Rosewood Beijing – a luxury hotel in the vertiginous Jing Guang skyscraper – looks imperial from outside, with lions guarding the door; but within its warm comfortable spaces would make those kitties curl up and purr. Staff are unfailingly friendly, the inner-city pool is glittering and green, and the spa feels a world away from Beijing’s bustle. Let a bevy of top chefs guide you through the local cuisine, and muse over the gallery’s worth of modern Chinese art; but above all, let yourself be very well looked after.
Get this when you book through us:
Free breakfast for two every day, a 20 per cent discount at Sense Spa and restaurants and bars, and late check out till 4pm and upgrades to the next room category if available
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £249.14 (CNY2,180), including tax at 16.6 per cent.
Rates exclude breakfast (CNY290 a person), but include free entry to Sense spa.
It’s worth spending extra for entry to the Manor Club (CNY850 a night, for each guest), this refined lounging space with a snooker table keeps guests remarkably well fed; breakfast with a live cooking station, afternoon tea and evening cocktails are included free. Take a little self-guided art tour; admire Zheng Lu’s calligraphic pieces, Jiang Shanchun’s portraits and Irish artist Denis Brown’s Chinese poetry-inspired work.
At the hotel
Spa and gym, yoga studio, nightclub, members’ club lounge and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: 50” LCD Smart TV and on-demand movies, Bluray player, Bluetooth music station and Samsung soundbar speakers, control panel for the lighting, air-conditioning and drapes, Nespresso coffee machine, selection of books, minibar and bespoke Lorenzo Villoresi bath products.
Our favourite rooms
It’s rare to have such a spacious room and a furnished balcony – big enough for alfresco drinks – in Beijing, so the Spa Suites are the most desireable. Each has a private entrance to the spa area (so if you’re even slightly famous, you’ll go undetected), but if that’s not exclusive enough, each bedroom has a massage table. Bathrooms feel indulgent too: tubs are big enough for a couple to stretch their legs in, and showers emit fragrant steam as you scrub. If that’s beyond your budget, book a Premier room, which has unobscured views of the iconic CCTV Headquarters.
The huge emerald-hued pool – for adults only – is lined in glittering gold tiles. A glass roof lets in the sunshine, and abundantly leafy sides add a tropical air. Rows of cushioned loungers keep guests comfy, and after dark there’s an ambient green glow and a chilled inner-city ambience. There’s a petite child-friendly pool, too
Sense spa has six treatment rooms and five dedicated Spa Suites for overnight stays, all with city-view balconies to relax on. Guests enter over a footbridge above a candle-dotted pool; there’s a steam room and sauna. Spa journeys combine massages, masks and body wraps; masseurs ease your muscles with saffron and flecks of gold; and Ban Ya Ka La facials call on traditional Chinese practices. Specialised treatments are offered for gents, mums-to-be and teens, too. Gym bunnies can hit the fitness room for a work-out – the treadmills have motivational city views – or stretch in the yoga studio.
Layer your best labels in your suitcase; the ultra-rich play and stay here, and many carry handbags with the same price tag as a sports car.
The hotel’s fully wheelchair-accessible, and some rooms are adapted for guests with mobility issues.
Well-behaved pooches and kitties under 20 kilogrammes are welcome, and beds, bowls and toys are free. Upgrade their stay with the Pamper Your Pet package (CNY2,800 a night), which includes a grooming treatment, dog-walking service and gourmet meal. See more pet-friendly hotels in Beijing.
All ages are welcome and Rosewood Explorers, the kids club, has plenty to keep little Smiths in raptures. Teen treatments are available in the spa, and Red Bowl and Country Kitchen are relaxed for family meals.
Tweens and teens.
Deluxe and Premier Rooms interconnect with Manor Suites to form private apartment-style stays.
