With a new high-speed train scheduled for an October debut, you will be able to travel in great comfort from Shanghai to Hangzhou in a snap 38 minutes. As Shanghai now makes even Hong Kong seem Third World, a visit willowy West Lake, the star attraction of Hangzhou, is a great way to recover from a supercharged Chinese itinerary. The place to stay is the Four Seasons hotel Hangzhou at West Lake. Its design and architecture fit into the landscape of terraced tea plantations and mists rising from the lake as if it was always there. Unlike the starkly modern hotels of Beijing and beyond, this little gem is entirely traditional with pagoda roof pavilions linked by flower-rimmed paths through landscaped water gardens.
The hotel is impressive in that it has a subdued, understated quality although the spa is a standout with treatments you won't find elsewhere. Not-to-be-missed is the three-hour dragon-well tea and jade spring ritual ---a soothing soak, an invigorating body exfoliation, followed by massage. Check out the full menu of spa services here.