Posted April 14, 2023

Suzhou, China: A Travel Guide for Newbies


There is something intangibly unique about visiting a country for the first time — hearing a new language, not being able to immediately understand street signs, and absorbing the cultural ticks that make a country’s people singular in their own right. The sounds, the smells, and the sights all require a level of perception that isn’t necessarily needed at home in the familiarity that is every day life.

And there’s nothing else quite like it.

Welcome to Suzhou, China. (Photo Credit: Akira V.)

Suzhou is a city of water canals and ancient gardens. (Photo Credit: Akira V.)

Which is why Kimpton is thrilled to announce that we are opening our very first hotel on mainland China: Kimpton Bamboo Grove Suzhou. Not only is this a new frontier for Kimpton, but Bamboo Grove will also be the 600th hotel within the IHG family — an accomplishment we are excited to share with Bamboo Grove.

Whether you regularly visit China or are looking to experience that visiting-a-new-country-for-the-very-first-time sensation — keep reading to learn more about Kimpton Bamboo Grove Suzhou and tips on how to enjoy your trip.

The History of Suzhou

There are three parts of China that comprise a “golden triangle” of ancient cities that run on water, forming the “Venice of the East” – and one of those cities just so happens to be Suzhou. Located west of Shanghai and sandwiched between the Yangtze River and Taihu Lake, Suzhou is a city known for its canals, bridges, and classical gardens.

A glimpse of the waterways that make up the city. (Photo Credit: Yilei Jerry Bao)

Traditional Chinese pagodas are spread throughout this ancient region. (Photo Credit: Sed Ko)

Tongli is one of the most well-known water towns in Suzhou, and is comprised of seven islets that are separated by 15 canals and joined by more than 40 bridges. The water town is over 1,000 years old, with its oldest bridge dating to the Song Dynasty in 960. Travel the canals via a hand-controlled boat, and you may just get a captain who will serenade you with a traditional Chinese folk song.

A stark contrast to the ancient history of the water towns is Harmony Times Square, a modern, massive shopping and entertainment district that is home to the Suzhou Sky Screen – the world’s largest video screen.

The Gardens of Suzhou

The city of Suzhou has roots dating to over 2,500 years ago, particularly in the old town area where Bamboo Grove is located, nestled away from the hustle and bustle.

Traditional design and whitewashed stone are characteristic of Suzhou architecture. (Photo Credit: Chastagner Thierry)

The area is most notably known for its spectacular gardens. (Photo Credit: Demi He)

Together, many of the gardens make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Photo Credit: Shirley Xu)

A short walk from the hotel, you can find the Pavilion of Surging Waves (formally known as the Clanglang Pavilion) and the Master-of-Nets Garden. The Pavilion of Surging Waves was built in 1044, during the Southern Song Dynasty, and is one of the most famous gardens in Suzhou. Grab a quick car and head to the famous Classical Gardens of Suzhou that are said to define the Chinese garden style and date to over 1,000 years ago. Within the Classical Gardens are the Humble Administrator’s Garden, along with Lion Cove — both of which are must-sees.

Together, the gardens of Suzhou are representative of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are definitely worth taking the time to explore.

Luxury Without the Fuss

After days of exploring the water towns and gardens of Suzhou — you will want to rest easy. Kimpton Bamboo Grove was designed with the surrounding gardens in mind, pulling from the region’s characteristic whitewashed stone, canals, pagodas, and (of course) the gardens themselves. The architecture pulls details from and reflects the city around it, combining the sensations of wonder and familiarity.

A room with a garden view at Bamboo Grove Suzhou.

After days of exploring gardens and water towns, rest easy at Kimpton.

The design of the hotel reflects the city of Suzhou itself.

Guests at Bamboo Grove can enjoy stunning views from floor-to-ceiling windows, feeling nature’s presence from their own private terrace. As per Kimpton tradition, a handful of rooms are also pet friendly — so if you are traveling with a furry friend, you will (both) always be welcome.

Kimpton also prides itself on uniquely brilliant dining experiences — and the restaurants at Bamboo Grove are no exception. The Grove is a Chinese restaurant that creatively fuses Suzhou and Huaiyang cuisine, featuring fresh and local ingredients from surrounding areas. KAPPO is a Japanese restaurant that features a seasonal omakase menu for lunch and dinner. If you’re just popping in for a drink, stop off at Bar 168, which offers a selection of cocktails, vintage whiskies, and themed afternoon teas.

We can’t wait to see you in Suzhou.

Where to stay: Kimpton Bamboo Grove Suzhou


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