Clus­ter ef­fect

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One bi­jou re­sort at a time, in­trepid hote­liers are mak­ing steady in-roads into China’s vast in­te­rior. The lat­est to catch our eye is this 21-room prop­erty tucked into the crook of a val­ley in the coun­try’s east­ern Zhe­jiang prov­ince, an ex­tra­or­di­nary set­ting that has long been cel­e­brated by na­ture lovers and artists. Shang­hai-based stu­dio Ares Part­ners, headed up by ar­chi­tect He­len Wang, has con­verted a dis­parate clus­ter of six 1950s gra­nary build­ings into a calm mod­ern com­pound of white vol­umes lined with deeply set eaves and low stone walls, and capped with clas­sic Chi­nese clay roofs. Ares Part­ners kept the orig­i­nal ex­te­rior tim­ber and stone fin­ishes in­tact, but re­moved false ceil­ings in­side to re­veal soar­ing tim­ber rafters. Mean­while, ex­ist­ing win­dows in the min­i­mal­ist be­d­rooms were widened to of­fer im­pres­sive views of the rugged moun­tain­scape, and a heated out­door pool makes a good case for day-long in­do­lence. Ven­ture out to visit the 700-year-old Xu­ji­ashan stone vil­lage and the Wushan grot­toes that date back to the Song dy­nasty, but make sure you get back in time for res­i­dent chef Cao Zheng­cao’s chicken stewed with wild mush­rooms, and steamed ra­zor clams. Daven Wu Huchen Town­ship, Ning­hai County, China, tel: 86.574 2559 5588. Rates: from RMB880 ($130)

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