Jinrong Jie (Financial Street) is a newish business zone in central-west Beijing. In truth, it’s a bit sterile - the immediate surrounds comprise low-rise, multinational offices, malls and hotels - but that has its pluses. Streets are nicely laid-out, quiet and much less frenetic than other neighbourhoods. The area is short on dining options but fairly handy for some major sights, including Houhai Lake and the Forbidden City. A 20 minute stroll north takes you to Guangji Si, a little-visited Buddhist temple amidst a vibrant hutong area. Wander about a bit and you’ll happen upon one of my favourite “hidden gems”, a bone-white Tibetan dagoba like the one in Beihai Park, peeking out over grey rooftops.
Don’t expect old world opulence – rooms have a contemporary “apartment” vibe, all light woods, tans and creams. On my stay I found them spacious, restful and just a tad unadventurous, though even the standard rooms (50sqm) have some chichi quirks like a sexy chaise longue at the foot of the bed and a luxuriously-deep, white rug in the bathroom. Pricier rooms and suites boast giant, pod-shaped tubs with overhead TV and head pillow. The Ritz-Carlton Suite is one of the best in the city with its acres of polished wood floors, period furniture, and a private sauna.
You’d be forgiven for not noticing, but the hotel has been built according to fengshui spec. The lobby subtly throws out themes of water, metal, wood and earth – note the four trees, and the ‘rushing stream’ sculpture behind check-in. Auspicious it might be, but a lack of showy chandeliers will surprise regular Ritz-Carlton punters – the public areas are more about clean design and airy comfort.
Eating and drinking
The cookie-cutter “all-day dining restaurant” is notable for its excellent seafood buffets on Fridays and Saturdays. Italian restaurant Cepe is one of the city’s more expensive dining experiences, but generally on par. The Executive level food offerings are very generous, with five different spreads throughout the day and champagne at happy hour.
The womb-like Ritz-Carlton Spa in the basement has a fab Jacuzzi with submerged loungers, plus sauna, steam room, gym and long, narrow pool. A cinema screen at one end lets you watch vintage black and white films (well, half a one) as you do your lengths.
For such a busy hotel the staff are competent and friendly. Thumbs up for the welcome fruit bowl, but alas, the note from the manager wasn’t hand-written (too picky?). At turn-down, housekeeping can install a humidifier – a breathe-easy solution to Beijing’s dusty air.
Who stays there
Business execs, American and European travellers, Yao Ming (NBA star) Nicole Kidman, Celine Dion.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Business travellers
- Special occasions
Pros & Cons
- Well-designed, comfortable luxury
- Generally top notch service
- Location a bit sterile