Arrival/Check-in: I arrived as the sun was setting on Beijing and took a taxi to the hotel. I had forgotten to bring the name and address of the hotel in Chinese for the driver, so en route I found the hotel on my iPhone, which helped. The staff greeted me and took my heavy golf bag full of Global Traveler issues, presentation kits and, of course, my clubs. The front desk personnel were friendly and pleasant, giving me the details about my golf game the following day at the Grand Canal course. (28/30)
Guest Quarters: I was in one of the Forbidden City suites, which was quite spectacular with its wonderful sitting room, two sofas, cabinets and an entertainment center. The staff member who escorted me to my room made sure I saw the view of the Forbidden City from the floor-to-ceiling windows. A door leading to the bedroom could be conveniently closed so guests could entertain or conduct meetings; the sitting room had an adjacent powder room.
In the bedroom was a comfortable, firm, king-sized bed with a credenza opposite that housed a flat-screen TV. The only English channels were CNN and HBO. I particularly liked the lighting system next to the bed with which I could control the lights, the “Do Not Disturb” and “Make Up Room” indicators and more. Near another set of floor-to-ceiling windows was a functional desk with free high-speed Internet connections (via wire only) and all necessary power systems. Complimentary wireless is available in public areas. Throughout the room were elegantly crafted Oriental rugs, comfortable on the feet and complementary to the hotel’s Chinese décor. Off the bedroom was the master bath with tub, shower and a separate room for toilet and bidet. Along the left was a long, dark marble counter with twin sinks. (25/30)
Services/Amenities: I took advantage of the daily breakfast in the Red Wall Café and also had lunch there once. The hotel offers several dining options, including Chinese and Japanese venues and a tearoom. The third-floor Fountain Bar is more like a lounge. The hotel could use a Western-style bar where one could get a quick drink and a light meal. The staff could not have been friendlier; they were helpful in every way. (39/40)
The Experience: This is a perfect location for those wanting to combine touring and business — and golf, since the Grand Canal Golf Club is only 30–40 minutes away. Traffic outside the hotel, particularly on weekends, can be difficult, so listen to your Chinese colleagues about when to travel. The Grand Hotel, Beijing is situated in a string of hotels next to the Forbidden City. I took a walk through the park adjacent to the Forbidden City and found many people wanted to talk to me; they walked with me for several blocks, discussing where I was from, what I was doing, how many times I had been to China. I guess I fit the bill of the quintessential American, which they found fascinating. Tiananmen Square is also a short, worthwhile walk away.
Total Score: 92/100
Grand Hotel, Beijing
35 E. Changan St.
Beijing 100006, China
tel 86 10 6513 7788
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