Best Hotels in China
If you're flying halfway around the globe, it helps to know you have a truly special hotel waiting to welcome you. But picking a hotel in China (the world's fourth largest country) may seem intimidating.
Let T+L be your guide to the kinds of properties that will make your trip—in other words, China's best hotels, based on readers' votes in our annual World's Best Awards survey.
You might opt for a funky, modern outpost in Beijing or check in to a glamorous Hong Kong high-rise with unprecedented views of Victoria Harbour. Read on for more top hotels.
No. 1 The Peninsula, Shanghai, China
A master of luxe hospitality, Peninsula Hotels chairman Michael Kadoorie spent his childhood in Shanghai. So the March 2010 premiere of his ninth property, the Peninsula Shanghai, was a homecoming of sorts. On a stretch of the historic Bund, the 10-story granite-clad building is a Modernist reflection of its Art Deco–era neighbors, the Shanghai Club and Sassoon House. Kadoorie is also a vintage-car enthusiast, and there’s a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II for guests who want to head to Pudong International Airport in style ($370, with chauffeur). Architect David Beer and interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon delivered gleaming brass- and-mahogany elevators and 235 guest rooms that combine embossed glass lamps and black-lacquer screens with 21st-century amenities. All come with VoIP phones, portable master control panels, and spa tubs with music and light settings. But your most valuable asset here is savvy chief concierge Simon Huang, who may very well be the best in town.
No. 2 The Peninsula, Hong Kong, China
Since 1928, this Hong Kong institution has defined the luxury hotel experience, and although certain kinds of travelers (especially lovers of sleek, high-tech minimalism) may find the Peninsula too old-world, there’s no denying it’s a serious class act. The fleet of 14 customized Rolls-Royce limousines is just the first clue to the hotel’s glamour factor; then there’s the lobby, where the bellboys sport immaculate white pillbox hats and uniforms, a string quartet plays classical music, and a queue forms daily to partake of the afternoon high tea. A grand staircase leads to the mezzanine level, and tucked-away elevators whisk guests to the 300 guest rooms—all decorated in formal English-country-manor style, with gleaming dark wood furniture, brocade fabrics, and Chinese ceramics and wall art. On the top floor is the Philippe Starck-designed Felix restaurant, which still packs them in more than a decade after its opening; here, captains of industry can be found tucking into Tasmanian salmon and Boston lobster.
No. 3 Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, China
A stem-to-stern renovation completed in 2006 (to the tune of $150 million) renewed the luster of this legendary property—a decades-long favorite of visiting dignitaries like Margaret Thatcher and Henry Kissinger. Many of the 502 rooms have been enlarged (by enclosing the balconies in glass); high-tech amenities like iPod docking stations, Wi-Fi, and touch-screen lighting and temperature control have also been added. The décor’s been updated, too, with plush velvety fabrics, wood wall panels, and colorfully glazed Asian ceramics. Though there’s a spa on three floors with Chinese herbal steam rooms, bathing beauties may be perfectly content to languish in their own airy marble bathrooms, kitted out with Hermès toiletries. The real choice comes in the form of 10 different restaurants and bars. Our favorites: Man Wah, with its classic Cantonese cuisine, and the sophisticated French-influenced Pierre, helmed by chef Pierre Gagnaire.
No. 4 The Peninsula Beijing, China
The opulence that greeted guests when the Pen opened almost two decades ago—the sweeping Busby Berkeley–style marble staircase and luxury boutiques—still exists, but a 2004 renovation brought a sleek modernity to all 525 of its rooms. The spiffed-up guest quarters are now sleekly modern, with cream-upholstered pine and mahogany furnishings, and lots of high-tech extras: 42-inch plasma-screen TV’s, Wi-Fi, and touch-screen temperature and lighting controls. The hotel’s guests, too, have evolved; alongside the well-heeled foreign guests are an increasing number of stylishly dressed Beijingers who toss their Porsche keys to the doormen before gliding off for cocktails or afternoon tea. The hotel is set right in the luxury-shopping enclave of Wangfujing, with a plethora of treatments at the ESPA spa waiting for you on your return.
No. 5 Ritz-Carlton, Financial Street, Beijing, China
One of the Ritz-Carlton’s new-look hotels, this funky, modern Financial Street outpost bears no traces of the chain’s signature country-estate grandeur. Instead, an airy, clean-lined aesthetic prevails, lending the 253 guest rooms and suites an almost W-esque feel, with muted color schemes of cream and dove gray, angular light fixtures, bold black-and-white wall photographs, and gleaming marble-and-chrome baths. Clever design touches abound: the Chinese character for “comfort” is embroidered on the crisp white duvets; remote-controls for the flat-screen TV’s are housed inside miniature cheongsam-style dresses; and each room’s entryway is decorated with glass animal sculptures—bats, horses, ducks, and the mythical bixies—to ensure good feng shui. The hotel’s common areas are equally cool; in the lobby lounge, walls are adorned with 60,000 sculpted resin bamboo leaves, as well as specially commissioned paintings by famous local artist Bo Yun. And the enormous indoor pool (part of a 15,000-square-foot spa complex) has a giant movie screen at one end where classic black-and-white movies are shown.