For smalls, there are tricycles, arts and crafts supplies and board games. Enrol your juniors (aged 2–4) in a free pastry-decorating class held in Bistrot B on Sundays, or book swimming lessons. Older kids can borrow a gaming console and take a teen-tailored treatment in the spa. Beyond the hotel, the Chaoyang Theatre’s acrobats’ antics will entertain.
Close to the main pool, there’s a smaller, heated family-friendly pool; there’s no lifeguard so you may need to act as look-out.
The more casual Country Kitchen and Red Bowl are best suited to family meals.
Babysitters can be booked for CNY150 an hour. This must be booked a day in advance. Guests should pay the sitter in cash, and after midnight, a taxi fare of CNY100 will be added to the booking.
No need to pack
If you arrive with a baby in tow, formula, baby wipes and purées can be acquired by the helpful staff.
Sweet-tooths will thrill at the teetering ice-cream sundaes, pancakes, macarons, moon cakes and other treats on offer.
Bistrot B’s tropical terrace – a jungly medley of Boston ferns, Japanese fatsia, maidenhair and philodendron – offers peaceful respite from the city’s chaos.
Look the business in Bistrot B in tailoring or glittery trimmings; otherwise pack some stylish play-wear.
Set around an open-island kitchen, where chefs work a wood-fired grill and woks, Bistrot B serves soigné French fare at intimate tables or on its leafy terrace. A secluded tasting pairs old- and new-world wines with cheeses. In scarlet-hued Red Bowl, the humble hot-pot is celebrated; order a bowl at the bar or share a steaming pot at your table. Country Kitchen creates a cosy village-eatery feel with wood, brick and earthenware elements. Here, dine on northern Chinese dishes, including Beijing roast duck and Qing Dynasty-style roasted pork-belly. If you’re taking breakfast in the Manor Club, their generous buffet has prawn bar gan dumplings, wonton soup, make-your-own pancakes or waffles drizzled with citrus cream. Ingredients hail from local suppliers: Rongkin and Shunyi Farms, Le Fromager de Pekin and Liugou tofu village.
Mei is three bars in one: a spirited trinity of whisky, wine and cocktail bar, each dressed in exposed timber and brick with leather seating. There’s a private elevator entrance at street level, and the cocktails just eke into first place for drinks such as the Pisco Sour with marshmallow garnish. Bistrot B has a more grown-up feel; the city’s socialites gather here for afternoon tea and after dark business deals are bartered over long drinks and champagne. If you have access to the Manor Lounge, help yourself to free nightly cocktails with a kick.
Bistrot B’s breakfast runs from 6.30am–10.30am; lunch here or in Country Kitchen (Monday to Sunday) from 11.30am–2.30pm; and dinner is served 5.30pm–10.30pm throughout. Drinks are poured in Bistrot B’s lounge till midnight; on weekends, Mei closes at 3am.
Fancy breakfast in bed? Or a midnight snack? The staff will deliver local and international dishes to your door day or night. You can also order a nightcap, but minibars are handsomely stocked.
The hotel is housed in and around the Jing Guang Centre, in the Chaoyang District, which ranks among the world’s tallest skyscrapers. From this hyper-modern eyrie, puzzle over the mind-boggling, OMA-designed CCTV Headquarters and surrounding skyscrapers.
Beijing Capital International Airport is a 30-minute drive from the hotel. Virgin arrives from the UK, Air China and United from the US. If you’re flying across the Pacific, connect via Seoul or fly direct.
Hop on the Airport Express metro line, then change on line 10 for the Hujialou stop, a five-minute walk from the hotel. The fare for each journey is CNY2, but a Transportation Smart Card allows for easy sightseeing throughout your stay.
Beijing’s metro system is comprehensive and cheap, whereas the traffic system is a little more frustrating. However, if you need a car, there’s a hire booth at the airport; to reach the hotel, take the S12 Airport Expressway then change at the East Third Ring Road. If taking a taxi, bring a phrasebook – the language barrier can seem impenetrable at times.
