Bedroom at 88 Xintiandi, Shanghai, China

88 Xintiandi

This fifty-three-room hotel in the heart of the French Concession has many fans. It is certainly more intimate than the other high-end choices, but the service is a bit more limited. The décor mixes traditional Chinese furniture with contemporary pieces for a very chic Asian look. A small pool and room service are available, as are many rooms with kitchenettes.

Bedroom - Aman at the Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Aman at the Summer Palace

Aman has out Amaned itself with this incredible property because it has actually merged a luxurious resort experience with a historic cultural immersion. Today, too often a traveler is forced to starkly divide their sightseeing experience from their hotel experience. You leave a modern cocoon and dive into cultural exploration, then return to your hotel oasis to process. Here, however, within the very walls of one of China’s greatest monuments, Aman has fashioned a supremely special home-away-from-home-Imperial Chinese-style hotel so you actually feel like you are checking into history.

The Summer Palace, which at 293 hectares is three times larger than the Forbidden City and is still the largest garden in China more than a century after it was built, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built as the summer retreat for the imperial family, the Palace in its current form (the original was destroyed in 1860) was the fantastical project of Empress Dowager Cixi. Somehow, Aman managed to win the right to transform buildings annexed to the palace, some of which were once used as diplomatic waiting rooms, into a luxury hotel. So while tourists stream into the main gates of the Summer Palace through subway-like ticket turn styles, guests at the Aman arrive to a private courtyard adjacent to the East Gate where valets await to whisk them into a restored 19th-century Ming dynasty building where dignitaries once waited for their audience with the Empress.

The lobby, like the rest of the property, has been updated with the most luxurious modern materials but in a way that pays homage to history. So under the traditional peaked, beamed ceilings, there are lots of chic wood and paper lanterns, delicate wooden lattice screens and Ming benches with gorgeous silk cushions. If the Empress were to arrive today, she would know that she were in a different time but also that she was in a familiar place, which means for the modern guest going from the pampering enclave of the Aman, where bathrooms have deep soaking tubs and TVs hidden in Ming armoires, to the Summer Palace, there’s no jarring transition from tourist to traveler.

Cobblestoned pathways lined with gardens and weeping willows lead to the thirty-five guestrooms and suites, which are housed in historic buildings set around internal courtyards. Each room is slightly different but all incorporate traditional architecture and materials like Jin clay tile polished floors, exposed wood roof beams and Ming daybeds and armoires. The top accommodation, the Imperial Suite, occupies three separate structures, which share a courtyard. One building houses the bedroom and his-and-her bathroom suites; another has a living room and study and another a private dining room. And while the rooms feel like precious jewel boxes that you will not want to leave, the resort has many attractions to explore. In addition to the exquisite spa and state-of-the-art gym, there are squash courts, an indoor pool, a 37-seat screening room and one of China’s premier wine clubs. The Aman restaurants include the Grill, which focuses on Western food; a Chinese restaurant; and Naoki, where the chef serves French Kaiseki Japanese food. Cultural activities such as calligraphy classes, tea ceremonies, tai chi and musical concerts are also offered daily. To visit the Summer Palace, guests merely duck through a private doorway, but it is also possible to have the hotel arrange for other sightseeing excursions to the Forbidden City, Great Wall or 798 Art District and even to have after-hours access to the Summer Palace itself, where you might have a private dinner or concert arranged.

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Villa Vanities - Amanfayun, Hangzhou, China


The Aman group is often criticized for creating gorgeous bubble-like resorts that offer little interaction with their neighbors. Not so at the Amanfayun, which has made a conscious effort to facilitate local immersion. The property is surrounded by rolling mountains and folded into so many shades of green that arriving here feels like stepping into a Zen painting (an especially welcome respite after some days in energetic Shanghai).

Nestled into 35 acres of tea plantations, the property is built on the foundations of an ancient Chinese village, called Fayun. Many of its traditional houses were painstakingly restored and the village’s original layout was kept in tact. The main path that leads through the resort is one of the pilgrimage routes to Lingyin Temple, one of seven Buddhist sanctuaries that encircle the resort, and Aman opted to keep the path open for worshippers and villagers, allowing for an organic and authentic interaction between visitors and locals.

