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#dnahotels #authentic #inspirational - for people who care where they stay, looking for an experience beyond just accommodation
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If you have been following my blog and Pinterest a little, you know that I am very into the latest generation of Chinese design hotels. Here’s another stunner, the Mi Yuan Hotel set in a bamboo forest in the province of Anhui, East China. The 22-room boutique hotel is designed by Shanghai-based JAXDA.


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A refreshing take on Beijing architecture, constructed within the remnants of an abandoned 20th-century industrial building, taking advantage of the reimagined urban landscapes and industrial ruins created by China’s economic reforms of the 1990s. The Main Building is enveloped in an elaborate glass façade that acts as a ‘transparent skin’. It wraps around the original industrial components, such as concrete walls and steel roof trusses, which are left exposed in all their utilitarian glory.
The hotel is bedecked in a period French style befitting its origins as the 1917 Grand Hotel de Pekin’. This means lofty French windows and drapes in the lovely Writer's Bar, the setting for NUO’s signature afternoon tea with vanilla scones, accompanied by Chinese guzheng performances. It’s said that Chairman Mao took a turn on the polished 1920s wooden dance floor beneath the tables. The Drawing Room on the second floor exudes old-world charm.


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Tucked away on the north-east coastline of the Xiamen Island, the hotel follows the much-applauded PuLi Hotel in Shanghai, as the second property from local group Urban Resort Concepts. Australian firm Layan Design Group took its cues from Fujian Tulou, the traditional rural dwellings in the region, to create a series of buildings that are arranged around landscaped courtyards which, together, create a private sanctuary that brings the outside in.


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The 150-room hotel is part of the multi-use Shenzhen Bay Super Headquarters Base, scheduled to open in 2028. The signature style of Zaha Hadid Architects in prominent.
The DNA: Jiangnan House is an adaptive re-use of a former apartment building. Inspired by the vibrant milieu of the alleyways in Nantou City, the project seeks to reflect on the cultural heritage of the mundane. Scenes of the everyday—people, objects and their settings—are the primary source material for design.
With Shenzhen existing as a modern, bustling tech industry city, MeeHotel envelops guests in a tranquil, bamboo-filled setting—a key element that nods to the location’s Bamboo Forest moniker. To that end, Hong Kong-based studio Panorama Design Group maximized the urban resort’s footprint with an ingenious reinterpretation of traditional design elements.


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Situated amid the mountainous landscape of Yangshuo in China, architecture studio Fabersociety has designed a new boutique hotel called the ‘GEEMU Resort’. The project sees the transformation of an existing structure to create a welcoming and child-friendly space. The architect has also strived to form a building that resonates with the community by exploring the local culture of the burgeoning area.
Working hard to compete with the view, architects Co-Direction Design has softened the façade of a pre-existing building with a tableau of garden paths paved with white stones and pergolas, alongside a vast low-hanging pavilion lounge that’s fringed with bamboo and a reflection pool. It’s a beatific spot even in summer as cool mountain air is drawn in through high clerestories.
Set in a 1960s sugar mill, on the Lijiang River and admist spectacular karst mountain scenery, Alila Yangshuo is a luxury design hotel offering an extensive spa, indoor and outdoor pools, bar, restaurant and industrial chic rooms.


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spectacular overhanging, glass bottomed pool
The DNA: Made for taking in the infinite blues of the ocean and skies, this all-white, minimalist haven is an exciting boutique opening on the island of Hainan. Exteriors mimic the ocean waves rising and falling along the shore. Interiors frame ocean waves using multiple arches. Downstairs an open-plan area incorporates the reception, seating, photography, high tea and infinity pool while the roof top has a hot springs bath, also taking in the verdant green hills in the distance.


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Taking its name from the natural steam that rises around it, The Mist Hot Spring Hotel seems to float above the landscape. But it isn’t just the hotel’s relationship to water that makes it special. A striking stained-glass exterior and futuristic inside spaces connect guests in a unique way to the qualities of light, colour and shade. The 14 outdoor and five indoor hot spring pools take centre stage and there’s also an indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and spa.
Beautiful design hotel by Neri&Hu.
Designed by international studio LTW, whose main philosophy was ‘to showcase the hotel’s sense of place’, Pullman Kaifeng Jianye evokes the majesty of this ancient walled town in the Hénán province — modern furniture, lighting and an earthy colour palette making it recognisable as part of the luxury hotel brand.


