5-Star Hotel Guide


Beyond this country's industrial might we've found quirky traits, ancient architecture and unparalleled, mythical landscapes


Favourite 5-star hotels in China

A trip to China will not be what you expected, indeed not what you perhaps hoped for, but go with it and you will have the most rewarding of trips. One that challenges your preconceptions of the country and its people. One that informs and educates. In short, travel at its best. The pace and scale of development means it is not always pretty. The food although mostly very good can sometimes miss. But it is now possible to scratch beneath the surface of this fascinating country from the comfort of luxury hotels.

The adventure is twofold; ancient and modern. Not only will you marvel at storybook treasures such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors but also the country’s modern achievements. Prepare to be overwhelmed by the scale and pace of development. Yes, you’ve read about it but to see it with your own eyes is truly to understand how the world is changing. China has put more infrastructure in place in the last 10 years than the West has in the last 100. It is vast, modern and efficient. Clean and safe. Regional airports have terminals to rival Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Vast highways and bullet trains link the emerging mega cities. Sometimes the old and the new collide. You will see Buddhist monks using the latest iPhone, watch young women gathering the harvest by hand while chatting away on their mobile phone!

Prepare to leave any preconceptions of the Chinese behind. Without exception we were met with politeness, great service and good humour, particularly when inevitably something gets a bit lost in translation. The enthusiasm and positivity of lives changing for the better is refreshing to us increasingly jaded and cynical Westerners. Expect to be unusual. The majority of tourists we encountered were domestic rather than foreign. Even at the most famous tourist sites, it was rare to see other Westerners. Many Chinese have never seen a Westerner in the flesh before and you will enjoy newfound celebrity status as ‘big noses’. For the most part, the Chinese are as fascinated by us and we by them.

Here at Luxury Explorer we recommend for a first visit to China, focussing a stay around Beijing and Xi’an to take in the great sites. If time permits regular flight connections to the rest of South East Asia offer the opportunity to combine a trip to China with some welcome relaxation at a beach resort in Thailand or Vietnam.

Throw in the world-conquering cuisine and the unique idiosyncrasies of Chinese life from impromptu waltzing in city parks to artists practising water calligraphy on street pavements and you have a travel destination that is impossible to forget.

The bustling cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong are the main tourist centres, teeming with life. Yet luxe travellers do not have to venture far to find peace and tranquility, with the haven-like Aman at Summer Palace just outside Beijing.

To celebrate spirituality in all its forms, check-in to Amanfayun near Hangzhou. This old world yet luxurious retreat is surrounded by lush green bamboo groves and tea plantations, and is the perfect escape from the stresses of city life.