Part of the fun of traveling in Asia is the absolute immersion in a radically different setting and culture. To enhance this experience, we actively seek accommodations that deepen the sense of local connection. Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts is an Asian-owned brand that prioritizes such experiences in their destinations and I jumped on the chance to stay at their award-winning resort in Hangzhou, China during our recent family trip with Mandarin Journeys.
Although the Banyan Tree Hangzhou isn’t family-focused in a traditional way with a kids’ club and a long list of family programming, this property is popular with families from all over the world. Here’s why:
The old-world magic of Hangzhou is captured in the design of the Banyan Tree Hangzhou; dark wood and elegant traditional Chinese details like red lanterns, exquisite Asian screens, and historic artifacts decorate rooms and public areas. The property overlooks Xixi National Wetland Park, a lush garden and waterway flowing through the resort with maze of bridges and a picturesque temple.
This garden is absolutely breathtaking, with beautiful light throughout the day — it’s truly a serene sanctuary from the bustle of the city outside.
Local artisan activities are featured in the hotel, from tea-making in the lobby to music played from a traditional sculling boat at sunset. The Banyan Tree Hangzhou has a refined elegance to it, but the scale of the spaces make it feel less ‘hush hush’ and, consequentially, more comfortable with kids. That said, it’s not the kind of place where parents would feel good about having their kids engage in loud play in the garden or lounges.
The 36 suites and 36 villas at the Banyan Tree Hangzhou are enormous and are one of the reasons that this property attracts families. Water Terrace Suites sit right on the canal. These suites open to a private outdoor space on one side and the waterway on the other — it’s like having your own mini Chinese palace. Floor-to-ceiling windows and high ceilings make these rooms light and bright. It’s extremely quiet and peaceful. There’s plenty of room to accommodate children.
We had an open-style Water View Suite with a cozy sitting room, a long balcony overlooking the garden, and an expansive work area. Two-Bedroom Jetpool Villas are also available and have private outdoor jetpools.
An indoor swimming pool is the centerpiece of the spa and welcomes children. It’s a fun place to relax; the pool is massive, with a few different hydrotherapy jets for extra pint-size giggles.
There are proper spa treatment rooms and an extensive services list for those who are indulging in the adult side of the spa.
Two dining options include a Cantonese restaurant, Bai Yun, and all-day dining at the intercontinental restaurant, Waterlight Court. Jiu Xian, the bar, is a beautiful space serving craft cocktails and light fare. This is a fun place to grab a drink and snacks before dinner or to stop for tea in the afternoon.
We fell in love with the cult local favorite, Grandma’s Restaurant, in the mall next door. The hotel drove us over in their golf cart so we didn’t have to worry about taxis or driving. For those who need their fix, a Starbucks is also walking distance from the hotel.
The location is central and it’s definitely convenient to be right off of a mall with shops and restaurants. That said, it’s a 40-minute or so drive to West Lake and the attractions in that area, with traffic. We were there during the prime spring tourist season and there is a daily backup that slows things to a crawl.
The service at luxury hotels in Asia is always a treat, and the Banyan Tree Hangzhou offers this in spades. An attentive concierge desk made sure we were well cared for at every turn. We had some crazy requests, given all that we wanted to see and do during our short stay — all were handled with grace and ease. This was my first Banyan Tree experience, but we’d stay at another one of their properties in a heartbeat.
Editor’s Note: Banyan Tree Hangzhou offered us a media rate to experience the hotel for families. As always, our opinions on Ciao Bambino are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy except where noted.
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