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Year opened: 1928 (tower 1994). The Rolls-Royces (in signature Peninsula Green) on the forecourt and the page boys (in white) on the door set the tone. This is carefully nurtured old-school luxury overlaid with a lively air of metropolitan glamour. It’s best exemplified by the giant traditional Fu dog in the lobby, sculpted – in keeping with the hotel’s desire to embrace old and new – by American Pop artist Jim Dine.
The Mandarin Oriental has been at the heart of Hong Kong, both socially and geographically, since 1963. With its faultless service, fantastic location, effervescent atmosphere, superb spa and some of the most gorgeous dining rooms in Asia, it channels the city's glamorous past and present like no other.
Designed by Tara Bernerd, The Hari is a luxury hotel located on the edge of the two vibrant districts of Causeway Bay and Wan Chai. Guestrooms maximise space by opening up the bathrooms and wardrobes, while a system of antique-brass Crittal doors enabling the bathrooms to be closed off when necessary. The palette is dominated by amber leathers, grey marble, and neutral textured linens. The hotel has a glamorous Italian restaurant and also offers a Japanese restaurant and terrace bar.

Hong Kong

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A previously ramshackle farmhouse snuggled amid the lush emerald green hills in China’s central Hubei province has been transformed by The Design Institute of Landscape & Architecture China Academy of Art into Nanchawan•Shiwu Tribe Homestay – a bijou, four-room guesthouse.


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Year opened: 2022. Design: HBA Singapore. The DNA: The hotel’s interior integrates the traditional aesthetics of the region with high-end modern touches. From the arrival lobby, guests are transported by lift to the 35th-floor Sky Lobby, which celebrates elements from Changsha's historic architecture with soothing natural palettes and a quiet design language that finds expression in simple architectural lines.
This new hotel is styled in a contemporary classic style.
Newly opened, the boldy designed W Changsha by Cheng Chung Design features whimsical artwork such as the Schrodinger's Cat series and the Zeta art installations. The “Avenue of the Stars,” a mixed-media landscape combining digital, interactive, and sound art, transports guests to RUNWAY, a destination bar in the Living Room, the brand’s signature, socially driven spin on the traditional hotel lobby.


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Year opened: 2021. The DNA: Located above Tang Mountain, the Banyan Tree is a sustainably designed hotel by Cheng Chung that aims to restore the long abandoned quarry it calls home. The lobby's minimalist design seamlessly merges with the mountain range via floor-to-ceiling windows, while the curving lines of the architecture make the space in harmony with the natural landscape.
The luxury hotel, located near freshwater Jinji Lake in the heart of Suzhou Industrial Park, was designed by New York architectural firm, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and features interiors by Hirsch Bedner Associates. It features 178 rooms and suites range from 50 to 173m2 "inspired by the sleeping chambers of Ancient Suzhou mansions". There are three restaurants and bars, a fitness centre, a spa and a swimming pool.
The Sifang Hotel Nanjing offers a unique stay experience in the green sanctuary of Lao Shan National Forest Park, which is a destination in itself. Architecture and art lovers will be able to visit the Sifang Art Museum and appreciate the architectural collection of uniquely designed villas that bear the artistic hallmarks of 24 world-renowned and local architects, including Arata Isozaki, Steven Holl, Kazuyo Sejima, Ettore Sottsass, and Wang Shu, the first Chinese winner of the Pritzker Prize.


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The DNA: Occupying three interconnected buildings, the luxury hotel is a nexus of tradition and innovation. The site itself, close to the city centre, was once home to porcelain factories and is now rethought as a mixed-use quarter. Each space interprets and celebrates different ceramic characteristics and techniques, from the green celadon glazing in the lobby to the calm clay tones of the bedrooms.
The hotel features just 14 rooms and suites on a modest plot surrounded by green, rolling mountains and the sinewy Beihe River. It is a restoration of a 300-year-old Huizhou-style mansion, which, like the sugar mill restored by Alila Yangshuo, had been left in ruin for decades. Today, it stands as a spectacular display of Chinese heritage restored through the magic of contemporary design.


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Red and gold predominate in many Macau hotels – colours considered lucky by Chinese gamblers. But there's none of that at the Roosevelt, whose design was overseen by Iceland-born, Los Angeles-based Gulla Jónsdóttir. The exterior takes its cue from the racecourse, with roomy balconies overlooking the track, while inside a pared-down modernism predominates. The faux garden which works its way up the wall and across the ceiling in the lobby is a good clue as to the treats in store.
Conceived as an “urban window connecting the hotel’s interior communal spaces with the city”, the Zaha Hadid Architects’ (ZHA) designed Morpheus is notable for the series of sculptural voids carved through its centre – inspired by the fluid forms within China’s rich traditions of jade carving.


