The Hotel One of the main reasons why I made a trip to Hangzhou is to check out Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou At West Lake, one of the most luxurious hotel property in the city. The hotel is about 50 minutes away from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport by car, and is strategically located right beside West lake, yet tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the incessant crowd around the lake.
I can’t remember exactly when I was mesmerised by the beauty of ancient Chinese architecture, especially the Jiang-Nan style which pretty much dominates the look and design of Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou At West Lake. The layout of the hotel is inspired by traditional Chinese courtyard design and feng shui philosophy, where the centre is a grand central pavilion overlooking the lakefront infinity pool and gardens, while the residential rooms extend on both sides of the central pavilion as the east and west wings.
I was captivated by the lakefront infinity pool, which oversees an exclusive and quiet part of West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site and is solely for hotel guests.
The Room I checked in to the Premier Garden-View Room on level two, which is very spacious at between 63-73 sqm. The design and interior of the room is contemporary, yet there are hints of oriental touches, such as the wooden design of the windows in the balcony.
The best part about the room is the balcony, which overlooks the lush greenery of the property and outdoor infinity pool. There is complimentary tea in the room, which makes it a good idea to make some Oolong tea and sip in the balcony.
The bathroom design comes in a long layout, where there is a standing rain forest shower space, as well as an inviting bath tub which overlooks the outdoor garden. If you are concerned about privacy, there is sufficient greenery and it helps that my room is located on level two. Toiletries such as shower gel is by L’Occitane.
There is an ongoing Culturally Curious package when you book your room. This include a one way limousine transfer between Xiaoshan International Airport/Train Station to the hotel, a 45 minutes boat tour experience or arrival or departure from the hotel, a traditional Chinese tea ceremony experience in Hu Yin Tea House, and a two hours limousine use either for city tour, a visit to Longjing Tea Village, He Fang Street or Lingyin Temple.
As I was fortunate to visit during the Longjing Tea Harvest season, I managed to visit the scenic Longjing Tea Village which is a mere 15 minutes drive from the hotel. I even managed to get my hands on tea plucking, followed by having freshly roasted Longjing Tea at a local tea house.
The Restaurants In terms of dining options, WL Bistro is the all-day dining restaurant where guests have their breakfast. The breakfast spread is a good mix of western and oriental options, where you can expect the likes of beancurd, fried dough fritters, live egg station, Chinese dumplings, cold cuts and bread.
For the dinner menu at WL Bistro, I was surprised to see a special Singapore dishes menu with the likes of Laksa, Char Kuey Teow with wagyu beef and Bak Kut Teh. The main draw for the new menu comes from its newly appointed Executive Chef, Malaysian born Chef Wilson Leung who used to work in Singapore. Otherwise, there is a good mix of western fares on the menu like Australian Ribeye Steak.
For a more memorable and unique breakfast experience during your stay, I would highly recommend booking the breakfast on the boat, which is an approximate one hour boat ride from the private jetty of the property into one of the most exclusive parts of Inner West Lake which is not accessible by the public. My breakfast preference was noted the night before and I opted for the local Hangzhou style breakfast. It was slightly drizzling in the morning, but it turned out to be a real surprise as there was a nice mist over the lake during my ride out. At that moment, the surrounding West Lake was simply mesmerising and serene. To simply put, stunning beyond words and a slice of paradise on earth.
The Lobby Lounge is adjacent to WL Bistro, and this is the space where you can have a leisure Afternoon Tea session.
In terms of destination dining, I would highly recommend having at least one meal at the award winning Jin Sha restaurant helmed by Chef Wang Yong. I first had a taste of Chef Wang’s dishes during a special 4-hands collaboration with Summer Palace in Singapore last year, and it left a pleasant impression for me back then. Being a three diamond recipient of the local Black Pearl Award amidst other accolades, Jin Sha occupies a huge area at an exclusive corner of the property with its own private entrance. The main dining area has indoor and outdoor tables, where the latter is great if the weather is ideal as it overlooks the scenic garden and water feature. Spot the two resident goose on the water!
Alternatively, the restaurant also boasts a couple of beautiful private rooms for different party sizes. Needless to say, I was blown away by the intricate interior design of the private pavilions.
Food wise, I managed to try the dim sum dishes and other ala carte dishes on the menu. Some favourites include the Shanghainese Braised Pork Belly with Sweet Soy Sauce, a tender and delicious meat option which is one of Jin Sha’s signature. Other dishes not to be missed are the Sautéed River Shrimps with Longjing Tea, a Local Hangzhou dish; Minced Pork and String Bean Pancake Dongyang Style; and the Wok-Fried Spring Chives with Minced Pork, Vermicelli and Clams served with Deep-fried Sesame Balls.
The Facilities Other than the lakefront outdoor infinity pool, there is also an indoor pool which is ideal during all season of the year. The adjacent fitness centre to the indoor pool is not huge, but sufficiently equipped for a good workout.
The Spa is another sanctuary to pamper your soul. There is a wide range of spa treatments and the interesting bit during my visit in April, which is also the Longjing Tea harvest season is that there is a specially curated Dragon Well Tea and Jade Spring Ritual. The design of The Spa makes one feel at ease and relaxed easily, from the dim lighting to the pavilion look of the treatment rooms. It is very impressive.
I can’t disregard the huge garden and lush greenery in the property. There is a covered walkway from the main lobby pavilion all the way to Jin Sha restaurant, which I really enjoyed walking through. It is usually quiet, and you get to see different shades of the various types of tress along the walkway such as willow, pine, maple and bamboo. Water features like waterfalls make the whole property an even more tranquil one.
Bikes are complimentary to use for hotel guests, which I would highly recommend picking a bike to explore West Lake. I woke up early on one of the mornings to head out for a bike tour at 6.30am (pre-registration required), and it was all worth it. West Lake is less crowded early in the morning, and I was lucky to witness a beautiful fog around the lake. It is approximately 15km for a full cycle, but the changing scenery and landmarks made the ride an interesting and memorable one for me.
Rants The experience do not come cheap, and you will have to splurge while at Four Seasons Hangzhou to enjoy the full experience.
Overall Experience Four Seasons is definitely one of my favourite hotel brand. I like the local experiences in different Four Seasons property and Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou At West Lake is one to bookmark if you are ever in Hangzhou. From the design of the property to the rooms and facilities, I had a pleasant stay during my Hangzhou trip, where the property is a true sanctuary from the world outside.
Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou At West Lake
5 Lingyin Road
Zhejiang 310013, China
For more information, check out the Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou At West Lake Website.
Ranted by The Ranter