BEIJING There are about a dozen five-star hotels in Beijing and,
having stayed at a few, it’s obvious that there’s a pretty big
difference in terms of amenities, room size and general comfort.
While there’s no definitive answer to which property is the best
hotel in the Chinese capital, The Peninsula Palace Beijing, a
member of The Leading Hotels of the World, gets my vote. First of
all, you can’t beat a hotel that’s within walking distance of
Tiananmen Square. Most people take a tour of the square during
their stay in Beijing, but it’s essential, I think, to walk around
the square at night, when local families come out en masse to fly
kites. From the hotel, it’s also a 10-minute walk to the Forbidden
City and a host of other historical sights. Walking a city is, of
course, a great way to get a feel for it, and the Peninsula’s
location couldn’t be better as the starting-out point for various
For those not into walking, there are enough shops in the hotel
to keep even power-shoppers satisfied. The Peninsula Arcade
includes over 50 international high-end brands such as Giorgio
Armani, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Cartier.
Above and beyond shopping and location, the hotel sets a new
standard in Beijing, following a $27 million renovation program
that turned The Palace Hotel into The Peninsula Palace Beijing in
September 2003. The renovation included refurbishment of 530
guestrooms, including 50 suites, and a total transformation of
three executive club floors and the spa.
When your clients aren’t off sampling the city’s culinary
delights, two award-winning restaurants located in the hotel will
thrill their palates. In 2003, Jing, which serves Western cuisine
with an Asian flair, was named one of the “75 World’s Top New
Restaurants” by Conde Nast Traveler. Huang Ting, designed to look
like a noble courtyard house filled with Chinese antiques,
specializes in dim sum, Cantonese cuisine and local Beijing
Sometimes the best thing about dining in the hotel, however, is
how fast it is to get back to your fantastic room afterward.
The standard rooms in the Palace are spacious, compared to the
other five-star hotels in Beijing, and all newly designed
guestrooms measure 334 square feet or larger. Each room comes
equipped with state-of-the-art technology, such as bedside control
panels that allows guests to control temperature, lighting,
telephone, alarm clock, curtains, television and audio system with
the touch of a fingertip. Forgot to put the Do Not Disturb sign on
the door? No worries, the Do Not Disturb button is located on the
bedside control and will silence the doorbell and keep housekeeping
My favorite room features are the flat-screen plasma TV and the
additional TV in each bathroom, perfect for watching movies while
soaking in the bathtub. The bathroom TVs have steam-free screens,
and remote-control functions are installed in the wall next to the
bathtub to avoid dropping the remote in the water.
Guests can order DVDs free of charge from an extensive list “The
Joy Luck Club” and “The Last Emperor” are popular choices.
I stayed in the 732-square-foot duplex suite, with its
23-foot-high ceilings. The suite, located on the top floor, has one
and a half bathrooms, three plasma TVs and, of course, the
omnipotent bedside control panel.
The suite experience also includes roundtrip airport transfers
by limousine, unlimited mini-bar consumption and dinner for two in
any of the Peninsula’s restaurants.
The hotel has four executive floors and a refurbished and
expanded Club Lounge, now twice its original size and with sweeping
city views. The lounge has a separate concierge desk for
facilitating check-in and out. The concierge will also confirm
flight reservations, make restaurant and sightseeing reservations
and generally look after the club guests.
Club guests can partake in a free full breakfast of eggs,
breads, cheeses, meats, salmon and fruit. Throughout the day, they
can grab free snacks and bottled water and, in the evening, indulge
in complimentary wine and cheese. There is something very special
and gratifying about coming back to one’s hotel and relaxing over
wine and cheese, especially when you’re looking out over a city
from the top of its newest Palace.
The Peninsula Palace Beijing
Hits: Flat-screen plasma TV in every room with
an additional no steam-screen TV in the bathroom. Remote controls
for lighting, TV, temperature, curtains, etc., at the touch of a
Misses: The ATM machine is not easy to locate
in the hotel. It’s not on the lobby floor, but instead it’s in the
mall downstairs in the rear. While the arcade of stores is great
for those visitors interested in shopping, it can be a bit
congested for business travelers.
Be Aware: The executive floors have views of
Beijing that are hard to beat. While the Beijing Suite is larger in
square footage than the Duplex Suite, the Duplex Suite feels larger
because of the two floors. The Duplex Suite is also less
Plugging In: All rooms include two-line
international direct-dial telephone with voice mail, high-speed
Internet access and a silent fax machine.
Clientele: The hotel targets both business and
upscale leisure travelers. High-end tour operators, like Pacific
Delight, use the Peninsula for the Beijing leg of its tour.
Rates: Rack rates for standard rooms begin at
$340; rates can be found on the hotel Web site for as low as $140.
Check site for reasonably priced packages as well. Suites from $400
Commission: 10 percent.