Over the past decade and accelerated by the Beijing Olympics, hundreds of hotels spanning the ratings spectrum have opened up all over Beijing. Most of the higher-end hotels are modern and Western-style with attentive service, a plethora of amenities, conference centres and classy restaurants. Most of the top international brands have staked some territory in Beijing, and many are Chinese-owned with foreign management. Five- and four-star hotels tend to have similar facilities and services, but lack some of the expected amenities like, say, a swimming pool. However, to be sure that you’re getting your money’s worth with a five-star hotel, book with an international chain. If you’re seeking something with a bit more character and charm, stay in one of the traditional courtyard houses that have been converted into hotels.
Guidebooks universally recommend booking ahead through a popular online hotel booking sites, such as www.asia-hotels.com, www.tripadvisor.com, www.hostelbookers.com, www.hotels.com. Spring and fall months are the busiest business months, while summer months through September – and Chinese New Year – are the busiest tourist seasons. Besides securing a room, online websites offer discounts. If you’re booking by phone, ask for a discount, particularly if you plan to stay through a weekend. When you check into a hotel you’ll have to fill in a registration form and have your passport scanned. A copy will be sent to the Public Security Bureau. Grab a few hotel business cards from the front desk – these are vital to getting home in a taxi.
Dongcheng District lies to the north and east of the Forbidden City, incorporating most of the city’s historical landmarks. It’s also near the Central Business District (CBD) and Sanlitun. This is an ideal place to stay if you’re just getting to know Beijing and would like to be able to reach your destinations on foot.
The Grand Hyatt Beijing
The gigantic Grand Hyatt hotel complex is super convenient for newcomers to Beijing. The complex includes the Oriental Plaza shopping mall, a wide range of restaurants and eateries and even a cinema that screens new films in English. The hotel’s Olympic-size swimming pool is surrounded by lush gardens and waterfalls, although the highlight is a “virtual sky” ceiling that imitates different natural weather patterns. The real advantage, however, is its location off Wangfujing Dajie, 10 minutes walk from the Forbidden City.
Amenities: Internet, three restaurants, bars, swimming pool, concierge, health club, babysitting
1 Dongchang’an Jie
A member of the prestigious Peninsula Group, this hotel literally gushes traditional luxury, from the waterfall in the lobby to rooms with teak flooring and gorgeous wood furnishings. Of course, high-tech touches like bedside heat and light controls and flat-screen TVs remind guests that they’re in 21st-century Beijing.
Amenities: Internet, two restaurants, bar, tennis court, pool, health club, babysitting
8 Jinyu Hutong, Wangfujing
Great value compared to the over-the-top hotels in the neighbourhood, the Park Plaza is highly recommended by business travellers and tourists who don’t expect a waterfall in the lobby. It’s near the Forbidden City and other attractions, the rooms are stylish and comfortable and the interior garden is perfect for quiet open-air dining.
Amenities: Internet, two restaurants, bar, gym, babysitting
97 Jinbao Jie, Dongcheng District
Red Capital Residence
Beijing’s first genuine courtyard boutique hotel is this carefully restored home in Dongsi Hutong. Each of the five rooms has its own decorative theme, including the Chairman’s Suite and two Author’s Suites, one inspired by the legendary American journalist and Sinologist Edgar Snow. There’s a cigar lounge where you can relax in the original furnishings used by China’s early revolutionary leaders. It even has a bomb shelter, cleverly remodeled into a wine cellar.
Amenities: Internet, restaurant, bar
Chaoyang District lies east of the Second Ring Road, meaning that it’s outside the old city wall and farther from historical attractions. It’s a massive district, with accommodation in the CBD, Sanlitun and around Chaoyang Park – all popular expat areas for work, dining, nightlife and shopping. Most of the hotels in this area are modern towers.
Park Hyatt Beijing
This gleaming 63-storey tower specializes in five-star pampering. The bathrooms are like spas: rain showerhead, deep-soaking tub and heated floors. The rooms themselves are large and functional for business travellers. The 60th-floor China Grill offers delicious steaks and spectacular views.
Amenities: Internet, three restaurants, bar, pool, health club, babysitting
Yintai Center, 2 Jianguomenwai Dajie
For years this was widely considered the best hotel in Beijing, and it’s still a favorite for tourists and business travellers. You may recognize the lounge from the Tarantino film Kill Bill. It successfully combines classic Chinese elegance with modern design. The health club is unique and includes a Jacuzzi with natural spring water. It even has a bowling alley and a putting green. And the rooms exude pure opulence.
Amenities: Internet, five restaurants, bars, pool, tennis courts, health club, babysitting
21 Jianguomenwai Dajie
This was one of the early CBD favorites and has maintained its charm and popularity, particularly as a more affordable alternative to the China World Hotel. Many rooms have balconies that overlook Jianguomenwai Dajie, providing a peaceful way to observe CBD life. The business facilities are excellent, though the pool and gym are basic.
