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1,000 kilometers inland from Shanghai is Zhengzhou, another of China's stinking huge and often downright stinking mega-cities. The 22nd largest in China, It homes ten million Chinese, ten thousand KTVs and as of recently, one massive Le Meridien Hotel. It's a pretty special hotel. The ZZ Le-mer represents China's hatchling hunger for quality and style.

Were it not for the couple hundred rooms it could be a chic boutique hotel nestled in a trendy european city's downtown. If there wasn't a 6-lane elevated motorway 20 meters from the front door. If the next building wasn't a mall full of brands nobody has ever heard of. If the cinema down the road didn't set on fire once every so often. If the haze didn't settle like a permanent migrane. If, if, if. If this wasn't China

But this is China and none of that matters. The Le Meridien is freaking awesome. It's beautiful. One day, all of Zhengzhou will be full of awesome, beautiful, considered buildings. Until then it has just one.

Inside is a representation of what can actually happen if the right client lets good people do what they want. Every space has been intricately created without design compromise. I know this because I've sat at home stirring stew waiting for the architect to come home for dinner. She rarely did. Instead she was at her desk in NHDRO zooming in and out of a thousand CAD files.

She was designing a breathtaking atrium, or turning the 200 meter tall husk of a long-abandoned tower into a bespoke facade of stacked boxes, or specifying an indoor running track to span two floors and loop around a rooftop terrace. I was stirring stew.

Every single element has been considered and as a result the hotel is dripping in beautiful details and Vitra furniture. It's like walking through a design museum, not a hotel. But this is a hotel, it's probably the best Le Meridien in the world. I would say that though. It's certainly going to be the best value Le Meridien in the world.. so if you're in Zhengzhou one day, you know where to stay.

I was lucky enough to stay for a couple of nights during the hotel's soft opening and grabbed a few shots of my favorite internal details.

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