JW Marriott Beijing - a review
The JW Marriott Hotel Beijing is located right next to it’s more fashionable brother, The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing. Both properties are part of the same family of hotels and of the same owner; however, there are considerable open differences between the two. Located in the capital’s fashionable up-market Chaoyang District, the JW Marriott Hotel Beijing is part of the China Central Place, a impressive complex consisting of over 230,000 square meters of office and retail space. Getting to the international airport is not a problem either as it’s only a 40 minute taxi ride (pending Beijing’s notoriously horrible traffic jams) , or you may want to take the metro from Dawanglu station, which is just a stone throws away from the hotel’s lobby.
It’s maybe not as flamboyant and luxurious as it’s neighbour, though the JW Marriott does excel in a class of it’s own. Take the lavishly decorated lobby for example which complete with a tea tasting section where guests can experience some true Chinese customs while they are waiting to check-in, or even if they are just whiling away the time. One of the key physical aspects that connect the two properties together are their MICE facilities (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions) with over 1,240 square meters of Grand Ballroom space which can be connected to halls of The Ritz-Carlton Beijing next door.
The 588 well-appointed guestrooms and suites form part of a refined oasis that offers adequate customer service in a family-friendly atmosphere. The JW Marriott Hotel Beijing tends to cater more for families rather than captains of industry, so therefore, I believe, this is one of the reasons why it is not so expensive. Guests at the JW Mariott Beijing who stay any one of the seven executive floors can enjoy the various facilities of the Club Lounge, which is open until midnight everyday – provided you manage to get a seat as it can get busier than the hotel’s restaurants sometimes.
While the views from across the windows of these cosy rooms may not be as beautiful as you would assume- do you really want to stare that at that factory chimney? – it’s the décor inside that makes you feel welcomed. The rooms are themselves are something to marvel at. Just some of the highlights include but not limited to: exquisite marble bathrooms with separate tub and rain shower, 42-inch flat screen televisions, bedside BOSE stereo system, designer bathroom amenities by Aromatherapy Associates, designer mouthwash by ‘Whisper’, iPod connectors, flat screen television in bathroom, twice-daily maid service, and Nespresso coffee machine. The best part of the rooms are the beds. Thick, ergonomic mattresses neatly cast to your body, lined with a plush 7cm, natural dove feather mattress topper with pillows that you can comfortably hide yourself at night like a baby inside a womb.
A few jewels to marvel at lurk around too. Occupying over 250 square meters, the spectacular health club, 24-hour gym, spa with 9 treatment rooms, and the breathtaking heated swimming pool provide a sense of tranquillity even on the nosiest of nights in the city. During our stay, there was a lavish (and understandably loud) wedding party outside the lobby area, while inside the spa and swimming pool people were treating themselves to treatments as if they are on a paradise beach. The contrasts were enough to prove how well the management organised and had everything laid out nicely.
The hotel’s three restaurants, Asia Bistro, Nobu Japanese restaurant, and CRU Steakhouse provide many opportunities to explore the various gastronomic pleasures on offer. The former offers a festival of open kitchens offering a variety of dishes from around the world including Indian, Japanese, Malaysian and local Chinese dishes. While the CRU offers one of the best oysters and steaks in town. The hotel’s restaurants are designed in such a way that once you complete your meal, the path leads directly to either the ultra chic Loong Bar, or you can sit and do people watching at the equally smart Lobby Lounge and count the number of Louis Vuitton bags you see going past.
CRU Steakhouse - a review
While some of Beijing’s steakhouses might put on airs and graces, CRU at the JW Marriott Beijing has that scruffy, laid-back charm that it wouldn't be in a 5-star hotel had the food not been as good as I had experienced.
Tentative and polite staff are always at hand to make sure that the few customers that are present at the otherwise quiet restaurant are provided the best possible service that they can.
The main events to savour at this 144-seat restaurant are beef, which hails from either Australia or Qingdao, and oysters, which hail from the fresh waters of France. The whole fusion of this Euro-American crackles on the elaborately large charcoal grill. Its best to go easy on the starters; a handful of freshly imported ‘gillardeau French no 2 oysters (marennes oleron)’ and the ‘CRU crab cake (blue swimmer crab with caper berries & remoulade sauce), was a mere distraction from the steak which was to follow suit. The oysters at the CRU steakhouse were really fresh, almost as if the chef had just brought them from the beach. The taste, smell, and the texture of the oyster meat was the key to success here. Slightly salty in taste but that’s a very good thing because it means it is rich in omega-3, EPA, and DHA- the natural ingredients inside the fish oil. If you eat food like this everyday, not only you’ll be healthier, but there would be no need to purchase fish oil supplements and what have you in the market these days.
The high-end service was brilliant, meanwhile, most notably from the restaurant manager, Murphy Cui, who himself is also a sommelier managed the rare double of being infectiously passionate (small wonder: the wine list is superb) without being snobbish or interfering. For the oysters, Mr. Cui recommended the finest ‘Matua Valley, Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011’, and for the steak the experienced sommelier recommended a fine glass of ‘beringer Califoirnia’. The fruity luscious taste of the white wine goes well with the fresh oysters. It’s a very healthy approach to life as they say in the French coast and in the Mediterranean.
The steak ribeye was soft and juicy on the inside and slightly charged on the outside, and truly rich in flavour. The side parts that accompanied it were shallots, cherry tomatoes, butter bean and a side order of rocket salad. Steak fans may not be too pleased with the lack of presentation paid to the plate when the steak was presented – compared to some of the best steak I have had, the side dishes are equally important as the steak itself. Having 2 or 3 shallots and a few butter beans is not suffice for someone who wants pure quality, as well as quantity.
The dessert dish in the end was a winner. A garnish of three desserts- tiramisu, walnut & vanilla ice-cream, and a mango & strawberry sorbet to die for. If you love a good steak, and oysters – like I do- then go and try a nice meal at the CRU Steakhouse. It’s probably one of Beijing’s finest.
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