Need to know
Fifty-one, including 33 suites.
Noon. Check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible subject to availability and a fee (half a night’s stay for check-out until 6pm and a full night’s stay for early check-in and later check-out).
Double rooms from $477.73 (CNY3,300), excluding tax at 15 per cent.
Rates include breakfast; choose from Continental, Chinese, low-calorie or American options alongside fresh fruit and fine teas. Cultural activities, a tea ceremony and soft drinks in the minibar are also included.
The library is home to rare works on the Summer Palace and glossy photography books on the region. Chinese calligraphy demonstrations are hosted here and the hotel also runs free cultural activities at 4pm every day, ranging from paper-cutting to kite-making.
At the hotel
Gardens, spa, gym, Pilates studio, squash court, table tennnis, private cinema, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, minibar, tea and coffee making facilities, Aroma Therapy toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Set in clusters of three pavilions surrounding a tranquil inner courtyard, rooms are dressed in natural hues and polished wood inspired by the Ming Dynasty. Deluxe Suites are serene and romantic, with imposing four-poster beds and inviting day-beds made for languid reclining. With deep sunken baths, double sinks and traditional lamps, their bathrooms have the intimate, cosseting feel of a bath house. Sprawling across three pavilions, the Imperial Suite is its own little compound, with drum-stool seating, a private spa treatment room and floor-to-ceiling carved-wood panels. Ask for a room in the courtyard closest to the palace’s wall: the sound of the daily Chinese opera performances (at 9, 10 and 11am) wafting over from the great stage will transport youto the heyday of the Chinese empire.
Aman’s temperature-controlled 25m pool is an ink-blue, mirror-smooth affair, hidden away in an atmospheric subterranean retreat. Rows of loungers and raised day-beds await around its edges – a perfect excuse for a vitamin-packed treat from the juice bar after a few virtuous laps.
All rough-hewn stone and sleek wood, the Aman spa sprawls over two floors as an underground temple devoted solely to guests’ wellbeing. Each of the nine twin treatment suites has its own bath tub, shower, steam room and massage area. Get acquainted with your chi with treatments designed by the Qing Dynasty’s own Chinese medicine practice. Acupuncture, herbal poultices and cupping form the backbone of the spa’s treatment menu, but there’s plenty for those hungry for indulgence, too: try heated gemstone massages, wild jasmine wraps and ginger-rich scrubs. Kick-start a new regime in the fitness suite, an impressively hi-tech, sky-lit space kitted out with Technogym equipment and Pilates reformers, offering daily classes at 2pm. Forgot to pack a partner for the two squash courts? The hotel’s personal trainers will happily put you through your paces.
Bring a copy of Cixi’s biography to immerse yourself in the Empress Dowager’s life of intrigue and political machinations, which shaped the last throes of the Qing Dynasty.
The private cinema shows films every day at 6pm. Sink into one of the deep leather seats with a bowl of popcorn, or book the space to yourself to play festival programmer. Guestrooms and Family Suites are accessible to disabled guests.
Welcome, although extra beds are only available in Suites and above. Under-12s stay free (4-11s are charged CNY300 for breakfast each day); older children are charged CNY700 a night including breakfast.