Sunyata Hotel Meili — Meili, China
Rare is the establishment outside Japan that manages to pull off the nation’s oft-mangled concept of wabi-sabi with aplomb. However Sunyata Hotel Meili, in China’s Meili Snow Mountain region, presents a successful homage to the Japanese philosophy of finding beauty in the imperfect, not just in aesthetics, but in concept.
Carved from a pre-existing property cradled in a remote hillside, the 19-room hotel has been revived by Dali-based studio Zhao Yang Architects, who transformed the two-and-a-half storey former hostel into a four-floor hotel inspired by traditional Tibetan architecture. An expansive atrium, featuring a golden arch that reflects the sun, feeds the property with natural light, while the locale lends itself to a plethora of soothing views. Rugged topiary and the jagged silhouettes of neighbouring mountains abound from each angle, counterbalanced by an interior of smooth lines, clean angles and a controlled nude palette.
Wabi-sabi abstractions, in particular, are explored via natural materials such as wood and bamboo, present in guestrooms via coarse beams, rustic pottery and roughly hewn furniture, all curated by designer Ke Xie. They are equally visible in public spaces such as the property’s library and in-house restaurant, both of which capitalise on the uneven qualities of highly textured linens and concrete walls. For the ultimate zen experience, a stand-alone villa maintains the rhythms of this faultlessly executed concept with the added luxuries of a deep-soaking and a fireplace. §