Are you trying to decide where to stay in Hangzhou? If you’ve never visited the city, choosing between the north, east, or west side of the lake isn’t easy.
Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang Province, about 180 kilometres from Shanghai. While it’s an important economic hub in the region, it’s also one of the top travel destinations in China for locals.
People from the bustling cities of Shanghai and Beijing seek the comfort of the green mountains and hills. The city is well maintained by armies of street sweepers and litter collectors as well, that help keep the city as beautiful as its natural surroundings. The scenic locations and famous historical and cultural sites should also make Hangzhou a top choice for your next trip.
You just need to decide where to stay. Built around West Lake, some of the most popular hotels are right near the shore.
Further inland, you’ll find a variety of options from busy commercial districts to laid-back neighbourhoods with cafes and teahouses.
Not sure where to search? Start looking for accommodations with this guide to the best places to stay in Hangzhou:
Where to stay in Hangzhou: A complete guide to the best neighbourhoods and areas for travellers
Hangzhou sits just west of the Qiantang River with the downtown area located east of the famous West Lake.
It’s a sprawling city, as with most of the major cities in China, but it’s managed to preserve lots of green space.
Wetlands and rolling hills stretch out past the lake for many kilometres. Nestled within the scenic parks and trails you’ll come across various historic sites. The area includes many ancient temples and residential buildings.
Thanks to the combination of modern living and a love for the outdoors, Hangzhou has a wide variety of attractions to keep you busy. You can spend time shopping in numerous residential neighbourhoods or explore the parks, wetlands, and lake.
A few of the best areas to stay in Hangzhou for travellers include:
- Hangzhou City Centre
- West Lake
- Xixi Wetland Area
Hangzhou City Centre
✔ Best area to stay for shopping and nightlife
Hangzhou City Centre is the best area to stay for anyone who wants to see more of the city. Staying in the centre makes it easier to check out the top things to see & do in Hangzhou.
From the central neighbourhoods, you can easily reach West Lake or the wetlands. You can also spend time in the downtown area visiting the shops, malls, and business districts.
The city centre resembles many other urban Chinese areas. It’s full of tall buildings, wide streets, and crowds of people going about their day.
If you’re looking to have a good time, the most popular bars and clubs are in the downtown area. While the city isn’t known for its nightlife, it does have a few streets lined with late-night establishments.
Hangzhou City Centre is also home to the West Lake Cultural Square. The square covers over 36,000 metres while the area around the square includes many shops and restaurants.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to visit during a festival. The square fills up with floats and street performers.
Recommended hotels in Hangzhou City Centre
The downtown area is the most modern part of the city. It’s where you’ll find some of the best hotels in Hangzhou, especially if you want luxurious accommodations with cityscape views and all the modern amenities. Hangzhou City Centre also has many business hotels, hostels, and apartments.
- Huachen International Hotel: Located in the heart of Hangzhou, this mid-range hotel is just a 10-minute walk from West Lake. It also features comfortable rooms, some of which have impressive views of the surrounding area. If your room doesn’t offer sweeping views, you can travel to the on-site restaurant on the 19th floor.
- The East Hotel Hangzhou: This hotel is a short walk from West Lake Cultural Square, making it a top choice for those who plan to spend most of their trips shopping or dining. It’s also near Wulin Square and a few other important attractions.
- JW Marriott Hotel Hangzhou: You can easily reach the public squares from this hotel or walk to West Lake. It’s a convenient location but you’ll also enjoy your time inside the hotel, thanks to the spacious rooms loaded with amenities.
✔ Top area to stay for cultural sightseeing and museums
Your Hangzhou itinerary will likely take you to West Lake. Staying near the shores of the lake should make it easier to visit some of the sites in and around the lake.
Several temples, pagodas, and gardens are located within the lake. You need to take a boat to reach some of the attractions. There’s also a bridge that crosses the lake.
It spans over a kilometre and includes pedestrian lanes. Crossing Kuahong Bridge provides some of the scenic views of the lake and the surrounding temples and gardens.
Staying at one of the hotels around the lake also places you near the downtown area and Shangcheng. The north and east side of the lake borders flat land that opens to the city centre.
The other three sides of the lake border the green rolling hills that appear in photos of Hangzhou. If you venture into the hills, you’ll find the wetlands area and several of the main museums.
You can visit the Museum of Silk Production in China to learn about the importance of silk for early international trade. The zoo and botanical garden are also nearby, providing access to a few sites that the whole family may enjoy.
Recommended hotels in West Lake
Most of the hotels around West Lake are located on the eastern shore near Hangzhou City Centre and Shangcheng. Luckily, you will also find a few resorts hidden in the trees and hills surrounding the other sides of the lake.