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The Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang dynasties once ruled from Xi’an, the ancient capital and flourishing trade center in northwest China that doubled as one of the starting points for the Silk Road. Honoring that history, albeit in a subtle manner, was top of mind for Guangzhou-based firm IAPA when designing the Xi’an Taibai Wushanju Art Hotel.
This stylish luxury hotel is set in a stunning low-rise modern building set around several courtyards, which gives it a distinctive Chinese feel. There is even an on-site museum.


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JW Marriott Hotel Qufu, birthplace of Confucius, is located in the old city. The brainchild of Kai Cui, the academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the building is a masterpiece of design that celebrates Chinese architecture, while taking its ancient contexts into the 21st century. The spectacular lobby features a stylized moon gate and a statue of Confucius under a graceful ginkgo tree, in commemoration of the lectures "The Great Teacher" gave.
The Lalu Qingdao is the first mainland venture from the Taiwanese group responsible for the phenomenal Sun Moon Lake hotel, and it’s rather more than just a toe in the water — this place, designed by Kerry Hill, the architect responsible for so many of Asia’s best high-end hotels, verges on the monumental, and the location, just across the bay from the city of Qingdao, is positively otherworldly.


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The sensitive refurbishment makes the most of the Art Deco masterpiece originally called The Cathay, built in 1929. While the corridors still snake away at length, gone is the Communist era faded glory: in its place are generously sized rooms with gold and blue silk upholstery, marble bathrooms with Le Labo toiletries, and truly glorious public spaces. The nation-themed suites are spacious and beautifully capture a 1930s imagining among others of Britain, America, Japan, and India.
Marriott has opened the first of its lifestyle brand in China. The 158-room hotel is conveniently located right next to one of the most important transportation hubs in China, which brings together the high-speed rail, an international airport and local metro lines. With thoughtful, tech-enabled bedrooms, interactive gathering spaces and approachable service, Moxy boldly reinvents the traditional hotel stay and aims to surprise travelers with a playful, spirited and fun guest experience.
Located directly on the Huangpu River front, the hotel features probably the best views of the city (both the historic Bund and dramatic Pudong skylines). These views, along with scenes from the local South Bund neighbourhood, have enabled Hotel Indigo to create a vibrant, contemporary and inspiring space in an upscale boutique hotel context.


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267 rooms.
Chengdu is transforming. A melting pot that fuses rich traditions with a dynamic modern lifestyle, Chengdu-inspired international design firm Glyph Design Studio playfully named the hotel's design narrative 'Du'titude'. The design tells the city's transformation by combining its history and innovation with nods to Chengdu's most famous attractions rendered with unexpected contemporary twists.
Interiors by Cheng Chung Design (CCD). “The design revolves around the story of ‘the scholar goes to the city to take the imperial exam’,” explained designer Joe Cheng. “Traversing the memory corridor of the imperial city (Chengdu), capturing the auspicious details hidden in the green brick wall, on the street view of the market, in the peddler stall and the courtyard.”


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Originally opened in 1863 and enlarged throughout the years, The Astor is one of the few grand historic hotels of China. Located in the former British concessional district, it exudes a Victorian era atmosphere.


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The pared-back interiors are a well thought-out reflection of rural life: a cluster of black clay lights handmade in the nearby village of Nixi hang in the lobby; in the library there are original wicker baskets and horse bells once used by the muleteers to take tea to Lhasa. The 30 open-plan bedrooms - many of which overlook the outdoor pool and the River Yangtze and beyond - have furniture and floors made of local pine, oil paintings of the surrounding countryside and a round copper sink.
The pieces of multi-tonal stone used to construct this spa resort give the complex a pixelated appearance. Designed by Kengo Kuma and his Tokyo-based firm, the grounds terraces down a mountain outside the city of Tengchong in China's Yunnan Province. The resort is constructed from varieties of locally quarried stone, which are fitted together like a mosaic to form the walls and pitched roofs of each of the spa complex's buildings.


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The DNA: This new complex in Xitang Ancient Town takes its cues from its context. Set within a historic water town in the Jiangnan region of southern China, the project, called Villa, is a hotel conceived by design studio Nature Times Art Design Co, embraces local vernacular architecture to create a low, elegant, domestic-feeling space centred on a green and serene central courtyard. The venue hopes to blend old and new, while being embedded in nature and a new, yet seamless landscape.
Inspired by Wuzhen’s picturesque maze of quiet canals and ancient alleyways, Alila Wuzhen offers an extraordinarily peaceful escape for exploring the town’s rich cultural heritage of Ming and Qing era architecture. Designed around water features and stone walkways, the 125 suites and villas are stylishly simple, with private courtyards, light wood–paneled walls, and sleek furnishings (some villas come with their own pool).
This stylish boutique hotel, as the name suggest, combines a bookstore with accommodations - definitely a trend in China.


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