Down a shabby side street beside the Workers Stadium - probably not the place you'd expect to find one of Beijing's hippest hotels. If you’re after authentic old city atmosphere, look elsewhere. If nightclubs are your bag, Beijing’s biggest are a few hundred yards away (far enough away to be out of earshot, however).
Rooms range from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’ to ‘Greatest’ – their terms, not mine, though I don’t strongly disagree. ‘Good’ rooms (45sqm) come with giant flat screen TVs, iPod docks and complimentary soft drinks in the mini bar. All rooms are minimally furnished –the decorative theme is set by moody hues of pebble grey, silver and violet in the carpets, walls and bedding, accented by burlesque-patterned fabrics and oversized black and white Hollywood prints. Personally I dig it, though some might find the rooms over-designed and on the dark side. The ‘Greatest’ digs are accessorized with Nintendo Wiis, iMacs and other boys’ toys.
A less than striking lobby does the rest of the place a bit of a disservice. Dark and dingy, it matches the uniforms of the desk staff, though not their countenances thankfully.
Eating and drinking
Scarlett is the best kind of hotel restaurant, precisely because it doesn’t feel like one. Brasserie-inspired food like croque-monsuier, pasta, burgers and dozens of tapas dishes is complimented by an excellent wine list (many by the glass) and quite possibly the best cheeseboard in China. It can get pretty wild any night of the week. Breakfast (Chinese, American, Continental) is included in the price, but service can be a bit chaotic at peak times.
A small gym looks out on to a long under-utilised roof terrace (though this is the year they’ll put a bar up there, they assure me). Bike hire and in-room massage is also available. The hotel can arrange some cool jaunts too, like walking-tours with prominent local artists.
Staff come over more relaxed than in other hotels (you might even say a sort of measured ambivalence) but in my experience they’re mostly committed and efficient.
Who stays there
Young urbanites, media types, fashionistas up from Hong Kong and Shanghai. Oh, and a bunch of American football stars when I was staying there.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Seasoned travellers
- Live entertainment
- People watching
Pros & Cons
- One of Beijing’s hippest hotels
- Generous rooms for the price
- Great bar / restaurant
- Not really suitable for kids
- Design won’t please everyone