Autumn brings flowers and vibrant colors to West Lake
With the sweet-scented osmanthus in full bloom, Shanghai's neighboring city of Hangzhou is flourishing with autumn colors and splendid views.
Designated as the city flower of Hangzhou in 1983, the osmanthus spreads throughout the hills and valleys surrounding the West Lake every October.
This year's season came a bit late and the flowers will be blooming until the end of the month. Following the osmanthus is the autumn colors of the maple and ginkgo trees, bringing an orange and golden-yellow hue to the city.
The village is an ideal place to admire the osmanthus trees. There are over 7,000 such trees along the various hill paths.
In 1984, the Sweet Osmanthus Rain at Manjuelong Village was named one of the "10 must-see sights at the West Lake."
The courtyard of Shiwudong (literally meaning stone house cave) is an attraction of caves located at Manjuelong Village. It's planted with osmanthus and autumn trees, with the osmanthus leaves folding and their fragrance overflowing.
There are three types of osmanthus most commonly seen in Hangzhou. The gold and silver osmanthus flowers are easily identified by their colors, but the gold variety is much more fragrant. A local told me that most of the Manjuelong osmanthus trees are gold, with the air in the surrounding area sweet during the blossoming season.
Walk along the path next to 75 Xiamanjuelong, dozens of osmanthus trees bloom in the tea garden, with a historic wooden house. A popular online post compares the spot to the animated film "Spirited Away," making the sight one of the most popular attractions of the season.
Opposite 75 Xiamanjuelong is a wanghong (Internet celebrity) persimmon tree, attracting a number of tourists photographing its lovely orange color.
Around the culture park of Su Dongpo Memorial Hall, many osmanthus and maples along the West Lake are displaying their golden and red colors.
At 5pm, the sunset brings a beautiful golden moment. It's fun to explore Su's calligraphy work and poems carved on the walls and stone tablets.
Taste of osmanthus
Osmanthus is also used as a nourishing tonic, and locals have created various dishes using the flower as an ingredient.
Quite a few vendors are offering their osmanthus rice cake or pear tea around Manjuelong.
Various coffee shops are also a highlight, giving visitors the rare and sublime experience of a cup of sweet osmanthus latte, under a tree in full bloom.
Where to stay
Within the heart of downtown Hangzhou and a short walk from the West Lake, the Canopy by Hilton Hangzhou enjoys a central location. Close to Metro Line 1 and the Hubin Pedestrian Street, the hotel is nestled in the midst of the city's thoroughfare for business, retail and entertainment. It's a perfect jump-off point to Hangzhou's historic neighborhood, famous cultural pearls, historic architecture and streets, and gorgeous West Lake views.
It's one of the newest hotels in the central West Lake area, with guestrooms boasting wider beds (1.5 meters wide) in the double bedrooms, and decor integrating elements of city.
The carpets feature geometric patterns, representing the kaleidoscope-like culture of Hangzhou, while the furniture and artwork is inspired by the local neighbourhood and integrate seamlessly into the space.
A room with a swimming pool or hot spring is a relaxing option for a staycation. Just be sure to book in advance, as rooms tend to fill up, especially during peak season.
There's only one restaurant in the hotel, the Nettare Restaurant & Bar. But it offers much to explore, transforming itself through different times of day and night, providing a variety of styles and options until midnight.
In the morning, the restaurant breakfast offers local noodle pian'erchuan, as well as a diverse morning buffet. Hanging the "paper bag" on your door before 7am, will have a Canopy Breakfast Bag delivered directly to your room.
For lunch, the Nettare transforms into a fusion restaurant with a curated lunch menu, afternoon tea, and then dinner.
As the sun sets, the space transforms into a social bar with Canopy's signature Evening Tasting, featuring hand-crafted cocktails, micro-brews, or a comprehensive selection of wines.
With the Double 11 shopping festival on the way, the hotel is offering a special travel package.
A night at the Canopy by Hilton Hangzhou West Lake, and a night at Hilton Hangzhou Qiandiao Lake Resort cost 1,499 yuan, or 1,799 yuan (with breakfast included for two guests).
You can explore Canopy by Hilton Hangzhou West Lake's official WeChat for more details and purchases.
If you go:
Canopy by Hilton Hangzhou West Lake
Address: 2 Guohuo Rd, Hangzhou
Reservation: (0571) 8707-8111