The beijinger takes a look at the new Waldorf Astoria Beijing, set to open March 1.
What was previously an unattractive construction site of metal pipes and green protective material has given way to "wow": the Waldorf Astoria, owned by Hilton Hotels and probably best known for its landmark New York hotel, is now a gleaming beacon on Jinyu Hutong, rivaling nearby Donghuamen, the Palace Museum’s east gate. That sounds like hyperbole, but seeing the hotel for the first time is certainly stunning. Materials used in the hotel’s construction are designed to react with the atmosphere, allowing the structure to change in color and age gracefully over the first 15 to 20 years of its lifespan.
Stepping through two massive doors, the inside of the lobby reflects a theme that’s seen throughout the property: tasteful, elegant design, whether it’s furniture, wallpaper, painting, or artwork. As the 21st Waldorf Astoria hotel, each building is designed not to look like others in the chain, but simply to be itself. There’s no bank-like check-in desk, just a small table in an alcove for the formalities to be addressed. Nearby is the centerpiece staircase, down which many a bride will soon have their procession, it would seem.
The rooms make life almost too easy. Multiple flatscreen televisions, lighting, and temperature are all controlled from a central tablet. Each bathroom is approximately the size of a subcontinent (although we didn’t measure exactly); taking a quick shower would really be a waste when this is a space clearly designed for luxuriating.
The Waldorf Astoria’s restaurants aren’t like those in most other hotels. These are smaller, more intimate spaces, not sprawling buffets rousing the guest with clinking glassware and steam trays. One of the hotel’s restaurants is entirely hidden; you have to know about it just to dine there.
Behind the hotel is a reconstructed hutong courtyard, but not a courtyard like you’ve ever visited: it conceals beneath it an indoor, underground swimming pool.
Probably the closest we’ll get to sampling the Waldorf Astoria’s service will be in its lounge. While it’s not the Long Bar one sees at their Shanghai property, size isn’t everything, and we’re looking forward to trying some of their signature drinks in this comfortable, chill spot in what’s about to become one of the hottest hotels in Beijing.
Well, that was good for us. Until next week, one road flat safe.
Waldorf Astoria Beijing
5-15 Jinyu Hutong Wangfujing Dongcheng, Beijing (86-010-85208989)
This post first appeared on thebeijinger on February 11, 2014 but has been slightly modified.
Photos courtesy of Waldorf Astoria