Suzhou is an unappreciated place for Shanghai families and it is right on our doorstep. We needed a getaway and a staycation on the Bund did not appeal. My son wanted a play area and a swimming pool, my wife wanted somewhere near nature to bring her father, I wanted what they wanted.
So we chose Yangcheng lake (陽澄湖). It is well known for the most sought after hairy crabs in China. It is a freshwater lake stretching three kilometers northeast of Suzhou. Family travel preferences are changing. We no longer seek central locations, the more remote the better. And the journey was faster than I expected, we elected for taxi (C-trip taxi 400RMB) for the previous reasoning. It took about an hour and a half to do 110 kilometres from Century Avenue, Pudong and from Hongqiao it can be done within the hour.
Suzhou offers two thousand years of history and will always be remembered through the Marco Polo’s depiction – in a similar vein, Yangcheng lake offers you the nature that Shanghai lacks. You are situated next to a majestic lake and can bike along a long track that runs along the water’s edge. I would recommend bringing your own child’s bicycle as there are no children’s options or helmets. But you can take a family bike that can seat three people although it was a little chilly to be sat and not pedaling.
The best thing about this hotel is that it is a new build and everything is designed to the InterContinental Hotel standards. You may be familiar with the Indigo Hotel Shanghai and this hotel has a lot of fine details that you may easily miss at first glance. The interior design style has included local elements such as crab, fish nets, the lake and lotus. The whole style of the hotel is a fusion of East meets West and that can be seen in the dome ceiling of the indoor swimming pool which was fantastic as it was always quiet and a peaceful place to spend the day. There are also three Jacuzzi pools concealed outside if you wish to get that bit closer to nature and my son was braver than me in this respect.
We visited, thankfully off season but in October this place, I would imagine would be popular, in order to sample the best crabs in China. And the cuisine here is great and we were certainly hungry with all of our outdoor exertions. It is a fusion style cuisine that prepares fresh in-season local ingredients with western cooking. They also cater especially for children and are extremely accommodating to families.
The room is large and sufficient for a family. There is a separate bath and shower and 108 of the rooms have a panoramic lake view with a large terrace area and there . I even got up to watch the sunrise and perhaps it is a sign of old age but enjoyed watching the hue of the sun reflect across the lake.
This is the first boutique resort hotel on the peninsular and as the weather gets more favourable the outdoor pool and ecological wetland will be fantastic for families. During the warmer seasons there are family barbecues on the lawn next to the outdoor pool which overlooks the lake. It is ideal for water fights and a lot of planned family activities including star gazing and bird watching.
All in all it is a stone’s throw from where we live, it gave us a pleasant change from our Shanghai surroundings. We did some family activities together like biking and swimming. There is also a play area next to the dining area so children under eight can have an outlet to let off some steam as they wait for their dinner. These little touches, make families very comfortable here and we will certainly come back for the summer barbecues and bird watching.