An exterior view of The Castle Hotel in Dalian. (Courtesy Photo)
Despite the Chinese government’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign, China’s luxury hotel building boom stayed strong in 2014 with a wide number of notable openings. From downtown Beijing to the mountains in Yunnan, we’ve rounded up a list of the most unique new high-end amenities in China this year:
China is notorious for its abundant European-style “copycat” buildings, but the luxe accommodations at Starwood’s The Castle Hotel in Dalian actually live up to its opulent architecture. Opened by the conglomerate’s The Luxury Collection brand in September, the hotel is situated in a heavily renovated Bavarian-style castle that used to serve as a seashell museum. The location features stunning views of Xinghai Bay and the Yellow Sea, as well as restaurants with gourmet “sea-to-table” and “farm-to-table” dining, a German craft beer bar, and a cigar lounge.
The lobby of The Castle Hotel in Dalian. (Courtesy Photo)
Located in the scenic Yanqi Lake area one hour from Beijing, Kempinski’s largest mainland China property features a giant orb-shaped structure created to resemble a rising sun. Designed by Shanghai Huadu Architect Design Co., the building features several elements of Chinese culture: the entrance is shaped like the mouth of a fish to symbolize prosperity while the side of the hotel is shaped like a scallop to represent fortune. The building is part of a massive complex that includes 12 boutique hotels, nine restaurants and bars, two spas, a private marina, a pagoda, recreational and fitness facilities, and a kids' club. The hotel was originally slated for a November opening, but its website says that its official opening is set to take place at the beginning of January 2015.
The Sunrise Kempinski Hotel at Yanqi Lake near Beijing. (Courtesy Photo)
New York’s iconic Waldorf Astoria may soon be in the hands of a Chinese buyer, but travelers don’t even need to leave China to experience Hilton’s ultra-luxe hotel brand. In February, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts marked its second China opening with a new location in Beijing situated at the former site of Xianliang Temple, the residence of Qing dynasty statesman Li Hongzhang. The hotel features a multi-million dollar art collection as well as a Hutong Courtyard built in the style of a traditional private mansion.
The Hutong Courtyard at the Waldorf Astoria Beijing. (Courtesy Photo)
With its first China resort (as well as its first non-beach location), Mauritius-based LUX* Hotels & Resorts headed to the historic Tea Horse Road ancient trade route. Located in Lijiang Ancient Town in Yunnan Province, the first phase of the mountain resort opened in September. Guests at the traditional courtyard-style location have the opportunity to take Naxi (a local ethnic minority) cooking classes from Baisha villagers, learn about Pu’er tea with in-house tea ceremonies, and attend sessions to learn about the Naxi’s traditional pictographic language.
The LUX* Lijiang resort in Yunnan. (Courtesy Photo)
Marking W’s second China hotel after its Guangzhou location, the Starwood-owned brand burst onto the Beijing hospitality scene in November with a new hotel featuring rooms “fit for an emperor”—if emperors had rooms with digital tablets to control lighting and a fully equipped home theater system. Geared toward a young, trendy crowd, the hotel plans to provide programming centered around fashion, music, and entertainment, while guests can head to several bars throughout the hotel to listen to DJs spinning tracks while they sip on cocktails by W’s mixologists.
The W Beijing Hotel Chang’an. (Courtesy Photo)