Back to Listing

Amandayan, China: Ampersand's Inside View

Amandayan, China: Ampersand's Inside View

We were extremely fortunate to be one of Amandayan’s first guests. In typically effortless Aman style, there were none of the teething issues that are usually par for the course for a new opening – in fact, Amandayan Lijiang turned out to be our favourite of the Aman Resorts in China, if not our favourite hotel in China! Read on to find out why…

Just two weeks after the Amandayan's doors opened, we were lucky enough to find ourselves walking through them into the cavernous entrance hall of radiant wooden pillars, panelling and traditional southwest Chinese lattice-work. The coincidence of the opening and our research trip to the pretty town of Lijiang in South West China was both serendipitous and envy-provoking among my colleagues.

Amandayan sits alongside a number of boutique and luxury hotels in Lijiang, China. Architect and Aman design veteran, Ed Tuttle, sought inspiration from the traditional architectural styles of the local Naxi people (descended from Tibetan nomads who left the plateau and settled northwest Yunnan province over 1,000 years ago). The consistently graceful and clean design is typical of Aman: contemporary and luxurious yet unarguably a deeply considered product of its environment.

The setting at the heart of Lijiang Old Town is a real plus. This fabled town is crisscrossed with quaint stone-paved alleys. Small canals and streams adorn these thoroughfares which are all presided over by heavily blossoming willow trees and typically-Chinese, sloping tiled roofs. In the centre of the Old Town lies Lion Hill and proudly stood atop the hill is Amandayan. And yet, there is no sense of being exposed to the town below. The resort is literally a stone's throw from the town and the buzz of Lijiang’s restaurants, but enjoys a peaceful sense of complete removal. The smattering of surrounding trees manages to create a sense of privacy and sanctuary without limiting light or panoramas.

The exclusive views offered over the rooftops of the town are simply peerless, particularly in the early morning when the sun slips over the mountain tops and slanting rays dart through the fresh alpine air. On one side of the property is a small pagoda where guests can enjoy a private, candlelit dinner with far reaching views to distant mountain peaks and a golden Buddhist stupa.

The Courtyard Suites and the Deluxe Suites are identical in design with the exception that the ground floor Courtyard Suites have an elegant stone floor while the first floor Deluxe Suites have wood flooring to match the rest of the interior and a gabled ceiling. The Deluxe Suites also offer better views from their higher vantage point and are, in my humble opinion, worth the extra cost.

The beauty of the Amandayan suites is in their simplicity. There is a sense feeling of space and a complete absence of clutter yet inclusion of everything one could want to feel, relaxed, at home and spoiled. The spacious, walk-in wardrobe and the bright but soft lighting around the bathroom mirrors are great features of convenience in the bathroom. Meanwhile the lovingly manicured banzai tree on a pedestal is one of the subtle decorative flourishes that add character.

A morning swim in the pool felt like a glorious throwback to another era. The heated, 20m outdoor pool is surrounded by more wood-panelling with lattice-screened doors which house the spa. The simplicity and absence of the intrusion of visible modernity made us feel we were swimming laps in a Ming-dynasty teahouse-cum-massage parlour. There was just us, the water, and a stealthily placed tea set, steaming and within reach of the shallow end.

Amandayan is a fantastic option for a spa hotel, and the relaxing spa treatment rooms are equally as uncluttered and modernity-unencumbered as the suites. Round wooden bathtubs, like the bottom halves of great, oaken wine casks, stood waiting for inhabitants to unravel under the expert ministrations of a therapeutic body scrub before moving to the bed for a signature Aman treatment (likely incorporating selected wisdom from traditional Chinese medicine).

Amandayan has one of the best restaurants in Lijiang, and we enjoyed a meal of countless courses and dishes in the Chinese restaurant, Man Yi Xuan (meaning 'Lingering Peace') which was a true marathon. From exquisite Cantonese-style prawn dumplings and rich ginseng chicken soup to crispy duck skin and spicy Sichuan fare. This feast left us happily staggering but still unable to turn down a desert of homemade almond ice cream washed down with a couple of whiskeys from an enviable selection. Breakfast (taken in The Lounge) was an utterly comprehensive feast that decided to not discriminate between the various western approaches to morning dining and simply serve them all. 

There is also an in-house museum opposite the traditional Tea House, developed in collaboration with National Geographic. The museum houses information, photographs and original artefacts relating to the famed Austrian-American Botanist Joseph Rock who made Lijiang his home for several years before the 1949 Communist revolution. Being open only to guests, it is the best and most peaceful way to learn more about the life of this intrepid explorer-botanist.

China is a rapidly opening luxury destination, in fact, it is wide open and fast expanding. Remote Yunnan province is a pocket of history, beauty and tradition that should not be overlooked. We have found that Amandayan is more than just a juicy incentive to visit the delightful town of Lijiang, and being just 40 minutes’ drive from Lijiang airport, it’s easy to get to, too. The wonders of Lijiang could now be seen as a good excuse to treat oneself to an unforgettable stay at Amandayan.

For more information on Amandayan or to start planning your tailor-made China holiday get in touch with us:   /  +44 (0) 207 819 9770

Client Testimonials

Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had. Everything – from the individual care and attention in planning the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round!
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India

Let us keep you up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on unmissable exclusive luxury experiences