Amenities: Internet, four restaurants, bars, pool, babysitting
5 Jianguomenwai Dajie
Sofitel offers an interesting mix of Tang dynasty and modern French design with plush rooms featuring feather beds and giant flatscreens. The fitness centre has a 25-meter swimming pool and state-of-the-art equipment. Dining options include the hotel’s signature Le Pré Lenotre restaurant, a sister of the famous Le Pré Catelan in Paris.
Amenities: Internet, four restaurants, bars, pool, health club, babysitting
Wanda Plaza, 93 Jianguo Lu
Chaoyang Sanlitun & Chaoyang Park
The Opposite House
This boutique hotel is indeed fancy, but the uncluttered style and casually dressed staff make guests feel right at home. The subtle luxuries include American oak bathtubs, floor heating and touch panel controls. Some guests find the open plan bathrooms a bit strange. The rooms are loft-like studios that are crisp and homey at the same time. And the location is ideal for enjoying Sanlitun.
Amenities: Internet, three restaurants, bars, pool
The Village at Sanlitun, Building 1, 11 Sanlitun Beilu
The Kerry Centre Hotel
This is a child- and business-friendly hotel near the embassies, the CBD and shopping. Despite being over 10 years old – ancient by Beijing hotel standards – it has kept its edge. This is attributable to the amazing health club that includes a jogging track, squash and tennis courts, as well as an outstanding swimming pool. The famous bar, Centro, is packed on weekends.
Amenities: Internet, two restaurants, bars, tennis courts, pool, health club, babysitting
1 Guanghua Lu
The Great Wall Sheraton
On the Third Ring Road near Chaoyang Park, the Sheraton is architecturally impressive and extremely comfortable. The hotel is built around a seven-storey atrium, home to a teahouse that hosts live jazz. The rooms aren’t over the top, but they’re modern and cozy. This is a good option for people who need to be near the embassies and want to explore the popular Chaoyang Park area.
Amenities: Internet, three restaurants, bars, tennis court, pool, health club, baby-sitting
10 Dongsanhuan Bei Lu (Third Ring Road)
The Hilton Beijing has been around for a while, and continues to fill with visiting expats despite new and more glamorous competition. The rooms are simply furnished, but have great lighting and balconies. The location provides easy access to the airport and to nearby Chaoyang Park, making it a great base to explore Beijing from.
Amenities: Internet, two restaurants, bar, pool, babysitting
1 Dongfang Lu, Dongsanhuan Bei Lu
If you’re looking at housing or international schools, there are an increasing number of hotel options near Shunyi, primarily to accommodate travellers arriving at Capital International Airport. These are far from the sites of Beijing and lack the opulence and glamour of stays designed to attract international tourists. Nonetheless, there are plenty of comfortable options. Be sure to request airport pickup for any hotel near the airport.
Sino-Swiss Hotel (CITIC Hotel)
Minutes from the airport, this family-friendly contemporary hotel overlooks a gorgeous outdoor pool surrounded by trees and colorful umbrellas. The pool and garden are lovely and popular with children. All of the rooms are large, modern and well fitted with technology. There isn’t much for entertainment in this part of town, but the restaurant Mongolian Gher offers barbeque and live entertainment.
Amenities: Internet, four restaurants, bars, pool, tennis courts, health club, babysitting
9 Xiaotianzhu Nan Lu
Crowne Plaza Beijing Airport
Finished in 2008, the Crowne Plaza is one of several new hotels that have sprung up to accommodate the new airport terminal and the growing popularity of Shunyi. The rooms are large, fresh and modern, and provide all of the modern amenities to prepare for a meeting or get the kids ready for school. The swimming pool and health club are both excellent.
Amenities: Internet, three restaurants, bars, pool, health club
60 Fuqian Yi Jie, Tianzhuzhen
Metropark Lido (formerly Holiday Inn Lido)
Originally the first Holiday Inn in Beijing, the Metropark Lido is still popular with business travellers and relocating families. It’s located on the far edge of Chaoyang, making it a short trip to Shunyi, to the airport or into Chaoyang Park. The rooms are very comfortable, full of all the newest gadgets and large enough to sprawl out in. The swimming pool is excellent, there’s a bowling alley and Lido Park is across the street, making this a great option for families.
Amenities: Internet, two restaurants, bars, pool, health club, babysitting
6 Jiangtai Lu
Beijing Airport Hilton
If you’re arriving late, or want to rest up before hitting the city, the Beijing Airport Hilton is both comfortable and convenient. It’s literally part of the airport, so you can be in a room within minutes of landing. The business facilities are outstanding, and the soundproof rooms feature 37-inch televisions with satellite channels.
Amenities: Internet, four restaurants, bars, pool, babysitting
Terminal 3, Beijing Capital International Airport