The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing was my final Ritz-Carlton property to review (for the moment, until other Ritz-Carlton properties open in China), and I am glad I had waited to review it last (not that I wanted it to be the last one to review!). Why? Well, the interior architecture, and furnishings portray a nostalgic sense of what a true Ritz-Carlton property should be like. So, yes, good things do come to those who wait! Opened in December 2007, this luxury hotel is not quite as modern as The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street. Nevertheless, with its 305 well-appointed guest rooms, including 38 suites and 61 Ritz-Carlton Level rooms, it does offer something for everyone from businesspersons right the way through to luxury travellers who prefer a touch of elegance on their travels. The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing is contemporary, yet designed with comfort and relaxation in mind.
The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing is situated in the capital city’s new business hub, known as China Central Place. Centrally situated in one of Beijing’s most fashionable areas and adjacent to Shin Kong Place shopping centre, The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing offers guests unparalleled convenience while providing a luxurious stay.
If you are looking for a bit of calm within the craziness of Beijing’s city life, then The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing could be the place to stay. No matter what the weather outside, rest assured that with the automated temperature controls available in all the rooms will keep you in comfort throughout the four seasons. All the rooms are attractively ornamented in warm, earthly tones that imparts a sense of cosiness and intimacy to guests. Just some of the luxuries of life include the signature Ritz-Carlton 600-thread linens and featherbeds, state-of-the-art in room facilities including iPod®, 42-inch flat screen LCD television and, internet access (wired and wireless). It’s true that from the moment that you step inside your room, you will feel the grandeur envelope you, and draw you into a world of sheer comfort, and perfect security. The hotel is a key preferred accommodation by many distinguished celebs, CEOs, and foreign Royalty. Some of the key reasons for this include the excellent security it provides, it’s close proximity to all the government and corporate offices in Beijing, and it’s only a 30-minute ride to the international airport.
Naturally, these aren’t the only attractions on offer. The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing also has a host of luxurious leisure facilities, such as The Ritz-Carlton Lounge, which is exclusively reserved for Executive Club guests who can indulge themselves in complete privacy. I’ll be the first one to say that nothing beats the feeling of sitting at The Club Lounge, and drinking a fine glass of Bombay Sapphire. It would be a blameless affair with the drink as the chefs at The Club Lounge serve the tempting ‘too good to say no’, all-day light buffets. Oh maybe a dip in the beautiful pool is on the cards for you? Located on the top floor is the indoor heated pool and Jacuzzi with an illuminated roof, where guests can soak or swim at their leisure. You may even find that a nice sauna session after working out at the gymnasium is equally refreshing.
Located at the same level is The Ritz-Carlton Spa, spread over a spacious area of 2,500 square meters. The Spa is divided into Ladies and Gentlemen resting areas. It features nice treatment rooms that including six single lavish treatment rooms with an Aqua Bed, two Couple’s Suites, and a Manicure & Pedicure Salon. If you have just arrived from faraway lands, and are jet-lagged (and tired), then I would highly recommended you commence with a 30-minute Tension relief back massage (costs 380RMB at the time of writing), and then follow it up with a 60-minute Aromatherapy Facial (costs 1000RMB at the time of writing). This combination of a gentle and calming massage on the body and face using a variety of luxury products is to make you feel fresh, restore your inner self, and to neutralize your skin, and restore its natural appearance. It was so good I fell into a deep sleep (I had to be physically woken up!).
Breakfast can be enjoyed in the comfort of your room, or at Aroma at lobby level, the all day dining restaurant that offers international gourmet experiences featuring mouth-watering Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Southern Asian and Western dishes from an open kitchen setting. Now, if that’s not enough to fill your appetite, then for lunch or dinner there are two more dining options available on the 2nd floor, Yu (Authentic Cantonese), and Barolo (Classic authentic Italian). Fancy a Cigar? Then head off to the lavish Davidoff Lounge. The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing is one of the few Ritz-Carlton properties that specialises in providing authentically imported Cigars of high quality (The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou is another one). The Lounge is a luxurious haven to bask in the unmatchable pleasure of exclusive cigars, choice wines, and live entertainment.
In fact, apart from the above, the key things that really make The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing a firm favourite among Chinese guests is that it’s one of the only hotels in the city that offers excellent one stop shop for weddings (including a wedding chapel). The hotel features more than 1,100 square meters of meeting and conference space, including a Grand Ballroom, six function rooms, three meeting rooms, one boardroom, and the only wedding chapel within the hotel in Beijing. Therefore the wedding experience at the hotel is all-encompassing; the Chapel features a preparation room, separate resting rooms for the bride and groom, an outdoor Rose garden where wedding cocktails can be held. In 21st Century China, Chinese people are spending BIG MONEY on their weddings (much more than they would on their honeymoons!); and so there is no better way to say ‘I do!’ than to walk down the aisle in style in front of your friends and family (or the who’s who of Beijing), at The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing. Evidence of this struck me straight in the face- while I was residing at the hotel I witnessed two simultaneous weddings. So, yes, this is the place to be at if you want to get married in Beijing.
