Story and photos by Susan McKee
The Peninsula Beijing
8 Goldfish Lane, Wangfujing, Beijing 100006
People's Republic of China
+86 10 8516 2888
Beijing is a busy place. China’s capital city has a resident population of at least 20 million – a total that’s augmented each day by hundreds of thousands of commuters plus tourists from around the world.
That’s why a sanctuary like the Peninsula Hotel is such a welcome sight. Although it’s in the bustling neighborhood called Wangfujing, it’s set back from the main drag with the serene address of 8 Goldfish Lane.
Arriving by taxi, guests are whisked into the quiet lobby while their luggage is retrieved by the bellman.
After you’ve checked in, take a quick look around the lobby because you’ll want to return. The obligatory massive floral display is breathtaking. When I was there, the colors were shades of pink, green and white with hydrangeas and roses predominating.
Then there’s the art exhibit – but more about that in a bit.
I was somewhat early and my room wasn’t ready, so I headed to the Executive Lounge. I could have made a meal from the snacks on offer: masses of fruit, cookies, candies, cakes, tea sandwiches and such.
The fresh fruit waiting in my duplex suite was equally delightful, with a half-dozen choices including apples, kiwi and a banana. Next to the fruit bowl was a plate with both sweet and savory bites.
Because I had a two-level suite, there were two arrangements of fresh flowers – potted white orchids in the living room on the bottom floor and a fanciful square vase filled with green orchids and pink roses on the desk in the bedroom up the spiral staircase. Two floors of windows provided a view over the rooftops of Beijing.
I didn’t host any meetings in my hotel room this trip, so the living room (which had its own powder room) didn’t get much use. Upstairs, the desk faced the windows, so it was a constant struggle to maintain focus on my laptop screen instead of daydreaming about the view. Dual voltage (110V /220V) and multiple format electrical adaptor power sockets made it easy to work in my room, where the WiFi was free and fast.
The king-size bed was comfy and the bathroom spacious enough for both a shower and a tub.
Without leaving the hotel, one can browse through the three-level Peninsula Shopping Arcade with its time-tested luxury brands. A few steps away is a pedestrian street with still more shops (including that modern essential: the mobile service shop where you can buy a Chinese SIM card for the unlocked cellphone you brought with you).
If you’ll be staying at the Peninsula for a few days, consider arranging for one of their “ultimate academy” offerings. A staple since 1997, the programs give guests bespoke tours – a guided tour to the nearest access point for the Great Wall of China, perhaps, or a kite-making class at Tiananmen Square or a rickshaw tour of a nearby hutong (traditional neighborhood).
Now, about that lobby: the hotel sponsors an ongoing project called the Peninsula Art Journey to give Chinese contemporary artist a showcase for their artwork. When I was there, the artist was Bei Shui, born in Jilin, China. His exhibit, called “Paradox” included not only paintings and serigraphs, but his written musings on subjects such as the interplay between light and darkness.
A permanent but anonymous art installation of thousands of orange/red glass bulbs screens the lobby from Jing. This is the “main” restaurant, a massive, eclectic 'Modern Meets Asian' buffet open from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
My favorite in-hotel meal was a lunch at Huang Ting, a quiet spot specializing in Cantonese cuisine – and, yes, they had dim sum: crystal shrimp dumpling with bamboo shoot, steamed dumpling filled with wild mushroom and black truffle, spring roll filled with shredded pork and taro. Endless cups of green tea. Sigh! It was like being a guest in a nobleman’s house.
© April 2015 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.