Built in 1952, West Lake State Guesthouse is a state-owned hotel often used by government officials when they visit Hangzhou. For over 60 years, the guesthouse has welcomed leaders from Chairman Mao to the participants of the latest G20. Members of the public have always been able to stay there, but the guesthouse keeps a low profile and is not known to many people.
A Walk Through History
The guesthouse is tucked in a private enclosure on the southwest side of West Lake, a 2 km stretch of the lake that is limited only to hotel guests. In fact, most of us have probably wandered up to the gates of the guesthouse and been turned away by army guards. Few of us ever knew what lied beyond those gates, let alone heard about the West Lake State Guesthouse.
Chairman Mao was very fond of the place and it’s easy to see why. The Jiangnan style gardens are peaceful and the ability to enjoy the West Lake without the intrusion of hordes of tourists is quite special. Throughout the hotel grounds you can find monuments of Mao’s time there.
Guests who feel nostalgic about the G20 will be delighted to visit key scenes, such as the pavilion where the Chinese president and American president drank tea at night.
Ziweiting Chinese Restaurant
Speaking of the G20, the opulently decorated Ziweiting was the venue for the state banquets. Here you can taste dishes that were served to world leaders, such as Dong Po Rou at the China-Russia dinner or the Spicy Shrimps served at the China-US dinner.
The food and service were impeccable, as can be expected. I especially liked the Sweet and Sour Deep Fried Fish. The sauce was poured over the fish at the table, keeping the coating crispy. The fish was semi-fileted, letting you easily lift off meaty chunks. At present, Ziweiting is only open to hotel guests. There are 4 private rooms and the minimum cost per person is 1000RMB+15%.
West Lake State Guesthouse is comprised of 9 villas. Villa 1 and 7 have direct views of the West Lake and a stately old fashioned charm. Villa 9 houses a deluxe cinema and concert hall that can be used by guests of Villa 1 and 7.
I stayed in the newly built Villa 8 which has garden patios on the ground floor and balconies on the 2nd floor. Rooms have Chinese elegance and all the modern luxuries of a top rated 5-star hotel, such as L’Occitane bath products and floor heating to keep you toasty. Room rates start at 2500RMB.
Private Yacht Tour
To cap off the experience of the best that Hangzhou has to offer, West Lake State Guesthouse has a private yacht that can be hired for 3600RMB/hr. The boat tour takes you around to 3 Pools Mirroring the Moon, up over to Broken Bridge and across Bai Di before returning back. The boat interior is carpeted and warm, making the tour a pleasant experience no matter the outdoor weather.