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“Amazing hotel with breathtaking surroundings”

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Secret Garden Boutique Hotel
Ranked #9 of 475 Hotels in Yangshuo County
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 15, 2013 via mobile

This hotel pretty much tops our list of places to stay.
We arrived very late in Yangshuo after a heavily delayed flight, however the hotel arranged airport pickup from Guilin and the hotel manager, Tania, stayed up and guided our taxi through the pitch black, winding country roads to the hotel by phone. We arrived at 130am, and were made to feel very welcome.
The level of service maintained by Faye, Tania and team throughout the rest of the stay remained excellent, and all our needs were met.
They arranged everything from transport (taxis, e-bikes, gas scooters and motorcycles) to rafting, caving (with mud bath) and cooking (and many more activities), while ensuring our time at the hotel was relaxed and fun.
The hotel is about 30 mins from Yangshuo town, but is worth venturing to because of the unspoilt surroundings. The hotel is made up of a collection of old, rustic village buildings in the heart of a small Chinese village, surrounded by local farms (that you can wander) and an amazing cast landscape. (If you are in doubt about the distance from Yangshuo you need not worry due to the hotel's ability to arrange transport at short notice, and with each visit to the delightful town, we were still eager to get back to Secret Garden).
The various courtyards throughout the hotel make for peaceful reading, eating and drinking, and the level of effort and detail the owners have put into the layout means you could spend days relaxing in the grounds without having to leave.
The kitchen also has a good range of local and western food, and we couldn't fault anything we ate. Their pizzas rivaled western ones and we're the best we've eaten in our two years in China!
Our two young children (6 and 4 yrs old) thoroughly enjoyed their stay, and were made to feel as welcome as we were. They enjoyed exploring the nooks and crannies of the hotel, but the multitude of uneven steps probably means parents of toddlers may want to delay their stay until their kids are more stable on their feet. The staff gave guidance on safety of local activities for the kids.
The only recommendation we gave was to build a swimming pool - then we'd never leave!
We will definitely return here.


  • Stayed: September 2013
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1  Thank ajphelps
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ian F, Owner at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded October 18, 2013

Thanks from Faye, Tania and the rest of our team for your kind words. We are glad you enjoyed exploring and relaxing in our buildings, courtyards and gardens. We all definitely look forward to your return.

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Reviewed September 12, 2013

It is a lovely place to stay, we had the suite. No complaints and our stay was very pleasant, beds comfy, food average, clean and tidy all round. My only grip and it is relatively minor is the attention to detail that just leaves Secret Garden short of the mark. We requested a vegetarian breakfast ( some dumplings off the night menu) and gave 24hours notice, I think they forgot. We tried to arrange transport by private car on to Huangyao and the lady said she would let us know the next day. She didn't work the next day. We wanted to pay by credit card but no joy, cash only. Now don't get me wrong, at no stage did we not enjoy our stay here, but I feel a small step up in service could make good....great.

Room Tip: I think all the rooms are good, we found the suite a little too much, found the room on entering was...
  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank sticky d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ian F, Owner at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded September 16, 2013

Thank you for your honest review. We are glad that you enjoyed your stay with us. Faye is sorry that arrangements weren't quite 100%. We always try to do our best, but I guess things can slip through the net sometimes. We will definitely try to improve on this and hope to welcome you back in the future.

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Reviewed September 1, 2013

We recently spent time in Guilin, Yangshuo and JiuXian. Our stay at the 300 year old former government building that has been tastefully renovated to become the Secret Garden Boutique Hotel was most pleasant. The mature friendly staff were most helpful, the food was excellent and the room very nice. Unfortunately there was no refrigerator, like a lot of Asian hotels. They make the best ice coffee in China. The local people are friendly and the countryside is peaceful and beautiful. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Frank A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ian F, Manager at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded September 16, 2013

Thank you Frank & Penny. We are glad you enjoyed your peaceful stay with us in the countryside. We hope to see you again on your next visit.

