From traditional wooden houses to modern skyscrapers, Ben Lerwill seeks out the best places to stay in China
The lowdown: For long the grande dame of Hong Kong’s hotel scene, The Peninsula is one of the destination’s oldest and most opulent properties. Displaying classical grandeur, it’s been standing since 1928, and offers great views of the harbour skyline.
X-factor: The echoes of bygone colonial times: the piano music, afternoon tea, the Rolls Royce fleet and all.
T: 00 852 2920 2888
EAST Hong Kong
The lowdown: Slightly apart from the main downtown areas, this 345-room ‘business lifestyle’ hotel has an outdoor pool, 24-hour fitness centre and 32nd-floor terrace.
X-factor: For business travellers, it’s well-placed for corporations in nearby Cityplaza and Taikoo Place.
T: 00 852 3968 3968
J Plus Hotel by Yoo
The lowdown: Originally designed by Philippe Starck, it has bags of character. Expect all manner of quirky design touches, such as gnome-supported bedside tables, plus plenty of cutting-edge artworks.
X-factor: Its memorable quirkiness.
T: 00 852 3196 9000
The lowdown: Staffed by students about to enter the hotel industry, this coastal hotel with great facilities has been a huge word-of-mouth success since opening.
X-factor: Quality service and rooms at highly attractive rates.
T: 00 852 2550 6683
New World Beijing Hotel
The lowdown: Named the best new hotel in the capital last year, this 309-room property gives a fresh option in a central location, and is well suited to business and leisure guests. A spa, pool and rooftop bar provide places to relax away from
the hustle of the city.
X-factor: It’s a modern base close
to Beijing’s main sights.
T: 00 86 10 5960 8888
The HuLu Hotel
The lowdown: A little over a mile from The Forbidden City, The HuLu Hotel is a traditional courtyard hotel with a twist. Its classical wooden houses have been given a modern overhaul, resulting in a small but individual city property. All rooms have a verdant outlook on to plants and trees.
X-factor: It offers more local character than the average Beijing accommodation.
T: 00 86 10 8517 5200
Hotel Eclat Beijing
The lowdown: There are 100 rooms, each of them sharply furnished to match the hotel’s art-influenced design. A bona fide luxury option, it forms part of the eye-catching Parkview Green complex in the Central Business District.
X-factor: Here you’ll find original works by Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, and noted Chinese painters and sculptors.
T: 00 86 10 8561 2888
The Opposite House
The lowdown: A seriously stylish boutique hotel in the bar-heavy Sanlitun district, The Opposite House was conceived by acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Expect a blend of different styles and cuisines and a relaxed atmosphere.
X-factor: The extra touches, from oak bathtubs and complimentary mini-bars to a restaurant specialising in roast duck dishes.
T: 00 86 10 6417 6688
PuLi Hotel & Spa
The lowdown: Ultra-modern but still unmistakably Chinese, the 229-room PuLi combines on-trend design with a splash of old-world heritage. Alongside the 32-inch LCD TVs and the Bose sound systems, there are Han Dynasty statues and sliding silk screens. You can even enjoy a tea-themed spa.
X-factor: A suitably contemporary property for one of the world’s fastest-moving cities.
T: 00 86 21 3203 9999
Yangtze Boutique Shanghai
The lowdown:A 2014 winner at the World Luxury Hotel Awards, this 96-room art deco property built in 1934 enjoys a plum location on People’s Square and recently celebrated its 80th anniversary. More than half the rooms have private terraces or balconies.
X-factor: To be this long established on the city hotel scene, it’s definitely doing lots of things right.
T: 00 86 21 6080 0800
Twelve at Hengshan
The lowdown: This 171-room bolthole has a bold contemporary design — all mod cons with the largest Starwood spa in China. It’s named after its address on lively Hengshan Road in Shanghai’s Xuhui district, with galleries, boutiques and cafes all close by.
X-factor: Food options range from a French boulangerie-style outlet to classic Cantonese.
T: 00 86 21 3338 3888
Waterhouse at South Bund
The lowdown: As edgy and urban as they come. Set in an old dockhouse building, this is a 19-room design boutique hotel sitting to the east of the Old Town. There’s plenty of exposed concrete on show, and the furniture has been sourced from
X-factor: In-house restaurant Table No 1 is one of Shanghai’s hottest fine dining spots.
T: 00 86 21 6080 2988
REST OF CHINA
The lowdown: It’s the full five-star
Las Vegas experience brought to Macau, complete with Bellagio-style fountains. You’ll find more than 1,000 rooms and suites, Michelin-starred dining, two spas and ample chance for luxury retail shopping.
X-factor: This is the only resort on the planet to have gained seven Forbes five-star awards.
T: 00 853 2888 9966
Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel, Suzhou
The lowdown: An impressive lakeside property designed not, as you might think, to mirror a car brand, but around the idea of a library. So aside from the indulgent rooms, you’ll find vast selections of books, music, movies, wines, liqueurs and cigars.
X-factor: The mix of tradition and 21st-century trimmings.
T: 00 86 512 6285 9999
Shangri-La Hotel, Guangzhou
The lowdown: With 704 rooms and suites on 36 floors, this has become one of Guangzhou’s go-to hotels for overseas guests. Highlights include a freeform outdoor pool, specialist South-east Asian restaurant and rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows.
X-factor: The hotel’s garden measures almost 6,000sq metres, and is a boon for families.
T: 00 86 20 8917 8888
The lowdown: Today’s China is full of international brand hotels, not least in Shenzhen, now one of the country’s wealthiest cities. This 282-room property has a central location close to metro stops and consistently earns plaudits for its service levels.
X-factor: The Ritz-Carlton is a reliable top-end base in a fast-rising Chinese metropolis.
T: 00 86 755 2222 2222
The Bivou, Lijiang
The lowdown: Billed as ‘a designer lodge for the modern adventurer’, the charming 16-room Bivou is located in one of Yunnan’s top tourist destinations, the UNESCO-listed city of Lijiang on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The property itself is built around houses that
are more than a century old.
X-factor: It takes sustainability seriously, using bamboo flooring, LED lights and solar panels.
T: 00 86 888 512 9449
Gran Melia Hotel, Xi’an
The lowdown: Five-star Spanish hospitality might not be the most obvious pairing with a trip to admire the Terracotta Army, but this is undoubtedly one of Xi’an’s top hotels. Private gardens and an adjoining international shopping mall add to the pull.
X-factor: There is an exclusive butler-serviced floor for those who want to really push the boat out.
T: 00 86 29 6821 6666
The lowdown: Ringed by tea
plantations and forests on the fringes of Hangzhou, Amanfayun has won awards for both its design (styled on traditional Chinese courtyard dwellings) and its spa (recently deemed one of the best in North and West Asia). There are 42 rooms, suites and villas, all individually designed.
X-factor: Amanfayun is a genuine escape from the city — and it’s an atmospheric property, too.
T: 00 86 571 8732 9999
Fraser Suites Chengdu
The lowdown: Named China’s leading serviced apartments at the World Travel Awards, the property offers 360 residences, ranging from studio apartments to four-bedroom penthouses. You’ll also find two floors of wellness facilities and a dining room.
X-factor: It serves as a smart base for travellers looking to see the Chengdu region’s famous pandas.
T: 00 86 28 8516 6999