Given the slew of fresh attractions and facilities that have popped up in Chengdu in recent years—new museums and arts centers, two subway lines, the restored laneways of the Kuanzhai old quarter—it’s no surprise that upscale hotels have been scrambling to position themselves in the fast-rising capital of China’s Sichuan province. The most recent arrivals on the scene—a St. Regis and the Diaoyutai Boutique—are the city’s most luxurious digs yet. Here’s the lowdown.
St. Regis Chengdu
With 279 rooms set in a new 29-story high-rise in the city center, the St. Regis packs in all the brand’s legendary opulence (Art Deco accents intermingled with locally inspired touches such as carpeting patterned with stylized Sichuan peppercorns), sophisticated service (including a cadre of deferential butlers), and an impressive lineup of F&B offerings, ranging from an excellent Sichuan-centric dining room to a sommelier-curated wine bar and a rooftop lounge. Tech lovers will appreciate the in-room gadgetry. Lights and air-conditioning flick on automatically as soon as you step through the door; electronically operated curtains slide open to reveal floor-to-ceiling views of Chengdu’s bristling skyline; you can order room service via an iPad; and spacious marble-clad bathrooms come with high-tech toilets and heated floors. And when it comes time to step out, there are a few well-selected excursions to choose from, including a private tour and tasting at China’s oldest baijiu distillery, Shui Jing Fang.
88 Taisheng Rd. South, Qingyang District; 86-28/6287-6666; The St. Regis Chengdu; doubles from US$250
Diaoyutai Boutique Chengdu
This gem of a hotel is tied with the St. Regis for the largest guest quarters in town (entry-level rooms at both start at 65 square meters). But the similarities end there. The third property to be opened by a joint venture between Beijing’s historic Diaoyutai State Guesthouse and MGM Resorts International, it inhabits two restored Qing-era courtyard buildings in the atmospheric Kuanzhai area. Gray-brick exteriors give way to interiors by French designer Bruno Moinard, with silk wallpaper, modish furnishings, gold and jade objets d’art, and a soothing, earthy palette enlivened by pops of color. The Diaoyutai’s 45 rooms come in 16 different configurations, all with richly grained wooden floors and big bathrooms outfitted with bronze sinks. Equally inviting is the Royal Court restaurant, which painstakingly replicates many of the haute Chinese dishes that chefs at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse have presented to visiting dignitaries over the decades—things like matsutake mushroom consommé and braised pork meatballs simmered in a clay pot, which was the best I’ve ever tasted in China. The verdict? While the Diaoyutai may be a ways off from achieving the service standards of the St. Regis, it’s a beguilingly original property that could get by on looks (and taste) alone.
38-39 Kuan Alley, Qingyang District; 86-28/6625-9999; Diaoyutai Boutique Chengdu; doubles from US$333
This article originally appeared in the February/March print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Checking In On Chengdu”)