Five star hotels are sprouting in the Southern Chinese city of Guangzhou like mushrooms after a spring rain.
About 10 five star hotels opened in the capital of Guangdong Province last year, and approximately the same number will open there this year.
The Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe opened in August 2011.
I wasn't able to take part in a press trip organized for Hong Kong based travel writers last fall because I was in Bali, but I did make it up there with a traveling companion just before Christmas.
Pictured above: Atlantic Island Salmon Trout at the Il Ponte Italian restaurant at the Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe.
Location, Location, Location
The Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe is the closest five star hotel to the Guangzhou East Railway Station, the Southern Chinese city's key transit link with Hong Kong.
Weather permitting, you can walk from the station to the hotel, avoiding those lengthy taxi queues at the train station.
The Hilton Guangzhou is located on a shady boulevard lined with shops, restaurants, and cafés. My traveling companion and I enjoyed sampling the regional Chinese cuisine on offer at nearby eateries.
We stumbled across one Northern Chinese café serving the yummist dumblings. What I really liked was the self service counter for mixing your own dipping sauce. We also tried an unpretentious little shop selling Uyghur style noodles and other dishes from Xinjiang Province in China's Far West.
There are 504 rooms and suites, meeting facilities, a well equipped gym, a spa, and a rooftop swimming pool that I was dying to do laps in. Too bad the weather was a bit blustery, so I had to give it a miss.
For the record, the pool WAS heated so I could have gone swimming if I really wanted to, and I DO prefer outdoor to indoor swimming pools. Maybe when the weather warms up, I'll schedule another trip.
Food and Beverage
The Hilton Guangzhou has a Chinese restaurant serving Cantonese cuisine, an Italian restaurant serving Italian cuisine, and a café serving pan-Asian cuisine with both buffets and ala carte selections.
There is a lobby lounge with live music and a stylish outdoor restaurant overlooking the street that serves drinks as well as tapas and local snacks, which seemed popular with locals after dark.
Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe looks pretty impressive from the street – I especially liked that very stylish sidewalk café, which seems very popular with trendy locals.
My room was well laid out, with an efficient work space, making it suitable for business travelers. But I wasn't wild about the décor. I found all that dark purple and gray a bit drab.
The highlight of my stay was dinner at the Il Ponte, the hotel's Italian restaurant, which had an open kitchen. I remember being offered a home made liquor – lemon, if I remember correctly, and it was very, very yummy.
And then there was that yummy Atlantic Island Salmon Trout served with asparagus and rich, creamy mashed potatoes.