Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich
What is it? Sofitel's 20th property in China opened last month, bringing French chic to gritty Guangzhou. Located in Tianhe, it has 493 rooms and suites and is a five-minute cab ride from Guangzhou East station, that which Hong Kong and Shenzhen trains pull into.
So is it very French? Mais oui. 'Everyone says bonjour' runs one of the taglines on a promo video that plays on a loop in the hotel lifts - and they do! From the front-of-house staff to the chamber maids and the young women who stand around in cheongsams looking fabulous, the staff all greet you with at least a 'Bonchou'. Furthermore, the brash artwork around the hotel can reasonably be described as 'French moderne', featuring as it does depictions of Parisian landmarks, and script on the guest-room carpets tells us 'il y a toujours une raisson de cr?er, de rire et de r?ver' ('there is always a reason to create, to laugh and to dream').
And do the rooms encourage a guest to dream? Not really, no. A bit of a let-down compared with the rest of the property, the rooms have most of the things you'd expect from a luxury hotel but are not quiet. Wheezes and knocks can be heard throughout the night and, even on the 23rd floor, the traffic passing along Guangzhou Avenue can be clearly heard.
Tell us about the good bits, then: the huge colour-changing lobby chandelier is extraordinary and the SoSpa and SoFit fitness centre have several unusual features. The his and her hammams have showers that not only rain, but provide thunder and lightning, too; after treatments, spa guests may relax in a wave gym (new age music and projected blue-green patterns); champagne is served at the nail bar; and music plays underwater in the indoor heated swimming pool. For the more energetic, there's a dance room and a Wii gaming area.
What about food and drink? International buffets can be found at the cumbersomely named 2 On 988 while, on the sixth floor, Le Chinois serves Cantonese food from a sparkling open kitchen and the Robata Grill and Bar offers a mix of Japanese and steakhouse cuisine. The most interesting bar, 8 Faubourg, is yet to open. When it does - in September or October - it will, we are promised, have Parisian apartment d?cor, a garden terrace and 'trendy events that will dazzle visitors'.