No. 6 Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong, China
Brand new in 2005, this 399-room waterfront property has a gargantuan, decadent spa (try a ginger-lemongrass soak to ease your jet lag), and spacious rooms and suites (the smallest of which are about 500 square feet). Room décor tends toward clean-lined, modern minimalism, with Asian-infused touches like lacquered-wood tables and silk cushions and throws in some of the rooms. All have 42-inch plasma-screen TV’s, and luxurious bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads. Of the on-site dining options, two are excellent: Lung King Heen, serving innovative Cantonese cuisine, and the elegant Japanese Inagiku, where chef Shinji Morihara prepares some of the city’s finest kaiseki and teppanyaki. One of the property’s real showstoppers is the rooftop deck, where twin swimming pools overlook the harbor.
No. 7 Pudong Shangri-La, Shanghai, China
The twin glass towers of this enormous 952-room hotel are a prominent feature of the Pudong riverfront skyline. The newer Grand Tower has the plushest and most spacious rooms and suites—all clean-lined, upholstered in velvety buff-colored fabrics, and with 32-inch plasma-screen TV’s and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river or the Pudong skyline. (Executive-class rooms even come with binoculars for close-ups of the Bund mansions across the water.) The common spaces also pack a punch: the banqueting suites regularly host Chinese society wedding celebrations (NBA star Yao Ming and his bride tied the knot here in summer 2007); the best dining options include Nadaman for Japanese kaiseki tasking menus and Jade on 36 for Paul Pairet’s molecular gastronomy; the cavernous Himalayan-themed Chi spa provides a decadent menu of treatments (jade footbaths, yin-yang harmonizing massage); and a cluster of on-property luxury shops includes a branch of Shanghai Tang.
No. 8 Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, China
The Mandarin Oriental chain stretches from San Francisco to Tokyo, and this Central area location is one of three in Hong Kong. The smallest of the three, the Landmark Mandarin Oriental has 113 rooms, including 12 suites. Peter Remedios designed the interior with clean lines and neutral tones, from the entry-level L450 deluxe room to the Landmark and Presidential suites. Chef Richard Ekkebus, of in-house Amber restaurant, earned two Michelin stars in 2012 for his French fare (like the duck foie gras), and the hotel's MO Bar offers cocktails, dim sum, and an a la carte menu.
No. 9 InterContinental Hong Kong, China
The infinity pool on the terrace of the new $11,200-a-night Presidential Suite at the InterContinental appears to share water with Victoria Harbour. (If only the pool had regular edges, you could rest your scotch on one of them as you gazed through the mist at those luminous skyscrapers.) The 7,000-square-foot suite comes with two 24-hour butlers, a gymnasium, and high-tech toilet seats that rise automatically when you enter the room. This over-the-top lair is just one of the impressive additions to the property, which has undergone an overhaul to stay competitive in the city’s heated hotel market. There’s also a fleet of butlers for guests in the 495 spiffed-up rooms (with iPod docks and Bose surround sound), and outposts of Nobu and Alain Ducasse’s Spoon. One thing didn’t require improvement: the hotel’s unrivaled views of Hong Kong.
No. 10 Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong, China
One of three hotels attached to the posh Pacific Place shopping mall (on the edge of Central where it segues into Wan Chai), the soaring, 56-story Shangri-La has the city’s highest-altitude lodgings. Most of the 565 spacious rooms, spread between the 39th-55th floors, have enormous windows that capitalize on the views over the Victoria Harbour and the Kowloon skyline beyond; all are outfitted with elegant mahogany furniture, crystal chandeliers, lacquered Chinese cabinets concealing flat-screen TVs, and silky fabrics in tones of cream, gold, and burnt orange. The marble baths have bidets, magnifying mirrors, and scales (best avoided after indulging in chef Frederic Chabbert’s fabulous French cuisine at the top-floor Restaurant Petrus). Business travelers can take advantage of the free hourly shuttle between the hotel and the nearby Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre; hedonists will appreciate the plant-surrounded, 28-meter outdoor pool (heated during the winter)—and, of course, the ritzy shops just an elevator ride away. The extremely solicitous staffers, trained by the U.K. Guild of Professional English Butlers, jump through hoops to cater to guests’ whims.