|Five stars shine in Yinchuan|
Kempinski Hotel brought its traditional brand of luxury to Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui autonomous region, in July.
The first international five-star hotel in the city, Kempinski unassumingly provides an attentive high-quality service and warm German welcome.
Here you can pamper yourself with the luxurious essential oil and flower spa treatments in the spa or sit back and relax in the Caf Berlin on the ground floor. The exquisite cuisine features local lamb, sushi, seasonal appetizers, pizza and pastas. And while you are here, don't pass up the opportunity to try the wine made with grapes from a local vineyard located at the foot of Helan Mountain.
Chef Kuchenbecker happily shared with me the origins of pretzels, which he calls the "German sunshine bread" because of the three "windows" that let sunlight onto the glazed surface. He recommended the Paulaner Brauhaus Brewery, only a few steps away if I wanted to enjoy authentic German beers.
Here the brew master from Germany offers fresh light and dark beer, made from wheat and rye grown in Germany. I preferred the sweet flavor of the dark, which I've not tasted anywhere else.
When it's time to retire for the night, the large soft bed and goose down quilt are enticements that are not long delayed.
If you go
The plane ride from Beijing to Yinchuan is about two hours. Trains from Beijing Railway Station or Beijing West Station cost one-third the price of a flight but take nearly 10 times as much time. However the rail route does offer a chance to enjoy the constantly morphing scenery along the tracks.
Coaches from Yinchuan to Bayin pass the Western Xia Mausoleum, which takes about an hour to reach. It's more convenient to take the No 2 coach and then get a taxi from the stop at Western Xia Square.
Helan Mountain can be reached by taking a coach from Yinchuan's Nanmen Square to Zhenbeipu town and then hopping a cab to the mountain for about 15 yuan ($2).
A special coach travels between Nanmen Square and Shahu Lake. Tickets cost 10 yuan, and the ride is about an hour and a half.
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