Budget and boutique are words that go together about as well as chardonnay and cancer. The East Hotel (逸酒店) on South Hushu Road self-describes as “boutique,” and that’s fine. In connection with hotels, that word of course has come to signify a number of things; design-focused, fewer rooms than typical, large, five-star hotels, top-notch service exquisite attention to detail, and a rack-rate commensurate with the investment in architecture, design, service, F&B selections, and all the aesthetically pleasing doodads and frippery that whisper Shhh! We’re special! at the top of their lungs.
The East Hotel is boutique and not budget, but it is impressive value for the money. Borrowing design ideas somewhat conspicuously from the hauntingly charming Puli Hotel in Shanghai, The East Hotel is infectious from the moment you turn into their lot. There’s a lot of effective mischief done with shadows and angles, and at nearly every turn one’s sense of depth is pleasingly teased with. The massive LCD screen behind and above the service console draws one into a world that is very much Hangzhou at her most elegant and mysterious, while simultaneously extracting one immediately from the actual grit and grime of a second-tier city of five million people and no Tom Ford outlet.
We’re loathe to spoil for you the joy of discovering for yourself The East Hotel’s many surprises, so here’s the skinny: Suites average around 65 sq/m, and are done in warmish tones. The textures (tactile and visual) are a mix of soft and sheen – creamy cottons and sandy jutes juxtaposed with darker polished lacquer and glazed earthenware, with no more tile, stone, or shine than would be sensible. Lighting throughout is soft, as if illuminated by candles or moonlight. It is damned sexy. Smoking rooms are available. There’s enough English floating around to make transactions reasonably painless and Western-dining is the only option. Free Wi-Fi is available, as are a nice range of complimentary, in-room, beverages. All of this at rates sure to make you rethink your preference for five-star name-brands.