This five-star retreat is within one of Beijing's historic landmarks, the Summer Palace. The 18th-century bolthole of Empress Dowager Cixi is now a Unesco World Heritage Site covering 290 hectares of parkland with temples, shrines and bridges, set around Lake Kunming.

Within palace outbuildings and faithful recreations of Chinese courtyard pavilion architecture, the hotel has 51 rooms and suites furnished with Ming-style furniture. With floors of Jin clay tiles, exposed roof beams and lattice screens, they combine ancient Chinese traditions with modern comforts.

The communal gardens with ponds, willow trees and tinkling fountains link the shared spaces, which include an underground complex housing a spa, indoor pool, gym and cinema. There are also four restaurants.

Wow factor:
The guest-only gate into the Palace grounds.

Flight time:
Nine hours.

Doubles from £477 (00800 2255 2626; British Airways (0844 493 0787; flies from £642 return.