Sitting on the edge of the idyllic West Lake and dotted with historical pagodas, temples and parks, Hangzhou’s beauties have long been celebrated by China’s poets, with even a visiting Marco Polo lauding its charms. Today, Hangzhou continues to be a draw for travellers, with its timeless vistas, picturesque tea houses and bookshops.
Recreating the ambience of ancient Hangzhou, Amanfayun is part of a restoration effort of a Tang Dynasty village to the west of the famous lake, converting a collection of enchanting dwellings into accommodations for modern day Marco Polos. Access into the village is via thick forests and bamboo groves, leading the intrepid visitor into a hidden world of bygone times: quaint brick, earth and timber houses, topped with clay tile roofs, tranquil courtyards, tea fields, quiet streams, fragrant trees, and stone flagged interiors. Amanfayun forms an integral component of the village community as it stands, and is a part of its living history.
Guest rooms offer a little step back into the past, encapsulating – as Aman does best – all the romance with none of the privations. Warm your toes on underfloor heating in the winter, cool off in air conditioning in balmy weather and show off live to your friends with full internet connectivity. Converted as they are from authentic 19th century houses, no two accommodations are quite alike. Furnishings are inspired by classical Chinese style, but favour light woods that lend a contemporary touch against the darker fittings, accented with artistic calligraphy pieces in an otherwise elegantly minimalist design, and lit with cosy amber lights. Most also have a semi-private courtyard.
Choose from one of the 16 Village Rooms, the more spacious Village and Deluxe Village Suites, or for outstanding luxury, check-into one of the 4 Village Villas: Camphor, Magnolia, Bamboo and Tea, boasting a duplex configuration with private massage rooms.
For the ultimate indulgence, it has got to be the Amanfayun Villa. Spread over 290 square metres, this is a residence fit for a gentleman scholar of old, surrounding a private courtyard, with a reading area, two en-suite bedrooms, an airy lounge with dining area and twin daybeds, and – of course – a private room for lazy massages.
Wonder out of your village abode into the village, amongst the villagers and monks, and explore the rest of the property while fueling up for the day’s sightseeing. Dining options include the Aman-run Restaurant (serving international cuisine and drinks) and Steam House (an informal eatery specializing in steamed dumplings), but also three independent venues operated by the village. Feast on delectable local cuisine at Hangzhou House, enjoy a home-cooked meal accompanied by aromatic fine brew at the Tea House, or sample meat-free delicacies at the Vegetarian House by Lingyin Temple.
The central focal point of Amanfayun is Fayun Place, a meeting place converted from two stately old residences and exclusive to guests. Here is where you’ll find staff to organize excursions, the Cigar Room and a Library to restock your book list. Erudite guests can also enjoy the series of talks on Chinese culture, from Buddhism, to art, to traditional folk medicine and tea rituals.
After a long day’s adventuring around the scenes of the West Lake, the Aman Spa offers five-star rest and relaxation. Soak weary limbs in their 20-metre heated outdoor pool, or in the privacy of a deep wooden tub in the Bath House, before some serious pampering from their integrative spa menu. One of the spa buildings also houses a dedicated reflexology area, perfect for treating travel sore feet.
Insider tip: Some of the residence courtyards open up onto the main path – make sure you request a room, suite or villa with a private courtyard.
Rates start at USD 650 until 30th April 2012, and from USD 700 thereafter.
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