Like many capital cities, Beijing has no shortage of five star hotels. But not all five star hotels are created equal and the Rosewood Beijing is several steps above the norm. Checking into this hotel is akin to arriving at a celebrity event with not only an abundance of luxury cars, but also a plethora of beautiful people adorning the ground floor. We had been out all day touring the city prior to our arrival and looked far from glamorous but the staff didn’t miss a beat. Despite the fact this hotel is stylish, it is in no way pretentious. Our arrival in the lobby was met with welcoming smiles and the ultra-efficient staff had us checked in in no time.
We stayed in a Club Premier Room which had 50 square metres of space and an ultra comfortable king size bed, chaise lounge beside the window, sofa, coffee table, lounge chair, workstation desk and large windows that overlooked the iconic CCTV building. The room’s generous size meant there was ample space for our son’s rollaway bed without making our accommodation seem cramped. A cute toy monkey and an invitation to choose from a long list of games, including the having the latest Xbox set up in the room, was waiting when we arrived.
Our room was beautifully decorated with colours of gold, soft browns and creams with an elegant selection of art, books and accessories, all of which had a local connection. This gave the room a residential feel and made it seem cosy and homely. My favourite feature was the marble bathroom which had a huge bathtub and separate rain shower, both of which were enclosed in a glass screened area. Bespoke bathroom amenities by Lorenzo Villoresi were in plentiful supply and smelled divine. Added extras for club rooms include a fully stocked complimentary mini bar with premium beer and soft drink selection, Nespresso coffee machine, four pieces of laundry per day and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi and broadband Internet access.
However, the best feature without a doubt has to be access to the Manor Club, the Rosewood Beijing’s club lounge. The Manor Club is one of the largest club lounges in Asia, with an impressive 820 square meters of space, and it seems to go on forever when you first walk in. There are three separate lounge areas, a pool table in a separate room and an informal bar counter. The club has a casual, intimate and cosy atmosphere consistent with an old English manor house, albeit with a subtle Chinese twist here and there. There is also an outdoor open air smoking area with comfortable lounges and a meeting room tucked off to one side near reception which caters to business travellers. The Manor Club is staffed by some of the most efficient, personable and charming staff we have come across in our travels.
One of the advantages with such a large space is you can always find a place to suit your mood, no matter what time of day you visit. In the morning, we enjoyed sitting overlooking the city and ordered made-to-order-eggs from the club’s chef station. In the afternoon, an assortment of savory and sweet treats were served with traditional Chinese loose leaf teas or espresso style coffee. At some club lounges, there can be a disconnect created between leisure travellers and business travellers, both of whom have different needs. However, this lounge catered to each group of customers equally well. Also, the large amount of space meant it was easy for leisure travellers like us to avoid colleagues ‘talking shop’ while we were there on holiday.
The evening drinks and cocktail offering was extensive with an assortment of old and new world wines, including a choice of premium Champagnes, plus a chef’s station serving a selection of noodles and contemporary western-style dishes which changed each night. The evening food offering also included a beautifully curated table of cheeses, breads, nuts and sweets. Our favourite spot to sit in the evening was by the modern gas fireplace where we could relax and make plans for the following day. Staff would always stop by and ask what we had planned for tomorrow. We loved their insider tips for getting the most out of our Beijing visit.
On level six there is a huge 830-square meter indoor heated swimming pool, although we found the water a little too cold and spent our time in the jacuzzi. Sense Spa is located on the same floor plus there is an extensive gym, yoga room and a separate juice bar serving a selection of blended juices, waters and ice teas. However, we were more excited about the hotel’s restaurants. We had heard the Rosewood Beijing was a favourite with local diners and found out first hand that this was true. It was lucky we were staying at the hotel for a few nights as we couldn’t get a table at Country Kitchen on the first evening of our mid-week stay. With its hand made noodles, signature Peking duck and traditional wood fired oven, the staff explained Country Kitchen is always in high demand.
One thing we loved about the Rosewood Beijing’s restaurants was how much we learned about traditional Beijing cuisine during our meals. For example, we have had Peking duck many times, albeit not in Beijing (which was known as Peking until the late 70s). However, we didn’t know it is traditional to eat the crispy skin with sugar as a ‘first course’ before the duck pancakes. While dipping duck in sugar sounds unusual, it is surprisingly delicious. We were also shown how to prepare each pancake using chopsticks, using the ideal amount of each ingredient. If you would like to dine at Country Kitchen (and you should), don’t forget to book a table in advance.
The most formal dining option at the hotel is The House of Dynasties which is very intimate and reflects the different Chinese dynasties, with décor and show plates representing the ancient eras of Chinese history through its food. This is sophisticated Cantonese cuisine that is worthy of a special occasion, although you may need to ask your waiter to explain the more authentic dishes such as fish maw with abalone sauce and traditional soya chicken. Multi-course set menus and à la carte dishes are offered in both the public and private dining rooms, with some dishes cooked tableside. We only found out after we dined here that The House of Dynasties is well known in Beijing for its dumplings. If you decide to book a table, you should try them.
We loved the Peking duck at Country Kitchen but our biggest dining surprise was Red Bowl, a traditional hot pot kitchen with a contemporary twist. We loved the lively vibe and didn’t need to worry about having no prior hot pot experience. Our waitress gave us a ‘hot pot lesson’ when our choice of meat and vegetables arrived and also rescued us from my adventurous (yet, in hindsight, completely crazy) choice of Spicy Sichuan. She removed all of those chilis to dial down the heat, it was still ‘quick, get the fire extinguisher’ hot.
We didn’t eat at Bistro B on the ground floor for lunch or dinner, but contemporary western-style fare is available here throughout the day. This restaurant is also home to the hotel’s buffet breakfast which features a dazzling array of Asian and western choices, with many dishes cooked to order. We were impressed with the extensive selection but preferred the quieter surrounds of the Manor Club. However, if you love a good hotel breakfast buffet, Bistro B should be your first choice. Overall the Rosewood Beijing is a modern ultra-luxurious oasis in an ancient city where emperors once indulged in many of the finer things Beijing had to offer. Now these things are available to the Rosewood’s guests but without the oppressive pomp and ceremony of old.
Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of the Rosewood Beijing for two nights. She paid to extend her stay for an additional two nights as she loved the hotel so much.