This is not a Hyatt, Shangri-La or Hilton. It is a budget operation that aspires to be a boutique hotel. It is committed to being all that it can given its constraints. As such, it fulfills this promise with innovation, creativity and responsiveness.
The hotel is tucked away behind a small street (i.e. alley) off of Nanshanlu, the North-South Road that borders the eastern edge of the West Lake (Xihu). As you pull up to the Hotel, you notice the turnaround doubles as a parking lot. The lobby is several stories of glass, so there is plenty of sunlight, but you feel as though the entire entrance has been compacted into half its normal size. Nonetheless, it feels neither cramped nor stuffy - a testament to its unique design.
Check-in is quick, easy and typically without a hitch. They do their best to accommodate your needs and requests, and the staff are friendly and ever-smiling. Some have interesting English names (in China, they take English names such as Thunder and Happiness), though at the moment I do not recall what they were. There are Andy Warhol-esque pictures of Marilyn on the walls climbing up towards the glass ceiling. They add a burst of technicolor to an otherwise colorless wall. The contrast is a bit bright for some, for others it will have a familiar modern neon glow.
We've stayed on different floors and we've seen almost every class of room. So we know that they are both standardized as well as differentiated. The budget rooms have no windows, but they do have curtains (don't open them, unless you enjoy looking at blank walls). Some rooms (on the top floor) have oddly angled roofs that give you the feeling of vertigo as if the entire building was leaning over. Other rooms have small, but usable balconies that overlook the alley or Nanshanlu. All of the rooms, as other reviewers have aptly noted, have a rubics cube and a goldfish - a nice combination of the modern and the organic.
If you haven't guessed already, the designer of this hotel is not a local. At least according to the numerous accounts I've heard, the architect is a UC Berkeley graduate, and you won't be surprised or skeptical of this claim once you've been to the Crystal Orange Hotel. The rooms are dark, but alive. They are simple, yet clean. It is minimalist, cubist, non-conformist, earthy, modernist, post-modern, and humanistic - all in one.
There is a Brazilian Churrascaria on the First Floor in addition to the minimalist breakfast room (yes, it is pretty spartan, but I typically eat Congee at the Hilton, so it's perfect for me). The Churrascaria, for the uninitiated, is a meat smorgasbord - ranging from lamb to sausage to several different cuts of beef to the more exotic chicken heart and beef tongue. There is also a fairly sized salad & appetizer bar - which is also all-you-can-eat. In addition, this particular restaurant has a live variety show on many nights - from Chinese acrobats to a violin soloist to belly dancers to a Brazilian band to pop singers. It's not Broadway, but you will have a good time (as long as you bring your sense of humor with you). As with the hotel, this restaurant is a great value.
Perhaps the best feature of this hotel is its location. Walk out of the hotel, turn right and cross the street (Nanshanlu), and you are at the West Lake (actually a park that borders the West Lake). The area is called Orioles Singing in the Willows - and it is a beautiful area of the Lake. You can also rent bicycles (free for one hour) at the entrance to this park. There are boats you can rent by the hour and a wonderful little Museum of the West Lake nearby that highlights the history and cultural significance of the Lake. Walk out of the hotel, turn left and walk a few blocks, and you will arrive at Wushan Square - where you can find the Flea Market and Food Street.
We've been to other places in Hangzhou, and though there are fine establishments throughout the city, we chose to stay here because it truly is a gem - the best value in Hangzhou.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Crystal Orange
- Crystal Orange Hangzhou