Perched over a small fishing village on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island is the Old Tai O Police Station, a 1902 anti-pirate outpost which has been remodeled into a luxury relaxation station in 2012.
Built to combat the rampant piracy and smuggling from the surrounding waters, the Tai O Police Station also aimed to instill British law and order throughout the entire island. One of the first police stations built on the outlying islands around Hong Kong, the building consists of two blocks of two stories, linked by a footbridge on the first level. Marked by its amalgam of architectural styles, the building includes arched verandas of the Italian Renaissance, a Chinese pan-and-roll roof, and elements of the Arts and Crafts style.
Originally the station was staffed with fewer than ten policemen, and the building increasingly served as an administrative center, peaking with 180 employees in 1983. The low crime rate in the 400 year-old fishing village led to a demoted status as a patrol post in 1996, a role maintained until the station’s closing in 2002. Looking to revitalize a historic building, the Hong Kong government accepted a 2009 developer proposal to convert the station into a seaside lodge.
Finished in 2012, the Tai O Heritage Hotel includes nine colonial-style rooms and ocean-view suites and even new roof-top restaurant. However to retain some semblance of its history of law and order, the redevelopment also restored the surrounding cannons, searchlight and guard towers. So be sure not to get too rowdy on your vacation as they also refurbished the jail cells.