River view or mountain view? That may be the hardest decision when booking a room in the Shangri-La Hotel, 1 Xiangyuan Road, Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. All the rooms have views of one or the other.
Although it’s a city of more than 3 million (with 10 million or so including the surrounding area), Wenzhou is less familiar to Western visitors than other metropolitan areas in China. It’s located south of Shanghai and north of Hong Kong on the southeast coast, bordering the East China Sea. A city of contrasts, it boasts many historic buildings (such as the Martial Arts Museum shown below, right) amidst towering modern skyscrapers.
The Shangri-La Wenzhou is not downtown, but part of a new development area along the Oujiang River that includes the city’s International Convention and Exhibition Center. I was there for the annual confab of the Society of American Travel Writers, and the hotel even included the organization’s acronym in the floral centerpiece in the main lobby (below, right), using the signature Chinese colors of red and golden yellow.
Actually, I spent more time in the lobby than I normally do in a hotel, because the area was luxurious yet comfortable and low-key. The two-story ceiling and wall of windows that were so dramatic in the daylight dimmed to insignificance as evening arrived. The upholstered chairs and carpeting absorbed sound, making it easy to have an impromptu meeting or just meet friends for drinks.
There are 409 guestrooms and suites in the Shangri-La Wenzhou, including 10 serviced apartments for those who plan a longer stay. Amenities encompass complementary broadband internet access (a necessity in my mind), 24-hour in-room dining, an in-room safe, tea/coffee making facilities, and my personal favorite: a full-sized desk. It’s really nice to have a large surface to hold my laptop and all the paperwork I use while I’m traveling.
Of course the hotel also has a fitness center and an indoor swimming pool, plus an outdoor tennis court and sauna — not that my schedule allowed any time for such fun stuff as that. Although I saw no children during my stay, they are welcomed. This cheerful fellow (below, right) awaited young riders next to the elevator lobby.
The business center is open 24 hours and provides useful services (such as translation and interpreting) to those of us who don’t speak any dialect of Chinese.
(Photos courtesy of the Shangri-La Wenzhou and by Susan McKee)