The Shangri-La hotel group prides itself on an extended portfolio of iconic properties across China that exalt the country’s heritage and its excellence in hospitality, from urban temples of luxury and design in global cities to incredible resorts located in the country’s most beautiful natural landscapes. In Beijing, the group owns four hotels that encapsulate the vibrancy of the ever-evolving Chinese capital.
Last time I visited Beijing, it was the summer of 2015. It was incredibly warm and the city was in the midst of an urbanisation process that would completely transform many of its gentrifying central neighbourhoods. Five years later, Beijing is more cosmopolitan than ever. Arguably, in some aspects and in some areas, it's even more so than its eastern counterpart, Shanghai. In spring, the weather is perfect to explore the city and to visit the Great Wall. Trees and urbanities alike are visibly blooming after a very long winter, ready for new beginnings.
For our spring weekend getaway, we stayed at the Shangri-La China World Hotel, a newly decorated property that stands proud in Beijing’s central business district. Don’t be fooled by the name of the area, however, as the property is strategically located with easy access to the city’s historical beauties, from the Forbidden City to the Temple of Heaven and the ever-charming traditional hutongs. At the same time, booming trendy neighbourhoods such as Sanlitun are only are short taxi ride away.
Since it opened its doors in 1990, China World Hotel has been a top venue for business professionals and travellers from all over the country and the world. The structure is centred on the theme of East meets West to reflect China’s excellence and evolution in the 21st century as well as its incredibly rich heritage. While the sumptuous lobby and ballroom encapsulate a classic style that is reminiscent of China’s imperial past, the recently refurbished Horizon Club, where we had the pleasure of staying, is an elegant interpretation of contemporary world-class luxury. Among many other details, the club’s elevators bear a resemblance to walnut rooms and the corridor’s carpets are a representation of a traditional hutong's grid map.
The 126 rooms and suites, located on floors 18 to 20, enjoy a unique view of Beijing’s skyline and the busy Chang'an Avenue. The spaces are beautifully designed to convey a sense of urban retreat and relaxation, thanks to the use of pastel tones and materials such as marble and leather. Guests staying on the Horizon floors also have access to exclusive benefits, including a delicious daily breakfast and an evening cocktail. The food offerings, much like the hotel at large, reflects the structure’s excellence in delivering a multifaceted experience that brings together the best of Chinese culinary traditions and a selection of options from pretty much everywhere.
Our stay was made even more pleasant by the distinctive professionality and kindness of the Shangri-La staff, who not only helped us to plan our itineraries and make the most of our weekend, but also shared anecdotes and tips about the vibrant Chinese capital.
Beijing can be a complicated city to understand and explore at first, considering its size and its complex urban dynamics. Yet it's full on unexpected surprises at every corner, and it’s ideal for a weekend of exploration of past, present and future.