First things first; to get to the Amanfayun you need to spend 30min+ from the Hangzhou train station, as the hotel isn’t in the centre. In line with the group’s policy, you will be transported to a place that is both secluded, and quiet. Around you, you will mainly see forests, tea fields, and a group of temples. The latter includes the Ling Yin Temple, for which the hotel provides tickets for. To get to it however, you will need to get access to the area, in which the temple lies.
Thus, with the scene set, one can talk more about the facts that make this hotel special. First of all, the story of living in a Chinese village seems to be at the centre of the concept here. Every room is a little house that has been lovingly decorated. Whilst most of the material is local and natural, certain modern luxuries have been wisely incorporated into the design. For example, you will not have to freeze in winter, as you have floor heating in your room. Finding such simple and warm design is quite a contrast to the vast majority of Chinese luxury hotels, which are usually big on gold, marble and similar materials.
The Amanfayun village’s life evolves around the so-called “village eateries”, a library, and the spa. The former offer the choice between Western food, steamed dishes and a number of local restaurants. Thus, the steam house for instance solely serves steamed dishes, which are simple and to the point. In line with the philosophy, don’t expect anything too luxurious, but rather tasty, gutsy plates of heart-warming food. The library offers a selection of books, dvds and is a beautiful place that is perfect for relaxing a couple of hours, smoking a cigar or just having some tea.
Whilst it is clear that Amanfayun is an Aman property, given the thoughtful design, holistic approach, Amanfayun is a hotel that is not quite at the level of certain other hotels of the group. The spa for instance is not as complete as that in Jackson Hole, Beijing or other Aman hotels, and the pool is rather cool as far as these things go. Service-wise, whilst the individual members of staff are helpful and friendly, the team seems to lack a clear vision or goal that channels its efforts.
Amanfayun has a lot to offer however: Beautiful rooms, a unique location and a concept that is clearly laid-out. In the beautiful spot that Hangzhou is, you might experience an idealised Chinese village life, which will not really be feasible in many other places.