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Reviewed August 26, 2013

From the time we were picked up by the cab organized by Faye till we left 4 days later, it was perfect. After the inescapable crowds of Beijing, Xian & then Guilin, this was the much-needed sanctuary in a very beautiful locale of rural China. The rooms & the hotel in its entirety are very tastefully & thoughtfully decorated [ note the real scroll paintings on the windows ] plus the service just lends the extra touch of personal care; which we hadn't felt since our arrival in China 10 days ago. Just grab a bike from the hire-shop just outside & cycle around the inner lanes / cycling routes of the village for quality tranquil-time.

Look no further for food, you’ll find people in neighbouring hotels coming here regularly for the restaurant ~ the food is fab ! Must have the Chinese breakfast, stir-fried beans with mince, cold cucumber, Yangshou fried rice & the braised aubergine in clay-pot. The western options are very authentic too, the SpagBol & pizzas were a real hit after a night out to watch the light show nearby. The best part of the place is the family that run it – very prompt in responses over the email & phone; they go out of their way to look after you ~ like the delicious late-nite meal whipped up by the bundle of energy called Tanya, packing our lunch take-away for the airport or setting up extra fans in the room to combat the heat wave; nothing needed more than a single request. Bear in mind that cards are not accepted, so take cash along – we weren't aware, but Faye directed us to ATMs during our trips out & was very helpful to get everything sorted stress-free.

Would certainly return here if ever back in the same part of the world!

Room Tip: Ask Faye for the best suggestions as per family size - each room is uniquely charming. Our Delux roo...
  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank TrippingTSO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ian F, Owner at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded September 17, 2013

On Behalf of Faye, Tanya and the rest of our Secret Garden family, thank you so much for your lovely review. We are so happy that you enjoyed the sanctuary of our hotel and surroundings. We too hope you return to visit us again.

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Reviewed August 9, 2013

We have spent six days and five nights in Yangshuo. Three nights we stayed at Secret Garden Boutique hotel and two nights at Li River retreat. When we booked we thought that both hotels seemed good but different. We wanted to have a few days far out on the countryside and a few near Yangshuo town.
This post is a comparison between two good hotels and I therefore put it under both hotels. The grades given are for the hotels under which this review is posted.
The rooms. It is hard to compare. At Secret Garden we had a standard king size room (430 RMB) and at the Li River Retreat we had their deluxe king size river view (about 625 RMB). The difference in the room is reflected in the price. Definitely. We stayed during the hottest period of the year, often higher than 35 degrees C. And common for both hotels is that the air conditions are hopelessly under dimensioned. The AC at Li River is probably the same for all rooms and since our room was a big (and more expensive one) it had to struggle to keep down the temperature.
The view from the room. At Li River it was fantastic. The photos from the previous reviews don’t lie. We just stood flabbergasted when we saw it for the first time. At the Secret Garden we had more or less nothing, a few yellow skin fruit trees and the neighbouring farm house. But the Secret Garden is (at least we believe so) an old rural farm restored to a hotel. And that is how these houses were built.
The service. The Li River is not bad but they cannot beat the Secret Garden. In the secret Garden they have a few (good English speaking) middle age ladies who are marvellous. Service minded and knowledgeable with the kind of mature impressions that comes with the years. The familiar feeling they bring to Secret Garden, It is just not anything of that at Li River. At Li River Retreat there were young women doing their best. Why is it so that the Chinese are so obsessed with putting young good looking women at all their fronting positions? Don’t they understand it comes with a price? We were told that the Secret Garden couldn’t attract young people so far out at the countryside. Good for them!!!
The location. Well, it depends what you are looking for. The Secret Garden is quite far out and whatever they say about taxi and so on, it is not easy to arrange. In Yangshuo you just don’t go out on the street and flag one down. Coming in to the town is easy, it is coming back that is tricky. Especially late in the evening when the Secret Garden is empty on staff. But the surroundings are beautiful. And if your primary target is countryside, then go for the Secret Garden. The surroundings are far more beautiful (except for the river view then…). The Li River Retreat is closer to town, less beautiful surroundings and the distance from town is on walking distance. Bring a flashlight (or your mobile’s torch). It is pitch dark as soon as you leave town. We spent two days near Yangshuo and afterwards, I think one day would have been enough. I had seen the writings about the hordes in Yangshuo and thought it was westerners not used to Chinese conditions. I was wrong. I have an apartment in a 4-million city in China and I have seen nothing there that compares to Yangshuo at night. I don’t like it, others might…
The restaurant and food and drink options. Both restaurants are quite expensive to Chinese standards but not outraging, which some of the restaurants in Yangshuo town are. Li River is more expensive than Secret Garden. When it comes to breakfast it can be seen that Secret Garden is run by a South African (I believe) and Li River by Spanish people. Those in favour of south European breakfasts will probably like Li River more and the rest of us (liking English, north European or Chinese breakfast) will probably prefer Secret Garden. The coffee at secret Garden is fresh while Li River use instant coffee (SIC!). The menu is more limited at Secret Garden than at Li River, however not bad. Both have Chinese and western food. One could believe that Li River would have more options but unless you want to go into town (and back in pitch darkness) at least we could find nothing in the vicinity of Li River. There are two Chinese (with humhum quality) neighbouring Secret Garden.
A last comment. If you rely on internet (I do because of work) both of them are of the heart attack inducing type. Painfully slow. But of course, we are inside China, internet is always slow here. But not that slow…
If I would come back to one of these premises it would be Secret Garden. But on the other hand, my wife said Li River Retreat, so the answer is not absolutely obvious…

