Grand hub a dumpling's toss from curios and culture

WHILE struggling economies worldwide eye the growing outbound Chinese tourist market, W Hotel is making inroads in the People's Republic, opening in Guangzhou in February.

In the city that's historically known as Canton and is the hub of China Southern Airlines, the 317-room hotel in Zhujiang district is close to the Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou New Library, and the new Guangdong Museum. Dim sum tea houses and curio shops are also within reach and an ideal counterbalance to the hotel group that's known for its schmick design.

Alongside the hotel's spa and gym, the hotel has residences for people wanting to call the W home. Further openings include Beijing and Shanghai in 2014 and Changsa in Hunan in 2016.

See starwoodhotels.com.

Berlin's art-deco showpiece

Adding to Berlin's cool credentials is the opening of the Waldorf Astoria. The hotel's 232 rooms and suites are within the new Zoofenster skyscraper and include the presidential suite on the top floor.

In keeping with the original Waldorf Astoria, opened in 1931 on New York's Park Avenue, the art deco style also features in Berlin, a city of about 3.5 million people.

The hotel is close to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirche — a church built as a memorial to the emperor of a united Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm I — and the shopping boulevard of Kurfurstendamm, with Prada, Burberry and Gucci among the high-end boutiques.

French chef Pierre Gagnaire, who has collected 12 Michelin stars, will be in the kitchen at Les Solistes by Pierre Gagnaire, and the Romanisches Cafe, located around the corner a century ago and a gathering place for artists and musicians, now exists within the hotel.

As well as eight treatment rooms in the day spa, there's an indoor pool, a steam room, sauna, whirlpool, fitness centre and a rooftop sun terrace. On Hardenbergstrasse 28, 10623, deluxe rooms from €280 ($351).

See waldorfastoriaberlin.com.

Tribute to the governor

A restored colonial building built in the early 1900s has opened as the Macalister Mansion in the heart of George Town, Penang.

The eight suites at the luxury digs on the Malaysian island feature individual artworks that include references to the hotel's namesake, Sir Norman Macalister, British governor of Penang from 1808 to 1810 . A love sonnet written in old English hangs above the bed in Room 1, while a piece in Room 8 above the sofa alcove by Malaysian-based artist Thomas Powell depicts key events throughout Macalister's life.

Beyond the suites, the Living Room serves assam laksa and rose lemonade, and the Dining Room, soft shell crab with saffron aioli and gravlax.

At 228 Macalister Road, 10400 George Town, Penang, Malaysia, Macalister Mansion is a member of Design Hotels. Rooms start at 880 ringgit ($276) a night.

See designhotels.com/macalister_mansion.

Game on for kids

To accompany Britain's rainy days, Novotel has introduced toy chests to entertain its dim sum younger guests. My Little Pony, Transformers and Monopoly are in the chest at the four-star hotels in London Blackfriars, Cardiff and Ipswich. Rooms start at £39 ($60) a night in Ipswich, £52.50 ($80) at the Novotel Cardiff Centre, and £126 ($192) at Novotel London Blackfriars.

Children under 16 stay and eat for free.

See novotel.com.

Send room service items to Jane Reddy at jreddy@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

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