beyond, making you feel so cared for that for once in your life you don’t have to worry about anything and can properly enjoy a vacation.
My favorite part of our room was the luxurious bathroom with a gorgeous bathtub and even more gorgeous view. I always judge how nice hotels are by the bathroom, and Upper House Hong Kong definitely had one of the nicest bathrooms. Taking a bath while overlooking the city is such a treat!
Another standout at Upper House Hong Kong was the food. I did not have one bad meal there, which is saying a lot as we ate almost every meal at the hotel for 2 days. I especially enjoyed the breakfast and couldn’t wait to wake up everyday to eat it. I highly recommend the avocado toast, truffle scramble croissant, and dutch pancake.
After Hongkong, we took a quick trip to Macau for 2 days. Macau is like the Vegas of China, and Adrian was REALLY excited to go. We stayed at The Morpheus Macau, which is one of the newest hotels in Macau with a futuristic vibe. The architecture was really unique as you can see in the above photo. For a more in-depth Macau travel diary, see my posts here & here from previous years.
After Macau, we headed to Dongguan, a city in Mainland China close to Shenzhen. We stayed at a golf resort Mission Hills Dongguan for the remainder of the trip and to spend Chinese New Year. We left New York on January 13th and arrived in Dongguan on January 19th. Up until now, we had not heard anything about the coronavirus. The only sign of it was that in Macau, all the casinos checked our body temperatures with a machine that scanned our foreheads for fever. But we didn’t think anything of it as we thought it was just flu season precautions. The first few days in Dongguan, we took a day trip to Shenzhen where I got some Hello Kitty ice cream, and explored a nearby park. But on January 22nd, news of the coronavirus broke. We found out the virus was actually first discovered at the end of December but was kept under wraps until January 22nd. The initial news was already pretty alarming with several deaths reported, so at that point we made the decision to not leave the resort for the rest of the trip, and started wearing face masks. Luckily there were no cases reported in Dongguan yet, but it was hard to say whether someone at the resort could have been to Wuhan, so we took precautionary measures.
In the next fews days, the coronavirus news continued to escalate, and we continued to stay in the resort. Adrian and I went to get a couples massage at the resort spa on the 26th, and all our masseuses could talk about was the coronavirus and how we shouldn’t have come to China at all. While getting our massages, our masseuses warned us to stay inside and told us that we really shouldn’t have come to the spa today, and that the spa will likely close in the next few days. Needless to say, it was not the most relaxing massage. Things continued to escalate in the next few days as other countries started reporting coronavirus cases, and we started reading about flight cancellations. I began to worry about our flight leaving on January 31st and whether we would be able to leave China. We had an Air China flight that left from Hongkong but then had a layover in Beijing, and my gut told me that it was not a good idea to have a layover in Beijing in the midst of the virus. I did not want to fly from HK back to mainland China where there were more cases of the virus, and spend more time than necessary at the airport. On January 29th, I saw news that Trump was planning on restricting travel from Mainland China to the US and suspending flights. This was when I really started freaking out, and determined that we needed to rebook our tickets to fly straight from Hongkong to New York, rather than stopping in Beijing. I also decided that we needed to leave ASAP and not wait until the 31st. So we ended up booking new flights on Cathay Pacific to leave on the 30th straight from Hong Kong to New York. And boy am I glad we did, because a few days later, the US announced the 14-day quarantine for anyone returning from China. It actually shocked me that when we arrived in JFK on the 30th, no one took our body temperatures and we breezed through customs. It just goes to show how quickly things escalated in the few days after we got back to the US.
Being in China during the coronavirus outbreak was a surreal experience, especially since we went there without knowing about it, and found out while we were in China. Adrian and I felt like we were in an apocalyptic movie. The rest of my family is actually still at the resort in Dongguan. They decided not to go back to Beijing yet due to the severity of the outbreak there, and now flights to Beijing keep getting canceled. I am grateful to be back in New York and in good health, and can only hope that the rest of my family in China stays safe and healthy as well.
To see more of my trip, you can check out my Instagram story highlights here.
Thanks for reading,