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The two magnificent cities of Beijing and Shanghai are at the cutting edge of a trend sweeping China. The 'boutique' style, so favoured in Southeast Asia, has finally arrived, transforming the choice of accommodation available.

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 Boutique hotels in Beijing

There are many courtyard hotels in Beijing, but the Cote Cour is in a different category. It’s the supreme example of conservation going hand-in-hand with luxury. The rooms are stylish but not flashy, with muted colours and lighting, but the location is unbeatable. It can be slightly tricky getting the car up to the door to drop your bags off, but it’s worth the effort – the surrounding streets are full of life and give you a real taste of old Beijing.

Chris, China specialist

Boutique hotels in Shanghai

88 Xintiandi breaks the mould of China’s huge tower-block hotels beautifully. Surrounded by some fantastic continental restaurants, bars and cafés, this is one of the most relaxing places to stay in a city too busy to stop. Rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated with subtle touches of Chinese design, and the reception has some lovely Art Deco touches. The other thing they get so right is breakfast. I smiled broadly when I saw the quality of the food they served to start my day.

Chris, China specialist

Boutique hotels in Hangzhou

Hangzhou is one of China's oldest cities, and a former capital. Its famous West Lake still retains its charm. Places to stay in this area, tucked away from the bustle of the city, make for a relaxing end to a trip.

Chris, China specialist

Shanghai in Southern China

Before the Banyan Tree, Lijiang was definitely lacking in the luxury department. The hotel is a bit out of town, with views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the rice terraces. The scenery really is spectacular to wake up to and the beds are huge, comfortable and warm.

Chris, China specialist

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