Idyllic stay at the Shangri-La

By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-03-30 13:35
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Idyllic stay at the Shangri-La

The hotel grounds offer jogging paths and a swimming pool for guests who want to keep up their exercise regimens. [Photo/China Daily]

Our visit at the Shangri-La Hotel, Guangzhou began with the pick-up service. Because of a flight delay, we arrived in Guangzhou three hours behind schedule. As soon as we walked out of the arrivals hall, we were greeted by smiling hotel workers who ushered us to a waiting car, and thoughtfully offered us bottles of water.

It was about a 45-minute drive to the hotel. Opened in 2007, the Shangri-La will celebrate its fourth anniversary this month. The hotel played host to innumerable VIP guests during the 16th Asian Games, including royal families from the United Arab Emirates and political leaders from Thailand.

It is in a relatively quiet and new part of the city, on the east, next to the Convention Center and iconic Canton Tower.

The only drawback is that it is quite out of the way, and there are no shops or restaurants nearby, so you have to eat in the hotel. But the city center is an affordable 15-minute cab ride away, and the Pazhou metro station is within walking distance.

The rooms at the Shangri-La are some of the largest you'll find in Guangzhou, boasting understated elegance, dark-wood furnishing, large flatscreen TVs, sleek leather swivel chairs.

The views from the windows are even more impressive than the decor, with visages of the splendid Pearl River and the Shangri-La's trademark gardens.

Within the hotel, CHI, The Spa, is gorgeous but expensive. The 110-minute Oriental Pearl Radiance Treatment costs 1,380 yuan per person. It is popular and must be booked in advance - apart from a facial, the treatment also includes a 10-minute hot-stone massage and a 10-minute body scrub.

The hotel grounds included a 2,000-square-meter lawn for open-air events and functions, with a jungle of tropical plants and flowers surrounding the resort-style pool. It could easily be mistaken for a beachside resort.

Both the Chinese-style Summer Palace and Japanese-style Nadaman offer exquisite dining options.

But what really impressed me was the room service and the staff. Room service was fairly cheap, but the fact that it came with extras (complimentary water) made it memorable.

The hotel staff is also amazingly friendly. I couldn't stand still in the lobby for more than five seconds without being asked if I needed help. When I asked about the two peach trees in the lobby, I was told there was a saying that walking three times around the tree on the left would bring me good luck. I followed the instructions with great pleasure.

The bottom line is that the Shangri-La is a very relaxing hotel. I was very tempted to invite friends over, order drinks and just stay in the room with the curtains open, enjoying the city skyline in the distance and watching the sun set over the river.