Where the past and future meet
Perhaps no other society has advanced as rapidly and dramatically as China has in the past few decades. Yet in many ways, the country’s values remain much as it has been for millennia: national pride, connecting with nature, nourishing the body and soul. This is the Middle Kingdom, the vast heart of Asia that stands as proud as a venerable dragon and rises phoenix-like towards the future.
In a country as vast as China, variety is a given. Languages and landscapes, cultures and cuisines… even the traditional calendar is diverse, with 24 solar terms, or mini seasons, bearing poetic names like ‘Awakening of Insects’ and “White Dew’. Grand Mercure hotels, found in cities across the country, look forward to sharing their locale’s distinctive flavours, rituals and stories – all revisited for today’s travellers in a modern, confident China.
Taste of Place
Taste of Place tell the story of a multifaceted China. Rice dishes in the wetter and warmer south. Wheat noodles and buns in the drier and colder north. Crab and fish along the coast. Mutton and Islamic influences in the far western regions. What they have in common is the ability to evoke memories, create new ones and feed both body and soul – a delicious and satisfying way to (re)discover the local way of life.
For the Chinese, residents and expats alike, no food says ‘home’ more than congee. Toast and coffee are fine for a quick breakfast, but rice porridge is the morning meal that truly comforts and satisfies. The beauty of congee is that it serves as the base for countless savoury sides – fried dough, scallion pancakes, preserved eggs, crunchy greens… Dive into a warm bowl of pure energy, nutrition and happiness.
The birthplace of tea, China has had millennia to perfect this brew and incorporate it into society. Healing medicine, soothing beverage, a symbol of hospitality, the basis of rituals and ceremonies. Chá also brings global cultures together. At Grand Mercure, we both honour and modernise this tradition. Served alone, with pairings or as an unexpected ingredient, discover all the creative ways to prepare and experience tea.
Snacking is a much-loved tradition across China. In this large and diverse country, the Local Bites of each Grand Mercure hotel are as distinctive as the place it calls home. Tiny balls made of local grains. Mini cakes stuffed with the region’s signature fruits. Dried seafood nibbles. Roasted nuts or seeds with a tantalising spice blend… Regardless of the snack, each bite is a window into the local culture.
From tiny villages to Tier 1 cities, the streets abound with vendors hawking local delicacies. What’s more, this culinary theatre transforms with the seasons, such as roasted sweet potatoes after ‘Frost Descent’ or cold noodles during ‘Big Heat’. The Signature Dish of each Grand Mercure hotel in China pays tribute to its locale’s favourite street foods and reinterprets it for today’s cosmopolitan travellers.
The majority of Chinese may be city dwellers, but their hearts are never far from the countryside. Endless fields of tea or rice. Rustling bamboo forests. The scent of summer rains. Mists curling above mountain crags. To satisfy this longing, many people bring nature indoors. Wood furnishings, unique rock formations, bubbling fountains, songbirds and singing crickets… these natural elements soothe and inspire the urban soul.
There is not just one scent of tea; China alone has six main types. And depending on when the leaves are harvested and how they’re dried, a tea’s notes can be a combination of herbal, floral, clean, sweet, malty, tannic, woody or humid. Stepping into a Grand Mercure hotel in China is an immersion into the art of tea. Smell its subtlety, admire its colours, taste its complexity.