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Secluded in a valley just 20 minutes from central Hangzhou lies Amanfayun, a luxurious hideaway in the heart of ancient China. Coastal China is ultra-modern; Shanghai and Beijing are 21st century cities. So much of China is forward-thinking that the opportunity to experience historical China is rare. The Amanfayun concept is therefore intriguing, and getting there is easy.
Amanfayun sits amid 14 hectares, to the west of West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 42 individual suites and villas are scattered over the property, connected by stone pathways and shaded courtyards, and surrounded by tea fields and bamboo forest. The hotel is designed in the style of a traditional Chinese Village, with some buildings over 100 years old, lovingly restored using traditional methods.
No two guest suites are the same, maintaining the integrity of the original buildings, but all have been restored to include under-floor heating, air conditioning and sumptuous bedding. Fine calligraphy pieces adorn the walls suites, and televisions and iPod docks are available on request. Many suites include a private or semi-private terrace with daybed, and informal dining area. Deluxe Village Suites and Village Villas also come with private massage treatment rooms for the ultimate in relaxation.
Dine in The Restaurant, overlooking the Fayun pathway which meanders through the resort. The Restaurant serves Western Cuisine, and range of international dishes. It is also home to The Bar which offers casual all day dining, as well as pre or post dinner drinks. Private dining rooms above The Restaurant offer an intimate setting and stunning forest views.
The Steam House offers more casual dining, with authentic local dishes and steamed dumplings to be enjoyed on al fresco terraces, overlooking the kitchen. There are also three independent eateries available within the grounds of Amanfayun: Hangzhou House, famed for its aromatic local cuisine, Tea House, offering a traditional tea service accompanied by homely meals, and Vegetarian House, which sits at the end of the Fayun pathway, next to Lingyin Temple.
The sanctuary of the Aman Spa features five houses nestled within bamboo groves and magnolia trees. Massages and facials are to be enjoyed in 'the treatment house', ancient Reflexology practices in 'the Reflexology House', and hair and nail treatments in 'the Finishing Salon'. The Amanfayun heated outdoor pool also finds its home in the Aman Spa complex.
At the heart of Amanfayun lies the Fayun Place, a pairing of stately courthouses which date back to the 1800's. Today, this ancient structure is the main meeting place, and houses a lounge where snacks and tea can be enjoyed, a cigar room, reading rooms and the library. Fayun Place is also home to the Guest Assistants, who are dedicated to ensuring guests explore the sights and traditions of their temporary home.
Awaken to morning yoga, followed by visits to ancient Buddhist temples, pagoda's and botanical gardens, before retreating to the Aman Spa, for relaxation and rejuvenation complete with a traditional bath house, before finishing the day with tea-sampling and whimsical tales from the Chinese Tea Lady.
The army of Guests Assistants are keen to organise talks and presentations for guests, on topics ranging from Buddhism and Chinese art to tea rituals and traditional Chinese medicine.
Holly, Original Traveller