Not everyone will get what the Amanfayun is trying to be, and travelers expecting a glam scene and marble-clad bathrooms will be much happier at the Four Seasons West Lake. Everything at the Amanfayun is stubbornly, beautifully and consistently traditional China. There are no golf carts or shuttle transfers between the restaurants and villas. When you’ve completed your spa treatment at the serene complex on the northern end of the property, you get dressed and walk home across cobblestoned paths lined by bamboo and lush forest and lit by wire-framed lanterns at night.

The individual villa accommodations, designed by Indonesian architect Jaya Ibrahim, are housed in traditional Chinese structures featuring loads of dark-wood beams, lattice-work and shiny stone floors. That the beige-heavy interiors bring to mind the minimalist serenity of monastic life is surely intentional: everything is of the highest quality—high thread count sheets, handcrafted bath amenities, custom-made Elmwood furnishings, floor heating—but there is no excess here. Creaking wooden doors and windows are covered in latticed shutters, which keep the rooms dimly lit even during the day. Due to the ancient structures, bathrooms do not accommodate bathtubs, though the oversized rain showers more than make up for it (and there are three traditional bathhousees with enormous wooden tubs, part of the spa, that can be reserved on a complimentary basis).

Another innovative touch to draw Hangzhou into the resort grounds was to invite four local restaurant owners to open and run their eateries here. Two are managed by Aman, but three others are independent and offer everything from vegetarian temple cuisine to regional Hangzhou specialties. One of the most interesting spots is the Teahouse, headed by a famous Hangzhou tea matriarch, where guests can sample the area’s potent Dragon Well longjing tea. For guests tired of Chinese cuisine, there’s also a good Western restaurant.

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A gorgeous property in an offbeat location with a unique origin story, Amanyangyun is designed for true Aman junkies and locals wanting a weekend getaway outside of Shanghai.

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hotel room with bed on the left and floor to ceiling windows

Bulgari Hotel, Beijing

An oasis in bustling Beijing, the Bulgari is one of the most sophisticated locations to wind down from a busy day of sightseeing in China’s capital.

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Capella Shanghai

No hotel in Shanghai captures the imagination quite like Capella, a group of lovingly restored shikumen buildings that feature an innovative blend of East and West.

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Interior View - China World Beijing, Beijing, China

China World Beijing

The China World, a veteran in Beijing hotel terms, was the first major hotel to be designed as the centerpiece of an entire complex, with shops, offices and restaurants incorporated into the block-long plot. This is one of the top properties of the renowned Shangri-La group, which ensures that it is powered by a slick and efficient Hong Kong–European mechanism. It is not for everyone—the gargantuan feel is accentuated by the presence of a sister hotel, the Trader’s, in the complex and a large exhibition center—but it is luxurious, fairly convenient and used to meeting the demands of American and European business and leisure travelers.

Interestingly, a portion of its trade these days comes from local Chinese traveling to the capital; they were once intimidated by such grand abodes; the prices, too, tended to scare them off, and also the risk of breaching Western etiquette rules and suffering the resultant loss of face. This changed because of the booming economy. For Westerners, it can serve as a bolt-hole after a long day of sightseeing or meetings; there are plenty of restaurants and bars, in the complex and nearby, that obviate the need to venture back out into the heavy traffic.

Lounge at Commune by the Great Wall Kempinski, Beijing, China

Commune by the Great Wall Kempinski

A series of striking buildings, the Commune by the Great Wall Kempinski complex, attracted world attention when it was unveiled. The concept was intriguing: today’s cutting-edge architecture next to one of the oldest structures of all, the Great Wall. Some of the villas are available for rent, with management by the Kempinski group, which is likely to appeal to those who have plenty of time in Beijing.

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View from Lounge -  East Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

East Hong Kong

As the second Swire hotel in Hong Kong (they also own Upper House and Cathay Pacific), East expands the line for business travelers seeking great value, service and convenience. Located in a sleek high-rise, the hotel sits near Hong Kong's Cityplaza and TaiKoo Place in Island East, close to the hundreds of local and international businesses that have moved here from the ultra-pricey Central district.

