China offers modern and quaint accommodation
By ANNA FENTON
GUANGZHOU is probably not top of most peoples' list of romantic destinations, but for a weekend break, the busy city's hotels have a surprising amount to offer.
Not least is the appeal of privacy - the odds against bumping into familiar faces from Hongkong are far lower say than in Macau.
The spectacular 702-room Gitic Plaza Hotel, the tallest hotel in Asia, dominates the skyline.
Newly completed and strikingly attractive, this hotel is totally China-backed but run by expatriates, with an impressive level of sophistication, especially in its 14 restaurants. It even boasts a French pasty chef.
The Gitis has spent US$500,000 on sound equipment for the latest in hi-tech disco and karaoke equipment, and employs a British disc jockey from Liverpool, Neal Chase, who makes regular forays to Hongkong to buy the latest music.
General manager Mr Peter Sun puts great emphasis on quality throughout the hotel and is confident the Gitic can compete with the best Hongkong can offer.
Their St Valentine's Day deal includes transport to and from the train station, a night in a plaza suite for two, red roses in the room, admission to the disco and a complimentary drink plus champagne breakfast in bed for $99.
For something entirely different, try the China Hotel. There you will discover a charming old-world hotel.
Nothing could be more romantic than a 15-piece orchestra playing Vienna waltzes and Scott Joplin classics in the foyer, and the acoustics work to enable diners to hear the music on the upper floors.
Next door is the Dong Fang Hotel. It is so large that, at first glance, it is hard to imagine it is intimate or cosy.
It recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and the echoes of art deco live on, juxtaposed with features that are purely Chinese.
Everywhere attention has been paid to detail, exquisite old Chinese carvings line walls and panes of glass are etched with fish and lotus flowers.
The hotel is built round a square of garden, full of sculpted box bushes in bird and horse shapes, with formal oriental gardens.
An obvious choice for weddings, this provides a magical backdrop for photos, with numerous Chinese-style archways used as attractive features.
Looking out on to the garden on all sides are several restaurants, the most romantic being the Orchid, serving Western-style food.
For a quiet drink, head for the Jade Bar, which at first glance looks like a neon monstrosity that should only be seen under cover of darkness.
But carry on and discover an extraordinary array of features including a grand piano, with pianist, an overhead circular skylight.
It may sound an eccentric mixture, but the overall effect, complete with coloured shards of light coming through bits of glass in unexpected places, is very restful, and at night romantic.
Off this strange oasis are acres of Chinese restaurants, decked out in heavy old-fashioned dark wooden furniture.
The corridors are flanked with carved wooden curtains which cast eerie patterns of light on the shadows.
Rooms vary from the palatial and modern to the old fashioned, complete with four-poster beds, depending on which wing, the old or the modern.
Be sure to stipulate which is preferred when booking.
For Valentine's Day a 30 per cent discounts are on offer.