Worth getting out of bed for
Rosewood Beijing’s suited-and-booted location isn’t all business; the avant garde scenes of the 798 Art Zone or lesser-mused-over Cao Chang Di Art Area (both a 20-minute drive) draw a cool and cultured crowd. In the former, swot up on Beijing’s contemporary artists, from boundary-pushing performances at Beijing Tokyo Art Projects, where He Yunchang cast himself in concrete, to superstar shows throughout 798 District, where Zeng Fanzhi and Cai Guo-Qiang have exhibited work. The latter has galleries gaining in popularity; see modernised inks at Pékin Fine Arts, sophisticated snaps at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, and the striking works in the industrial, concrete-clad Red Brick Art Museum. Wander past dinky shops and historic siheyuan houses lining the city’s hutongs (alleyways). Shoppers can nab some of Beijing’s finest souvenirs at bold designer Vega Zaishi Wang’s boutique, Principle M tailors, and hip designer store Dong Liang Studio. The hotel can arrange a special trip to the ‘wild’ sections of the Great Wall: sections of the Unesco World Heritage site from Simatai to Jinshanling and around Xiangshui Lake. Guests can also combine a visit to the Taoist Temple of Earth with a traditional tea ceremony at the Liu Xian Guan teahouse, next to the 600-year-old Confucious Temple. A stay here is also an excellent chance to learn some authentic Chinese recipes; one of the hotel’s talented chefs can accompany you to the market then show you how to whip up a feast, divulging tips and tricks along the way.
Beijing has a great gastronomic heritage, so restaurants nearby will serve up a sumptuous meal and often teach you how to make it too. At Hutong Kitchen guests learn how to sculpt tofu and julienne potatoes with a cleaver before dining on the decadent results; and they’ll help you perfect your Peking duck glaze. Set just off the gentrified Nanluoguxiang stretch, Mercantestands out for its intimate setting, with just eight tables, and home-made Italian fare, such as house-made parpadelle topped with a duck or rabbit ragu. Black Sesame Kitchen, along Zhong Lao Hutong is a cosy eatery with cookery classes at luncthime and convivial wine-and-dine meals in the evening.
The dumplings at Baoyuan Jiaozi Wu are perhaps Beijing most colourful; these plump parcels of joy – filled with pork and cabbage, broccoli and apricot kernels and more – are denoted by crispy purple, orange and green shells (+86 (0)10 6586 4967). 1901 Café, in the Xicheng District, has a unique setting in 18th-century Xishiku Church, where guests sip their cups of joe in the baroque-style annex.
Beijing’s bar scene moves from groomed cocktail bars to drinks in ancient temples. The besuited barkeeps at Ginza-style speakeasy D.Bespoke take their tipples very seriously; mixologist Daiki Kanetaka spent four months in Jerez to get his sherry-sommelier certficate and honed his skills at Scotland’s Ardbeg and Glenfiddich distilleries. Hipsters head to Parisian-style Modernista bar for its shabby-chic art deco-aping setting and live music – they even have mahjong tiles if you’re after a low-key night. Contempio, on the site of a 600-year-old temple has a serene courtyard for daytime coffees and after-dark cocktails alike (+86 (0)10 6407 6778). VA Bar (+86 (0)10 5844 3638) has one of the city’s most authentic music scenes, the punters crowding into its one room are there to listen, not just look cool. School Bar is owned by the bassist from Chinese punk band Joyside, so its duly littered with gig posters and live bands play fast and loose; but this dive-y rock venue has a grown-up air and makes for a fun night.
People aren’t exaggerating when they accuse China’s hazy, brown-hued capital of some serious ugly face. Thank goodness, then, for the creamy marble opulence of the Rosewood – it sweeps you into its chic world from the second you set foot in its high-ceilinged lobby.
Mr Smith and I are feeling a little rough after our flight from London; thankfully check-in to our Grand Studio Room is swift and attentive. So attentive, in fact, that our bags and bodies arrive into our spacious suite almost without me realising.
