Celebrated by poets, artists, and emperors since the 9thcentury, the West Lake is the star attraction of Hangzhou, and deservedly so. If you want to be close enough to visit lake district and its surrounding tea villages, but close enough to hit the shops downtown, the Mercure Hangzhou West Lake is perfect. And you don’t have to blow the big bucks either, for a comfortable stay.
It was almost 8pm when I arrived Hangzhou East Railway Station, so I was relieved that my taxi driver knew where the hotel was located. 20 minutes later, I was checking in, a process of which was smooth – the front office staff had a decent enough command of English for it to be not painful – and over a cup of tea. They really do love their tea here.
Some of the best moments of my stay are related to the elevator; for one, there’s no need to hit the button for your floor once you tap your room key, it does it for you! Another time, I ran into a delivery service robot. Located on level 17, my Superior Room rang in at a cosy 23 square metres (274 square feet) and came with all the trappings of a four-star hotel.
The door opens immediately to a small bathroom, with a washbasin on the right and separate toilet and showers on the left. The bathroom fittings are in a gleaming bronze that play off well against the rich purple palette, while the flooring changes from grey marble to dark wood before you enter the sleep/lounge zone. The compromise in space before means enough room is left for a work desk and an armchair for lounging.
The bedsides, whether you choose the king-bed or two-singles configuration, boast USB and international sockets – even in this ultra-digital age, this facility seems like a luxury. I’m not ashamed to admit that my nights post 10pm in Hangzhou were spent in the comfortable bed, surfing the many selections of the Chinese web television service they subscribe to. That might not be a bad thing because, alas, the soundproofing was inadequate and doesn’t block out traffic noise from the nearby flyover entirely. I was in 1701, so best request for rooms in the quadrant furthest away from the main road.
I have simple tastes when it comes to hotel breakfasts. This time, I passed over smoked meats and salads for plain congee, salted egg, and red date yogurt (loved it). Those after something more substantial will find the likes of noodle soup, fried rice, meats, and vegetables – mostly Chinese-style. The other facility worth mentioning would be the hotel’s Sky Gym, which overseas the West Lake about 1.2km away. We don’t advise running in the open in any big city in China (because, pollution) so it doesn’t hurt to have that view when you’re on the treadmill, eh?
Mercure Hangzhou West Lake is located at No. 3 Zhonghe North Road, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China 310006, p. +86 5718 738 8555. 杭州西湖美居酒店, 中河北路3 号,杭州市下城区, 中国浙江省.