All of the 345 rooms feature a minimalist aesthetic. The glass-and-steel structure borrows design details from its more luxurious big sister hotel; the room and floor numbers are etched into bamboo panels and lit up from behind and calming natural touches include limestone and bamboo flooring.

There’s a happening rooftop bar called Sugar, with a long outdoor deck strewn with day beds and boasting views of the harbor, as well as a bustling canteen-style restaurant called Feast. The attractive outdoor pool at the fitness center too offers beautiful panoramas.

Who Should Stay

Corporate and independent-minded leisure travelers on a budget will appreciate the comforts, style and view. Guests should be prepared to deal with the 10- to 15-minute commute into Central.

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East Hotel

One of the few good hotels located in the east of Beijing, this is a perfect stopover for those with business in the area.
Living Room at Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China

Fairmont Peace Hotel

The Art Deco Fairmont Peace Hotel was built on the Bund in 1929 by the Iraqi-British real estate tycoon Victor Sassoon. The grand hotel epitomized old-world glamor during the 1930s when Shanghai was nicknamed the “Paris of the East”. But following the Chinese Communist Party takeover in 1949, the hotel fell into decay. Eventually it was turned into a shopping mall with the property's glorious center-piece – a vast stained glass atrium roof which sits in an octagonal lobby – covered by a fake ceiling.

Now, following a $60 million restoration that took three years to complete, the newly named Fairmont Peace Hotel is back to its former glory. Fairmont Hotel & Resorts have gone to painstaking effort to preserve the hotel’s finest historical features. And it shows. As well as enjoying spectacular views across the Huangpo River towards the financial district of Pudong from the roof top bar, visitors can also sip cocktails in the ground floor in the quaint, old-world Jazz Bar. There, an octogenarian band who have played together since the 1980s (two members were in Jimmy King’s legendary 1940s jazz ensemble) only add to the charm.

Other highlights include the Dragon Phoenix restaurant located on the eighth floor. It is decked out in red, green, blue and gold, colors which are reminiscent of the Forbidden City. Rumor has it that hotel staff covered the elaborate ceiling motifs with paper during the Cultural Revolution to prevent them from being destroyed by Red Guards. **

Fittingly, rooms are designed in an Art Deco style. Although they harken back to a bygone time, modern comfort is the order of the day: rooms come with goose-down pillows, Illy espresso machines, iPod docking stations, and wireless internet, plus walk-in wardrobes. The Fairmont Rooms overlook an inner courtyard while the Deluxe Rooms offer the more impressive city views. Aside from enjoying dinner at the Dragon Phoenix, guests can have a sumptuous old world afternoon tea in the Jasmine Lounge. For adventurous types there is also the legendary Tea Dance, where professional instructors provide ballroom dancing lessons to the tunes of a live orchestra. For those after something a little more serene, the Willow Stream spa has all the usual massages and treatments set in luxurious surroundings.

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bedroom at Four Seasons Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

Four Seasons Hong Kong

With three-quarters of its 396 guestrooms boasting unobstructed views of Victoria Harbour (known in Chinese as the so-called “Fragrant Harbor”), this hotel commands a distinct location. At 484 square feet, standard rooms are among Hong Kong’s largest and certainly most thoughtful, finished with subtle Oriental touches, extra-wide plasma televisions and Four Seasons essentials like the sheepskin underlay bed.

The hotel’s uninspired exterior does little to distinguish it from the soaring glass office towers that cram the waterfront but inside, indulgence reigns. Foodies flock to the French restaurant Caprice and reservations here even after years are still among the most coveted in town. Cantonese restaurant, Lung King Heen is a regular on world’s best lists. More treasures reveal themselves in the spa, with its calming, blond-wood treatment rooms and aromatic scents. Take a mud plunge in the Rhassoul chamber, a whirl around the vitality pool then dry off in the calming crystal steam room, complimentary for hotel guests even without a spa appointment.

Shoppers, in particular, will delight in the hotel’s direct access to some of the city’s best shopping downstairs in IFC Mall, most notably Lane Crawford, where Barney's meets Neiman Marcus in Hong Kong’s most luxurious large retail space.

