Park Hyatt has opened its fifth property in China in the heart of Guangzhou. With five-star amenities, three restaurants, and well-appointed guest rooms, the Park Hyatt is a compelling choice in a city full of new luxury hotels.
Open for just five months, the hotel is located in the center of Guangzhou’s “new city” a side of town that has gone from farms to skyscrapers in only the last decade. Nearby is the iconic Canton Tower, the symbol of Guangzhou, and points of culture like the central library and opera house.
I arrived into Guangzhou around midday on a Friday and traffic from the airport to the hotel was horrendous – give yourself an hour, though my return trip on Sunday took only 30 minutes. Like the Park Hyatts in Beijing and Shanghai, the hotel is not in its own building but on the upper floors of an office building.
The ground floor in the rear of the building serves as the Park Hyatt entrance and a cadre of hotel staff are downstairs waiting to help with bags and escort arriving guests up to 65th Floor lobby. The lobby is spacious with huge windows and a stunning view of the city, including a prime view of the Canton Tower.
A staff member cheerfully checked me in and signaled for a colleague to escort me to my room, four levels down on the 61st floor. My room, 6127, was located adjacent to the elevators.
I had been upgraded to a “view” room, which offered a view of the Canton Tower. The room was nicely decorated with warm colors and very spacious. Sliding doors above the bath tub and well-placed mirrors made the room appear even larger.
Walking into the room, a separate water closet was on the left (with a tricked-out Toto toilet), the bathroom straight ahead, and the sleeping and work area to the right.
Dark woodwork behind the bed contrasted with a bright painting on the adjacent wall. A plush couch sat below the painting and the TV featured a selection of complimentary music and on-demand movies.
Floor to ceiling windows were controlled by bedside switch.
A wooden armoire contained a minibar and Nespresso coffee machine.
A circular table provided plenty of workspace, though there were no convenient plugs when sitting at the table (the picture is misleading — a long cord was required to reach the wall). The room did contain several plugs, though, each of them configured for all socket types.
Inside the walk-in closet was a safe, laundry and shoe amenities, and plenty of room to hang clothes and store luggage.
The bathroom featured a rain head shower, dual sinks, and a large soaking tub. You always expect nice towels at a five-star hotel, but these ones were particularly plush.
Speaking of plush, the slippers at this hotel were the best complimentary slippers I have ever received at a hotel. First of all, they were large enough for my feet – which is not always easy to find in Chinese hotels. Second, they were incredibly plush, about three times as thick as usual hotel slippers. I am wearing them now as I type this report in Los Angeles.
Having traveled to Guangzhou from LA with three stops enroute, I was quite tried and headed upstairs for a cappuccino in the Living Room, one of four hotel eateries. My hope was to avoid the dreaded late afternoon nap that would keep me jet-lagged for several days. The cappuccino was great, but sadly I still succumbed to fatigue and my 45-minute nap turned into four hours of sleep, with me hitting snooze on the cell phone alarm every nine minutes for the final 3hrs and 15min. Yes, the beds are very comfortable.
Now 9pm, I headed back upstairs to the Dining Room for dinner. I had not eaten all day and was craving Italian. The Dining Room serves breakfast in the morning and offers Italian food for lunch and dinner. Having just had incredible scallops the week before in Abu Dhabi, I have a new favorite appetizer and ordered grilled scallops, which were also very nicely prepared.
I had to decide between lasagna or rack of lamb for my main course, but chose lasagna because it was half the price and more fitting of the Italian food I was craving. It did not disappoint.
The homemade focaccia bread was also amazing.
For dessert, I could not resist the Tiramisu and it was also delicious.
People don’t usually come to China to eat Italian food, but I love comfort food anywhere in the world and it was great to have an Italian dinner…a delicious one. The chef is Italian (one of just a small handful of international employees at the hotel) and the food is authentic.
I was back in the Dining Room for breakfast the following morning and have to give a shout-out to Executive Chef Marco, who roamed the restaurant like a purser on a flight, ensuring that guests were comfortable and his chefs were efficiently preparing food. We struck up a conversation that I will return to in a bit.
