Put the honk into Honkers

FIONA CARRUTHERS
Last updated 05:05 07/12/2013
Hong Kong Landscape

AROUND IN STYLE: The spectacular facade of the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong.

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Hurtling down Hong Kong's hair-raising Peak in a Mini Cooper with my 82-year-old father strapped firmly in the back seat was not for the faint-hearted.

As hefty tourist coaches, mini buses and cars travelling in the opposite direction passed us with terrifyingly close proximity, our young driver just smiled, his eyes glued diplomatically to the road: "Try not to worry please - I'm really an excellent driver."

We're travelling in one of The Peninsula Hotel's zippy Mini Coopers, which whisk guests around Hong Kong to places of interest - be it a leisurely afternoon at the Peak; an art gallery hop or "shop till you drop" in style.

The cute-as-pie Mini Coopers, which come complete with your own driver/guide in signature bellboy hat and uniform, are relatively new to the Grand Dame's car fleet - and complement perfectly The Pen's 14 Rolls Royce Phantoms, which will also ferry you around town in luxury.

The cars are painted in The Peninsula's distinctive dark green colour to leave locals and other tourists in no confusion as to where you're staying.

The special-edition Cooper S Clubman (used in Hong Kong since 2009, and also Tokyo and New York) comes with a mini-fridge in the boot, plus a tailor-made rooftop box designed to hold the biggest Prada or Shanghai Tang shopping bag you can manage. Each car also boasts leather finishes matching the Rolls' interiors.

The Minis are available for guests staying in suites and above and are complimentary for a three-hour ride anywhere around town.

Hong Kong taxis might be cheap and clean, but whipping around in your own Mini Cooper stocked with bottled water, tissues, cold towels and mints at your disposal - not to mention a knowledgeable and excellent driver - sure beats a run-of-the-mill taxi ride.

We depart for the Peak around 2pm and on arrival, the driver gives us a leisurely two hours to enjoy the Nature walkways, cafes and shopping. Guests are given a hotel mobile phone so they can check in with their driver and alert them to where they want to be picked up - or enquire as to the best place for green tea.

Soaring 552 metres above sea level, the Peak is the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island and served as a signalling post for cargo ships in the 19th century.

Once here, the heat of a Hong Kong summer melts away, the air seems clearer, the views spectacular, and birdsong enlivens the landscape (along with the noisy chatter of tourists and school children just discharged from the famous Peak tram).

With many attractions, it's perfect for young families plus open air cafes for the less energetic visitor to relax and take in the views.

Also worth a look is the Sky Gallery on the Terrace, which displays historical photos, along with works by leading local artists.

It might have been a fast ride down - but Dad reckoned he'd do it all again.

The writer stayed with some assistance from The Peninsula.

TRIP NOTES

GETTING THERE Cathay Pacific is Hong Kong's international carrier; see cathaypacific.com

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STAYING THERE A Winter Moments package (min two night stay) is on offer until March 15, 2014. The lead-in rate for a Superior Suite starts from HK$8580 ($1347) a night, rising to HK$19,980 for a Grand Deluxe Harbour View Suite. The package includes a hotel credit of HK$1560 ($245).

MORE INFORMATION peninsula.com/hongkong.

- FFX Aus

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