A stay at Rosewood Guangzhou

The sleek and stylish Rosewood Guangzhou is the hottest place to sleep, meet and eat in the city. Stephenie Gee checks in to find out why

In the 95-floor ascent to the lobby of the Rosewood Guangzhou, ears pop and lights dim as you make your way up CTF Finance Centre – the city’s tallest building at 530 metres – of which the hotel occupies the top 39 floors. When the elevator doors finally roll open, 56 seconds later (I timed it because I’m told it’s the fastest in the world and on the early December day that I arrive, they’ve had to slow it down for safety because of the wild winds), a member of staff is already there waiting, for me and my bags.

Check-in is swift, in the reception space down the carpeted walkway that, on one side, overlooks a lush garden terrace with an expanse of clear sky beyond, and on the other, features Luo Dan’s famous Balance installation, depicting a generously-hipped dame walking on water. The Rosewood brand is a patron of arts so you’ll find pieces scattered throughout. On the ground floor, an intricate “flowerbed” painting by Sichuan-born artist Zhuang Hong Yi pays homage to Guangzhou’s reputation as China’s “City of Flowers”. Elsewhere, a collection of experimental Chinese ink painting and calligraphy artworks by luminaries Qin Feng and Kaixuan Feng line the walls. All this comes courtesy of American architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, who also designed Otemachi Tower (aka the Aman Tokyo building), Rosewood Bangkok and Rosewood Hong Kong, with the added expertise of design firm Yabu Pushelberg (London Edition Hotel and Park Hyatt New York and Shenzhen) who are independently responsible for the inviting interiors.

It takes another set of elevators to get to the rooms, of which there are 251, including 227 guest rooms, 20 suites and four duplex suites. Mine is the 721-square-foot Premier Room. Like all others, it’s designed to feel like a private residence, with distinct spaces – decorated in subtle earth tones with pops of soft rose – for living, working and resting, set apart by stylish bronze-framed screens. Naturally, you’ll find high-spec amenities to go with it, such as the 600-thread-count Frette linens, Bose speaker, Nespresso machine and 42-inch Philips HD television.

In keeping with the brand’s philosophy of “a sense of place”, the hotel’s design touches are inspired by personalities of the region: the lacquer accents, the custom-designed stationery resembling the “four treasures of the study” (an expression that refers to the brush, ink, paper and stone used in ancient China for writing, drawing and painting), the set of xiangqi (Chinese chess) and the bottle of Peddler’s Gin (China’s first craft gin). Up in the clouds, on the 104th floor, height brings benefits – namely light airy space and views of the majestic Pearl River, the ever-evolving Tianhe district – in which the hotel is located – and the greater metropolitan area. When evening draws in, pour yourself a glass and watch it all, as the blazing orb gently falls and you effortlessly glimmer in the orange glow.

Nights at Rosewood Guangzhou are best begun at The Butterfly Room, where a sleek mix of Chinese accents and contemporary geometric art installations make for a sophisticated spot for pre-dinner drinks. Then, head up to Black Iron on the 107th floor for a Japanese-inspired dinner. The space is dark, with Victorian murals and amber-coloured furnishings, and the dishes delightful. I start with abalone, slow-cooked in dashi with daikon, followed by a hearty selection of maki rolls and nigiri, teppan-cooked scallops and lobster, and a savoury-sweet wagyu sukiyaki, cooked at the table in front by my server. And, the finishing touch – a refreshing Japanese fruit platter of musk melon, strawberries, mango and shine muscat grapes. To wash it down, ask the mixologist for a bespoke creation or a recommendation from the sake menu. For something a bit stiffer, the adjacent Too High sky bar – the highest in all of China – stirs up a killer Sazerac.

If Japanese doesn’t appeal, the hotel is home to seven distinct dining concepts. Brick Lane and Patina European Brasserie & Terrace has you covered for more casual fare. The former serves approachable pub food like fish and chips, and hibachi-grilled skewered meats and vegetables while the latter draws influence from Continental Europe, with a focus on fresh, sustainably- sourced seafood. Director of culinary, Richard Hilton, takes charge of the delectable range of artful cakes at the jewellery atelier-inspired dessert boutique Butterfly Patisserie. Down on the fifth floor, the Michelin-starred Lingnan House featuring Canton regional classics and Shunde cuisine is a destination, even for those not staying at the hotel. Its celebrated executive sous chef, Bill Feng, has built a robust and exclusive network of nearby farmers to supply ingredients produced by sustainable methods. Vegetables, for example, make their way from Williams Farm in Huizhou, and pork comes from the Zhuhao Farm in Maoming.

Part of the Rosewood’s appeal is its unrivalled location. Here, a nine-minute drive one way, is the soaring 604-metre Canton Tower; there, 15 minutes in the other, are the colonial buildings of Shamian Island; right across the street is the Guangdong Museum. But for all the bright lights of the city, the Rosewood offers plenty of reasons for a quiet night in.

I stay for the spa, here called Asaya Active, where two whole floors are dedicated to wellness and well- being. Bathed in natural light, the pool is definitely cool, but the spa’s steam and salt rooms, daybeds and temperature therapy pools are truly sublime. Its treatment menu is categorised into five pillars: Fitness and Nutrition, Physical Therapies, Skin Health, Emotional Balance and Assessments. Under Physical Therapies, which taps into the power of touch, the Tai Ji massage is one that will deliver you back into the chaos of the city the next day a more serene and frankly happier human being.

Also see: Capella Hotel opens in Taipei this winter

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