Guests will appreciate the Shangri-La’s unique gardens. // © 2013 Shangri-La Hotel Bejing
Whether you are booking a property for a business or leisure client involving a stay in China’s capital, the old bromide that a hotel is just a place to sleep certainly doesn’t hold. The five-star hotels here offer outstanding service and amenities, but in settings that include museum-quality artwork and striking decor.
Three of these luxury properties are the Grand Hyatt Beijing, the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing and the Peninsula Beijing.
In a culture that respects, even reveres, age, the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing deserves its status as a top hotel for a variety of reasons — not the least of which is that it was the first five-star international hotel to open in West Beijing more than 25 years ago.
There’s nothing dated about the property as it is today, though. The 670-room Shangri-La lacks nothing in the way of elegance and service. The property is divided into the Garden Wing and the newer Valley Wing, the latter of which offers slightly larger rooms plus a number of upgraded in-room amenities and access to the Valley Lounge on the 12th floor. Guests have computers with Internet access, are served a complimentary breakfast and can partake of complimentary beverages and canapes all day with cocktails served between 5 and 7 p.m.
Despite its urban location, the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing boasts a garden nearly 10,000 square feet in area with a traditional pavilion and tranquil koi pond as well as a rooftop garden. For the more energetic, there’s an indoor heated swimming pool and a gym that is one of the largest in Beijing.
Of importance to the international business visitor is the Shangri-La’s location near government ministries, universities and major private sector companies.
When opened in 1989, the Palace Hotel was among the capital city’s most distinguished properties. But a few years later, Hong Kong-based Peninsula Hotels took over its management (along with making a substantial capital investment) and began spending liberally to give the property a new look and feel. With a sweeping $35 million renovation that included a host of new features, the Peninsula name was added and the capital’s visitors had a new five-star property at their disposal.
While the decor and design are striking, the makeover was far more than cosmetic. The Club Lounge, for example, more than doubled in size. It now accommodates guests staying in any of the three Club floors, providing them with a variety of complimentary amenities and access to an adjoining satellite business center. Created off the main lobby was the Peninsula Arcade, an area boasting more than 40 high-end boutiques and shops.
To facilitate communication, each room is equipped with high-speed broadband access, Wi-Fi access, a fax machine and, a feature found in all Peninsula properties, an electronic bedside panel from which all room functions are conveniently controlled.
In true Peninsula style, guests are, of course, afforded airport transfers or other transportation in the hotel’s own fleet of cars, which currently includes two Rolls Royces, 10 BMW 750s and two Mercedes Benz Vianos.
More than 10 percent of the 525 rooms are suites — this includes the spectacular 10-room Peninsula Suite. Encompassing some 7,100 square feet with 10 rooms, the Peninsula Suite feels more like a luxury apartment than a hotel room.
Being in the center of the action is a given with the Grand Hyatt Beijing. For starters, the 18-story property is located within the Oriental Plaza in central Beijing, described as “China’s largest commercial complex.” Its prestigious Number 1 address on what is considered Beijing’s Main Street, puts guests within a 15-minute walk of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, as well as chic shopping and adjoining office towers where many top international companies have their China headquarters.
Opened in 2001, the Grand Hyatt has 825 rooms and suites and, while its decor is predominantly contemporary, there are ample touches that reflect the capital city’s Imperial past, including marble floors, sweeping curved staircases with golf-leaf lattice handrails and waterfall glass pillars.
Broadband access and two-line phones are in the rooms, and Wi-Fi access is offered in all public areas and function rooms for a charge. Popular amenities include the property’s 180-foot-long indoor swimming pool and a 24-hour fitness room.