On one of the oldest trade routes that existed a thousand years ago, China’s Tea Horse Road is among the world’s great romantic journeys. Iconically placed in Benzilan, one of the last towns in the Yunnan province of Southwestern China, before reaching the Tibetan border, this is the second Lux hotel to open on the Tea Horse Road. The original property is in Lijiang, a four-and-half-hour drive south. Undoubtedly, this is the ideal base for hiking the Tea Horse trails and exploring tiny villages in the magnificent mountains that few foreigners have the chance to see.
The pared-back interiors are a well thought-out reflection of rural life comprising largely of a cluster of handmade black clay lights hanging in the lobby, made in the adjoining village of Nixi. The library has a few original wicker baskets and horse bells that were once used by the muleteers to take pu’er tea to Lhasa. The 30 open-plan bedrooms – many of which overlook the outdoor pool and the River Yangtze and beyond – have furniture and floors made of local pine, oil paintings of the surrounding countryside and, in the bathroom, a round copper sink. The food is made of traditional yak-butter tea while supper is a feast of Sichuan-style steamed fish and wine-braised chicken.