The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION ASIA -

With playful an­i­mal stat­ues and stylish in­te­ri­ors, a top-notch Span­ish restau­rant and ver­dant lake­side lo­ca­tion in Bei­jing’s hu­tong district, this new ho­tel of­fers a fresh style of digs for vis­i­tors to the Chi­nese cap­i­tal.

The first in a planned col­lec­tion of de­sign­driven five-star ho­tels from the Or­ange Ho­tels Group, Vue Ho­tel Hou Hai Bei­jing has been pulled to­gether by Singapore-based Min­istry of De­sign. The company has taken a com­pound of 1950s build­ings on the shores of Hou Hai Lake and uni­fied the var­i­ous ar­chi­tec­tural or­na­men­ta­tions — dec­o­ra­tive roof eaves, gar­goyles, sculp­tured bal­conies — by paint­ing the lot slate grey, high­light­ing de­tails in bur­nished gold and link­ing the struc­tures with land­scaped gar­dens.

The 80 gue­strooms and suites, in var­i­ous sizes and con­fig­u­ra­tions, are sleek and un­clut­tered, with whim­si­cal em­bel­lish­ments in­clud­ing pink or yel­low chairs and or­nate pagoda-style bath­room mir­rors. All gue­strooms are fit­ted with king beds dressed in finest linens and goose-down doonas, Blue­tooth, clever light­ing and cof­fee ma­chine; most en­suites have a tub and some ac­com­mo­da­tion styles have bal­conies or ter­races with lake or park views.

This very cool fit-out has landed the ho­tel a gig as the first De­sign Ho­tels mem­ber in Bei­jing and a strong sell­ing point will be its lo­cale in a district where his­toric hu­tong houses re­main in use and the river’s banks are lined with bars and cafes.

DON’T MISS: A drink in the rooftop Moon Bar for lovely lake views; the venue also serves high tea and week­end brunch.

DIN­ING IN: Over­see­ing in-house din­ing is Barcelona na­tive and third-gen­er­a­tion baker Ig­nasi Prats, who honed his skills at the three­Miche­lin-star El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain. He has charge of a street­front cafe and bak­ery, and the sig­na­ture Pink Rab­bit Span­ish restau­rant oc­cu­py­ing an old ware­house at the lake­side edge of the com­pound. Here you’ll find an open kitchen, ex­posed metal and tim­ber trusses and lounge-style seat­ing.

DIN­ING OUT: In the neigh­bour­hood, check out Quan­jude or Duck de Chine for Bei­jing duck; Rui He Ju or Man Fu Lou for hot pot. There’s good Yun­nan cui­sine at Dali Court­yard and Viet­namese at Nuage.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Join lo­cals in the park for morn­ing qigong or tai chi, or a game of footie bad­minton (where a shut­tle­cock is kicked from player to player). Or take a jog around the lake be­fore cool­ing down in the park where a re­tired mu­si­cian comes ev­ery morn­ing to play his sax­o­phone for an hour or two.

CHECK­ING IN: Open­ing room rates from RMB1538 ($294); suites from RMB 2158, in­clud­ing ser­vice charge and VAT. More: vue­ho­

ALSO TRY: Jack­a­lope, Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula, Vic­to­ria; Ma­cal­is­ter Man­sion, Pe­nang, Malaysia; Ion City Ho­tel, Reyk­javik, Ice­land.

CHRIS­TINE McCABE Sage Ho­tel Ring­wood in Mel­bourne’s east is set to open in October with 120 gue­strooms span­ning five floors atop the East­land Shop­ping Cen­tre; 30 min­utes from the Yarra Val­ley, the ho­tel will show­case the re­gion’s wine and food • Six Senses Fort Bar­wara opens late next year, 110km south­east of Jaipur and 30 min­utes from Ran­thamb­hore Na­tional Park, in a re­stored 14th-cen­tury fort; there will be two restau­rants, two pools, a chil­dren’s club and a large day spa lo­cated in the orig­i­nal women’s palace • Early next year, the team be­hind Syd­ney’s Para­mount Cof­fee Project will open a 29-room ho­tel in the old Aus­tralian head­quar­ters of Para­mount Pic­tures in Syd­ney’s Surry Hills; the cafe will dou­ble as a lobby for the Para­mount House Ho­tel and there will also be an out­post of Ester restau­rant • Open­ing on Septem­ber 14, Trav­elodge Cen­tral, Hol­ly­wood Road in Hong Kong, of­fers 148 user-friendly rooms in a lively lo­cale, an eight-minute walk from the She­ung Wan MTR sta­tion; sav­ings of up to 25 per cent are avail­able as open­ing spe­cials • Per­anakan de­sign will be a fea­ture of the 270-room Ra­mada Plaza Chao­fah Phuket open­ing next year in south­ern Thai­land as part of a larger “ur­ban en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre”, in­clud­ing re­tail out­lets and cine­mas.

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