Shanghai can be maddening. The crowds. The traffic. The noise. The incessant fake-handbag hawkers. All five senses are constantly overloaded. So it’s nice to escape the chaos, at least for a few hours—or, better yet, a few days. The solution? Four Seasons Hangzhou at West Lake.
It’s a lightning-fast train ride—the fastest bullet train in the world, in fact, clocked at 258 miles per hour—that delivers you from Shanghai’s hectic city center to Hangzhou in under 50 minutes. One of China’s seven ancient capitals, Hangzhou is a spectacularly beautiful city surrounded by an otherworldly maze of lagoons and lakes fed by the Qiantang River and framed on three sides by densely forested mountains and fertile tea fields. Tucked away amidst this storybook landscape, the Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake offers one of the area’s most romantic settings—and one of China’s finest restaurants, Jin Sha. Chef Tony Lu from Shanghai’s acclaimed Fu 1088 has created the menus, a thoroughly modern riff on classic Shanghainese and Cantonese cuisine.
Overlooking the lake, the 78-room resort unfolds like an ancient village surrounded by weeping willows, cherry trees and meandering streams crisscrossed with footbridges. An emperor-worthy spa is inspired by Chinese herbal medicine, with incredible massages and scrubs that incorporate wild ginger and local plum blossoms, for example, or lotus flowers and honeysuckle. Rates from $380. Reservations: 800.819.5053.