A luxury hideout opens with convenient access to China’s giant pandas.
Why Go: For tourists, pandas remain Chengdu’s main draw. Up-close rendezvous with the bears (native to central China’s surrounding mountains) can be had at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding just outside of the city. And guests of the Temple House, which opened in Chengdu in July, can hire the hotel’s Audi Q7 for the trip. A Swire Hotels property, the Temple House tastefully mixes the Old World with the new. Guests enter the 100-room hotel through a restored Qing Dynasty heritage building and descend a grand staircase to a courtyard landscaped like Sichuan rice terraces. Among the historic architecture, bold contemporary artworks that change quarterly are on display, and the interiors designed by Make Architects look sleek and modern.
What to Expect: Among fertile plains, Chengdu has been called “the Land of Milk and Honey,” although the place has become a regular Chinese megacity and home to around 14 million people. The Temple House is part of a 2.7-million-square-foot, mixed-use development that also includes a 47-story office tower and restored low-profile heritage buildings surrounding a 1,000-year-old temple. The hotel and 42 serviced apartments are tucked away among an open-plan mall; two L-shaped towers, separated by a courtyard, house the Temple House’s rooms and suites (from about $290). Fans of the House Collective, the hotel group’s properties in Beijing and Hong Kong, will be pleased to find the same understated service. In addition to an all-day dining restaurant and teahouse at the spa, guests can dine at Tivano, one of the city’s few fine Italian restaurants.
How to Get There: Plan for a 45-minute trip from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, a 25-minute ride from Chengdu North Railway Station, or a 15-minute jaunt from Chengdu East Railway Station. (thetemplehousehotel.com)