Staying in the midst of Beijing’s best open-plan shopping, dining and nightlife district won’t suit travellers seeking local colour, but it’s the perfect stomping ground for night owls. From here it’s a breeze getting a taxi out to the sights, and you’re well-placed for the best of the city’s high-end, international dining.
The minimalist, ‘yoga-studio’ aesthetic of white walls and light woods makes a refreshing change from big-chain luxury, though a conspicuous absence of carpet and marble (even the bath is made of wood) leaves Chinese guests scratching their heads. Standard rooms come with flat-screen TVs, music players, lovely Egyptian cotton beds and spa-inspired bathing areas partitioned by glass and a muslin curtain. ‘Studio 95’ suites (the number referring to the size in square metres) come with private balconies (rare in Beijing) while the Studio 115s have their own Jacuzzi tubs.
A giant, wooden front door opens into a lofty atrium spread with contemporary Chinese sculpture installations on a three month rotation. Guest rooms wrap around vertigo-inducing balcony levels, so from the lobby you can gaze all the way up to the skylit ceiling, where ‘drapes’ of woven steel lope languidly downwards. It’s very pretty and refreshingly sunny. In clever contrast, lifts descend to the “egg”, a gun-metal coloured, pod-shaped basement space leading to the hotel’s equally moody–hued restaurants and nightclub.
Eating and drinking
In a word, special. Bei serves “north Asian” fusion – sort of Japanese-inspired northern Chinese, the work of a Japanese-schooled American chef. Sureno is the city’s most stylish Italian restaurant, with its outdoor “sunken garden” and wood-fired ovens. Mesh is a cocktail bar with industrial styling – a little bleak for my tastes – and creative house martinis. Punk is the haunt of Beijing’s beautiful people, lauded for its hip music policy and lack of cover charge. In the lobby, Village Café is a particularly sunny spot for breakfast and SE-Asian inspired lunches.
The stainless steel pool, lit above by hanging wires of twinkling fibre optics, is quite astonishing, though somewhat cold and uninviting, and I don't mean the water temperature. To one side is the typically well-equipped fitness studio.
The management have clearly gone to great pains to imbue the service experience with a sort of professional informality. Staff in casual outfits conduct check-in on sofas, turn-down gifts include face-masks for Beijing’s dry air, and everything in the mini-bar is free.
Who stays there
Media, fashion, art types, celebs and anyone with a MacBook.
With just 99 rooms it books up early, but you can find seasonal reductions around Christmas and Chinese New Year.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Celebrity spotting
- Design and architecture
Pros & Cons
- Great restaurants
- The place to be seen
- Singular design and style
- Not really suitable for kids
- Area low on local colour
- No swimming pool