Spectactorly bad
Room for two more on top

Deceptively spacious

Hong Kong's a strange place, and never more so than in the weird world of apartments. Developers are allowed to advertise the gross floorspace of an apartment, which includes balconies, bay windows, and (most outrageously) your share of the the common areas, such as the clubhouse, gardens, lift lobbies, etc.

As far as I know, you can't sleep in the lift lobby, so what really matters is how much usable space you have inside your apartment. You might think that a 1200 square foot apartment is big enough, but how will you feel when you discover that it's really only 840 sq ft? That's a big difference.

That so-called 1200 square foot apartment might have 4 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, three bathrooms, and the domestic helper's broom cupboard. Fitting all of that into 840 sq ft is obviously something of a challenge, and some developers spend much more time on over-blown advertising rather than making good use of the limited space, and so you have to deal with small and odd-shaped rooms.

Not that you are likely to realize this if you visit a "show flat" in a shopping centre that is supposed to show you what you are buying. When you walk round with 500 other people you probably won't realize what a difference it makes to remove the doors, put in glass walls, and all the other subtle tricks of the developers. You may think the bedroom looks spacious but overlook the fact that they've combined two tiny rooms to create one of a reasonable size - but, yes, people do buy brand new apartments and then knock down the walls.

Then there's the furniture - yes, there's a bed in the bedroom, but how big is it? That table and chairs? Surely they're not all chosen to make the room look bigger?

My favourite development of the last couple of years, Palazzo, goes for the typical "quart in a pint pot" effect. Having two en-suite bedrooms (out of four) might sound attractive, but what will it look like when you've loaded the rooms up with beds and wardrobes and other things you might need? Cramped, I fear.  The medium-size apartments have only one en-suite bedroom, and once you have installed a standard-sized bed, there's scarcely room for anything else - and that's the "master bedroom". Needless to say, the other two bedrooms are tiny.

One special feature is that the helper's broom cupboards rooms don't have windows. Fresh air? Natural light? I'm sure there's nothing in the rules to say that has to be provided, and you have to wonder how many employers will allow their helpers to switch on the aircon.

Yes, there are views of the racecourse. You could undoubtedly watch the racing, but if you wanted to see which horse is winning you would need very powerful binoculars (or a TV might be an altogether more practical solution).

Yes they have happy smiling concierges offering an array of services, but who's paying for that? Yes, you are, through the monthly service charge.

The smaller apartments are at the back (no racecourse view, but Fo Tan Industrial Estate is glorious on a clear day). One of these was featured in the Sunday Morning Post a few weeks ago, with complaints from the lucky gentleman who had bought it "off plan". He seemed to be disappointed that the bedrooms would all need tailor-made (dolls house sized) furniture. It seems that he was fooled by the advertised gross floor space and the show flat. However, I have seen the brochure for The Palazzo and it is fairly clear about the gross and usable floor space, but I suppose if they advertise a 717 square foot apartment you might expect that's what you would get.

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