Guilin is a relatively small city with a population of about a million and like any other city; it seems crowded and filled with traffic. The beauty of Guilin lies in its countryside, to which Shangri-La proved to be an excellent entry and exit point. Located in the countryside and a bit away (but not disastrously away) from the centre of the town, we found a cocooned luxury in Shangri-La hotel.
Although Guilin is of limited tourist interest, it is a perfect base to start and end your tour. The Li River is where all the tourists go to take a four-hour cruise downriver to view the beautiful landscape of Karst Limestone Mountains. The Shangri-La hotel, located not far from Guilin was a perfect choice to explore the city and the countryside.
Our room had excellent sweeping views of the Li River. The difference between the standard and river views wasn’t much but it more than made up for any negatives that one could find in a hotel. I couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning and just look out of my big window to view the grand sweeping view of the Karst Mountains and the Li River flowing silently through it. It’s magical.
The room was large with ample room for a rollaway. The bathroom comprised of a separate tub and shower with plenty of counter space to spread out all my partners various lotions and potions. The king bed was extremely comfortable, but I'm not sure any of this mattered as much as that spectacular view.
The club lounge was where the staff went out of their way to assist and make sure that we were comfortable. There were nice food presentations several times a day and a comprehensive breakfast buffet. I think club lounges are great when travelling with kids. There is ease of access to cold drinks and snacks and it is usually worth the extra money.
We like the U bar that had a wide variety of beers and grill. As we were craving for western food, we ordered a plate of nachos, reuben and a cheeseburger which was real good. But the hotel’s signature restaurant is Shang Palace. Try the Peeking duck here.
Don’t miss the outdoor swimming pool, overlooking the karst scenery. The pool is set in lush tropical gardens, an oasis from the hustle and bustle just beyond. The extra touches include complimentary bottles of water, sunscreen and chilled face towels. In the room, the bookmark left each night at turn down was another nice touch, each with a different passage from Hilton's Lost Horizon.
One More Thing: For those who don’t get the river views don’t fret; the view from the lounge is equally spectacular.
Guilin is a major hub for transport links with an International airport and two train stations. It is linked with major destinations in China by air. The international airport has direct flights to Hong Kong, Macao and Japan. It is located 30 Kilometres (20 miles) west of the city. Taxis and private cars with drivers are available from the airport for Guilin and Yangshuo. A shuttle bus leaves for the airport every 30 minutes from the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) building on Shanghai Road.