A GLORIOUS PAST, A GLOWING FUTURE
Laid out in grids, the city of Beijing reflects the cosmic order of the world according to Chinese philosophy. The Forbidden City is a city within the metropolis, whose waves of varnished tile roofs long dominated the jumble of low houses built outside its walls. Modern urbanization is rapidly gnawing away at the hutongs, the narrow gray lanes that embody Beijing’s traditional culture. In keeping with the principles of feng shui, the massive wooden doors that seal off the interior courtyards always open southward, like those of the Imperial City. To see its endless succession of rooms housing collections of vases, bronzes, musical instruments and painstakingly lacquered boxes, especially from the Ming and Qing dynasties, visitors enter through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, at the end of the immense square bearing the same name, Tiananmen. China’s North Capital (the literal meaning of “Beijing”) is situated to facilitate the flow of positive “yang” energy, braced against the hills topped by the meandering Great Wall, with its back to the glacial winds of the steppes and the invaders of yore. The world’s most famous fortification protected and unified the Chinese territory, just like the pharaonic Grand Canal, built in the 5th century to link Beijing to Hangzhou, some 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) away.
At its southern tip, Xi Hú (West Lake), surrounded by cloud-capped hills, offers a landscape of the kind so often celebrated in Chinese art, a sight that speaks to the soul. Its pagodas, lodges, dikes, man-made islands and wooded peaks symbolize the union of man and nature, a tableau that draws the inhabitants of the nearby mega-city, Shanghai. The “Pearl of the Orient” is more dynamic than ever. In the 19th century, the concessions granted to Western countries created a cosmopolitan mixture of lifestyles. On the Bund, the “foreigners’ waterfront,” expatriates of all nationalities, tourists and locals admire the architectural blend, from the neo-baroque of the Banque d’Indochine to the utterly British Customs House, whose clock is a replica of Big Ben.
On the borders of Laos and Burma, Yunnan is China’s distant balcony, a mountainous province hollowed out by wide river gorges lined with terraced rice paddies. One of the finest varieties of tea, Pu’er, is grown here, harvested from trees up to 100 years old. This dark brew with red highlights is said to have medicinal benefits. In any case, it is the only tea that gains in quality as it ages, like a good wine — that can be consumed without moderation…
Restaurant in town. Bibo, a French restaurant and lounge bar, is unlike anywhere else on earth. Its building dates back to the 1930s and once housed the Compagnie Générale Française de Tramways – abandoned it then became a place where street artists could find their expression and took the name Bibo. Today, Bibo is an offbeat place which combines the best of two different worlds: contemporary art and cuisine. In an underground setting displaying works by the finest contemporary artists from Keith Haring to Murakami, Executive Chef Mutaro Balde and Chef de Cuisine Conor Beach masterfully serve delicious French gourmet cuisine where everything, from the bread to the ice cream, is home-made. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a park. Jingmai Brilliant Resort & Spa is located in the stunning Lancang river area, the worldwide origin of the tea tree. Ten thousand acres of Pu’er tea garden with thousands of years of history are located in the Jingmai mountains, which are inhabited by the descendants of tea plantation minority groups. The Pu’er tea from the Brilliant Pu’er Tea Estate meets the EU regulation for organic products. At the property, whose building style is perfectly in harmony with nature, guests can experience the most natural Chinese tea culture, enjoy the leisure in the resort, the healthy and delicious local food cooked by using natural ingredients, the tailor-made tea spa or discover colorful minority groups’ customs and the mysterious Pu’er green triangle zone. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel on the seafront. The capital of Yunnan Province, "City of Eternal Spring", known for its famous Stone Forest and Jiuxiang Scenic Region, boasts a resort designed for wellness. A collection of harmoniously relaxing villas overlooking the lake allows guests to take full advantage of the benefits of the surrounding countryside and, in particular, the natural hot springs which gush in the garden: ponds, outdoor pools, landscaped gardens and white sandy beaches provide the setting for an invigorating experience. A wide range of treatments, including a Pu’er tea tasting, are available in various spas (famous Traditional Chinese Medical - TCM spas), along with yoga and tai chi classes, practised in perfect harmony with nature. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on a lake. The Brilliant Resort & SPA Tengchong is located in a 600 year-old border trade city on the Southern silk route, and is considered as one of the most charming towns in China. The property is marked by a blend of contemporary design with traditional charm and nature in a unique cultural landscape. Guests enjoy a wonderful rural scenery with great vistas, including the volcano or bridges and rivers. Outdoor hot spring pools are scattered around the garden and invite you to a unique geothermal journey. The Jade Spa and the Volcanic Energy Spa integrate local cultural characteristics. Enjoy outstanding local cuisine and a Brilliant tea ceremony, with a cup of pu’er tea. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on a lake. Pagodas, pavilions and gardens cluster at the foot of the hills surrounding West Lake blend into the countryside itself. This special place has provided a source of inspiration to poets and artists since the Tang dynasty and is now listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. Chaptel Hotel is an oasis just off the West Lake, where you can experience the classic Hangzhou. This authentic Shikumen brick-built mansion has now recovered all its former glory: the decor of the main suites combines traditional Chinese furniture (including traditional wooden shutters) with Art Deco ornaments, such as rugs and lamps, from the period from which the building dates. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. Perfectly positioned in Beijing’s financial and trade centre, JE Mansion offers the very best of Chinese hospitality. Chinese culture permeates every detail, starting with the traditional architecture and precious artwork that adorns the building. Guest rooms are decorated in classical style, featuring carvings in wood, brick and stone, elements of calligraphy and a warm colour palette, while all modern comforts have been thought of. The restaurant serves delicacies inspired by China’s four main culinary traditions. An absolute rarity for central Beijing is the hotel’s sprawling 50,000 sq m lawn, ideal for grand events. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. Simply cross the threshold of the Yihe Mansions and you will enter the Republic of China again, a time when the country’s leading people built their residences in the shade of the maple trees on Yihe Road in Nanjing, the capital of 10 dynasties. These private yellow-walled villas have been magnificently restored and now offer sophisticated, deeply historical accommodation with a spa, restaurants, clubs and suites. They are extremely spacious with soft light and greenery throughout; the décor is an elegant blend of traditional artefacts and contemporary objects, with fine woods and precious fabrics – a serene environment where you can truly appreciate the beauty of this culture. ... Learn moreless