Room Tip: Try to book eraly to get a room with some kind of view. It is a popular hotel...
  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Mikael W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ian F, Owner at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded August 15, 2013

Thank you for your review. We are glad that you and your wife enjoyed your time at both of the hotels you chose.

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Reviewed August 3, 2013

We loved our 3 day stay at the Secret Garden. The staff is friendly, accommodating, and available. We ate mostly Chinese food, and it was delicious. Having very busy lives in Shanghai and feeling exhausted, we were relieved to feel so relaxed and at home in the Secret Garden. The village is charming and nice to walk around in early morning to see the villagers go about their business. Rice fields and karst mountains surround the area.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Kateinshanghai
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ian F, Owner at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded August 15, 2013

Thank you, we loved having you stay with us. We look forward to welcoming you back into our home when you next need to escape Shanghai to relax.

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Reviewed August 2, 2013

After a 15 hour sleeper train this was like heaven. Everything we hoped for and more. Only regret is that we only stayed 2 days. The rooms are bigger then I expected, bed is fantastic and the decor is perfected suited to the hotel surrounds. The staff are really helpful (and many speak English). They were able to organize all our tours (which in hindsight was unique to the rest of the hotels we stayed in China). The food was also really great especially the vegetarian dishes. I usually never eat where I stay but this was a worthy exception. It was just such a relaxing and friendly place to stay. And I haven't even mentioned the location...

I was worried about not being near Yangshuo but the scenery around this hotel is to die for. You don't have to go to Yangshuo - this IS the place you want to visit. Secret Garden is restoring the Qing Dynasty town it's built it. You can walk around the beautiful, rustic old ally's and see the town in different states of disrepair. Makes for some great photos. Then out the front you've got classic Chinese countryside: rice paddies, vegetable gardens and free range poultry. And then of course your surrounded by karst mountains. I spent hours just wandering around the hotel and town it was so picturesque. If you like hiking there's a trail that runs up the valley right of the town (stumbled onto that also).

Thanks so much for the staff who made our stay the most memorable and relaxing of our trip.

Really should have spent a week here and not two days. Would love to return.

Room Tip: If you're worried about the distance to Yangshuo don't. The scenery around here is mesmirisn...
  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Spannng
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ian F, Owner at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded August 15, 2013

On behalf of all our staff, thank you so much for your lovely review. We are glad you found our surroundings as beautiful as we do. We look forward to seeing you for a full week on your next visit.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Secret Garden Boutique Hotel

Address: Jiuxian Village, Yangshuo County 541900, China
Phone Number:
Location: China > Guangxi > Yangshuo County
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 475 Hotels in Yangshuo County
Price Range: $46 - $106 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Secret Garden is a boutique hotel and restaurant near the Yulong River in the stunning Yangshuo countryside. Our hotel consists of Qing Dynasty buildings that have been beautifully restored in order to preserve the historic character, while providing customers with a unique and inspirational environment in which to relax or explore. ... more   less 
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