The breakfast spread is really nice. A buffet offers primarily cold items with hot western and Chinese items available on the menu and all included in the breakfast price. Ingredients are fresh and quality noticeably high. Marco told me the French Bread is a special recipe that a colleague of his learned from his grandmother, even importing special dough from France.
On the first morning I had Eggs Benedict followed by waffles. On the second morning I had an omelet followed by French Toast. All were good, but if you’re just there for one day I recommend the Eggs Benedict with French Toast.
Don’t miss the apple juice either (above).
On weekends, a Chinese buffet is offered in the Living Room. Afternoon tea is served there as well and as I enjoyed my cappuccino the first afternoon, the delicious aroma of freshly-baked scones wafted through the restaurant.
Upstairs on the 68th Floor is a Chinese restaurant called Yue Jing Xuan which specializes in Southern Chinese cuisine. Truth is, I would just as soon eat Mexican, Italian, or Middle Eastern food seven days a week, but did force myself to try to the restaurant on my second night: I was in Guangzhou after all and Marco highly recommended it.
Having forgone lamb for lasagna the previous night, I ordered lamb here along with a beef noodle soup. It was too much food – I could have done fine with just the lamb.
The lamb is the chef’s specialty and costs about $60. It is carved tableside and served sizzling. It has a very strong taste and there is a lot of gristle, but it was very tasty. The soup was also very tasty, with homemade noodles and a nice blend of spices.
Seems expensive, doesn’t it, especially for China? Talking to Marco helped to explain why – the Park Hyatt Guangzhou takes farm-to-table to whole new level. Meats, vegetables, and fruits are all very carefully selected. The sources are always known, organic, and not cheap. You can certainly find substantially cheaper Chinese food around town, but I doubt you will find the quality of ingredients found at the Park Hyatt. Much of the produce comes from a special farm hundreds of miles away and menus changes seasonally to reflect ingredients available.
One other note — the restaurant offers evening dim sum, which seems to be a rarity in China, but quite a popular menu item here.
With all that food, a workout was certainly required and the hotel has a nice gym with the latest generation of Life Fitness equipment.
The indoor pool is large and has a great view of the city. When I was in there another guest was sitting next to the pool smoking a cigarette and a staff member came running up to him and demanded that he extinguish the cigarette (she provided him a water bottle to place the cigarette butt in) and refrain from further indoor smoking. Perhaps the hotel needs to invest in some “No Smoking” signs for the pool area! Per Chinese law, all common areas and restaurants (except for private rooms) in the hotel are non-smoking.
Spa treatments are available and the locker room contained a whirlpool Jacuzzi and steam room.
The hotel attracts a lot of locals and perhaps nowhere more than then The Roof Bar – what was billed as the highest outdoor bar in China. Throughout my stay I noticed that locals (paying for food and drink with credit cards) were in all restaurants.
One other bright spot – the internet. When I was at the Park Hyatt Shanghai and Beijing, I had to use my VPN to get around the nascent censoring of the Chinese Government for simple things like google searches and some news websites. I am not sure how Hyatt does it, but the internet (free for all guests) ISP is based in Hong Kong and thus you do not run into any of the firewalls you would expect in Mainland China. It was nice not to have to turn the VPN on, which often leads to a compromise in speed. Internet speeds were fast:
Expectations were high for my stay at this hotel and were met. Most importantly the standard room was large and very comfortable – I figured there was no sense in using one of my Diamond Suite upgrades when traveling alone. Staff were friendly, food was great, and I felt pampered. Upon leaving I had some trouble with Uber and the downstairs staff were eager to help guide the driver to the hotel. By the way, don’t bother with Uber in Guangzhou – I recommend you just stick to cabs. More trouble than they were worth, during my three-day trip.
The hotel runs about $250/night and if you want to use points is a Category 4 hotel (20K points per night or 10K points + $122 if using cash and points).
What to do in Guangzhou? Check out this review of Cycle Canton.