The Zhongke Evian Hotel, No.1 Xiangzhang Road, Wulong District, Chongqing, China, is located in the area along Chongqing’s southern border with Guizhou province. Limestone rock formations are the defining geological feature of this region — known as the Fairy Mountain Scenic Area — much of which is protected within the UNESCO South China Karst World Heritage Site.
Some explanation is necessary right off. “Municipality” doesn’t mean the same thing in China as it does in the United States. In short: it refers to a specific governmental category rather than a city. In this case, all of Chongqing is about as large as the state of Ohio, and it has a population of 30 million.
The core urban area foreigners know as Chongqing — where countless tourists from around the world board their cruise ships for a trip down the Yangtze River — houses eight million people. Wulong District is abut a three-hour drive south of the “city”.
Translation is an inexact process — The Zhongke Evian Hotel is sometimes listed as the Zhongke Yiyun Hotel and other times as the Yiyun Holiday Hotel Wulong.
Guest rooms are decorated in an elegantly understated way, with ceilings at least 10 feet high, solid maple desks, doors and trimming offset with soft gray upholstered chairs. One of the chairs turned out to be a rocker with a separate, matching footrest.
On the desk is a live plant. There’s a large flat-screen television and free, fast WiFi. An electric pot and several choices of tea were at the ready. The electrical outlets (as is typical in upscale Chinese hotels) are “multimodal”, accepting U.S., European and Chinese plugs.
The four framed drawings on the bedroom walls — three over the bed and another above the desk — have actual dried lotus pods integrated into the design, making them three-dimensional artworks.
The guestroom had an unusual layout. While the shower and toilet were in (separate) cubicles with doors, the sink area outside the two had no isolating walls. Amenities beyond the usual shampoo and shower gel included a toothbrush & paste, comb, and shower cap. A sign on the wall behind the faucet reminded guests in both Chinese characters and English that the output “is not direct drinking water” — hence the two complementary bottles of water.
A stone floor delineated the bathroom area, separating it from a heated laminate wood floor in the rest of the room. I was there on a chilly fall evening, and the unanticipated warmth underfoot was wonderful.
The room included a couple of ashtrays (as is typical in China), but an admonitory sign between the two queen-size beds announced in English, “Honorable VIPs please don’t smoke in bed for the health of you and others, Wish you a pleasant stay. Good night.”
Downstairs, there are both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a business center and two restaurants — one featuring Western cuisine.
Opened in 2013, the crescent-shaped hotel was renovated two years ago. Room prices start at 398 yuan (about $58). Reservations can be made on the hotel’s site or Trip.com.
(Photos courtesy of Zhongke Evian Hotel and by Susan McKee, who was a guest of Chongqing Tourism)