If it wasn’t for West Lake, Hangzhou just wouldn’t be what it is; namely one of the most beautiful cities in China. But it’s not only the lake itself or the numerous historical sites scattered along its banks that makes West Lake such an idyllic spot. The lake owes much of its modern appeal to the large number of trendy western style cafes that circumnavigate its banks. The majority of cafes are concentrated along Nanshan Lu and Tiandi by West Lake, with too many to possibly feature in one article alone. Finding these cafes poses no challenge; a mere stroll along the lake is all it takes. For this reason, this article focuses on the cafes you might not stumble upon so easily.
The Kiwi’s CaféView In Map
The Kiwi’s Café isn’t one of those cute, little cafes with an intimate atmosphere. It’s a large venue, with row upon row of tables with partitions between them. But, what it does have is excellent coffee. Located on the top floor of the Ferarri Showroom on Nanshan Lu, Kiwi’s is best known for its selection of English teas and its original New Zealand coffee. As far as the décor goes, golden chandeliers hang from the ceiling and red leather sofas line the walls. Paintings from New Zealand and China adorn the walls. The overall look is probably best described as ‘luxury meets kitsch’, but its excellent coffee and selection of Western food (BLT sandwiches, beef steak, cakes etc.) do make it a place worth checking out.
Add: 220 Nanshan Lu, Hangzhou
Tel: 0571 8707 0100
Antidote Coffee House 艺苑咖啡馆 View In Map
If you’re looking for an excuse to snoop around the beautiful campus of China’s most famous art schools, the China Academy of Art, you’ve just found one. This café is nestled right in the heart of the academy and is, not surprisingly, a popular meeting spot for visiting artists (the broke art students probably find cheaper alternatives). Coming here just to walk past the waterways and amazing architecture of the main building is worth it in itself, but academy or no academy, the café does also serve excellent Lavazza coffee. A lot less tacky than Kiwi’s Café mentioned above, Antidote’s interior pulls off the trendy, up-scale art café look quite well. The walls are decorated with large-scale art work and the huge, glass windows and high ceilings lend the café a bright, friendly, laid-back atmosphere. The menu includes a classic selection of coffees, hot or iced, as well as a number of pastries and light snacks.
Add: Building No. 3 China Academy or Art, 218 Nanshan Lu, Hangzhou
Tel: 0571 8716 4843
Zhang Ming Music Library 张铭音乐图书馆 View In Map
Zhang Ming, a music lover and associate professor in the music department of Zhejiang University, had a dream: to use his huge collection of CDs and music books to establish China’s first private music library. And so he proposed his idea to the Hangzhou government and got his approval in no time. Nowadays, the library is not only a great resource for local fans of classical music, but it’s also an ideal spot for enjoying a good cup of coffee in relaxing surroundings. You can spend hours here listening to music, drinking coffee and browsing the 5000 CDs and 2000 music books from Zhang’s personal collection. The venue is located right at the bank of West Lake, views of which can be seen through the library’s large windows. Waiters generally leave you alone once you’ve ordered, so this is a great hang-out when you just want a break from the outside.
Add: 7 Shengtang Scenic Area, Liu Gongyuan Pedestrian Street, West Lake Scenic Area, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou
Tel: 0571 8703 8678
Red Space 红舍 View In Map
If you like the color red then this little café/bar is just for you. It’s also a good choice if you like Illy espresso or Belgian beers. The café’s warm colors and dark wooden floors create an intimate, relaxing atmosphere that makes it an attractive choice night or day. Its menu boasts an extensive beer list, a classic selection of Italian coffee and a decent food menu that includes gluten-free cake. The only down-side about Red Space is that it’s not located directly by West Lake, which means that strictly speaking it shouldn’t be in this list at all. However, it is located on Laodong Lu which is just a short trek east from the lake in a popular street concentrated with traditional art galleries – so worth a trip even if it’s just to check out the local art/calligraphy scene.
Add: 128-1 Laodong Lu, Hangzhou
Tel: 0571 8679 7296
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Keywords: Cafes hangzhou café guide Hangzhou cafes west lake Hangzhou
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