The Opposite House is a very trendy, stylish hotel located on the second ring, among all the Embassies and well-known designer shops. The Opposite House is connected to a great shopping center with unique stores and fashionable restaurants. The rooms are spacious, and the walls are covered with a nice yellow wood, making the room warm, with elegant, but simple decorations. The furniture is made of a shiny honey-colored wood, complementing the room. The bed was quite comfortable. The bathrooms are great - covered in wood, from floor to ceiling, with a massive square, wooden bathtub.
The guide in Beijing that Wild China provided was excellent, with superb knowledge of the city and its history, which we all know could be overwhelming.
From Beijing, I flew the 2-hour flight to Xian, where I stayed at the Shangri-La. The hotel rooms are refined, with a great carpet to walk on and elegant décor. The Shangri-La staff was very attentive and had expedient room service.
Wild China has special access for the clients at the Terracotta Warriors site, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I was able to visit the lower viewing area, which is typically only open to China’s officials and premiers.
Wild China arranged my accommodations in a hotel located in one of these old villages, The Pig’s Heaven Inn, an old house from the 1300’s. The rooms are simple, but very comfortable, with great mattresses. The bathroom is modern, with windows facing different view points (mine faced the vegetable garden). The hotel used to be the house of rich merchants, and the new owners that I met converted it into a hotel with 10 unique rooms. The food there was excellent, and the staff very attentive.
At the top of the Yellow Mountains there is a fabulous hotel call Xi Hai. I did an inspection, and I can tell you it is very nice; the rooms are beautiful, looking at the mountains, lots of beautiful polished marble, and a great mix of Chinese modern and old style art. Good restaurants and awesome service.
The Yellow Mountains are another UNESCO world heritage site and great destination for photographers, serious hikers, and casual amblers. Wild China offers a 13-day program for this region alone. Tours include visits to historic villages like Hongcun, which I visited. This is where they filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon!
From there I took the bullet train to Shanghai. The first-class cabins are very spacious and have comfortable seats. It takes only 45 minutes to reach Shanghai from Hangzhou.
The Peninsula in Shanghai, located on the Bund, is just too good to be true! Extremely beautiful with a great location, and the service is the fastest I have experienced in any hotel. Later I found out that they assign three members of their staff to each room, having more than 600 employees. Clients get free international calls and free fax. The rooms are wonderful (love their modern approach), and there are large windows to observe the futuristic landscape of Shanghai and the river.
The Shanghai Museum is a must-see, and the Tao Bao City Gift Market has the best knock-offs.
From Shanghai, I went to Guilin. From the hotel to PVG airport, I took the Maglev bullet train. The train goes 350 km per hour, for around 217 miles, and took only seven minutes to reach the airport, which is great because the traffic in Shanghai can be chaotic! My luggage was given to the driver, so I just took my carry-on with me, and he met me at the airport with the rest of the luggage.
In Guilin, I stayed at another Shangri-La for the first night, spending the two other nights at the Yangshuo Resort, a four-star hotel with spacious rooms and private balconies by the river, with views of the gorgeous mountains. I arranged great hiking trips and cooking classes while I stayed in these areas.
From Guilin, I flew back to Shanghai and stayed at the new Four Seasons in Pudong with 147 rooms all above the 34th floor, with great views of the city. The Four Seasons, contrary to what people think, is in a great location. It is not at the Bund, but it has a very quick access to it - about 10 minutes by car. It is great for business people, because of its location in the business district.
While in Shanghai, I also visited the Waldorf Astoria (also in the Bund) which has a great history. Rooms are pompous and ornate, with English furniture and decoration, and massive chandeliers. Both The Peninsula and The Waldorf offers a great afternoon tea with all the English tradition.
Overall, China has a lot to offer and it will be a memorable trip for everyone.