The hotel features more than 1,100 square meters of meeting and conference space, including a Grand Ballroom, six function rooms, three meeting rooms, one boardroom, and the only wedding chapel within the hotel in Beijing. The wedding experience at the hotel is all encompassing; the Chapel features a preparation room, separate resting rooms for the bride and groom, an outdoor Rose garden where wedding cocktails can be held. An opulent and personalized wedding can be staged in the Grand Ballroom. The hotel offers a one-stop-shop service by collaborating with some of Beijing’s premier wedding service providers including beauty stylists, wedding gown couturiers, photographers, floral designers, and jewellers.
The impeccable service of The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing, is further executed by the multi-lingual concierge team, and personalised service that is unmatchable anywhere else. So in many ways, a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing is perfect for you whether you are sight-seeing, have a night in town (oh we love Beijing Duck!), or simply just get away from the stress of life and soak in the surroundings of the beauty of your room. Whatever tickles your fancy, the property is definitely designed to last through rapidly changing times and trends that will encompass Beijing for years to come. So, how can you resist falling into the lap of luxury?
Dining at the Yu Restaurant at second floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing is an experience to cherish for again, and again. The Chinese people pride themselves in on being one of the earliest people to develop sophisticated notions of polite social culinary interaction. This includes the highly sophisticated rules of etiquette governing acceptable table manners and tastes. Yu Restaurant, which can hold up to 110 dinars, presents exactly that and nothing more than sheer sophistication. The restaurant offers a traditional tea-themed Cantonese cuisine. As I sat in one of the seven luxurious private chambers to dine like a Qing Dynasty emperor, I was mesmerising on the thoughts of what surprises I may be in for. A large water feature welcomes guests to the restaurant.
What’s more is that a tea master await all comers to intimate and sumptuous gastronomic affairs. Yu in Chinese stands for ‘Jade’, and there is plenty of it decorating the walls and the interior of this luxurious eatery. The interior of Yu is bathed in a bright red and mahogany wood colour, blended in neatly with golden beige accent pieces. These somewhat create a sooth feeling of elegance, sheer prefecture, and absolute comfort. Each of the seven private chambers is named after a type of jade stone, for example our room was called ‘Blue Jade’. Attention is paid to even minute details, from the tea corner to the silk wrapped menus. The menu includes at least a dozen tea samples encased within the menu.
As I was presented with the menu, I just looked at the Chef de Cuisine, Ku Chi Fai, and asked him to ‘Surprise me’ with his culinary magic. Then there was the house tea sommelier who was available to assist in guiding our choice of tea to go with each dish.
It’s best to commence with the sweet yet tangy flavoured ‘Double whelk matsutake soup’ (松茸炖响螺) which is a lovely medium-to-deep yellow in colour, and shows the red and black cherry aromas as the soup touches the back of your tongue and neck with each sip.
Yu offers an extensive menu of refined Cantonese dishes made with fresh ingredients and precise execution. The ‘Appetizer selection’ (前菜拼盘) contains the popular honey roasted suckling pig—a classic Guangdong dish—has skin cooked to a perfect, crisp orange and a smooth and juicy centre. Also, watch out for those baby cucumbers- they are immensely tiny and cute!
If you have a special place in your heart for seafood, like I do, then go for the main gem of a dish: ‘Braised cod fish ball with spices in casserole close-up’ (大千焗银鳕鱼). It looks like a piece of art work rather than a dish. Dare to tuck into the noodle nest which achieves high level of sophistication, as the whole dish is edible. You cannot argue with exceedingly good boneless pieces of succulent codfish lying side-by-side with the baby shallots. Yummy!
Continuing with the seafood theme (they love seafood in Canton!), the next dish that sandwiches the meal is ‘Grilled prawn with preserved vegetables dry eggplant’ (宫廷梅干虾球). Bright, elegant, and delicate looking (and tasting) prawns add enough sweetness and sourness to this wonderful gastronomic jewel. Autumn breeze marks the perfect season for slightly nutty yet buttery dishes such as the grilled prawns.
No Cantonese meal is complete with the ‘Taro puff and egg tart’ (芋蓉酥拼蛋挞), this ‘out of this world’ dish is a delight to have with any Cantonese dish. Its not really the presentation of the dish that matter’s but rather the taste. Cantonese people (especially those from Hong Kong), would not hesitate in pointing out the quality of a perfectly made egg tart. Soem will even argue to the point that their egg tart is the best in the city. The bright lemon colour of the yolk inside the tart, and the slight softness of the tart indicates to outstanding quality of the product. The easier it is to drop out of your hands, the worse the quality (i.e. the stronger the egg tart, the better it is). Challenge any Cantonese person and they will have no hesitation is proving you wrong. The nose of the dish displays a certain aroma of vanilla (it may be true), and lemon. Enjoy it while you can and make sure that you don’t leave any bits and bobs lurking around.
For the finale, ‘Chilled sago mango cream, and fresh fruits’ (杨枝甘露拼水果) is the treat of the day. But forget the fruits, its the chilled sago mango cream that can eat your heart away. Slightly dry, sweet to the front of the mouth, but all in all a complete journey of sheer perfection and a beautiful long length of butter, sago and mango kissing your throat with each spoonful. It’s great, and it’s all truly Cantonese at the Yu restaurant. It’s one of such prestige appellation to round off a perfect meal at one of the most sought after eateries in Beijing.
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