I stayed at the Linden Centre as part of a 3 week trip to Yunnan, which in turn replaced a trip to Tibet made impossible by restrictions placed on travellers by the authorities. I found that generally there are two types of tourists in Yunnan, domestic tourists who form the vast, vast majority and expatriate residents interested in exploring more of their temporary home. There are very few visitors who do not fall into these two categories. The Linden Centre caters primarily to the expatriates.
I found myself evaluating the Linden Centre according to two different scales. Surrounding me, every morning at breakfast, were happy and knowledgable expatriates who told me how rare the Linden Centre was in China, that there is nowhere like it. From this perspective the Centre is a real achievement. The architecture is stunning and the views (for the time being) are either quaint or even bucolic. Staff speak good English and can orientate you towards good shops and local restaurants. The breakfast and the vegetarian dishes available in the evening were well done.
However if I compare the Linden Centre to other places I have been, it is not that exceptional. Not too far away, there are plenty of heritage boutique hotels in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand that are truly excellent on any scale. I think that some local competition (even with a few 100km) may help a good place like the Linden Centre to truly excel. I visited most of the Songstam hotels, far to the north on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and I found these to be really excellent. However there is nothing comparable in Dali and the surrounding area
Rooms at the Centre are small, I would certainly advise on one upstairs towards the back if you want more light and peace and quiet. It can be difficult to get laundry done if it is raining. Public areas can be cramped, particularly if there is a group in residence.
Not so long ago Xizhou would have been genuinely remote. Not anymore. The overall area is becoming somewhat touristy. It will be a challenge to the Centre to find new places to visit, or new ways to experience places swamped by visitors, beyond the frontier of the booming domestic tourism market. The road from Dali airport shows that breakneck development is hitting Dali, like other parts of China and many local attractions seem over crowded, over restored or both. Cormorant Fishing on the nearby lake now has a tour bus park and countless boats of package tourists chasing a very few fishermen. The building and restoration crews were even out in Xizhou, knocking down and re-building the old buildings.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Linden Centre is a meticulously restored courtyard mansion in the pristine Yunnan village of Xizhou. Great care was taken to preserve the beautiful Bai architecture of this nationally protected cultural heritage hotel, while modern conveniences including heating and air conditioning were added to ensure guests a comfortable and absolutely unique stay. In this elegant setting, connect with the local ethnic cultures that make this part of China so special. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Linden Centre Hotel Dali