A luxe Hangzhou haven from another era
The reason Amanfayun looks like a village that could have served as a backdrop in a period film from director Zhang Yimou is probably because it is an actual village. Sitting on a magical 34-acre plot near West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the property consists of 47 stone dwellings, some of which are more than 100 years old.
With stone pathways, clay-tiled roofs and bamboo stalks jutting from nearly every corner, the place has an Old World charm that doesn’t come off forced or fabricated. Of course, conjuring such a mood isn’t difficult when you have Buddhist temples and tea gardens within walking distance of your room.
But location and latticework aren’t Amanfayun’s only timeless qualities. Treatments in the spa have been used for generations. Dishes in the restaurants go back even further. If the resort didn’t have so many modern conveniences, it could almost be mistaken for a village from the Qing Dynasty.
While the luxury hotel has five different unit types (village rooms, village suites, deluxe village suites, village villa and the 3,100-square-foot Amanfayun Villa), they all somehow evoke the same emotion — tranquility. Each space has a unique configuration, but expect stone tiles, canopy beds and soft lighting to lead a calming charge throughout the property.
Typical distractions like TVs aren’t readily available in all rooms, but they can be requested. When the flat-screen is delivered, it’ll only complement the unit’s minimalistic aesthetic by sitting in a wooden case at the foot of your bed.
Bathrooms, as you’d expect, continue the theme of simplistic elegance with raised sinks, rice-paper lanterns and muted hues.
Amanfayun’s mission to eliminate stresses of the outside world is probably reason enough for a visit. That so many other highlights exist only make the Hangzhou hotel more appealing.
Head out for a walk along the 656-yard pathway cutting through the village and you’ll reach Aman spa, a facility specializing in traditional Chinese healing practices such as heated bamboo massages, acupressure and cupping.
During your trek about the property, you’ll also stumble upon Fayun Place, an 1880s-constructed wooden building that contains a revolving art gallery, library, lounge, cigar room and space for calligraphy classes.
Keep exploring the northernmost end of the historic hamlet and you’ll spot an entrance to Lingyin Temple, one of seven temples and monasteries within walking distance of Amanfayun. To this day, Lingyin is considered by many to be one of the 10 most important sanctuaries in all of China.
When it comes to food, what the resort doesn’t offer in quantity it more than makes up for in savory. In a slight culinary twist, Amanfayun’s simply named Restaurant cooks up more Western and European fare than traditional.
But if the bustling dining hall is any indicator, patrons aren’t the least bit troubled by a menu highlighted by beer-battered fish and chips, and Australian rib eyes. Besides, when the craving for classic Chinese dishes like beggar’s chicken (Hangzhou House) and dumplings (The Steam House) rises, there are delicious onsite places to find them.
The appropriately titled Tea House is the charming spot to find a hot pot of Longjing, the same tea flavor that local villagers have drank for centuries.