Beer is more than just a beverage – the beer events, the tastings, the community, the exploration, the pairings... the potential. We miss our beer friends when we haven't been out for awhile. So we were obviously disappointed to learn that the Marco Polo German Bierfest will not go ahead again this year. This foamy festival started all the way back in 1992, but it was cancelled in 2019 and again in 2020.
Now, for the first time, Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel is offering an awkwardly named Bierfest-cation, very reasonably priced from $929 per night for two people – you can book online – that includes access to the themed activity zone and an in-room dinner of German fare.
Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel has truly stunning views of Hong Kong Island, west towards Peng Chau and Lantau. This is the actual view from our Deluxe Harbourview Room. It would have been even more stunning at sunset, but we were on our beer tour and missed it. So sei es.
Our room was enormous, with a huge, king-sized bed, a desk, armchairs and plenty of room for a quick workout (we didn’t work out, but we could have). The carpet really needs replacing, but the room was spotless and oozed old-style class. There was a lovely fruit platter (took that home) and a Nespresso machine for the morning.
The check-in counter at the hotel is quite literally at the hat section of Lane Crawford in Harbour City. Fortunately, we picked up a stunning hat as part of the collectables included in the Bierfest-cation package, so we had no need to visit Lane Crawford on this trip.
The collectables are from the Marco Polo German Bierfest 2019, which was cancelled pre-COVID amidst safety concerns at that time, when large groups of people gathered together were starting to be considered nefarious. To a Bierfest fan, these never-sold items are quite unique as collectables.
The activity zone
First up, we headed to the activity zone on the seventh floor. This floor has been emptied of furniture, and each room is dedicated to something. There’s pool, darts, air hockey, foosball, a room of board games and a room of props for cheesy photos.
We appreciate the photographic homage to past Bierfest years – some classic party pics. The hotel is hanging onto those memories and wants us to hold onto them too. For next year... right?
But the overall effect of this floor is underwhelming. The background music is yuu-esque. There is only one beer available for purchase – an Erdinger Weissbier – and it took 15 minutes to pour. The electronic dartboard is possessed and comes with no instructions, but to be fair, this was a hilarious delight and kept us entertained for quite some time. A group of friends doing this together would have a ball.
We kept ourselves busy for a solid hour, until we could drink no more wheat beer and one of us had finally beaten the other at darts. After leaving our goodies back at the room, we went to visit other beer hotspots in Tsim Sha Tsiu (we have included our suggestions in an itinerary below). In order to enjoy the in-room dinner included in the package, we were back at the room by our chosen time of 8pm.
The included dinner
The in-room German Bierfest dinner menu looks great. We have fond memories of a beer garden in Dusseldorf, enjoying Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) and a huge stein of Altbier, surrounded by much laughter.
There was some laughter, but the pork knuckle was really dry. We know this recipe for Marco Polo’s pork knuckle and pickled red cabbage is quite famous (The Murray is using it for their Garden Oktoberfest menu), and we alerted the hotel that this was not up to their usual standard. The best was the wurst, and also the sauerkraut. We enjoyed snacking on the pretzels, and the two Erdingers were delivered cold (but we had already drunk enough Weissbier, so we went with some of our purchases from GurBeer instead). You might consider asking for the pretzels and beer to be delivered late and skip the full dinner.
This is a great-value staycation that does a really good job of setting up the mood for beer.
Whilst we appreciate the substantial effort that has gone into keeping the Bierfest spirit alive when we are both unable to travel and unable to enjoy the Marco Polo German Bierfest, there are some obvious issues. In the activity zone, there needs to be at least two beers to choose from, the pouring issues need to be sorted out and the music needs to be changed up, and for the dinner, the pork knuckle needs to up its game or go. But at this price, none of these issues is a deal-breaker.
We recommend booking this staycation with a group of friends. If you do choose to support the Bierfest, make an adventure out of it.
Addendum: a beer adventure
We have come up with an alternative timeline for your stein-cation.
After checking in...
Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, 7/F activity zone (early afternoon)
Get to the seventh floor, redeem your vouchers for the Bierfest 2019 collectables and order some beers. There was only one beer to choose from on our visit, which was a bit disappointing – an Erdinger Weissbier (the Dunkel was not available). To start, we chose to order one beer to share in a huge one-litre stein ($180), which you get to keep. This beer takes a loooooong time to pour (foam issues), so while you wait, peruse and pick a games room. We went for darts and had a fantastic time trying to figure out the seemingly random scolding from the electronic dartboard. Allow about an hour, unless you’re part of a bigger group, in which case you could stretch it further.
Harbour City, 3–27 Canton Road, TST
Kowloon Taproom (a round or two & a snack)
There is only so much wheat beer one can drink in a converted hotel room, with the same four bars of music on repeat, so get outside for a walk and wear your hat if you dare (we didn’t). It’s a relatively quick walk to Kowloon Taproom – if you ignore Google Maps and take the subway next to One Peking Road to get under the main road.
Kowloon Taproom only has beers on tap – 10 of them – and they are all local brands. You can probably do a couple of rounds here, so order a snack or two. We tried the new Young Master beer called Paper Plane ($80/16oz), an incredibly thick and juicy hop bomb using a new hopping technique – intense. Also available here is the new Ronin’s Hazy from Smash, a juicy pale ale that we helped to develop and brew!
17–19 Ashley Road, TST
Zhang Men Taproom (share a beer platter)
This Zhang Men taproom was their first outside Taiwan (they now have another HK taproom in Mongkok), and all their beers are flown in from their brewery in New Taipei City. There are a whopping 20 taps to choose from, with styles ranging from sours to stouts. We recommend a beer platter of six beers ($238) to share. We enjoyed their Berliner Weisse, a NEIPA, a rye IPA, a black IPA, a Flanders and an Imperial Stout, and of all of them, we were only disappointed by the NEIPA.
64–66A Kimberley Road, TST
Tipsy Tap (a round or two until dinner)
This is where we failed our mission, dear reader. We did not get to Tipsy Tap; we had faffed about too much and needed to get back to the hotel for the included in-room dinner, complete with more Erdinger Weissbier. But where we failed, you can succeed. Make a plan for the dinner, whether you schedule it for a late delivery or skip it (let the hotel know in advance, please), and make your way here to order from a range of local and imported craft beers, with a particularly good selection of wild beers.
5 Austin Avenue, TST
GurBeer (supplies for later)
On your way to Goose Manor for dinner (see below), drop by new beer shop GurBeer to check out the fantastic selection of takeaway bottles and cans. On our visit, they had a range from Cloudwater that had just arrived and the new Brew Commons amber ale. We picked up a DEADMAN Duchess Night Out ($42), a Wayward Three Fingered Jack Brett Saison ($128) and a couple of sparkling hop teas from Mak’s Brewery ($20 each).
The GurBeer grand opening is on Friday, 1 October, and they will have free beers, discounts and bonus purchase gifts on this day only.
Shop GA05, G/F, The ONE, 100 Nathan Road, TST
Goose Manor (DIY beer-pairing dinner)
We’ve already written about Goose Manor and their amazing freshly roasted goose, but they are also quite special in that they stock excellent craft beers and recommend food pairings. This is absolutely on our list of things to do – order their signature roast goose (half... probably) with the salted ume beer by Hitachino Nest and compare the pairing with a Cha Chaan Teng Gose by Young Master.
37 Ashley Road, TST
Back to the hotel room (for pretzels)
When you get back to the room, enjoy a pretzel in the fantastic space – the incredible views, the absolute quiet, the comfort – and watch a movie with ads in it whilst you enjoy a beer of your choosing. Perfect.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media staycation provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.