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Exterior View - Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, Shanghai, China

Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai

In a city as exciting as Shanghai, it adds a lot to the experience to stay in a hotel with a futuristic vibe, such as the Four Seasons Pudong. Opened in 2013, it is situated on the high floors of the 21st Century Tower in the business district. Standing in my Executive One-Bedroom Suite on the 33rd floor with two walls of windows offering sweeping views over the famous Pudong skyline, I felt like I was suspended in air in a glass cube. The 172 rooms and 15 suites are done in a masculine color scheme of taupe, chrome and chocolate with burgundy highlights and Art Deco-inspired touches. Throughout the hotel there are marvelous textural and design details: shagreen, velveteen, Macassar ebony, shiny lacquer. Even the low category Deluxe rooms are a spacious 500 square feet. Suites feature flat screen TVs, marble bathrooms with big soaking tubs and rainfall showers. Striped screens slide open to reveal floor-to-ceiling windows with sublime skyline views (request a room overlooking the Oriental Pearl Tower). On the first floor, Camelia restaurant has a sushi counter and a chic outdoor terrace that’s a delightful spot to meet for drinks on a warm night. The Shang-Xi restaurant serves superb Chinese food in either the intimate restaurant (just 22 seats) or one of five very stylish private rooms. The spa features four treatment rooms, a large 24-hour fitness center, and men’s and women’s lounges, each with a steam room and whirlpool. But the pièce de résistance is the sensational infinity pool overlooking the skyline, which is absolutely magical at sunset.

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Suite at Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai, Shanghai, China

Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai

This lovely property, located close to shopping on Nanjing Road, has a residential feel that makes it a good choice for families. Unlike so many of the soaring grand lobbies you find in Shanghai, this one is arranged with lots of art and smaller pieces of furniture—the kind you might find in a home. Comfortable sitting areas invite guests to linger. Suites begin on the 6th floor, with the presidential suite occupying the 36th floor. Fabrics in sunny yellows or terra-cotta hues like those found in Chinese porcelain warm up the 422 guest rooms. Even the brass hardware on the TV cabinets replicates familiar Chinese shapes, and small iron sculptures and porcelain dishes on desks and tables in select suites add a reminder of the country’s great artistic heritage. There are five restaurants on property, including a steak house available for private use. Situated on the ground floor beneath a sunny atrium, Café Studio offers an excellent lunch buffet with Shanghainese specialties and views of the bustling street. The pretty indoor pool on the fourth floor has chaises both indoors and out for lounging.

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Facade - Four Seasons West Lake, Hangzhou, China

Four Seasons West Lake

Designed to blend into the serenity of the natural setting, the low-built resort is situated within a beautifully landscaped park-garden, featuring tons of water elements (lotus ponds, waterfalls, portions of West Lake), so that each public space and most guest rooms come with picturesque views. The architecture is based on the region’s traditional Jiang Nan style, with many of the buildings boasting Pagoda-style rooftops, latticed trellises and shiny, lacquered doors. The traditional feel continues on the interiors as well, though all has been designed with a lot of style and stunning materials, one more luscious than the next.

Whether you’re sampling local cuisine in the soaring dining room of renowned Jin Sha restaurant or taking a dip in the massive outdoor or indoor pool edged by cozy, pillow-topped lounging nooks, all the details are top-notch and work together to create a backdrop that is at once traditional yet also sophisticated, stylish and sexy.

The resort has just 81 accommodations, including three villas. The in-room design is surprisingly restrained—some would say less inspired—compared with the uber-chic public spaces, but the resort’s main clientele tends to be mostly wealthy Chinese, explaining this penchant for more formulaic interiors. The furnishings are polished blond wood, touches of color include painted silk panels above the bed, the bathrooms are large marble-clad extravaganzas and the technology is, of course, first-rate.

The resort is close to all of the city’s main attractions, while also maintaining a tucked-away, serene feeling, thanks to the gorgeous landscaped grounds whose flower-lined paths and willow-framed ponds make the relentless beat of modern China feel blissfully far away.

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Bedroom at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

This harborfront hotel, while mainly aimed at corporate clients and those attending events at the adjacent Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, also caters to leisure travelers (and even business people with a few free hours like to spend them by the rooftop pool). Spa sybarites should head straight for Plateau and Chinese food lovers can fill up on the island’s best dim sum at the elegant One Harbour Road restaurant.

