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All You Need to Know About the Rooms
at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel

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Guests1 room, 2 adults, 0 children
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... gates, it is a true hideaway. We stayed in the family suite, which was very comfortable: good AC, a fridge, nice...
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Got a room at the ground level. Views were good and the room was clean. Beds were comfortable and overall experience was...
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... to compare. At Secret Garden we had a standard king size room (430 RMB) and at the Li River Retreat we had their deluxe...
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David R wrote a review Apr 2014
Island of Hawaii, Hawaii10 contributions
Our family (with boys aged 5 and 7) spent 3 nights at Secret Garden after visiting Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Shanghai – looking for a more rural, peaceful stay to end our trip. Secret Garden was perfect! We were met at Guilin airport by our driver and enjoyed the drive (complete with 5 abreast driving on 2 lane roads, lots of honking but no close calls :-) to Secret Garden. It’s in a small town (which itself is a tourist attraction because it is a “minority” village with old buildings and a picturesque location). While the approach through the village feels a bit sparse, once one walks in through the welcoming gates, it is a true hideaway. We stayed in the family suite, which was very comfortable: good AC, a fridge, nice shower, comfortable couch, plus patios with views over the rice fields.
The food at Secret Garden is fantastic! We ate almost every meal here. As other reviewers have noted, the kitchen does Western and Chinese food equally well: delicious breakfasts, tasty homemade potstickers (at which I tried my hand to make, rather unsuccessfully…) excellent range of meat and vegetable dishes (try the claypot eggplant with meatsauce – I don’t even like eggplant and loved this!). Plus pizzas for the kids when they wanted comfort food.
And the staff are wonderful – so kind (they knew our names by the first evening we had arrived), friendly, and helpful – especially the incredibly resourceful Faye! We had arrived in Yangshuo with a rough itinerary: we knew we wanted to raft down the Li river, do some bicycling and sightseeing. We chatted with some of the other guests about what they had done, and learned that the Kung Fu and calligraphy lessons were fun for the kids. We asked Faye what she suggested: 20 minutes later we had an itinerary for the next day that was perfect. Another day we rented bikes from the place right out front and rode for 4 hours along the Yu Long River up to Fuli bridge, cycling through small villages, rice fields and surrounded by the amazing karst scenery (again, a route picked out for us by Faye.)
Everything here was wonderful: the accommodations, the food, the welcoming environment and the recommendations for what to do. Especially after visiting the crazed, tourist-mad din of Yangshuo itself, we were so grateful to be here. We look forward to coming back!
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Date of stay: April 2014Trip type: Travelled with family
Room Tip: the family suite (ground floor bedroom and sitting area, upstairs loft bedroom) is great for...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Response from Ian F, Owner at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel
Responded 30 Apr 2014
On behalf of all our staff, thank you so much for your wonderful and thorough review. We hope to welcome your family back in our Secret Garden again one day.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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shelly l wrote a review Jan 2016
Malton, United Kingdom60 contributions
Got a room at the ground level. Views were good and the room was clean. Beds were comfortable and overall experience was very warm. We would definitely recommend it to families and friends. We might have to come back after a year or too. Need to save money to visit other places in China. It's a huge and vast country that needs more exploration. We need to observe more of it's Chinese Cultures, Arts, Architectural Statues, Historic Beliefs, Values and Food.
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Date of stay: February 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Mikael W wrote a review Aug 2013
Stockholm, Sweden40 contributions
We have spent six days and five nights in Yangshuo. Three nights we stayed at Secret Garden Boutique hotel and two nights at Li River retreat. When we booked we thought that both hotels seemed good but different. We wanted to have a few days far out on the countryside and a few near Yangshuo town.
This post is a comparison between two good hotels and I therefore put it under both hotels. The grades given are for the hotels under which this review is posted.
The rooms. It is hard to compare. At Secret Garden we had a standard king size room (430 RMB) and at the Li River Retreat we had their deluxe king size river view (about 625 RMB). The difference in the room is reflected in the price. Definitely. We stayed during the hottest period of the year, often higher than 35 degrees C. And common for both hotels is that the air conditions are hopelessly under dimensioned. The AC at Li River is probably the same for all rooms and since our room was a big (and more expensive one) it had to struggle to keep down the temperature.
The view from the room. At Li River it was fantastic. The photos from the previous reviews don’t lie. We just stood flabbergasted when we saw it for the first time. At the Secret Garden we had more or less nothing, a few yellow skin fruit trees and the neighbouring farm house. But the Secret Garden is (at least we believe so) an old rural farm restored to a hotel. And that is how these houses were built.
The service. The Li River is not bad but they cannot beat the Secret Garden. In the secret Garden they have a few (good English speaking) middle age ladies who are marvellous. Service minded and knowledgeable with the kind of mature impressions that comes with the years. The familiar feeling they bring to Secret Garden, It is just not anything of that at Li River. At Li River Retreat there were young women doing their best. Why is it so that the Chinese are so obsessed with putting young good looking women at all their fronting positions? Don’t they understand it comes with a price? We were told that the Secret Garden couldn’t attract young people so far out at the countryside. Good for them!!!
The location. Well, it depends what you are looking for. The Secret Garden is quite far out and whatever they say about taxi and so on, it is not easy to arrange. In Yangshuo you just don’t go out on the street and flag one down. Coming in to the town is easy, it is coming back that is tricky. Especially late in the evening when the Secret Garden is empty on staff. But the surroundings are beautiful. And if your primary target is countryside, then go for the Secret Garden. The surroundings are far more beautiful (except for the river view then…). The Li River Retreat is closer to town, less beautiful surroundings and the distance from town is on walking distance. Bring a flashlight (or your mobile’s torch). It is pitch dark as soon as you leave town. We spent two days near Yangshuo and afterwards, I think one day would have been enough. I had seen the writings about the hordes in Yangshuo and thought it was westerners not used to Chinese conditions. I was wrong. I have an apartment in a 4-million city in China and I have seen nothing there that compares to Yangshuo at night. I don’t like it, others might…
The restaurant and food and drink options. Both restaurants are quite expensive to Chinese standards but not outraging, which some of the restaurants in Yangshuo town are. Li River is more expensive than Secret Garden. When it comes to breakfast it can be seen that Secret Garden is run by a South African (I believe) and Li River by Spanish people. Those in favour of south European breakfasts will probably like Li River more and the rest of us (liking English, north European or Chinese breakfast) will probably prefer Secret Garden. The coffee at secret Garden is fresh while Li River use instant coffee (SIC!). The menu is more limited at Secret Garden than at Li River, however not bad. Both have Chinese and western food. One could believe that Li River would have more options but unless you want to go into town (and back in pitch darkness) at least we could find nothing in the vicinity of Li River. There are two Chinese (with humhum quality) neighbouring Secret Garden.
A last comment. If you rely on internet (I do because of work) both of them are of the heart attack inducing type. Painfully slow. But of course, we are inside China, internet is always slow here. But not that slow…
If I would come back to one of these premises it would be Secret Garden. But on the other hand, my wife said Li River Retreat, so the answer is not absolutely obvious…
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Date of stay: August 2013Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Room Tip: Try to book eraly to get a room with some kind of view. It is a popular hotel...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Response from Ian F, Owner at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel
Responded 15 Aug 2013
Thank you for your review. We are glad that you and your wife enjoyed your time at both of the hotels you chose.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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Dion L wrote a review Jul 2012
Piedmont, California2 contributions
My wife and three kids (10, 10, 8) shared a nice room which had two nicely sized beds plus another mattress on the floor (futon style). The Chinese courtyard-style hotel has an environment which is tasteful and historic, almost romantically restored.

