Why we love it: Shrouded in ancient camphor trees and built from Ming- and Qing-dynasty village houses, the minimalist Amanyangyun defies stereotypes of Shanghai
- The ultimate in upcycling!
- A tranquil sanctuary on the frantic city’s outskirts
- Workshops on painting, tea-making and incense-appreciation
The review: In the early aughts, construction of a Jiangxi Province dam threatened camphor trees that had thrived for over 1,000 years. A young businessman, Ma Dadong, offered to relocate 10,000 of these elegant elders, along with 50 Ming and Qing Dynasty village buildings that all would have vanished underwater. He transported them 435 miles to the outskirts of Shanghai and replanted the trees on a 25-acre parcel in the historic Bund district. He then slowly converted the time-capsule homes into one of the world’s most unique hotels.
Fifty minutes from the city center, The Amanyangyun’s beautifully landscaped grounds now include ponds, a tiny lake, pathways and wood-fringed borders. Australian architect Kerry Hill added clean, contemporary spaces alongside the 24 suites, a mix of centuries-old villas and residences. Each has a tranquil courtyard and expansive living area, which often mix dark columns with blonde minimalist armchairs and neutral-toned sofas with midcentury modern lines.
Five restaurants run the gamut from traditional Jiangxi to farm-to-table Italian and a cigar lounge, not to mention Yin Lio, a Cantonese hot pot eatery amid a bamboo grove on the lake. The Amanyangyun also has a sprawling spa, Yang Yun, named for a 300-year-old inscription within Beijing’s Forbidden City meaning “nourishing cloud.” It includes two swimming pools, a Russian banya and also a Moroccan hammam. Another standout is the resort’s cultural center, Nanshufang, a recreation of scholars’ studios of the 17th-century Chinese literati. Catch a calligraphy class or watch a Kunqu Opera performance in this gracious structure!