The Plateau floor, which houses the spa and minimalist rooms with Japanese-style futon beds and deep granite tubs, has proved to be hugely popular. Each of the prime Plateau deluxe rooms and suites have tiny balconies—a rarity in Hong Kong—and glorious views of the harbor. All of the rooms boast rainfall showerheads, LCD TVs and easy access to the stunning pool, which offer a harbor vista.

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Living Room at Grand Hyatt, Shanghai, China

Grand Hyatt Shanghai

One of the highest hotels in the world (occupying floors 54 to 88), this is a top choice of bankers due to its central location in the business area of Pudong. Views of Puxi across the river, especially the Bund are breathtaking from anyplace in the hotel: the rooms, the cocktail lounge, the restaurants, though first-time leisure travelers will most likely be based on the other side instead of gazing upon it from their rooms. Go for a drink or a meal instead, as the vistas inside (there is a 33-story atrium) and outside (of the sprawling city) are worth a visit. Warning: The tower was built to sway in high winds, so those who are motion-sensitive may want to avoid it in typhoon season.

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Lounge at Hotel Côté Cour Beijing, Beijing, China

Hotel Côté Cour Beijing

Book ahead for a stay at this intimate hotel, which has just fourteen rooms. It’s the personal project of investment banker Shauna Liu, who dreamed of turning a traditional courtyard home into a hotel, incorporating creature comforts. Liu happened upon a run-down courtyard in a protected area of Beijing and used her savings to totally gut and renovate it. The result is Hotel Côté Cour, the French name reflecting the owner’s passion for all things Gallic. The rooms’ decor is a mixture of traditional and modern: fine linens and handmade silks for the beds, olive paint for the walls, dark wood for the chairs, plus flat-screen televisions and walk-in showers. The rooms are arranged around a courtyard and lily pond. Although it is just a short cab ride from busy Tiananmen Square, the overall feel is that of a tranquil suburban retreat with a personalized ambiance.

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Hotel Indigo

Insightfully written guides, available to guests of the Indigo in both hard and soft copy, lead the way to fascinating aspects of Wan Chai’s past. Don’t miss the 1872 Blue House (on nearby Stone Nullah Lane), Nam Koo Terrace that locals believe is haunted, the charming 1912 Wan Chai post office across the street and an outdoor market around the corner specializing in vintage toys. For a close look at these under-the-radar cultural experiences, Indigo offers Wan Chai architecture walks, Chinese cake-making classes with neighborhood pastry chefs, kung fu demonstrations and even tips of the best local tailors from Hong Kong fashionistas.

The hotel itself is no less beguiling: the exterior’s surrounding eco-screen resembles a golden dragon and those who head straight to the top story will find themselves at the 29th floor glass clad Skybar, where liquid enticements include a swim in an infinity pool cantilevered over the street below.

Rooms are no less stylish, thanks to more modern art and sleek finishes, even in the standard, 300-square-foot accommodations. Beds are as cloudlike as those found in Hong Kong’s more expensive hotel suites. Views, while urban in all directions, do offer glimpses of Old Hong Kong for those who look carefully. Do not miss breakfast, a generous spread of eastern and western flavors, as well as Hong Kong’s favorite insider caffeine jolt, Rabbithole Coffee.

Aerial View - InterContinental Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

InterContinental Hong Kong

Designed around the principles of feng shui, the Kowloon InterContinental is best known for its unequaled views of the harbor. Primarily a business hotel the property boasts slick service and a range of excellent restaurants that cater to all tastes. Spoon and Nobu are its two flagship dining spots, each with grand vistas of the ever-busy harbor and down the winding staircase from the triple-height lobby the Steak House offers what must be Hong Kong’s largest salad bar, enormous American strip steaks and a stupendous chocolate tart. The highly rated Cantonese restaurant Yan Toh Heen is popular with locals.

