BEIJING Two decades after foreign tourists began trickling back
into the “Middle Kingdom,” Beijing boasts five-star hotels to go
with its famous delights: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the
wonderful cuisine. Now, a newer Beijing is being born, evidenced by
construction cranes silhouetted against the sky and taxicab windows
with banners heralding the 2008 Summer Games: “Build New Beijing.
Hold Great Olympics.”
Amid the hubbub, however, there still are a few old Chinese
gems: hotels situated along the hutongs, meandering alleyways where
traditional courtyard homes are spread out behind gracefully aging
No hotel better evokes the feeling of old Beijing than the
Bamboo Garden Hotel. Narrow pathways snake through courtyards that
whisper with the rustling stalks and shoots of green bamboo.
There’s a wonderful tearoom in a corner of the gardens, woodsy
and perfect for reading a novel. Some rooms have Ming Dynasty
touches like teak canopy beds, polished wood floors and porcelain
Long before being host to international luminaries like Muhammed
Ali, the complex was home to officials of the Qing Dynasty, which
ended with the Revolution of 1911. During the past two years, many
of the drab Western-style guest rooms have been renovated, giving
them a more authentic Chinese decor and improving the ambiance of
Clients with an appreciation for the unusual will enjoy
discovering the Bamboo Garden.
The first luxury hotel to open in Beijing, the Palace Hotel, is
changing its name next month to The Peninsula Palace.
It is also welcoming a second decade with a freshly renovated
lobby with spiffy retail spaces for Piaget, Prada and Christian
Dior, as well as Tiffany’s first store in China.
The renovation also has added a new room class to the hotel, the
$500-a-night Beijing Suite, which includes a master bedroom with a
marble bathroom, a spacious living room with a 42-inch plasma
television, a complete audio-visual system with centralized
speakers and subwoofers and a dining/meeting area.
At The St. Regis Beijing, every room comes with butler service,
including the Ambassador Suite, room 1716, where Andrew Lloyd
Webber stayed in 2001 before the music gala in his honor at the
Great Hall of the People.
The hotel recently opened a spa that features hot spring water
drawn from almost 5,000 feet below the earth’s surface.
The Grand Hotel Beijing has an incredible location overlooking
the Forbidden City and a short stroll from Tiananmen Square.
Rooms were renovated recently and the beds all have silken
canopies. Next month the Grand Hyatt Beijing will open a new bar,
Red Moon, and a new restaurant, Made In China.
To celebrate, travel agents can stay at the hotel for $60 a
night as part of a Hyatt International promotion, which is
available through the end of September. All of the hotel’s 531
guest rooms and suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows with views
of Beijing’s historic districts. The concierge here is glad to help
joggers map out running routes to and around Tiananmen Square and
the Forbidden City.
The hotel also is very close to the Wanfujing shopping district.
This street, a few blocks east of Tiananmen Square and mostly given
over to pedestrians, usually is filled with shoppers looking for
the latest Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Nike and other international
Among those familiar labels are some homegrown brands of
cashmere sweaters, down jackets and silk pajamas that are real