Our family gobbled up the food (both Chinese and Western). The Chinese food, in fact, is a little Western. From fries to orange duck, we were surprised at how well prepared the food was given how remote the hotel feels (you have to through a mile or so of unpaved, dirt, potholed, roads to get to a suddenly smooth concrete turnoff that leads to the hotel).

Faye provided fantastic service. The room was perfectly prepared upon arrival, restaurant service felt like we were the only ones they were serving (frankly, for part of the meal we were). Faye helped us get bikes as well as arrange for one of our daughters to practice mandarin with one of the hotel staff. Getting to and from the hotel was via a taxi that Faye set up.

We saw downtown Yangshuo and it felt very touristy. We loved Secret Garden because it was away from the main center. When we road bikes together, there were virtually no cars on the miles of roads which was really nice given how young our children were.

We stayed for one night, which was too short. We were supposed to be there two nights, but our flight was extremely delayed inbound and unfortunately, we had an outbound pre-booked flights. If I could do it over, I would have stayed two or even three nights as Yangshuo and Secret Garden were a great respite from the big cities.

Final tip, be aware that if you are excited to see the Zhang YiMou performance it is dependent upon the weather. We had tickets, but the show was canceled due to rain. Big bummer.
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Date of stay: June 2012Trip type: Travelled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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irha wrote a review Apr 2016
Munich, Germany24 contributions
The rooms are done very nicely with attention to detail, however our room was a bit damp (the weather overall was damp but the room was even cooler and damper). Thee staff is very nice and helpful and the location is also not too bad to explore the area.
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Date of stay: April 2016Trip type: Travelled with family
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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