Mainland, Hong Kong Hotels Wow Judges With Mix Of Traditional And Contemporary Luxury Accents
Six hotels in China (four in the mainland, two in Hong Kong) have made the Condé Nast Traveller Hot List 2010, that publication’s annual list of the “66 coolest new hotels in the world, from Austria to Uruguay.” Among the new luxury hotels in China that made this year’s cut, two — including the much-hyped Mira Hotel — are in Hong Kong, three are in Shanghai, and one is in Hangzhou. Six hotels in China made last year’s “Hot List” as well, four in the mainland, one in Hong Kong, and one in Macau.
Here are the “hottest” new hotels in China, as chosen by Condé Nast Traveller:
Wonderfully located at the edge of Xixi National Wetland Park (previously on Jing Daily — JD) a world away from the madness of China’s woefully congested tourist hot spots, Banyan Tree’s latest resort provides an effortless combination of nature and culture. The first of its kind near the ancient city of Hangzhou, it has a fantastic restaurant and an indulgent spa with incredible birdlife on the doorstep.
The 72 rooms and villas are decorated with all the warmth and elegance you’d expect from a Banyan Tree resort: essential-oil-scented rooms and public areas; soft rugs over under-heated floor tiles; a stuffed toy on your bed at turndown (a charming keepsake for your contribution the resort’s Green Imperative Fund).
It would have been all too easy for the Langham Yangtze to have veered into the realms of kitsch. That it treads the fine line between Art Deco authenticity and excellent good taste is a tribute to both the designers (Duncan & Miller) and owners, who have turned a classic hotel (it first opened in 1934) into a sensational new ‘smart deco’ property.
Set back several streets from the Bund, just a few t’ai chi moves from People’s Park, the Langham’s 96 rooms and suites have echoes of the golden age of Shanghai (even the air conditioning grilles have an Art Deco flourish), while incorporating the latest technology (bathrooms sport TVs above deep-soaking tubs). A impressive winding staircase leads down from an intimate bar on the first floor to the lobby and Palm Court, where afternoon tea is served.
Once a ho-hum hotel opposite Kowloon Park on the slightly tarnished Golden Mile, the Miramar has been reborn, minus the last three letters of its name. Little of the old property was retained, except the superstructure and the chandeliers, which are now encased in open-ended tubes in the all-day Japanese-infused diner, Yamm. Bold, fun, and vivacious, The Mira is best summed up by its spa and fitness centre, with its indoor infinity-edged pool, as much a place to party as get pampered.
Celebrity chef Justin Quek (Singapore’s answer to Jamie Oliver) spends a fortnight a month at Whisk restaurant, while Vibes is a sensational oasis courtyard bar lit by gas fires beneath the windowless wall of a neighbouring building. The tech stuff (all-in-one computer and infotainment centre, iPod dock, a Nokia mobile that works around the city) in the 492 bedrooms is joyfully comprehensible even by the most jet-lagged, and the Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair symptomatic of the stylish comfort.
The Peninsula is nothing short of spectacular. It is in a brilliant position on the Huangpu River with remarkable views of Pudong and the Bund. The rooftop restaurant Sir Elly’s is excellent, one of the city’s prime food-with-a-view spots, and serves Modern European cuisine. The Art Deco style is a deliberate reference to the days when Shanghai was known as the ‘Paris of the East’, a pervading sense of grandeur reflected in the presence of a live quartet accompanying afternoon tea in the opulent lobby-lounge (an 18-piece orchestra plays on Saturdays).
All 235 rooms feel wonderfully residential and have modern comforts galore, from a nail dryer and a one-touch spa button in the bathroom (which dims the lights and switches on soothing music and a privacy light), to the in-room fax-copier machines that can print your holiday photos fast and free. For further indulgence hire the hotel Rolls-Royce to take you shopping.
Serious thought has gone into transforming this slice of intensely urban Shanghai into a fashionable oasis. The 32-metre bar in the incredibly chic lobby is somewhere to see and be seen; there are tea-themed restorative treatments in the Anantara Spa; and the 229 rooms and suites are decidedly masculine and minimalist (with black decor and dark Oriental furniture). As general manager Martijn van der Valk says, ‘We are a resort. We look after people differently.’
The upbeat staff are splendidly attentive: you only have to whisper ‘it’s freezing’ and a pashmina shawl appears; in summer, should you decide to sit alfresco, drinks are served with a shot of mosquito repellent on the side. ‘Look closer’ is the mantra at PuLi: pore over an intriguing collection of Chinese graphic novels strategically strewn in public areas; a pair of lions sits on the coffee table, auspicious guardians of your hip abode.
Towering above Pacific Place in Hong Kong’s Admiralty area, the Upper House has been converted from the top 13 storeys of a 50-floor 1980s tower. The building is unexceptional, bar its arresting street-level entrance by Thomas Heatherwick (designer of the British Pavilion at this year’s Shanghai EXPO), a stone-curtain wall that looks like, well, curtains.
Not so the hotel’s elegant interiors and furniture, designed by young Hong Kong architect André Fu. The look is essentially Asian, contemporary and uncluttered (an essay in pale oak, limestone, marble and iridescent velvet) so as not to compete with the dazzling views, towards the harbour in one direction, the mountains in the other.