Holidaymakers in Qufu, the birthplace of renowned philosopher Confucius, will be forgiven for not spotting the JW Marriott hotel the first time round. With its sloping roofs and timber columns, the new luxury hotel blends seamlessly into its neighbourhood, which includes the UNESCO-protected Confucius Temple it sits next to.

Designed by award-winning studio LTW Designworks, the hotel takes inspiration from the ancient heritage of The Analects. The result is a hospitality concept that retains modern minimalism while paying tribute to its historical surroundings – a true study in cultural elegance.

The gold accent wall behind the reception desk features falling ginkgo leaves. 

Inside, the first floor resembles the scholar hall in Confucius Temple, with allusions to nature peppered throughout the decor. In the lobby, a gold accent wall, engraved with ginkgo leaves blowing in the wind, stands behind a marble-clad reception desk. These are possibly the only concessions to grandeur; the rest of the atrium is clad in earth and stone hues that evoke quiet austerity, ensuring that visitors’ eyes are drawn to the central art installation that is the real focal point.

An art installation depicting Confucius kneeling beneath a ginkgo tree greets visitors at the lobby.

On a raised stone pond in the centre of the lobby, an abstract statue of Confucius is depicted kneeling beneath a seven-metre-tall ginkgo tree, its trunk and branches intricately-woven with metallic scriptures. Light pours through the glass roof set into the dark timber ceiling, spotlighting the art installation against the backdrop of the moon gate.

The iconic circular opening of the moon gate – an architectural feature traditionally found in traditional garden passageways – offers a peek beyond the atrium into the lounge space. 

Beyond, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a scholar’s study: ancient Chinese scrolls and traditional stitch bound books fill the shelves, anchored by the earth tones of the timber furniture and rattan chairs. Next to it, the tea house is a tranquil retreat where guests can relax and enjoy a steaming cup from exquisite tea sets.

A sumptuous private dining room in the restaurant. 

Those who find themselves in search of a meal will enjoy the all-day dining area, which offers a generous view of the courtyard, as well as Residence, the two-storey Chinese restaurant. Framed by stone walls that echo the tiles of the courtyard and adorned with intricate bronze latticework that serves as both partition and decor, the space is a contemporary take on the majestic Chinese banquet halls where imperial feasts were held. Here, the allusions to art and culture continue; in the private dining rooms, artwork depicting historic structures of the region lines the walls. 

The guest rooms are modern and minimalist, but with touches that pay tribute to the area’s heritage.

Guest rooms are designed in a similarly restful palette: shades of deep brown and white represent the yang and yin respectively, alluding to the steadfastness of the mountains and the fluidity of water. Together, the dark walnut of the tiles, the ripple design of the carpet, and the embossed headboard in the room evoke a sense of meditative calm, embodying the well-known Confucius saying: “the wise find pleasure in water; the virtuous find pleasure in hills.”. Each room has its own private courtyard or veranda, offering a slice of naturefor reflection or study – a modern comfort within a greater cultural experience.

JW Marriott Qufu is located at No 99, Banbi St, Lucheng Subdistrict, Qufu, Jining, China. Visit www.marriott.com