Sangha Retreat by Octave Institute isn’t a hotel, it’s a wellness wonderland by a glittering lake. After one stylish stint here, you’ll be inspired to make long-term lifestyle changes of a holistic bent. Sangha has various wellbeing weapons up its sleeve: from comprehensive health checks on arrival to doctor-approved cuisine, an all-bells-and-whistles spa, meditation, massages, gong baths, yoga and incredible hydrotherapy sessions. The sleek, understated design is equally soothing, with glass a-go-go to let in the luscious lake views, delicately restrained colours, and furnishings and fittings that riff respectfully on Taoist principles.
Get this when you book through us:
20 per cent off any additional spa treatments booked during your stay
Noon; earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £515.90 (CNY4,500), including tax at 16.6 per cent.
Rates usually include all meals (tailored to your individual health and nutrition needs).
Unsurprisingly, the hotel has turned heads in the design world, taking home a few gongs for its architecture – as well as its health facilities.
At the hotel
Meditation dome, movement rooms, health clinic, hydrotherapy circuit, greenery galore, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, desk, shaving mirror, air conditioning and filtering, minibar, free distilled water, kettle, tea and coffee, blackout curtain.
Our favourite rooms
Opt for a Lakeview Premier Suite for lashings of space and a lake-view balcony. All rooms have been designed with wellbeing in mind: the curved ceilings don’t have corners (bad for your chi, apparently); underneath each bed, hidden within the bed frame, there’s a healing crystal that has been blessed by a crystal master.
There's an indoor pool at the spa.
The world-class spa includes treatment rooms, an indoor pool, a herbal steam room, Finnish and infrared saunas, a salt cave and an awesome hydrotherapy circuit. Treatments include massages, body wraps, scrubs, facials, manicures and Ayurvedic treatments. If you're looking to work up a sweat, there's also a gym, Pilates and yoga studio. Private fitness classes are available. The hotel also offers various yoga, meditation and sound-healing courses.
Bring a notebook and a pen to jot down good intentions and mantras – plus your favourite swimming costume and yoga gear.
Communal areas are wheelchair accessible,
Nature-loving Sangha by Octave has its own community farm, so the restaurant’s produce is organic, seasonal and grown onsite.
Nab a table by the window and survey the lake while you eat.
The aim is for you to relax entirely, so dress accordingly.
Tap into your zen side at Thought for Food, which is decorated with muted colours, restrained blue and green accents and Taoism-inspired lampshades. Sustainably-sourced, organic and biodynamic, the restaurant's healthy cuisine was created in consultation with doctors and nutritionists, and is made with produce from organic farms and free-range cooperatives. There's also the Thought for Food Market, a sprawling culinary centre with stations of food and drink for every persuasion, including grilled, smoked, steamed, braised, raw and sautéd offerings. Alongside the food stalls, there's a bakery, wine cellar, culinary school and the occasional pop-up farmers' market.
Food for Thought serves breakfast from 7am to 10am; lunch from 11.30am to 2pm; dinner from 6pm to 10pm. The café is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday. The market is open from 11am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 8pm on Friday and Saturday.
The hotel sprawls across a 189,000sq m patch of land by Suzhou's Yangcheng Lake, an hour or so from China’s east coast.
Sangha by Octave is an hour’s drive from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. Or, fly into Shanghai Pudong International Airport, just under two hours away by car. (Smith24 can help sort your flights.)
Suzhou Industrial Park is the closest station, a 20-minute drive from the hotel, with China Railway services connecting to the city of Suzhou.
Suzhou is 20 minutes away by car; the hotel has plenty of onsite parking.
Worth getting out of bed for
Sangha by Octave’s generous packages include health-improving activities galore. Start with a hydrotherapy session – it’s one of the chief draws here. Sign up for a class, from meditation to yoga to HIIT (high-intensity interval training) to life coaching; classes change daily, and there are plenty to pick from. Treat yourself to a massage: the spa’s signature Rebirth Massage delivers on its name, providing a deep release of blocked energy. Wander around the tranquil Tongli Water Town, 11 miles from Suzhou. The aptly named Lingering Garden on Liuyuan Road is another beautiful spot for romantic strolls. Climb up Tiger Hill in Suzhou – you’ll be rewarded with ravishing views.
There's nothing particularly Smith-recommended nearby… but when all your meals at Sangha are included (and excellent), you won't be tempted to leave.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this wellness retreat in the Jiangsu Province and unpacked their vitamin shots and swimwear, a full account of their Chinese spa break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Sangha by Octave in Suzhou…
Some hotels improve your weekend; Sangha by Octave improves your health. Stays here are designed to inspire you to make holistic lifestyle changes – not just while you’re here, but also when you’re home. These grand ambitions are successfully – and enjoyably – achieved via comprehensive health checks on arrival, delicious but healthy cuisine, and a gamut of wellness extras spanning meditation, yoga, HIIT, gong baths and pampering massages. Special mention must go to the incredible hydrotherapy sessions, a bonkers circuit of various facilities from Kniepp walking to herbal steam treatments, an infrared sauna, hammam and banya (Russian steam bath). You will never feel cleaner.