As hotelier Starwood expands its boutique-like hotel brand The Luxury Collection across China, the company’s new Nanjing property is an opulent ode to vintage Chinese Republican-era style that has become increasingly fashionable among the country’s trendsetters.
Located directly across from the historic Republican presidential palace, The Grand Mansion, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nanjing that opened in December 2015 features a contemporary take on classic “Minguo” (Republican-era) style. With design by Pei Partnership Architects, a firm created by I.M. Pei’s sons, and HBA Interior Design, the nostalgia is felt immediately when entering the hotel’s magnificent dark-wood-paneled Lobby Lounge on the ground floor. Featuring massive bookshelves stretching to the top of a soaring ceiling, the room references the library of Republic of China founding father Sun Yat-sen, whose memorial is located in Nanjing. The library’s “Minguo” atmosphere makes any visitor feel like donning a pair of round spectacles and downing a glass of whisky after returning from a stroll around the palace where the Republic was formed.
The new hotel is perhaps one of the most ultra-luxurious examples of the “Minguo nostalgia” trend sweeping China, as vintage-focused fashionistas don the era’s signature eyewear and pose for graduation pictures in Minguo-style suits. Nanjing is naturally the focal point of this trend as “Minguo flavor” real estate is advertised across the city and a stylish nightlife area next to the presidential palace called “1912” houses restaurants and bars in refurbished Republican-era buildings.
As the city also features an obsession with Republican-style restaurants featuring the dishes favored by the intellectuals and officials at the time, The Grand Mansion’s Minguo-style Chinese restaurant Xuan Ling Ge stands out in both decor and authenticity, as a chef trained in the classical cuisine style was brought in from Taiwan to create dishes passed down from the early KMT days. The restaurant features a combination of public dining space and massive private dining rooms decorated with classical Chinese style and Minguo accents.
Out of the hotel’s 158 guest rooms, the lavish Presidential Suite is the most spectacular, featuring a host of Republican-era antiques amidst stunning decor and bedrooms modeled after that of Sun Yat-sen. Just off the palatial dining room and living area is a massive contemporary-style outdoor deck for events that directly overlook the Presidential Palace.
A prime view of the palace can also be accessed through the hotel’s chic Xi Lounge, which hosts events for VIPs and features both indoor and outdoor deck seating. Guests enjoying a drink outdoors can look over the palace as well as the the deck’s own pond, which features two stately black swans who have one of the best views in Nanjing.
The Luxury Collection’s focus on tailoring the design and style of hotels to the culture of their location gives the brand a decidedly boutique feel. In China, where Western luxury hotel brands often import their designs from abroad, this tailored emphasis on local culture helps to showcase how stylish classical Chinese design can be.