Senior editor David Cogswell spent three nights at the Palace
Hotel in downtown Beijing. His report follows:
lthough the Palace is a modern
hotel, managed by the Peninsula Group, that meets the highest
standards of comfort and convenience for business and leisure
travelers, it's not the kind of nondescript property that might
appear in any major city.
Its architecture is clearly indigenous to China. With its flying
eve roofline, it looks like a high-rise pagoda. It carries the
chinoiserie style throughout, which I found reassuring. After
traveling halfway around the world, I preferred not to end up in a
hotel that is indistinguishable from one in Atlantic City, N.J.
I found the hotel to be an ideal headquarters for exploring
Beijing. It's at the heart of the city, between Wangfujing and
Dongdan streets, two of the main shopping areas, and within walking
distance of both Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. It's also
close to a number of major commercial and government offices.
I was installed on the 13th floor, which is the executive level
for business travelers. There the rooms come with a number of
perks, not the least of which is an expansive view of downtown.
The floor has its own business center, with 20 minutes of free
Internet time each day. The hotel also has a main business center
on the second floor that serves the entire hotel.
The room had all the expected amenities as well as extras, such
as a high-tech movable bedside panel that controls the air
conditioning, the television and the clock radio, and jacks for a
fax and computer.
Guests on the executive floor can have breakfast at the lounge
on the 13th floor -- which also serves free drinks all day -- or in
one of two restaurants at the lobby level. Afternoon tea is served
from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. along with various snack foods.
The two on-site restaurants are the Fortune Garden, which serves
Cantonese cuisine, and Jing, which offers a Western menu with Asian
overtones. Guests can call for room service 24 hours a day.
The Palace Gym on the third floor features a weight-training
room, an indoor swimming pool, steam rooms and a sauna. Chinese
massage, aerobics and yoga classes also are available.
Rack rates are $320 per night for a superior room, $410 for a
Palace Club room and $520 for a club junior suite on the executive
floor. Commission is 10%.
The Palace Hotel is part of the Peninsula Group, which is a
member of the Leading Hotels of the World. For details on the
property, call Leading Hotels at (800) 223-6800. The hotel's Web
site is located at www.fasttrack.beijing.peninsula.com.