The Aman at Summer Palace
15, Gongmenqian Street, Summer Palace, Beijing, China, 100091
- Recommended for:
- Couples, Honeymooners, Design and architecture, Escaping the crowds, Relaxation, Romance, Special occasions
Best for Luxury - Expert review of The Aman at Summer Palace
If I had an imperial-sized bank account, I'd stay here every weekend. Within Aman’s labyrinth of criss-crossing courtyards, gardens and Ming-inspired suites lies the last word in space, refinement and resort-style luxury in Beijing. Fifty rooms share some 300 acres in a tantalisingly private plot adjoining the Summer Palace. In fact, several of the old courtyards were once used by high officials awaiting council with the infamously spiteful Empress Cixi. So not very relaxing in those days, one can assume. Times have certainly changed.
So close to the Summer Palace, it has its own secret entrance at the back of Longevity Hill. Of course this means you’re a way out the centre – it is a hotel for secluded getaways after all. The nearest subway station (Xiyuan, Line 4) takes you into the city centre in about 35 minutes. The hotel can organise bespoke excursions to all the major sights, but expect to pay many times over the standard rate.
The architecture might be all Qing Dynasty pomp, but the interiors adhere to a more minimalist Ming aesthetic. I stayed in one of the “smaller” suites – it was anything but – with artfully-placed furnishings resting on Jin clay floor tiles polished to a gorgeous lustre. It was the sort of space you hop from chair to chair just to ogle the room from a different angle. Bathrooms are echo-big, I loved the giant day bed to lounge about on, not to mention the BOSE music system, wide-screen TV and irrefutably the comfiest bathrobe in the universe – akin to being cuddled by a plush yeti. I would say to avoid the rooms closest to the road - the hum of buses can break the spell a bit.
The public areas are particularly lovely, especially if you count the Summer Palace. Like the Forbidden City, the important buildings run down the centre, here comprising the stately wood-beamed lobby, library (with books on Chinese history, art etc), boutique and bar, opening on to a lily-strewn pond. Covered walkways (like stunted versions of the Summer Palace’s Long Corridor) link up the various courtyards and are good for an afternoon stroll. It’s not unusual to wander into a room and encounter a solitary musician, no doubt having waited for ages for someone to pass through, start piping a tune.
Dining options comprise The Grill, for high-end steaks and burgers, and Naoki, for beautifully presented Japanese kaiseki – umpteen petite courses of deliciousness with a French twist. Set menus go from 780 RMB and up. And up some more. Both restaurants adjoin a pond with al fresco seating in warm weather. There’s also a smaller Chinese restaurant serving Cantonese and Imperial fare. The hotel can prepare a picnic for excursions into the Summer Palace or beyond, and it’s possible to organise romantic suppers at various picturesque locations on site, with 24 hours' prior notice.
The leisure facilities are some of the best in China. A fabulously well-equipped fitness studio, 25 metre infinity pool, spa, squash courts, Kim Robinson hair salon, 35 seat cinema (with button-controlled leather “lazy-boy” loungers), and a calendar of daily events (free) including Chinese paper cutting, table tennis and tea ceremony etiquette.
Check in is as ephemeral as the steam that rises from the hot towel they hand you on arrival. Before you know it you’re in your room, nibbling welcome cakes and marvelling at it all. Admittedly I was a bit taken aback by the overzealous turn-down service - the sun’s still out, please don’t close my curtains!
Honeymooners, special occasions, “Amanjunkies” and celebs but they won’t say who.
The published rates don’t change much, but use the booking tool to check for special package offers in winter. The 10 Courtyard Guestrooms, housed in one of the original century-old buildings, are cheaper than the suites and utterly lovely despite their more modest dimensions.
More information on The Aman at Summer Palace:
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- 15, Gongmenqian Street, Summer Palace, Beijing, China, 100091
- Free tags / Keywords:
- Summer Palace
- Business Centre, Fitness Centre, High-Speed Internet, Parking, Restaurant, Room Service, Swimming Pool
- Summer Palace