The Peak Lookout
|The Peak Lookout|
The Peak Lookout in 2009.
|Former names||Old Peak Café|
|Architectural style||Arts and Crafts|
|Location||121 Peak Road, Hong Kong|
|Elevation||395 m (1,296 ft)|
|Renovated||1902, 2001, 2012|
|Owner||Epicurean Management Limited|
|The Peak Lookout|
|Current owner(s)||Epicurean Management Limited|
|Food type||International cuisine|
|Street address||121 Peak Road, Hong Kong|
|Seating capacity||Indoor dining area:120
Alfresco dining area: 220
The Peak Lookout (太平山餐廳) is a restaurant located in a heritage house at Victoria Gap, near the summit of Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong. It is housed in a 19th-century Grade II Historic Building. Originally known as the Old Peak Café, the restaurant has an open terrace overlooking Aberdeen, Pok Fu Lam Country Park and the South China Sea. The Peak Lookout at Terminal 1 of the Hong Kong International Airport opened in November 2012.
The Peak Lookout has experienced major transformations in function and renovations since the site was used in 1888 as a rest place and workshop for British engineers that constructed the Peak Tram line.
In 1901, the site was handed over to the government and built into a chair shelter and rest place for sedan chair carriers for both public and private sedan chairs (similar to taxis and chauffeurs today).
An 1898 official report stated: "A suitable area is being leveled for the accommodation of chairs and it is proposed to erect a permanent structure on this site as a shelter for chairs and bearers." Shortly afterwards, it was reported that: "The masonry is completed and the roof is on, so that the coolies can even now shelter from the weather. The building being in an exposed position is built in a very solid and massive way to defy typhoons." In 1902 it was reported that the building had been fully completed: "It is divided into two sections, one of which is for the accommodation of public chairs,whilst the other is for private chairs. The former is entirely enclosed, large sliding doors being provided along the front, whilst the latter is left open in front. The Walls are of the blue stone obtainable in the neighbourhood, with granite dressings, and the floors are laid with cement concrete, the roofs being tiled in the usual way. A space is left in front of the shed, clear of the road, on which the chairs can stand during fine weather."
It has been suggested that the stone for the building may have been left over from the construction of the Governor's Peak residence, Mountain Lodge, which has now been demolished. It was opened to the public in 1923 when sedan chair carriers were allowed to serve for tourists at the Peak.
The catering history began in 1947 when it was suggested that the building should be converted into an open-air café, serving light refreshments. "Since that date," wrote an official of the Peak Tram in 1977, "the building has been used as a café. Subsequently the arches of the building were fitted with wood and glass doors and, at a latter date, wooden flooring was laid on top of the original concrete floor. Other than these minor modifications, the building stands as it was originally built."
The increasing popularity of the Peak area led to a proposal in 1973 to demolish The Peak Lookout building to make way for a car park. The resulting outcry and public petition ensured that this plan was scrapped. The Old Peak Café was given Grade II Historic Building status as a historic building in Hong Kong by the Antiquities and Monuments Office in 1981. Grade II is defined as "Buildings of special merit; efforts should be made to selectively preserve". As the 1973 petition was approved, the company Freedragon Ltd. won the bid for the rental contract from the government to continue running the café business when the café's rental contract expired in 1989. The Old Peak Café was renovated and renamed The Peak Lookout in 2001 as the new contract started with a new company, Epicurean Management Ltd. Most recently in October 2012, The Peak Lookout reopened its doors following a redesign, which includes the introduction of a contemporary raised outdoor terrace for al fresco dining.
The architecture of The Peak Lookout was originally largely defined by the style of Arts and Crafts, once popular in Victorian and Edwardian times. However, due to numerous renovations and changes throughout the years, The Peak Lookout now looks considerably different in comparison to when it was originally used as a chair shelter. For example, the tiles of the roof have since been changed to Chinese tiles.
It is a single-story building with a red pitched roof reminiscent of an English country cottage. Adding to this impression are the stone walls, arched windows, black and white half-timbering to the gable and the visible chimney stack. The building's garden surroundings are notable for the old boundary wall and a wide variety of trees, shrubs and flowers complete the austere, rural scenery.
The inside of the restaurant is dimly lit and decorated with old photographs of life on the Peak several generations ago. Most of the earlier interior ambiance has been retained.
The Peak Lookout is one of few remaining examples of Arts and Crafts architecture in Hong Kong, and many people feel that it has become an irremovable part of its surroundings. The restaurant continues to attract local patrons from Hong Kong and visitors from across the globe. Due to its unique historical background, fine food and stunning views, The Peak Lookout continues to be a popular venue for hosting weddings and private events.
Other structures located near the Peak Lookout include:
- The Peak Tower, a leisure and shopping complex, where the Peak Tram terminus is located
- The Peak Galleria, a shopping mall
- The Peak Lookout (Publicitywires).
- Brief Information 1444 Historic Buildings, Item #222.
- Peak Café, Heritage Trails.
- List of the Historic Buildings in Building Assessment (as of 18 March 2009), p.14.
- Definitions of Gradings of Historical Buildings.
- Brief Information on Proposed Grade 2 Items, Item#222.
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