- West Lake Guest House: Located at the bottom of Dingjia Mountain on the west side of the lake, this hotel surrounds you with greenery. It’s a secluded hotel nestled in the lush forests. The hotel is within walking distance of Kuahong Bridge, taking you across the lake and to some of the temples.
- Shangri-La Hotel Hangzhou: If you cross Kuahong Bridge, you’ll also reach this five-star hotel. With three dining options, an indoor pool, and 40 acres of rolling hills, it’s a luxurious place to stay. It’s also a short walk from Yuewang Temple.
- Sofitel Hangzhou Westlake: This is one of the fancier hotels in the area, located on the eastern shore of the lake. The rooms offer views of the lake or the downtown area, depending on which side of the hotel you stay on. It also has two on-site restaurants, an indoor pool, and a spa centre, helping you feel right at home.
✔ Recommended area to stay for luxury travel and scenic tours
Shangcheng is just south of the main downtown area. It’s an area known for its scenic beauty and commerce. The western side of the district borders the lake while the south side borders Wu Mountain.
You can choose from a variety of scenic tours that take you through the surrounding nature preserves and parks.
As part of the city’s efforts to revitalise the quality of life for residents, the Shangcheng district has received rapid redevelopment in recent years. New hotels, businesses, and malls have popped up in the past decade, making it one of the most modern areas of the city.
The revitalisation plans helped make the district more liveable and walkable. You can safely explore the district on foot and quickly reach some of the other major sites in the city. Within a few minutes, you can reach the mountains, lake, or city centre.
Most of the main attractions are a short walk or drive from Shangcheng but the district itself mostly contains modern features. You can find malls, shops, lots of banks, and a few temples.
Recommended hotels in Shangcheng
As with the city centre, the hotels in the Shangcheng district are often luxurious, clean, and spacious. If you’re looking for a better value, the area also includes business hotels. If you’re planning on staying a week or longer, you should also have no problem finding a suitable apartment or guesthouse to rent.
- Memory Travel Hotel: The interior of this hotel resembles a college dorm room. Most of the furniture appears stripped down and simple. The main reason to stay here is the location. It’s a short walk from Wushan Night Market and Wushan Square.
- Grand Metropark Hotel Hangzhou: If you’re looking for entertainment, consider staying at this hotel. It’s near some of the best clubs and bars in the city. You could also choose to dine in, thanks to the three on-site dining options.
- Grand Hyatt Hangzhou: This is perhaps the priciest hotel in the city. The luxurious hotel boasts elegant rooms with bay windows that provide views of the lake. The staff treats every guest as royalty and are always standing by to help provide directions or dining recommendations.
Xixi Wetland Area
✔ Best area to stay for nature lovers and history buffs
The Xixi wetland area provides access to a wide variety of interesting sites. The primary purpose of the wetlands is to protect and preserve the natural environment and animal life. It’s also home to an ancient temple and a few rural houses.
The wetlands are unique. Instead of a rural setting, the wetlands cover large urban areas of the city. Some parts of the wetlands include small communities with their own shops and eateries.
You could spend a month exploring the wetlands and not visit each of the small neighbourhoods. In fact, the wetlands include everything that you need to enjoy your trip.
Chinese restaurants, the wetland botanical garden, and several historic sites are all located within the wetlands.
Keep in mind that the Xixi Wetland Area is further from the city centre and lake compared to the other districts and neighbourhoods. Public transportation, taxis, and car rental services will take you into the city but you’re not going to cover the distance on foot.
Recommended hotels in Xixi Wetland Area
The Xixi Wetland Area has a limited selection of hotels as the protected park covers most of the area. The street to the north of the wetlands features several options including a mid-range hotel, a luxury resort, and a boutique hotel on a quiet street.
- The Nook Hotel Hangzhou: This mid-range hotel features interesting interior designs inspired and created by local artists. It’s just around the corner from Xihu. You can enjoy close access to the wetlands and historic sites but may need to take a taxi to reach downtown.
- Sheraton Grand Hangzhou Wetland Park Resort: Located next to the wetlands park, this hotel and resort combines Chinese architecture with contemporary Western furnishings to create a unique atmosphere. You’ll also enjoy staying in a spacious room. Overall, this is one of the most peaceful places to stay in Hangzhou.
- NadeRenze Hotel: If you seek solitude and tranquillity, this hotel has you covered. It’s on Huawu Road, away from the traffic and tourists. It also features bright, flashy décor and furnishings with contemporary designs, creating a unique and unforgettable atmosphere. Unfortunately, you’ll need to use a service to reach any nearby attractions.