Looking for the real Beijing? You’ve found it, if by real you mean luxury malls, international restaurants, Audis and Starbucks. Don’t come expecting maotai and mahjong; this is the brave new centre of China’s economic miracle and you are at the very top. The hotel is handy for some sights, mind: the Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square are a short cab or subway hop away. Shoppers, too, are spoilt for choice. There’s the China World Mall next door for the real thing, the Silk Market up the road for knock-offs, and the Pearl Market and Panjiayuan Antiques Market are both nearby. High-rolling night owls are well catered for - it’s in amongst the city’s higher-end nightlife.
Muted cream and cocoa hues, dark wood surfaces and classic oriental flourishes – I love falling asleep under the floor-to-ceiling mural of mist-swathed mountains. Even the basic rooms are big (at least 55sqm) with humongous baths and wardrobes built to a Narnia spec. All come with jaw-dropping views as standard; request a west-facing room to ogle the rooftops of the Forbidden City if the atmosphere allows it (and the windows are clean). You can even call the lobby for a pair of binoculars. Luxury exceeds expectations: a pillow menu, gourmet teas, iPod dock, L’OCCITANE bathroom products, and a TV built into the bathroom mirror.
At first, the China World Tower is a confusion of false lobbies, escalators and lifts that don’t seem to join up. The compact Residents Lobby on the 64th floor is where you need to head. For the exclusive use of hotel guests, it has the look and feel of an Old World gentlemen’s club – the sort of place conducive to hushed business dealings in brown leather armchairs over a cigar or two (thankfully it’s no smoking). Muted floor lamps get the mood just right, and vintage brass telescopes line the windows. Coffee, tea and snacks are free, and a slick little business centre is kitted out with Apple iMacs, and bizarrely, a full collection of John Grisham novels. On the 80th floor, The Lounge offers afternoon tea, a grand piano and yet more views.
Eating and drinking
Grill 79 up top deals in prime cuts of Australian Wagyu beef (what else?) at prices just as eye-watering as the view – burgers are better value. Atmosphere Bar has quickly risen to the top of Beijing’s roster of cool cocktail venues, helped by surprisingly reasonable prices. The bartenders have a rep for being surly, but I haven’t noticed. At level 4 you’ll find contemporary Japanese kaiseki restaurant Nadaman and Hong Kong import Fook Lam Moon for smart Cantonese.
The 25 metre infinity pool on the 78th floor might just be the highlight of your trip. Have a dip at dusk to see the whole of Beijing switch its lights on. The fitness centre is equally swanky, with buff personal trainers ready to tone you up. Shangri-La’s signature Chi spa a floor below is pure, rose-petals-in-water pampering at serious prices. If retail is your pleasure, the hotel has a personal shopper to help part you of your renminbi.
Effortless in-room check-in, welcome tea, a turn-down service – these are just the trimmings. Service maintains an admirably low profile, but there’s always someone on hand when you need something.
Who stays there
Company CEOs, Diplomats, Bill Gates.
Breafast costs extra but in-room wireless is included in room rates. Cheaper rooms in Jan / Feb.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Business travellers
- Great views / scenery
- Special occasions
Pros & Cons
- Fabulous swimming pool in the sky
- Fine eating and drinking options
- Typical Shangri-La luxury
- All guest rooms offer stunning views
- Business atmosphere not to everyone's tastes
- CBD location short on tradition