All 503 guestrooms and 87 suites here are generously proportioned, well-equipped with modern technology and successfully confer a sense of place without feeling too kitschy. There are nine Superior Harbor View Rooms with patios on the 3rd floor, which offer guests the indulgence of a harbor-facing deck, with cushy loungers for resort-like respite amidst Hong Kong’s madness. Serious spenders should consider the Presidential Suite, a pleasure palace with a duplex living room with two-story windows overlooking Victoria Harbour. Outdoors, there is a wrap-around terrace with an infinity swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Guests of the suite also get a 24-hour personal butler service, round-trip airport limousine service in a Phantom VI Rolls Royce, Bentley or Mercedes limousine plus access to the hotel’s executive lounge.

One bonus for business travelers staying here is proximity to the train station, a five-minute walk away, which gives direct access to Shenzhen, at the China border. Another notable amenity is the Club InterContinental Executive Lounge — with all the freebies of a typical corporate level lounge, doesn’t require you to stay in a corporate level room. Those uninterested in access simply sign up and pay a fee for the privileges.

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Lobby Lounge at J.W. Marriott Hotel Shanghai at Tomorrow Square, Shanghai, China

J.W. Marriott Hotel Shanghai at Tomorrow Square

This skyscraper hotel with 342 rooms resembles an upright rocket ship. With views of People’s Square from many of its rooms, the hotel has interiors that feel as sleek and expensive as its exterior. Some of the bathrooms are fantastic, with bathtubs facing giant windows with views over the skyscraper-filled horizon. The jarring note is that some of the bedrooms have floral bedspreads and fussy armchairs that seem out of place with the otherwise modern aesthetic. The Sino Spa, which specializes in Asian treatments, is an exquisite haven, with carved wooden screens and doors and lots of Balinese fabrics used on pillow-strewn couches and treatment tables. * *

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Suite at Langham Xintiandi, Shanghai, China

Langham Xintiandi

The Langham hotel, opened in 2010, is located right across the road from Shanghai’s popular Xintiandi complex near the former French Concession. Xintiandi (meaning “Heaven and Earth”) was opened in 2003 to house a series of buzzing bars, restaurants, and shops in heavily renovated traditional shikumen housing, the architectural style unique to Shanghai which combines Eastern and Western flourishes. The Langham is a product of the complex’s success. The hotel is a smart, slick operation with excellent service, comfortable rooms, a fabulous buffet breakfast, and a beautiful pool and gym.

Rooms combine Western and Asian décor and are the epitome of understated elegance with floor to ceiling windows, giant bathtubs and all the usual technologies, including iPod docking stations and wireless broadband. Diners at the Langham Xintiandi are spoilt for choice: within minutes they can find themselves ambling among any one of the upscale international eateries located in the Xintiandi complex. For those who prefer to stay within the hotel walls, restaurants include the Chinese Ming Court, the pan-Asian and Western Cachet (which also has an al fresco café and a martini bar) and a chic outdoor lounge terrace called XTD, which is perfect for whiling away summer nights.

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lobby with crystal chandeliers and orange carpets

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

The tallest building on Hong Kong island when it opened in 1963, this was the only place in town where wealthy tourists and foreign bankers and investors would consider staying for years (and many loyal guests still follow in this trend). They loved the location, with its view of the harbor in the heart of the financial district, and the Chinese antiques and paintings everywhere. Bumping into friends from around the world in the lobby or bar was a rite of passage. Even today, it is still said that if you sit in the double-height lobby for a few hours, you will see everyone there is to know in Hong Kong.

The 502 rooms are  in two styles: Verandah, which are white with modern accents, and Taipan, which have an elegant Asian décor with warm woods, leather details and subtle touches such as Chinese silk pillows and antiques statues. Rooms overlooking Victoria Harbour are well worth the indulgence for couples.

The Captain’s Bar and Clipper Lounge are local favorites, as is Man Wah, the Cantonese eatery. Pierre from renowned French chef Pierre Gagnaire on the 25th floor and the Mandarin Grill have each earned Michelin stars. Single bookings for up to 12 people are the only reservations taken at the very private Krug Room, where the nightly menu is hand-written on smooth slate walls in chalk. Also notable is the hotel spa with its expansive relaxation area and Asian influenced treatments as well as a regular roster of renowned visiting healers, so it is well worth asking whose healing hands are in the house.

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Mandarin Oriental, Taipei

The Mandarin Oriental Taipei is a modern city hotel with everything you need for a luxurious weekend or layover in Taiwan. Read Indagare's hotel review.

