If you're spending the night, and don't mind splurging, a number of luxury resorts have opened in Hangzhou in the last few years. The loveliest is Amanfayun (Anmanfayun), Fayun Nong 22, Xihujiedao, in the redeveloped Tang dynasty village Fayun Cun in the hills just west of Lingyin Temple (tel. 0571/8732-9999; fax 0571/8732-9900; www.amanresorts.com). Aspiring to the simplicity of village life (Fayun Cun's villagers used to tend the neighboring tea fields), the hotel has 42 rooms, suites, and villas scattered among the original, but now refurbished (and unmarked) village houses. There's under-floor heating, free Wi-Fi, daybeds, but no bathtubs (except in the Aman spa), and TVs are available only on request. Lighting is on the dim side, but service is discreet and first-rate, making for a private pampering retreat. Rooms start from ¥3,944. To the west, nestled within the XiXi National Wetland Park is the Banyan Tree Hangzhou (Hangzhou Xixi Yuerongzhuang), Zijingang Lu 21 (tel. 0571/8586-0000; fax 0571/8586-2222; www.banyantree.com). Highlights here include the resort's tranquil, traditional Chinese-garden setting with arched bridges and flowing streams, its 72 rooms and villas (all newly built), fully furnished with all the expected luxury amenities (including bathtubs), and the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa. Rooms start from around ¥2,500 to ¥2,700.
Closer to West Lake, the most atmospheric hotel is still the five-star, 382-unit Shangri-La Hotel Hangzhou (Hangzhou Xianggelila Fandian), Beishan Lu 78, on the north shore of West Lake (tel. 800/942-5050 or 0571/8797-7951; fax 0571/8799-6637; www.shangri-la.com). Standard rooms, spacious and comfortable, cost ¥1,650 to ¥2,250, depending on whether they have garden or lake views. Expect around 35% discounts off the rack rate. Another top choice is the classy Hyatt Regency Hangzhou (Kaiyue Dajiudian), Hebin Lu 28, on the northeastern shore of West Lake (tel. 0571/8779-1234; fax 0571/8779-1818; www.hangzhou.regency.hyatt.com). Rooms are plush and modern, with standard doubles ranging from ¥1,600 to ¥2,050 (30%-50% discount). Request a nonsmoking room if so desired.
A little farther south on the eastern shore of the lake is the slightly faded, 200-unit Sofitel Westlake Hangzhou (Hangzhou Suofeite Xihu Dajiudian), Xihu Da Dao 333 (tel. 800/221-4542 or 0571/8707-5858; fax 0571/8707-8383; www.sofitel.com). Standard rooms start at ¥1,200, while lake-view rooms cost ¥1,736 before the average 40% discounts. The trade-off at the new 283-unit Wyndham Grand Plaza Royale West Lake Hotel (Hangzhou Xihu Wendemu Zhidun Haoting Dajiudian), at Fengqi Lu 555 (tel. 0571/8761-6888; www.wyndham.com), is that it's still a short walk northeast of the lake, but the facilities are still new, and the staff very helpful. Fully appointed rooms start from around ¥1,100. For a cheaper alternative, the 60-unit Jiexin Century Hotel (Jiexin Shiji Jiudian), also known as the Yiyuan Binguan, Nanshan Lu 220 (tel. 0571/8707-0100; fax 0571/8708-7010), on the eastern edges of the lake, is affiliated with the China Academy of Fine Arts and offers clean doubles from ¥680 (discounted to around ¥300 in low season).