There are certain places—show-stopping hotels, award-winning restaurants, local dive bars, or incomparable vintage shops—that are worth planning your whole trip around. The W Suzhou in Suzhou, China, is one of those places.
To anyone who has stayed at a W hotel, this is no surprise: The W Suzhou is sexy. “Sexy” has never before been my very first adjective for a hotel, but the W’s sexiness is, well, overt. The spaces are futuristic, aerodynamic, and minimalist, the décor is futuristic and maximalist, and in Suzhou, the motto is “Detox, Retox.” (Guests can do both, ad infinitum, without ever having to leave the premises.)
Why it’s worth the trip:
An enormous hovering ring at the entrance’s roundabout sets the tone. The ground-floor bar, lounges, and even concierge desk are dark and glossed, demarcated by threads of colored neon and reflected chandelier light. Most nights the lobby—a.k.a. The Living Room—comes to life with performances by local musicians and DJs and, during my visit, a Ukrainian mixologist named Vlad. He served elaborate and terrifying cocktails of his own invention, including a foamy concoction of egg, cinnamon, Kahlúa, and other, unidentifiable stuff in a stainless steel martini glass. A fruity spritz arrived next, nestled in a miniature pink pool floaty shaped like a unicorn.
In the light of day, the W soothes. It all becomes very easy on the eyes and, in fact, the nose—each nonresidential floor has a custom scent. The spaces undulate pleasantly, framing splendid views of Suzhou’s lakes and skyline (including what became my favorite landmark by a landslide: the “pants building,” a once-abandoned hotel project repurposed into high-end apartments that looks like a pair of freestanding trousers). An impressive pool on the 36th floor is named, appropriately, WET, and a super-modern spa offers everything from facials to deep-tissue massage.
You’ll like it here if:
You want all the modern conveniences. You’re a lover of design and architecture. You are, in general, game.
The young and hip. A fairly balanced mix of locals and out-of-towners.
How to prepare:
Pack an outfit to be seen in.
Download WeChat and DiDi before you arrive in Suzhou. These two apps—one for communication, one for transportation—will prove essential as you navigate the city. If nearby Shanghai is a must-see, there’s a bullet train for that. From Suzhou Industrial Park, where the W is located, the trip takes about an hour.
While you’re in the area:
Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) is the newest and most expensive of Suzhou’s districts. By day, it is a sprawling hub for the city’s tech and finance workers, who represent the world’s top companies. By night, it’s a cornucopia of shopping, eating, and entertainment opportunity. It borders expansive Jinji Lake, which provides the perfect contrast—a serene antidote for SIP’s multisensory melee. (“Detox, Retox” strikes again.)