Tai O Heritage Hotel, in the heart of Hong Kong's oldest fishing village on Lantau Island 香港古迹游: 时光倒流大澳文物酒店
Hong Kong is a city in constant flux, reinventing itself virtually every day. New buildings seem to appear overnight, shops are suddenly transformed, and everyone is always on the go. While Singapore has been criticised for not preserving a sufficient amount of its colonial architectural past, Hong Kong has been just as guilty, perhaps even more so, of failing to protect its built past. Yet one kind of building in Hong Kong has managed to escape the demolition balls.
Nestled in the Lantau Island is Tai O, otherwise known as the Venice of Hong Kong. Over many decades, Hong Kong has gone through rapid changes and as one of the world's leading financial hubs it is easy to forget its humble origins when it first started out as a fishing village. Tai O is now a hugely popular spot for locals, expats and tourists alike and is one of the very few places that still reflects the true history of this beautiful bustling city. Surrounded by vast blue stretches of ocean, its iconic stilt houses built above the water with luscious green hills as its backdrop, Tai O is a uniquely charming place and the Tai O Heritage Hotel is an unusual blend of the city’s history and its preoccupation with commerce.
大澳渔村是上一次香港行，其中一个让我印像很深刻的地方。大澳文物酒店（Tai O Heritage Hotel）前身为大澳警署，位于香港大屿山大澳石仔埗街渡轮码头旁的小丘上。19世纪末的白色古典建筑，精致优雅。虽然规模不大 (只有九间海景房)，但是因为酒店属于二级历史建筑，又多了几分复古风情。遊走大澳，不妨考虑在饶富历史的文物酒店住上一晚，偶尔放缓城市人的急促脚步，去感受香港独有的水乡情。其实无论是大澳还是大澳警署，都是一段香港的历史。在这里停歇，细听这里的一砖一瓦，揭开一页页影响深远的历史故事，对城市人来说，是一种享受。
The hotel building served as a police station for a century before its closure and decline into a sorry state of disrepair. It was beautifully restored by the Hong Kong Conservation Foundation and very tastefully converted into a 9-room boutique hotel, which opened in 2010. It is an outstanding example of colonial architecture; with it’s arched facade and French windows. This is one example of how Hong Kong has gotten it right – preserving a beautiful building, rich in history, for me and visitors to enjoy.
The leafy entrance to the Tai O Heritage Hotel.
The front façade was not disturbed while complying with modern building ordinances. New additional structures were moved to the back, achieving balance between maintaining a degree of privacy to hotel guests while allowing public access to the historic building.
A report room, an armoury and two cells now form part of the hotel's small reception. The old shutters, some still pockmarked with bullet holes from pirates, have been painted a beautiful dark grey. Original canons lie scattered around the grounds, authentic touches like the lookout point numbers remain and interesting features are highlighted with signposts and old photos.
To retain some semblance of its history of law and order, the redevelopment also restored the surrounding cannons, searchlight and guard towers. So be sure not to get too rowdy on your vacation as they also refurbished the jail cells.
Beautiful hallways transport you to a bygone era.
This hotel is at end of a commanding elevated point overlooking the sea.
The terrace overlooking the water.
Although the hotel is up a hill, there is lift access for those pesky strollers.
The Tai O Lookout is the only new addition to the otherwise preserved colonial building. With large floor-to-ceiling glass sheets and bronze-coloured steel pillars, it makes the most out of its natural surroundings, allowing you to dine whilst watching the sun setting over the gorgeous peaceful bay beneath. The restaurant is intended more as a humble café than fine dining establishment and is combined with an art gallery showcasing pieces created by local artists, with all the money collected from art sales going straight back into the village.
玻璃屋顶餐厅Tai O Lookout，保留了原有的天台看守塔，前身为昔日水警监视海盗之用，餐厅亦因此而命名。Tai O Lookout 的餐厅有著殖民地风格的典雅装潢，明亮的光线与美景是ㄧ大特色，餐厅里精緻的曲木傢俱。玻璃窗的优美景致，里面也展示了本地艺术家的创作，是个不错的公共艺术空间。
The hotel offers beautiful views to the South China Sea and Tai O Village. I pause to admire the un-Hong Kong-like panorama across to forested hillsides on the opposite point of the harbour entrance and far out to the South China Sea, dotted with the unmistakable outline of near and distant shipping.
The diagram below provided by the Tai O Heritage Hotel shows it best on how to get to Tai O Heritage Hotel:
Tai O Heritage Hotel operates as a non-profit social enterprise with income being used for the conservation of local historic buildings and the promotion of the cultural heritage of Tai O village. It’s such a nice change from the usual accommodation offerings in Hong Kong, allowing visitors to experience the delights and charms of a local fishing village, to appreciate the heritage and history of Hong Kong, as well as ecotourism.
香港的乡野公园和海岸线非常迷人，这个文物酒店让游客体验香港本地村落的趣味和魅力，感受香港的传统和历史，以及实现生态旅游。如果算上它的前世今生，这座建筑物今年刚好 115岁。如今外观依旧，内部却被 “活化使用”，也是推广大澳文化遗产的一种方式。
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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