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Dining at Park Hyatt, Beijing, China

Park Hyatt Beijing

The Park Hyatt is known for its modern, elegant interiors and fabulous views. Located in the middle of the Central Business District, the Park Hyatt occupies floors 37 to 66 of a gleaming skyscraper. Though you enter on the ground floor, to reach the lobby you must ascend to the 63rd floor, where floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the massive urban sprawl will stop you in your tracks. The miles of buildings and highways that extend into the distance in every direction give you an immediate overview of just how big and bustling this city of more than 20 million inhabitants truly is. There are numerous lounges and restaurants on the 63rd to 66th floor from which to marvel at the metropolis. Some face the famous Rem Koolhaus-designed CCTV tower, known as the “Trousers” (the Chinese nickname is boxer shorts) for its iconic square-legged shape.

Apparently Park Hyatt’s architect once said that he had wanted to create a building that a blind man would find beautiful. To this end, he mixed materials from granite and natural and lacquered woods with marble, glass and steel, and, yes, the result is that you find yourself wanting to reach out and touch the surfaces. Despite the high drama of the public spaces, the 237 guest rooms have a wonderfully warm but minimalist style to them. (True added touch: The toilet seats are heated.) Sliding partitions separate the sleek sleeping areas from the spa-inspired bath areas, which have deep soaking tubs. Among the most spectacular public spaces are Xiu, the outdoor terrace on the 6th floor, where tables and chairs are set beside hutong-style pavilions, and the China Bar on the 65th floor. The restaurant’s private dining room are among the most fabulous in the city.

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Lounge at Park Hyatt Shanghai,  Shanghai, China

Park Hyatt Shanghai

Occupying the floors from 79 through 93 in the Shanghai World Financial Center, the Park Hyatt is a study in minimalist chic. The understated entrance on the ground floor is a bit James Bond (you have to go through a metal detector before a long hallway leads through two sliding doors to the elevator dock). But once you arrive in the lobby on the 87th floor, the Zen-like interiors of New York–based designer Tony Chi take over with authority and innovation.

Every last space in the Park Hyatt—restaurants, bars, guest rooms, pool, gym—makes the most of the stunning panoramic views. The sleek lounge area that frames the reception desk resembles a chic living room, with low sitting areas, couches and romantic tables close to the windows overlooking the sprawling city (it’s particularly dramatic when you arrive at night). Each of the guest rooms has city views; the best are those that look towards the Bund whose Neo-Classical mansions look like Monopoly houses from this vantage point. Interiors in the rooms are understated and chic, with an earthy color palate (beige, grey, white, chocolate) and uber-comfortable king-sized beds. The rooms are well laid-out with a large day bed right by the window and a sleek writing desk, though I found the closet space a bit crammed. The roomy stone-clad bathrooms, with a huge bathtub-rain shower combination, feel like your own personal bathhouse. Suites are much more generously sized than the guest rooms, and some of the best ones have double ceilings.

The clientele of the Park Hyatt is mostly business travelers, due to the hotel’s location in financial Pudong. If you’re in Shanghai to sightsee, getting to the Bund, Xintiandi and the French Concession is a taxi ride across the river. However, the restaurants, cafés and multiple bars at the Park Hyatt are worth making the journey even if you’re not staying here. It’s a particularly good option if you’re traveling with a group, thanks to several private dining rooms, with stunning views and gorgeous décor. If you’re coming just for drinks, you can either join the party on the 92nd floor or have a quieter, romantic cocktail in the Living Room on the 87th floor. The food at the Park Hyatt is not inexpensive, but for a splurge, 100 Century, on the 91st floor, gets consistently good reviews. The restaurant concept occupies the entire 91st floor and has different stations (including a Western steakhouse, a Chinese wok and Japanese restaurants), so that everyone will find something to their liking on the menu.

Considering the business-heavy clientele, the stunning swimming pool and lounge area feel sadly underused. The dramatic infinity pool (elevated so bathers can take in the city views) is lined by a row of comfortable day beds, surely one of the most serene spaces for contemplating Shanghai.

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Peninsula Beijing

This luxurious five-star hotel prides itself on good service and is located just a short drive from many of Beijing’s top sights.

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