Cool Corner Rooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows that look out to Beijing’s old city wall. // © 2016 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
Feature image (above): Guests can enjoy cocktails and snacks while listening to DJs at W / Lounge. // © 2016 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
As I arrived at W Beijing - Changan last April, a seasonal sandstorm approached. Luckily, the hotel’s tall and chic Jill Jiao was standing in the doorway to usher me inside.
Jiao is the property’s “W Insider,” the brand’s unique and personable take on a concierge. Over the course of my four-night stay, she provided oodles of personal introductions to local movers and shakers and helped me access some of Beijing’s most interesting nooks and crannies.
One of these was the 349-room W Beijing itself, which brings a dose of modern bling and cutting-edge fashion, design and music culture to mainland China’s capital. Shanghai may lay claim to the country’s most futuristic skyline and partier reputation, but W Beijing truly represents a game-changer for the comparatively conservative, early-to-bed, early-to-rise city.
Electronic dance music fills the lobby and its W / Lounge, which features an LED-lit catwalk, a DJ booth and a glass-enclosed extension wing. The 25th floor’s X 25 venue hosts international DJ stars and excellent bands from Beijing’s prolific yet largely underground music scene.
The monolithic building is easily identified by a glowing W icon and, come evening, an even larger W is created with lights across the entire facade. A W-emblazoned walk bridge provides easy access to a subway stop and Beijing’s rail station, while the famed silk market is about 20 minutes by foot.
My room proved spacious and contemporary, yet not over the top. Floor-to-ceiling windows and electronic shades revealed views of ancient Ming Dynasty city wall remains and the aforementioned sandstorm, which, by morning, fortuitously cleared away the thick, fog-like haze of pollution. The hotel is equipped with an air purification system to counteract sometimes dangerous air pollution levels that plague the city. I took in the blue-skied sight from a circular lounge chair that swivels around via remote control.
For breakfast, I gorged on a dizzying buffet of Chinese and Western fare at The Kitchen Table restaurant, which features a wall lined with doorknob-like golden dumplings. And for lunch at on-site Chinese restaurant Yen, I sampled the Golden Beijing Duck, which is rubbed with gold dust and requires 24 hours to prepare.
I then swam in the 20-meter, heated indoor Wet pool and savored a relaxing honey oil massage and detoxifying honey tonic in the Away Spa, which is themed around bees and their nectar.
Finally, I was off to an after-party in X 25, swelling with Beijing’s most fashionable crowd. However, I discreetly made a French exit to my room for a relaxing soak in its sizeable freestanding tub.
To be sure, things just got a whole lot less early-to-bed around here.