Notorious for its boxy rooms, you won't get much bang for your buck in Hong Kong hotels. That said, service is usually very good and there's plenty of diversity, from dorm beds to chic apartments and palatial suites. Most hotels on Hong Kong Island are between Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay; in Kowloon, they fall around Nathan Rd, where you’ll also find budget places.

Facilities

All rooms have air-conditioning, and all but the cheapest rooms have private bathrooms, in-room wi-fi and cable TV in English. Some hotels have computers for guests’ use. All indoor areas of hostels and hotels are supposed to be nonsmoking. Pools are uncommon; even many high-end hotels only have indoor pools.

Guesthouses

Dominating the lower end of the accommodation market are guesthouses, usually a block of tiny rooms squeezed into a converted apartment. Often several guesthouses operate out of the same building. Some offer dormitory accommodation for those on tight budgets.

Though rooms are small, many places are clean and cheerily shabby or neat and austere. All have air-con and most have TVs and phones. Anything under HK$900 should be considered budget.

Depending on the season, try to negotiate a better deal, as a lot of places will be eager to fill empty rooms. Most guesthouses offer free wi-fi.

Hostels & Campsites

Gone are the days when Chungking Mansions was your only hope of a shoestring bed in this pricey city. Hong Kong's hostel scene has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and there are now a couple of chains doing a roaring trade with grateful backpackers. Check Inn and Yesinn both have several branches across Hong Kong; Mojo Nomad has upped the ante with flashpacker-type digs in Aberdeen and most recently Central.

The Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association maintains seven hostels affiliated with Hostelling International (HI), which are more popular with the Asian crowd. It also sells HKYHA and HI cards: you can't stay in one of these hostels unless you are a member. If you haven’t applied for membership in your own country, visit the HKYHA office, sign up at check-in or come with somebody who's already a member, which will get you access. Be sure to take along a visa-sized photo and ID. All HKYHA hostels have separate toilets and showers for men and women, and cooking facilities. They provide blankets, pillows and sheet bags. Most have lockers available. Prices for a bed in a dormitory range from HK$180 to HK$350 a night, depending on the hostel. HKYHA hostels are usually the cheapest.

The Country & Marine Parks Authority (www.afcd.gov.hk) maintains 41 basic campsites in the New Territories and Outlying Islands.

Midrange Hotels

New places continue to emerge that are uniquely cool to look at and easy on the pocket, with rates hovering between HK$1000 and HK$2000 and dipping to budget range in the low season. Rooms at these places tend to be smallish and come with wi-fi connection, coffee-making facilities, limited cable TV, and room service.

Top-End Hotels

Hong Kong’s luxury hotels are locked in an arms race for the dollars of affluent travellers. Their weapons are Michelin-starred restaurants, lavish spa complexes, smooth service and location, location, location. Prices for top-of-the-range hotels start from close to HK$3000 per room. A few of them offer comfort, amenities and service that compete with or surpass that of the world’s finest five-star hotels.

Apartment Rentals

The high volume of business travellers to Hong Kong means the city has a well-established serviced apartment market, which also benefits long-term visitors. More recently, though, there has also been a rise in apartments catering to short-term travellers, both luxurious serviced apartments and homes-for-rent.

This extension of the hotel market is particularly good news for families; serviced apartments can sometimes cost no more than a standard hotel room, but come with room dividers, laundry, and kitchen facilities. It's also proving popular with budget travellers, as short-term room rentals can be half that of a budget hotel but still offer more privacy than a dorm bed. Renting a room in a home also offers opportunities for cultural exchange that can be lacking at hotels; many professional Hong Kongers speak English.

Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) is the main room/apartment rental provider; quality can vary drastically. There are a number of good serviced options around Sheung Wan, like the Putman.

Need to Know

High Season

When big trade fairs come to town, accommodation in Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui is very tight and prices rocket. Check exact dates at www.discoverhongkong.com.

  • Trade-fair season and Labour Day holiday (January and March, and 1 May)
  • National Day holiday (first 10 days of October)
  • Ching Ming Festival (usually in April)
  • Chinese New Year (late January or February)

Reservations

Booking a room is not essential outside peak periods, but during quiet periods and the low season you can get big discounts off daily rates – whether you book direct or through an agent. If you book direct with a hotel they'll often throw in small perks such as free breakfast.

Bargaining

If you see a booking agent offering the hotel you want cheaper than you can get it direct, you can try negotiating with the hotel to match the price.

Taxes

Most midrange and top-end hotels and a small number of budget places add 10% service.