Rebecca Baker delights in a nation's new-found hedonism

Commune on the Great Wall Beijing

An hour from Beijing, Commune is a collection of 11 houses designed by different Asian architects. The project has won several awards and will open in September as a hotel. It will feature furniture by the likes of Philippe Starck, Kaname Okajima, Karim Rashid and Marc Newson and, in the clubhouse, there will be a courtyard restaurant, lounge, swimming pool, gallery, cinema and peacock-feathered library. Conveniently for structurally minded tourists, it is also right by the Shuiguan section of the Great Wall - a private path leads there from the hotel.

The Great Wall, Exit No 16, Shuiguan Badaling Highway, Beijing (00 800 426 313 55; www.kempinski.com). Doubles start from £80, including breakfast.

Red Capital Ranch Beijing

An offshoot of the hip Red Capital Club Residence in downtown Beijing - variously described as "commie chic" and "artful propaganda" - this retreat, two hours' drive away, is a more soothing take on retro-Chinese style. You won't find many Mao figurines here - or stetsons for that matter. More Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon than The Magnificent Seven, guests check into this restored Manchurian hunting lodge to relax in one of its 10 traditional stone and wood villas. That and to eat in its restaurant, hunker down in the "warlord's lounge", have a massage in the spa or explore the neighbouring Great Wall.

Red Capital Ranch, 28 Xiaguandi Village, Yanxi, Huairou, Beijing (00 86 10 8401 8886; www.redcapitalclub.com). Doubles from US$219 (£118), including breakfast.

Jia Hong Kong

It was only a matter of time before Philippe Starck's madcap vision was let loose in Asia, and the Hong Kong boutique hotel, Jia, has been first to benefit. The man who brought us the iconic "juicy salif" lemon squeezer has created a sleek, 54-room retreat. Pitched at design-conscious business folk, it has in-room kitchens and hi-tech gadgetry, including revolving flat-screen TVs, home-theatre units and free broadband. There are also two restaurants, access to a private members' club and use of a nearby gym.

Jia, 1-5 Irving Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong (00 852 3196 9000; www.jiahongkong.com). Studios start from HK$ 2,034 (£141), with breakfast.

Fuchun Resort Hangzhou

Around 250km south-west of Shanghai, Fuchun is all about luxury escapism. It has a golf course, tennis courts, a swimming pool, jogging paths, tai chi and yoga classes and a country outpost of Shanghai's trendy T8 restaurant. There's also a sophisticated spa, with treatments using natural, organic, custom-blended products, although a "Hangzhou cocoon" may not be too popular among guests who've endured a choking summer in one of China's cities. All of Fuchun's 87 rooms, suites and villas come with satellite TV, CD-players, broadband and ISDN phones.

Fuchun Resort, Hangzhou, Zhejiang (Bookings through Design Hotels: 00 800 37 468 357; www.designhotels.com). Doubles start from £152, including breakfast.

Banyan Tree Ringha Yunnan

Finding Shangri-La isn't hard at this new mountain resort in Yunnan province - not just because of its elaborate architecture and natural beauty, but because, in 2003, the region was renamed Shangri-La by the Chinese government, after the valley in James Hilton's 1933 book, Lost Horizon. It's an apt, if ironic, tag given that the hotel lies in an autonomous Tibetan prefecture. Still, employment for locals and an emphasis on Tibetan culture means the resort is a more ethical option than it might have been.

Banyan Tree Ringha, Hong Po Village, Jian Tang Town, Yunnan (01494 675636; www.banyantree.com). Suites start from US$460 (£248) room only.

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