When we think of Hangzhou’s scenic beauty, the West Lake is inevitably the first image to come to mind. However, the often overlooked Grand Canal also offers visitors and residents alike a beautiful area to explore, rich in art and history. Construction of the Grand Canal began during the Spring and Autumn period over 2,500 years ago, making the Grand Canal the world’s oldest and longest canal, extending from Beijing to Hangzhou.
The Che’fle Canal Hotel Hangzhou is the latest 5 star hotel to open in Hangzhou, and it sits right next to the Grand Canal in the Hangzhou Canal Heritage and Culture Quarter. Just steps away from the hotel, you can find the 1000-year-old Xiangji Temple, the China Grand Canal Museum, the China Umbrella, Fan, Knife, Scissor and Sword Museums, the Hangzhou Arts and Crafts Museum and the Qing dynasty Fuyi Granary. The heritage quarter is dotted with cafes, restaurants and boutique shops, and canal cruise boats have a stop here.
This luxury hotel is an amalgamation of four historical silk warehouses linked by a glass roof and spreads over 10,000m2. The restoration work took four years to complete and combines modern glass and steel with traditional bricks and black tiles.
The 140 rooms are fitted with the latest modern technology of bluetooth sound system, advanced room controls via iPad, Shanghai Tang bath amenities, Nestle Capsule coffee machines and a flat screen TV with many foreign channels. Guests at Che’fle Hotel can indulge in a range of food and beverage outlets, bars and lounges, spa, gym and pool.
New Contender for Best Buffet in Hangzhou
At 428RMB+15%/person, Che’fle Hotel’s buffet is in the higher price range for buffets in this city, and it presents a lavish spread of international delights to match, and it's only available on Fridday, Saturday and Sunday. Starting with the seafood station, the Gillardeau oysters were large, fresh and still brimming with their natural liquid. Eat just four of these and you will already reach the price of entry. For their sushi, the rice is for once not a cold, dry and tasteless afterthought. Here the sushi rice is soft and sticky with distinct individual grains. The aburi (flame-torched) salmon nigiri was quite nice. The poached prawns were plump, sweet and succulent. At the fish and chips station were resting crispy battered fish and potato wedges. You’ll also find grilled oysters, scallops and sardines.
Continuing over the cold meats and marinated Chinese cold dishes, we turned our attention to the Chinese BBQ meats. You can order Beijing duck and the chef will slice pieces of meat from the duck and wrap it with scallions, cucumber and sauce for you. Then the steamed dim sum, cooked meats, vegetables and steaks section stretched further on beyond the limits of our stomach.
You’ll be spoiled for choice at the dessert station with ice cream, chocolate fountain, crème brulee, tarts, cakes, chocolate eclairs and even cotton candy.
The best part about the buffet (besides the Gillardeau oysters) is that free flow Chilean red and white wines, fresh squeezed juices, soft drinks, Paulaner and Tiger beers are all laid out at the buffet. This is an extravagant touch because most buffets only include one free drink in the price.
Authentic Thai Massages and Salt Water Swimming Pool
The spa employs six Thai masseuses and uses spa products from Thailand. Their treatments combine elements from Ayurveda, Thai traditional medicine and aromatherapy. I tried their Thai Boran Massage (588RMB/hour) with Thai Herbal Compress (288RMB).
This massage would be called “Relax massage” in Thailand. It begins with deep kneading to warm and soften the muscles, followed by some stretching and bending moves. Nothing too advanced or pretzel bending, but the masseuse will gently manipulate your body into yoga positions to increase blood circulation and elongate muscles.
If you opt to splurge for the additional Thai herbal compress, after each section of your body has been kneaded and stretched, the masseuse will go over the area with a hot herbal pouch. Your just loosened muscles will be warmed through to the bone, prolonging the relaxation. It’s a very dreamy and heavenly feeling.
By the end of the massage, I was in a completely blissful state, my muscles transformed to putty. It was very fortunate that there are a series of moves at the end designed to revive you and get you on your feet. My masseuse propped me up to a sitting position for a final series of pulling and stretching, twisting and cracking to summon me back to consciousness and bring me out of my reverie.
Che’fle Hotel also has a beautiful lap pool where you can partake in a more active form of exercise. It is Hangzhou’s only salt water swimming pool and the water is heated to a comfortable 27 degrees Celcius. The water did not hurt the eyes at all and you do feel an extra boost in floatation compared to non-salted water.
Afternoon Tea and Cocktails Next to the Canal
At the hotel’s Muffins café, you can enjoy an afternoon tea at their outdoor patio next to the canal. For 158RMB for one person or 258RMB for two, you can enjoy exquisite smoked salmon and black caviar crostini, bruschetta with bright and acidic tomatoes, creamy mousse cakes, scrumptious walnut tarts, strawberry napoleon and mango pudding. Each item was expertly made using the best ingredients.
The hotel’s Buddha Bar is also along the canal and serves an international menu with Asian inspired tapas, entrees and desserts. Cocktails, high-end whiskeys and cognacs will get the party started when the DJ plays lounge music from 8:30pm-12am.
Going the Extra Mile – Pet Hotel & Hair Salon
For guests who don’t want to leave their beloved pets at home while they travel, Che’fle hotel provides pet accommodation so that you can bring you cat or dog with you. The first night of pet accommodation is free, and subsequent nights range from 50-100RMB depending on their size. You can treat your dog to a spa day as well, with a menu offering shampoo, colouring, grooming and pedicures.
At the hair salon, human guests have a full range of services too and prices are very reasonable at 38-58RMB for a shampoo, cut, blow-dry.
Che’fle Canal Hotel Hangzhou offers a unique setting right next to the historic Grand Canal in a beautifully restored silk warehouse. Their spa with Thai masseuses will teach you the meaning of bliss. Its dinner buffet and afternoon tea satisfies your cravings and at a good value too.
Regular room rates are from 1218-1518RMB and grand opening promotional rates start at 918RMB. [Source: Elong.net]