I’ve written previously about how my husband, Bobby, spoiled me with a surprise staycation at Nuo Hotel. He is famous for his surprises, but to be honest, I had never really pulled off a similar grand gift for him. In fact, I’m a bit infamous for being a flake in this area. I’m the one who has forgotten to do something special for our anniversary. I think this comes from my general apathetic attitude to holidays and birthdays (except for Advent season).
This year his birthday came and went in a busy season for us, and it passed with a lackluster sigh. The same friend who watched our children for that previous staycation felt bad she couldn’t watch our kids for his birthday, so I whispered another date while he wasn’t paying attention to our conversation. And so it began: the plan for my first official surprise, which was almost completely ruined.
I happened to be near his school the day of the staycation and found out from someone he was having two meetings that day in the afternoon with principals. I love our principals, but those meetings are never short despite promises (plus Bobby loves to talk too). I asked the principals to cancel their meetings with Bobby, but Bobby didn’t know they were canceled! So I called him and told him I needed him to be on time, that it was an emergency (he wouldn’t cancel the meeting himself otherwise), but I wouldn’t tell him the emergency. He was incredibly nervous about what was going to happen when he arrived.
When he got home, I was there with bags packed and a smile on my face. Our friend was coming soon to stay with the kids. And so our lovely staycation began. He said his heart needed time to calm down since he was so scared something was seriously wrong.
Bobby was immediately impressed with New World Beijing Hotel when we arrived. He loves fountains as he used to help design and build them, and the lobby here has a slow falling water wall. Lavish furniture was placed throughout the lobby, and snacks in glass jars and confectioneries on plates were set on tables throughout.
I had notified the hotel ahead of time of Bobby’s birthday celebration and made reservations both at their rooftop bar, YIN on 12, and fine dining restaurant, 8 QI NIAN. The staff left a handwritten note from the general manager and a large birthday cheesecake in our room, which happens to be Bobby’s favorite cake. He totally devoured it (OK, I helped too).
We changed and went upstairs to YIN and enjoyed the setting sun despite the coolness of that evening. Though it’s a nice view during the day, I definitely would recommend the nighttime view over the daytime view. We stayed long enough for the sun to set and to enjoy all the bright lights of the area. I enjoyed their signature Manchuria Cream mixed drink in preference to Bobby’s Sprite-like mix. This was the perfect way to start off our staycation because of how romantic the setting of the bar is at night.
After the drink, we headed to QI NIAN for some adventurous traditional Chinese (and a steak because we wanted to). This was our first time trying jellyfish, which tasted just like extra chewy, hardened gelatin. Everything else was delicious, though admittedly it was a not-too-painful splurge. They also brought us strawberries and cream to celebrate Bobby’s birthday!
Our suite was cheaper than the one we had booked at Nuo Hotel, but it was by far much bigger, with it’s own living room. It was nice having the space, but definitely not necessary. Though I can see for a family that is looking for a hotel to put up overseas guests, having that living room will keep your guests sane when they have visitors to their room. The view would have been better had construction not been going on in the lot next door, but that’d didn’t upset us much as we liked the view inside all the same.
Last time we went on staycation, we made the mistake of getting the massage the next day. I decided this would be a better before bed activity since it would relax us and we’d have more time the next day. I was dismayed when we went to the spa and found out my husband and I would be in separate rooms. That essentially defeated the purpose of couples spending time together, but it was an assumption I made about the spa, not something that the spa contractors at New World Hotel falsely advertised. We decided to shorten the massage to spend more time with one another after. I picked a Swedish massage and almost fell asleep from how good it was. My husband picked a muscle-stretching massage that had him in all sorts of body contortions.
The next day, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast at TIAN TAN Kitchen, which had more options than our eyes and stomach could handle. Two breakfast passes came with the reservation, and Bobby was happy that it had been included. We then headed to the National Museum of China in the same roped off area as Tian’anmen Square. We walked from New World Hotel to the area, which was nice and scenic. In retrospect, I wish I had signed my husband up for Ofo well before that date, because we would have had more time to explore. Once we arrived, we waited about 15 minutes at the ID and bag checkpoint.
We would highly recommend the National Museum of China, but not on the day we went. The exhibition we went to was the “History of the World in 100 Objects” on lone from the British Museum in collaboration with BBC. We were crammed in tight with one another, which happened to be more miserable than subway rides. On a subway ride, everyone is trying to keep out of each other’s way, but here, everyone was trying to get on top of one another to read the smallest text the museum had managed to print. Bobby finally told me he was miserable, even though he would have enjoyed the plan had there been less people.
We headed back to the hotel to check out, take a quick dip in the infinity edge pool and hot tub, and then enjoy TIAN TAN Kitchen for lunch. Lunch was on our own bill again, at RMB 180 per person, but again it was buffet. We came in close to the closing time, so we decided to grab several plates of food and then share everything Chinese style. Did I mention I gained 5kg over this staycation? At least, I felt that way as we loaded up in the taxi to head home. Bobby thoroughly enjoyed himself, and felt incredibly special. All in all we spent close to the same amount as at Nuo Hotel and area (around RMB 5,000), but we did more and got more activities out of the experience since I chose to base everything at the actual hotel, aside from sightseeing.
We plan to go back to the area over the summer to explore the side-streets with our children when Bobby isn’t working on a weekday. There were so many interesting and touristy-shops that it’s hard not to want to spend a day looking, browsing, and talking to the people there. It’s a side of Beijing we haven’t seen, since we’ve been absorbed in a typical family-style life.
There are several promotions now at New World Hotel Beijing, including a 40% off rate on deluxe rooms. If you’re based in Shunyi, or in the fringe areas like me, I would definitely recommend this hotel as a fun place for you to stay with your children over the summer for a Beijing-based trip.
Photos:New World Hotel Beijing, Vanessa Jencks