A modern hotel makeover in Beijing honors the Imperial City’s past.
In China’s capital city, fifteenth-century palaces stand beside modern skyscrapers, and a quick stroll separates high-end shopping malls from more traditional outlets. The 230-room Peninsula Beijing’s recent three-year renovation emphasizes this juxtaposition with a mix of high-tech amenities and thoughtful elements honoring the city’s imperial history. Hong Kong-based designer Henry Leung commissioned several artists for the $123 million overhaul, and the result is a soothing respite of traditional feng shui and contemporary appeal. Here are a few highlights from the makeover.
Night at the Museum
A soaring three-story lobby welcomes guests with ornate Palisandro marble work and abstract ink art. Beyond, dozens of contemporary sculptures, paintings, and photographs by acclaimed artists such as Zhang Du and Qin Feng are scattered throughout the property, and a new third-floor gallery displays rotating collections curated by Museum of Contemporary Art Beijing executive director Michael Suh. The Peninsula hopes to foster new work, too: An artist-in-residence program provides a purpose-built studio for local artists, which guests are welcome to visit.
Bigger is Better
The hotel decreased its room count from 525 to 230, allowing it to double the size of each. (Starting at 645 square feet, its guest rooms are now the largest in the city.) The subtle gray and cream palette complements Italian furnishings by Cassina, and the hotel’s art theme continues within its rooms with paintings inspired by the Ming dynasty and framed architectural photos of the city’s newest buildings. The 17 Beijing Suites include living areas and family-friendly cinema rooms with 80-inch televisions.
The farm-to-table concept is relatively new in China, so it’s impressive that executive chef Dominique Martinez spent months sourcing the local fruit, vegetables, and meat used in the hotel’s updated restaurants. Those ingredients shine at Huang Ting, which serves authentic Cantonese cuisine, and at Jing, which offers more European-influenced fare.
All of the classic Peninsula flourishes are here: smartly dressed doormen, afternoon tea accompanied by performing string musicians, and a fleet of limos at the ready. It’s also one of the first hotels in China with 24-hour check-in and checkout. “The Peninsula Beijing is always included in my recommendations because of its history, location, afternoon tea, and more,” says Houston-based Virtuoso travel adviser Laura Woo. “It’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city.”