Tried & Tested

Hotel check: White Swan Hotel

31 Mar 2016 by Clement Huang

BACKGROUND

The White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou first opened in 1983 and is a long-standing member of The Leading Hotels of the World. The hotel is famous for hosting numerous world leaders including Queen Elizabeth II, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and former US president Richard Nixon. In 2012, the hotel commenced a three-year, RMB800 million (US$123 million) top-to-toe renovation project, which included reducing the total number of guestrooms from 843 to 520 to increase average room size.

WHERE IS IT?

Located on the riverside bank of Shamian Island, the White Swan Hotel enjoys views over the Pearl River. Though the property isn’t located in the city centre, accessibility isn’t too bad: Guangzhou East railway station (and city centre) is a 35-minute drive away, while Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is under an hour away by car. 

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The new look offers a mix of Chinese and Japanese influences, delivered by head designer Naoko Horii. This includes rich wood panelling in the guestrooms, and paler tones in the lobby. However, despite the fresh look, several instantly recognisable elements of the “old” hotel have remained; the three-storey “Gu Xiang Shui” waterfall visible from the lobby is one example, as is the hotel’s original art collection.      

ROOM FACILITIES

My Club Deluxe room was a generous 60 sqm in size with pleasant city views. All rooms in this category are positioned between the 23rd and 26th floors and guests enjoy automatic access to the hotel’s Club Lounge facility.

The room was tastefully furnished with Horii’s minimalist design aesthetic. Furniture tended to feature clean lines and shapes, while the ample use of wood panelling and light colours brightened the room. The floor-to-ceiling windows also let in plenty of natural light. 

Each of the Club Deluxe rooms comes with business traveller-friendly amenities, including a large work desk, Nespresso coffee machine and multiple charging outlets. Other in-room features include a three-seater sofa, dining table, and a 50-inch LCD TV offering some 40-plus channels. My sole complaint was that the television interface was only available in Chinese – apparently an English version is planned for the future. Complimentary internet access is standard across all rooms.

The marble-clad en suite bathroom features a bathtub with a built-in TV, plus a separate rain shower. 

A major focus of the refurbishment was to embrace technology, and each room now comes with an iPad Mini that acts as a console for controlling basic functions such as turning on/off the lights and air conditioning, as well as providing access to hotel information and services. 

CLUB LOUNGE

Unlike most modern hotels, where the club lounge is typically located on the higher levels, the White Swan’s is located on the third floor. The interior of the facility has been designed to resemble a stylish library. Comfortable armchairs dominate the sitting area, with plenty of reading materials available. Unlike the oriental feel of the guestrooms, the Club Lounge looks modern and contemporary, with plenty of varnished wood and luxurious marble. A dining area is located at the far end of the lounge, where guests can enjoy all-day snacks and drinks. 

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

There are seven F&B outlets. Guests can choose from all-day dining at River Café; Mediterranean at Silk Road Grill; Cantonese at Jade River; provincial Chinese at Flavours of China; afternoon tea at the Lobby Lounge; drinks at Destination Bar; and cakes and pastries at White Swan Deli.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

The White Swan Hotel boasts over 2,500 sqm of meeting and conference facilities, including two ballrooms for up to 500 people. All meeting rooms are equipped with audiovisual facilities, wifi access and live broadcast capability.

LEISURE FACILITIES

The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by lush gardens that create an oasis-like atmosphere. There is also a fully equipped fitness centre and a yoga room. The wet area is decked out with showers, a Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. There is also the Spa Sanctuary, which offers a number of treatments by therapists well versed in anatomy, aromatherapy and massage techniques.

VERDICT

The three-year wait for the White Swan Hotel to reopen has been worth every second – an excellent business hotel. 


FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 520 guestrooms in five categories: Standard (30 sqm), Deluxe (60 sqm), Club Deluxe (60 sqm), Club Executive suite (90 sqm) and Club Premier suite (90 sqm). 
  • HIGHLIGHTS The excellent business-friendly amenities and the tasteful new décor 
  • PRICE Internet rates for a Club Deluxe room in mid-May start from RMB2,185 (US$335), including additional taxes and charges. 
  • CONTACT White Swan Hotel,No 1 Shamian South Street, Guangzhou, China; tel +86 20 8188 6968; whiteswanhotel.com

Clement Huang

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