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A re-energised icon in the heart of Hong Kong

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When it opened at the beginning of 2018, all eyes were on The Murray. Already a Hong Kong landmark, the building first burst onto the skyline in 1969. Almost instantly, it won architectural acclaim for its modern façade and ahead-of-its-time sustainability (care of temperature-reducing recessed windows).

The Murray served as a government building for most of its life, and was earmarked for preservation as an important part of the city’s heritage when the residents moved on. So, when new owners Wharf Hotels announced in 2011 that The Murray would be reinvented as the 336-key flagship property in its modern-luxe Niccolo brand, expectations ran high.

In Hong Kong’s hyper-competitive hospitality landscape, a hotel has to tick a lot of boxes to make the luxury-travel hot lists. Niccolo’s brand builders knew this, so they went to great lengths to ensure that their headline hotel would deliver the contemporary urban chic that its style-savvy Asian and international audience demanded, and do justice to the iconic status of the building.

Foster + Partners were tasked with transforming the interiors. Music Concierge were handed responsibility for the sounds of the space. It was crucial that the audio brand identity we created for The Murray complemented Sir Norman Foster’s ultramodern design vision, and had the functionality to suit specific spaces.

The Murray’s lobby, for example, is a vast, largely open, two-storey space encompassing the reception area, the Tai Pan restaurant, The Murray Lane cocktail bar, and The Garden Lounge afternoon tea area – a single playlist had to respond to the mood, pace and design of all of them.

On the rooftop, Popinjays bar and restaurant stakes its claim on the Hong Kong night scene, with some of the best panoramic views in the city, a refined European menu and a see-and-be-seen fashionista clientele. Here, the soundtrack had to reflect the venue’s easy-going sophistication, and energise the evening for a cosmopolitan mix of locals and hotel guests.

The music of the Murray may not be the first thing you notice about the hotel, but every note has been engineered to underpin the sensory experience of stepping inside. The sound had to bring the space together, balancing the heritage of the building with the modernity of its Foster-designed fabric.

Less than a year after opening, The Murray has bagged itself almost every award going – from the top spot on Condé Nast Traveler readers’ HK hotlist to a feature on TIME’s ‘World’s Greatest Places 2018’. It looks like all those expectations have been more than met.