Our room is wonderfully wide – gifting us with the full panorama of Beijing’s unprepossessing but fascinating skyline. Elsewhere, this Rosewood goes large: large bath; large desk; large chaise lounge… and a large bowl of mini puff pastries which we promptly devour before passing out in our large bed between some excellently large (and soft) sheets.
We’re pleasantly surprised when we wake up by just how much better Beijing at night looks. Against the skyscraper-lit backdrop we notice some of the rooms finer touches, like the freshly cut purple tulips stylishly arranged in a copper vase, which set off the black wooden furniture perfectly. The tasty loose leaf tea sipped from a charming tea-set – while admiring our transformed nightscape from our cream leather chaise – provides the perfect aperitif for our first night in the heart of China (the slight whiff of smog cured by a pleasingly silent air purifier which is speedily procured for us).
Then it was time to head out and explore our new surrounds. One of the few drawbacks to this majestic hotel is its location: it’s right in the heart of the business district, which means taxis or the (surprisingly easy) metro are a must. We prefer to have on-foot action all around us, without the need for wheels, but the very helpful concierge crew sort us dinner just around the corner. When in what-used-to-be-Peking, it’s Peking duck all the way – this one ends up being my favourite meal of our whole China voyage.
The Rosewood is also excellently situated for the Chaoyang theatre – where we head to witness a mind-bendingly brilliant acrobatics show. Back at the hotel – feeling grateful we didn’t have to ride motorbikes at high speed in a globular metal cage – we retreat to the heavenly and (unsurprisingly) high-end spa.
A refreshing dip in the pool – in a vast and airy atrium, complete with a properly hot tub – would sort anyone out, but two jetlagged Brits? It’s bang on the money, even after a kilo of roast duck. Obviously we ignore the gym, yoga schedule and anything else vaguely motivational; the treatment menu looks quite comprehensive enough – albeit a touch pricey.
More sleep and then… the pièce de résistance: the epic Rosewood breakfast. I’m a breakfast queen at the best of times, but I need almost the entire morning to traverse the whole offering. In one sitting I eat my way around the world: mouthwatering jianping (Chinese savoury pancakes) and steamed buns; buttery French croissants; American bacon, syrup and fluffy waffles. I know – I’m impressed with my stamina, too, but I let myself down by chickening out of trying hen’s feet (and remain in awe of the four-year old girl tucking into her portion). I’ll go as far as to say this is the best breakfast spread I can remember.
Mr Smith eventually drags me away to the Summer Palace for a full day of walking, marvelling at pagodas and general imperial beauty, before we gratefully return to our cool sanctuary for a soothing soak in the hot tub.
The Country Kitchen began to beckon – one of four restaurants in the hotel; the one rumoured to do a mean roast duck and pancake combo. You can guess my order – and it comes with a side plate of crispy duck skin and sugar. I mean, as if it wasn’t tasty enough, they go and do that… And no, I don’t get bored of ordering Peking duck in Beijing; I can’t get enough of the stuff. But we also plump for juicy handmade noodles, fiery Sichuan-style sea bass, sweet Gong Bao chicken and fluffy egg-fried rice – chased down with cool Chinese beer.
The food is faultless; the atmosphere less so. Perhaps the restaurant would benefit from shifting a few stories skywards to get a better view of Beijing’s memorable panorama? Even in all its ugly-duckling glory…
When we retire to bed, we’re met with a beautiful sight. No, not the toilet with its familiar Western toilet seat (I was now two days into China’s hole-in-the-floor-style loos), I’m talking about the bunch of long stemmed fresh red roses laid on the bed, tied together by a silk ribbon, and the petal borders around our sinks that greet us as we go to brush our teeth. I’d mentioned before we arrived that it was our anniversary while we were staying – this was a nice way of marking it.
It’s these little things that help you feel at home this far from home. From the attentive staff to the sumptuous furnishings, Rosewood Beijing made our first time in China a warm and decidedly glamorous experience. Xièxiè!