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China

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the Routes
du Bonheur of...

Charles Liu
View all the Routes du Bonheur

Proprietor of Chaptel Hangzhou
My Route du Bonheur through China’s treasures

I was born in the village of Zhuge Bagua, not far from Shanghai. My birthplace is the largest settlement for Zhuge Liang’s descendants who have lived there for generations. The village was built according to the theory of the Eight Diagrams: Eight roads start from the center, and stretch out towards eight hills outside the town. The village was designated a national heritage in 1996. After leaving there to study Japanese, I went on to work for several years as a tourist guide in Hangzhou. Next, my travelling days began, firstly in China, and then all over the world. My encounters abroad spurred me to share the terrific gems of Zhejiang province. In February 2013, we finally opened Chaptel Hangzhou, a luxurious setting on the shores of a lake listed as a World Heritage site...

Relais & Châteaux proposes its Routes du Bonheur for your inspiration: they are suggestions of itineraries that you can adapt to your preferences and desired experiences. Our advisors are at your disposal to individualise your routes and help you make reservations at our properties.
Example for a 6 nights stay from 13 267 CNY*
* Minimum indicative rate per person, subject to availability, on the basis of a double room with double occupancy, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner (menu, without beverages) in the properties suggested for the itinerary.
Activities on site and nearby must be reserved by you.

My Route du Bonheur
Phase 1 : 2 days, 2 nights

JE Mansion

Upholding a heritage of Chinese culture
JE Mansion
The traditional architecture takes you on a journey through time. At the foot of Yuquan hill, JE Mansion, Beijing conceals a truly peaceful haven. With a seemingly endless lawn that stretches across almost 5 hectares, the hotel has one of Beijing’s loveliest greens. Inside the walls, sheltered by the stone, wood carving and wonderful calligraphy dominate. A quiet space away from the bustle of the city. Kang Jian - its owner - is a good friend who is totally devoted to this outstanding place.

Close to the property...

Peking Roast Duck

Opened in Qianmen in 1864, the Quanjude restaurant is a real institution. For a century and a half, roasted duck has been made here according to the technique known as "hanging" inside an open oven. The ducks are inflated before being coated in oil, honey and soy sauce. American presidents, Chancellors and world stars have all paid a visit to try the famous poultry. The enjoyment of biting into the crispy grilled skin is like no other... 30 Qianmen St, Dongcheng, Beijing

Forbidden City, Beijing

I was lucky enough to be able to enter parts of the famous Forbidden City that are closed to the general public. A magical time. In the silent palaces, between the deserted courtyards and pavilions, all of China’s majestic history parades before you because, from the 15th century to the early 20th century, the successions of every Ming and Qing dynasty emperor took place here. Closing your eyes, you can almost see the last Emperor Pu Yi waving...

Forbidden City

On the route...

The Great Wall

I have walked the Great Wall so many times. There are two places close to Beijing that stand out: Mutianyu, a magical place that is easily reached by cable car. I love to come here in autumn when the trees take on the colour of fire all around the wall. You feel weightless above the fortified road. Further west, Badaling is a very impressive section where you can walk for hours along the steps which can be steeper than a rocky spur. You do wonder how men could have managed to build a fortification such as this.

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : LIU

Calling from another country ? Click here

Revenir en haut de page
Phase 2 : 2 days, 2 nights

Le Sun Chine

The elegance and ambience of a time long-forgotten
Le Sun Chine
Built during the era of the French concession, this grand residence has resisted the city’s transformations. Le Sun Chine is more than a luxury hotel – nowadays, it is also a listed building. The decorations also measure up to the setting: each piece of furniture here has a tale of mysterious Shanghai to tell. The maître de maison, Sebastian Sun, does a remarkable job. He can tell you about the unique history of this preserved neighbourhood.

Close to the property...

The Bund, Shanghai

The Bund is Shanghai’s answer to the Champs-Elysées or 5th Avenue. This part of the city shows the mix of old and modern influences best. It comprises historic buildings in Romanesque, Gothic and many other styles which nowadays have been converted into banks, hotels and financial institutions. The entire city seems to gather along this artery that runs the length of the riverbanks. Depending on the time of day, you run into old ladies performing their very slow T’ai Chi moves, businessmen, groups of dancers or tourists. Come here for a stroll or to sit facing the city skyline. At night, the lights in the glass buildings are a show all of their own...

Dongtai Lu, Shanghai

Known as antiques alley, the market on Dongtai Lu Road is where bargain hunters and lovers of Chinese furniture come to. It is opposite the pet market. You advance through the rows of plane trees that recall the former French presence in the neighbourhood. One stall after another sells vintage pieces and items. Amidst the cries of the Mahjong players, genuine antiques and copies of varying quality sit side by side. We sourced some of the furniture for our hotel from these amazing shops. It’s up to you to choose...

On the route...

Suzhou’s magical gardens

I come to Suzhou often. This city located about a hundred kilometres west of Shanghai was nicknamed "the Venice of China" by Marco Polo who counted some 6 000 bridges here! Famous for its canals, narrow streets, wooden houses and traditional gardens, Suzhou remains a unique place in China. Each garden is distinctive. My favourite one, Zhuozheng Yuan (the Humble Administrator’s garden) dates back to the 16th century. It extends across almost 5 hectares amidst traditional pavilions, little bridges, bamboo groves and ponds where elegant, fragrant lotus blooms appear...

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : LIU

Calling from another country ? Click here

Revenir en haut de page
Phase 3 : 2 days, 2 nights

Chaptel Hangzhou

A historical gem near Westlake in Hangzhou
Chaptel Hangzhou
The hotel was created on the remnants of the Shikumen - the typical residences built in the 1930s along the shores of West Lake. Featuring brick walls, imposing wooden doors, carved balustrades and inner courtyards, the property is a journey between a traditional world and a contemporary vision. And only five minutes on foot from the shores of the wonderful lake...

Close to the property...

The West Lake, Hangzhou

To the west of the city of Hangzhou, the West Lake was listed in 2011 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city’s inhabitants and its many visitors go walking or cycling along the shores, while others take a boat ride. I often go there for a stroll. It’s the perfect spot to sit down and drink some tea. In the evenings, there is a magnificent Sound & Light show by film-maker and director Zhang Yimou, entitled "Impression West Lake", which takes the dancers onto the water against a backdrop of the majestic surrounding mountains...

Wu Hill, Hangzhou

I’ve been coming to do T’ai Chi on Wu Hill two to three times a week for more than ten years now. In the shadow of the majestic Chenghuang tower, there is a magnificent view over the lake. The exercises go on amidst the ancient gingko and camphor trees. This is an exceptional place to escape the everyday and practice this popular Chinese martial art. Hefang Street, one of Hangzhou’s most popular lies at the foot of the hill. There are lots of little stalls serving tasty dishes that are very good value. The Hu Qing Yu Tang - the exciting museum of Chinese herbal medicine - is located here too.

Longjing green tea

Zhejiang province is famous for providing some of the best teas in the world. On the weekend, Hangzhou’s inhabitants usually head to the small tea villages to the west of the lake such as Meijiawu and Longjing. I try to get here once a month with family or friends. We have a meal together and try out different teas. The delicate flavours can be slightly sweet and smooth, such as the famous Long Jing, the "dragon’s well." What more could you ask for?

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : LIU

Calling from another country ? Click here

Texts : © Guides Gallimard