‘It says here that the Ming Emperors of China barely left the opulence of the Forbidden City unless it was absolutely necessary,’ enthused Mr Smith, reading from the guidebook as we drew up outside Hotel G in Beijing. Taking in the sumptuous lobby with its wall of futuristic fibre-optic lights, a leather-clad central pillar and gorgeous lounge-lizard couches, we quickly started to feel much the same way about our own boutique pleasure-palace. The state-of-the-art gym, two restaurants and office suite that we went on to discover, plus all sorts of complimentary G-Goodies, quickly sealed the deal. A gentle metamorphosis took place in the lift to our room, and we emerged reborn as Emperor and Empress Smith.
As such, we expected truly regal levels of space and self-indulgence, and Hotel G satisfied our every imperial whim. Thanks to the inspiration of British design guru Mark Lintott, even the entry-level Good bedrooms are loft-like, with room for lavish purple paisley sofas. Our Great room was even larger, with dramatic shadow-stencilled walls, floor-kissing taffeta drapes and a deep downy grey carpet. The retro lights were low, the furniture sleekly 1960s and there were gadgets galore. But they were just understudies to the real star of the show, the bed. Framed by a dreamy screen and maroon-leather headboard, it was sleek, silky and massive, and we were tempted to slip between the sheets then and there…
But first we had a Friday night to plan. Now, make no mistake, Beijing is a behemoth. It blows every other city out of the water, it’s bigger than big. It's the size of Belgium (fact!) and it shows no mercy to the lost. You need to know where you're going or else you'll collapse in a heap before you get there. This is where Hotel G's Guest Service Ambassadors enter stage left, clad in Chinese fashionista Han Feng-designed uniforms. Martin and Geoff will ease your path into discreet, no-name restaurants and exquisite traditional teahouses, making you feel like a glamorous local-in-the-know. We requested something special and, in the blink of an eye, Martin booked us the best table at renowned concept restaurant Green T House, just a quick skip from Hotel G. Another wink, and top tickets to the Flying Acrobats at Chao Yang Theatre were delivered personally to our door.
Following an evening of delicious fusion food and energetic entertainment, we returned to Hotel G to find it shining disco-bright, with every window a different neon square, gleeful in its glowing individualism. Heading to bed, we discovered sweet turn-down treats, plus a menu offering a variety of mood pillows seemingly inspired by Snow White's dwarves; Glamorous; Grumpy; Genial; Guilty; and Gaily.
After a night of acrobatics, both Chinese and otherwise, we ventured downstairs for breakfast, served in Scarlett, Hotel G's newly opened glamour-bistro. Choosing between Western, Vegetarian, Chinese or Sweet plates was a delightfully difficult task, but it was nothing on the challenge of trying to taste everything else on offer at the buffet. Pastries vied for attention with Chinese congee, while cured meats jostled with smoked salmon and cheeses. There was a lot of food you'd choose to eat for your first meal of the day, and more you'd try for fun.
Satisfied, we decided a little light sightseeing might be in order and, instantly, Geoff arranged a car to take us to Tiananmen Square. Here we were treated like celebrities, as tourists from remote areas of China asked us to join them in their holiday snaps. Happy with our novelty factor, we said ‘Qié zi’ on cue (‘Eggplant’ not ‘Cheese’), before sashaying like supermodels over to the Forbidden City.
Like most things in China, the palace was a lot bigger than we had bargained for, and we felt a little footsore on our return to the hotel. So instead of stopping at one of the many hip nightspots we'd seen on our stroll the night before, we opted for an evening of champagne and room service. As music from the iPod speakers set the mood, I settled back into a bath of L'Occitane bubbles, and admired the soothing minimalist lines of the bathroom. Dark stone flooring and polished white tiling were given a touch of Hotel G glamour, and a wall of copper Murano tiles gleamed above the tub. While I wallowed, Mr Smith opted for an invigorating rainstorm power shower, and I emerged, snug in my robe, to find him thrashing Roger Federer on the Nintendo Wii – just one of the gadgets offered on the Goodies menu.
Swapping the game for a romantic DVD, we shared delicious noodles and chocolate mousse, and snuggled down in front of the giant plasma-screen. Later, spoiled and sated, we toasted our stay, and agreed that the cosseted imperial lifestyle of old had nothing on the opulent luxury of Hotel G.
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Smith extra at Hotel G
Guaranteed 11am check-in and 4pm check-out, a glass of champagne each on arrival, and a replenished pastry plate throughout your stay