Love Motels in Kowloon Tong

Submitted by monday.hana on Wed, 09/30/2020 - 21:53

Hi all

I am a Master's student of journalsim at the University of Hong Kong.

I am working on a school project about the history of Kowloon Tong, so I am wondering any members have some knwoledge or understanding on the subject matter, especailly between 1960s and 1990s when the business of prostitution was thriving in around that area.

I appreicate if you can support a student project like this one and provide me first-hand anecdote and historical pictures in Kowloon Tong, so that I can consolidate all the information and write a little piece in order to preserve the Hong Kong's history and heritage to the young generation.

Thanks for your attention and I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.



Do you know when the first Love motels appeared in Kowloon Tong? My impression was well into the 70s. Plus I am not sure that prostitution was the main driver for the industry. Do you know it was for definite?

According to the Chinese sources, the very first, well-established love motel was named the Romance Hotel at 41 Cumberland Road, Kowloon Tong, which was Bruce Lee’s former mansion, but I am not sure whether it was true and I don't know how to verify this piece of information as well, any help? Meanwhile, let me paraphrase, I shouldn't have used the term "prostitution", but I have heard from old local people, more like oral history, that Kowloon Tong used to be a place for a clandestine tryst.

especailly between 1960s and 1990s when the business of prostitution was thriving in around that area.

That's quite a grand statement for just hearsay. Are you studying tabloid journalism?

With regards to Bruce Lee's home you can find some info here:

This should give you a starting point of sometime in the mid-70s. As far as I am aware in the 60s the estate was still largely a middle class suburban housing estate and had nothing to do with, to paraphrase, a "thriving prostituition business" .



Haha. Indeed, I did learn everything from Apple Daily -- the real tabloid in Hong Kong. Oopsy.

I am so sure there were a lot of love motels in Kowloon Tong against the backdrop of the high-ended housing estate, because in the Cantonese context (the pop culture included), especially in the old generation, "Kowloon Tong" can be associated with "lust" and "tryst".

So, I hope that I can find some auntie(s) and uncle(s) here who can share more with me about the old Kowloon Tong.

other factors you may want to consider in terms of how the estate developed in the 70s

- opening of the MTR line in the late 70s
- the redevelopment of the KCR line in the late 70s (doubling the track, additional tunnel construction at Beacon Hill) and eventual electrification in 1983
- increasing business of kai tak airport

think about what these things may have done to the liveability of the area for some people and also how they made access a lot easier for others.
Also think about the nature of the properties - larged multi-roomed buildings with large external walled private gardens, almost perfect for redevelopment into love motels and other businesses.

You may also want to research the concept of love motels/clock hotels. My understanding is that they were a Japanese phenomena that came to being as a result of living in a large, densely populated city with little private space at home. I'm sure there are other local factors at play such as time constraint, working hours and the like.

when the business of prostitution was thriving in around that area

Most love hotels in the area did not provide prositutes and there were no street walkers at night in Kowloon Tong.

These were their usual clientels.

- Rich men took girls from night clubs. They usually paid for the night and took the girls out to have "sweet water" in Kowloon Tong.

- Rich men took their mistresses or ladies of the night to the hotels

- Couples needed a highly private place to mate. It was not like nowadays young couples waiting freely for a room at the stairs of Victioria hotel on Friday night. wink

Love hotels in Kowloon Tong provided high priviacy to their cusotmers. Some hotels had call signs for taxi outside of the closed gate and taxidrivers received tips from the hotels if they delivered or took their customers. 


Instead of a piece of cake or a slice of pizza, HKongers' fav nite snack has always been some kind of sweet soup, from the prosaic red bean, mung bean, or glutinous rice dumpling soups to the fancier varieties served in specialty shops.

"Taking a girl out from a club for a sweet soup" is just a pretense to take her out for the sake of her dignity. It sounds more innocent than "to take her out for a quickie". The clients have to pay the club for her hours as well as pay her for the privilege.

There were newspaper articles (SCMP?) and/or local TV programs highlighting the actions of the motel car park attendents placing portable screens behind customers parked cars so that the number plates could not be seen by passers by or inquisitive newspaper reporters.


The area was rife with these hotels from late 70's -80s ... quite seedy but cheap and cheerful....they operated after lunch until early morning....about HK $50 for about an hour ++ the problem was finding a car park....always full and yes they would immediately cover the car number plate in case ones wife came snooping....the word Kowloon Tong was synonymous with these dodgy places where ladies of the day/night..lovers etc would frequent....and often a place frequented by triads and gangs...more than the odd raid by police and really not very safe.... and Im told the beds were awful.....

Well-known travel writer, Paul Theroux, wrote a novel titled ‘Kowloon Tong’.

I cannot recall  now if the contents mentioned the motels, but some of the various editions lurid covers on Amazon appear to show images of motels and related signage.