Xian, Nanjing, Hangzhou – three dynasties (Qin – Ming – Song), three ancient capital cities, three Shangri-La hotels – in one trip
Earlier this year, I was privileged to experience a different China, visiting the three iconic cities, famous for their incredible cultural heritage. The three cities are very conveniently located, so that I was able to organize a comfortable one week trip. I flew in non-stop from Rome to Xian and then, I took a 2 hour flight from Xian to Nanjing and finally the bullet train for a 2 hour journey from Nanjing to Hangzhou.
A city which blends modernity and heritage, Hangzhou is known for its natural landscapes and a vibrant array of skyscrapers. While it is a major cultural hub, being home to several prestigious universities, Hangzhou is also a major business hub. It is in Hangzhou that Shangri-La Group opened its first hotel in China, three decades ago. The first Shangri-La Hotel in Hangzhou is housed within a low rise residential style building located right on the West Lake.
The astonishing pace of development of the city has prompted Shangri-La to open at the end of 2015 its second hotel, Midtown Shangri-La Hangzhou. The newly built hotel is the perfect illustration of the evolution of the Hong Kong based luxury hotel group which has been maintaining a leading position in China’s luxury hotel market.
Midtown Shangri-La, Hangzhou boasts an ideal location, 5 minutes walk from the West Lake. The 417-room property blends the best of the past with the best of the present.
The new-build hotel is located in the Kerry Central Complex, also developed by the owners of Shangri-La. The success of the hotel has been assured by its location within Kerry Central, a new destination in the city which comprises an office tower, apartments and a premium shopping mall with multiple entertainment and dining offerings. Nearby is the high-speed train station, while the international airport can be reached in less than one hour. The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Cana, a World Heritage cultural site is close by.
Midtown Shangri-La, Hangzhou is a setting where the essence of the West Lake is present around the 13-storey hotel. Art objects, from a traditional silk painting of the lake in the lobby, to a custom designed chandelier that mimics rippling water are displayed in homage to the breathtaking landmark.
Throughout the hotel’s contemporary and elegantly furnished guestrooms, ranging from 43 to 86 square metres and with views of the city or West Lake, are delicate pieces of Hangzhou’s famous ice crack Ge Kiln porcelain, as well as emblems of the lotus flower that blooms in summer along the freshwater lake. Rooms are impeccably appointed, with spacious marble bathrooms and large walk-in wardrobes. Beds are incredibly comfortable, housekeeping providing an exceptional standard of service.
Just as Hangzhou is a city of contrasts, the hotel’s restaurants and bar present a range of concepts for socializing and entertaining. Central Market is a European-style restaurant with show kitchens and international choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are also Asian stations at Central Market, all servings being buffet style. On my first day, I enjoyed breakfast in the Horizon Club Lounge which offers an exclusive venue with an impeccable standard of personalized service.
The Great Lounge is an ideal gathering place for those who prefer a casual ambiance and soft live music. Aside from the gourmet afternoon tea and cocktails, an enviable Chinese tea menu is available and includes varieties of Hangzhou’s renowned Dragon Well tea and Longjing tea.
Offering specialty craft beers by the resident brew master, Midtown Brewery is undoubtedly a hot spot in Hangzhou. In the ambiance of live music (Western music) the Brewery serves a wide selection of home brewed beers as well as small food plates. Although I am not a beer drinker, this turned out to be a unique experience. Do not miss the beer chicken and the Asian tapas.
The Chinese restaurant, Cheng Zong which is situated on the second level of Kerry Central Complex, features casual Cantonese and bespoke Hangzhou cuisine. I was impressed how popular the restaurant was, almost full on each evening of my stay, attracting mostly locals. The restaurant also reflects Shangri-La´s new approach towards F&B, providing an exceptional dining experience at an affordable price.
The hotel boasts a lavish Health Club, with a fully equipped gym, indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms. At the CHI Spa of the hotel I tried a CHI Balance body treatment, which provided the ultimate relaxation experience. The skills of the therapist and the environment were of world-class quality.
Oliver Petcu in Hangzhou
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