Last year’s scallop-shaped Kempinksi Hotel in Yanqi Lake may be a difficult act to follow, but since then, international hotel chains have still achieved notable openings around China. First-time entries by high-end brands in second- and third-tier cities are prevalent, especially in areas with luxury and business-centric retail developments. Meanwhile, China’s own hoteliers are setting sights abroad. Here are 10 new-to-the-scene, five-star accommodations worthy of a traveler’s top-tier bucket list.
1. NUO, Beijing
Arguably the most talked-about new hotel to hit Beijing this year is the high-end haven by hoteliers NUO, owned by Chinese travel and leisure services company Beijing Hotel Group. The state-run enterprise is just getting started with its first outpost in China and has plans to build 15 hotels around the globe that will appeal to both Chinese and foreign travelers in the ultra-luxury bracket. Located near the capital’s 798 Art District, the developers enlisted the help of esteemed contemporary artist Zeng Fangzhi’s curation skills to enhance design elements from the Ming Dynasty.
2. Temple House, Chengdu
The swiftly developing second-tier city of Chengdu acquired a new boutique hotel this summer by Swire, the Hong Kong-based company that does the Opposite House and East hotels in Beijing. The hotel, which was designed by the UK’s Make Architects, is located in a restored courtyard and part of the Daci Temple Project, a mixed-use commercial area that partly mirrors the popular Taikoo Li in Beijing’s Sanlitun District.
3. Tuve, Hong Kong
Hong Kong did not have many minimalist design hotels to its name until this year, when Tuve and Tribute joined the scene. Tuve, located in Tin Hau, channels inspiration from the Swedish lake of the same name, using steel, marble, and white walls to transform a limited square footage into a spacious oasis.
4. Why Design Hotels & Resorts, Beijing
It’s not exactly new, but this hotel has us wishing it was summer already. Located in Shunyi district in Northeast Beijing, the hot springs resort received a facelift from Elevation Workshop, a Chinese architecture group that helped the Why owners steer away from a cartoon theme to a more polished, minimalist bamboo grove surrounded by boxy lodging.
5. St. Regis, Macau
St. Regis Macau opened this month in the casino-heavy Cotai strip, but reviews suggest they may need some time to work out kinks. The Starwood brand also continues to expand in the mainland–it signed an agreement in July to open a St. Regis in Qingdao’s business district in 2020.
6. Six Senses, Qing Cheng Mountain, Chengdu
The much anticipated Six Senses Hotels, Resorts, and Spas entered China this year at Qing Cheng Mountain outside of Chengdu. Outside of being a luxury property, the hotel is known for its pledge to run a sustainable and eco-friendly resort and offers airport pick-ups in the Tesla Model S.
7. Amandayan, Lijiang
Aman, the international brand known in 20 countries for top-notch elegance and clean design, opened its third resort in China last spring, this time in the popular tourist destination of Lijiang, Yunnan Province. The Chinese government is committed to attracting more tourists and consumers to a region already popular among travelers inside and outside of China–for instance, this latest resort follows a contract between Yunnan officials with Wanda to build more commercial properties. The Aman hotel includes a boutique cinema, a sure sign that entertainment is high on the list for luxury traveler satisfaction.
8. Banyan Tree, Huangshan
A resort with roots in Phuket, Banyan Tree officially launched its 10th resort in China in the mountains of Huangshan, a UNESCO World Heritage site in China’s eastern Anhui Province. It stuns with Hui-style architecture in the foothills.
9. Anantara, Guiyang
The city of Guiyang in China’s southwest Guizhou Province received its first resort this year thanks to Thailand’s Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas under the Minor Hotel Group. Anantara has three resorts in China, including ones in Sanya and in Mount Emei in Sichuan Province, and its not the only luxury brand that had sights set on Guiyang. St. Regis also has a hotel in the works for the third-tier city, known for its lush forests, with an opening date set for 2022.
10. Tribute, Hong Kong
In the historic Yau Ma Tei in Kowloon, independent boutique hotel brand Tribute adopts small, local Hong Kong design firms and architecture in the area to bring trend-hungry guests Instagram-worthy lodging.