This sleek tower in the former triad territory of East Tsim Sha Tsui was a government dormitory before an all-star cast of architects and designers reinvented it as a 262-room five-star hotel and hospitality school for Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Rocco Yim was responsible for the building’s shell, William Lim crafted the interiors, Terence Conran oversaw the look of the restaurants (which include a 28th-floor Cantonese dining room), and fashion doyenne Vivienne Tan pieced together the premier suite. The soaring glass atrium is the first “wow” feature to greet guests; the space includes an 18-meter-high vertical garden patterned with local plants. Only a block from Victoria Harbour, most rooms have views of Hong Kong Island, as well as all the requisite mod cons, including espresso machines and free minibars. And don’t think the Icon’s double life as a hospitality school means trainee-level service: with almost three paid staff to every two guests, service is unfailingly efficient and chirpy.

17 Science Museum Rd., East Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; 852/3400-1688; hotel-icon.com; doubles from US$226

This article appeared in the December 2011/ January 2012 issue of DestinAsian Magazine.