For any newcomer that arrives in any of the big cities in 21st century China, by now it should not be a surprise that these big cities are developing so rapidly that it’s hard to believe what their skyline looked like only a few years ago. The Capital city, Beijing, is no stranger to this remarkable change. Prior to Beijing hosting the Olympics in August 2008, pockets of the city had emerged to host internationally award winning hotels’ and restaurants’. Beijing’s Shangdi district (located in the north-western part of the city), and the Financial Street area located in the south western side of the capital (near Fuxingmen Station) are prime examples of this rapid growth. The latter is even more important because this area of around 2 square kilometres, the Financial Street district has effectively become Beijing’s new CBD with companies such as the likes of Morgan Stanley, China Ping Insurance and many others setting up base there.
However, the beauty of the Financial Street area is that it’s not really popular with business people (well, it is to some extent during the weekdays when the offices are open), but rather it provides an attraction to the local and overseas’ affluent clientele, as well as visitors that prefer luxury and style. The 253-room Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Financial Street also falls under this umbrella. Opened only in October 2006 and located around 22 miles from the main Capital airport, the Ritz-Carlton Financial Street is ideal for business and leisure travellers (not to forget the VVIPs and Celebs’). Mind you, it’s location in the rapidly developing financial area actually does justify its name for all those who care. Bearing in mind that the “Ritz-Carlton Financial Street” is the full name of the hotel and it should not be confused with the “Ritz-Carlton Beijing” hotel which is located near Wangfujing- on the opposite side of the city (Beijing has two Ritz-Carltons’- so mention Financial Street to the taxi drivers’ and avoid getting lost).
Located right next to this fine-looking hotel is a large shopping mall which has retail outlets from every luxury brand listed under the sun. From the outside the 19-storey Ritz-Carlton Financial Street hotel does not offer much in terms of architectural genius. But, hey, as they say, it’s the quality of the product that matters- and it must be pointed out that the hotel’s neat blend of contemporary design and the Chinese Feng Shui influences (Note the cute glass statues in the corridors!) wonderfully outnumber the exterior design. It’s also the fancy little things such as the stationary designed to look like Chinese cutlery (pencils that look like chopsticks!). You know, I felt like as if I had fallen in love with the Bvlgari bath amenities and not just the food in the club lounge. The hotel derives its energy from traditional Chinese elements in the Capital- such as the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. Therefore the hotel’s interior design has been heavily energise and invigorate its guests. With this in mind, its safe to conclude that the Ritz-Carlton Financial Street has become an embodiment of Feng Shui.
The first thing that strikes any new visitor to the Ritz-Carlton Financial Street is the personal touch to the customer service offered by this splendid hotel. For those travelling to the airport (Nanyuan or the Capital Airport), the Ritz-Carlton Financial Street provides an airport pick up for guests’ that require it. The hotel attendant will meet you at the gate of the plane and escort you to the waiting chauffeur driven car, and whisk you straight to your room- no need to check in. This splendid service is offered to guests residing in the Executive Club Room and in the suites. It was a good thing that I took the chauffeur driven service because I had forgotten to bring my overcoat to a miserably cold Beijing from a rather warm Guangzhou. The charming reception I received upon exiting the car and entering the hotel warm enough to fade away the chilly weather outside. You really do feel that you are being looked after- and that’s what makes the Ritz-Carlton a great hotel brand.
A lovely touch to the stay for any guest is a signature Chocolate turndown amenity- comprising of a traditional Chinese coin and a gold ingot given for the evening before retiring- meant to bring continued prosperity and happiness (though that can comprise of dreams too).
Guests also have the comfort of using the complimentary shuttle service within the Financial Street area (a radius of 2 km) which may be considered a necessity because of the slight isolated location of the hotel in relation to the metro station, and the other buildings within the immediate vicinity of the premises. One thing people have to realise is that everything is big in China, and this includes the buildings and the roads- so walking from the hotel to the Metro station for example can take around 20 minutes. For near enough attractions such as Tiananmen Square or Xidan, I would allow around half an hour if you walk briskly. Though on a cold winter’s day in Beijing, it’s wise to take a taxi.
One of the key features of the Ritz-Carlton Financial Street has to be food offered to the guests- not just in the three top quality restaurants but in the Club lounge as well. Credit has to go to the veteran award winning Executive Chef, Monsieur Cyril Arrouard, who is responsible for the fabulous Greenfish, the all-day dining restaurant, Cepe, the Award winning 70-seat Italian Restaurant (can you resist a choice of over 2000 Italian Wines?) and the adorable Chinese restaurant, Qi offering a deep fusion of Sichuan, Beijing and Cantonese cuisine. Hats off to this master of the kitchen for presenting a unique style and blend of gastronomical fanfare all of these eateries, but more so at the Club where one can find 5 different types of eating experiences provided daily. What they say is true that breakfast is the best meal of the day and at the Ritz-Carlton Financial Street you can eat breakfast like there is no tomorrow (don’t leave without eating the Omelette and Fried Eggs made by Chef Polo Liang!). So, it’s not really a club as such but rather another blend of a restaurant and a club. My definition of a club is one where one can relax and take a wine in the evening with some nuts- and some good company.
When you arrive back into your hotel room on a cold Beijing winter’s day nothing beats the feeling of treating yourself to a swim in the heated indoor swimming pool (while watching a silent black and white movie being played in the large screen!), or take a dip in the lovely Jacuzzi, steam or even the sauna room to thaw down those cool heals. The Gym and the pool facilities are all complimentary for all guests residing at the hotel- it’s another lovely gesture by the Ritz-Carlton to say thank you to the guests. An aromatic experience awaits those who wish to have a relaxing massage treatment by one of the experienced staff.
One thing that is easily noticeable is that the rooms are spacious- quite possibly the most spacious around for the money’s worth with a certain air of elegance and a cosy atmosphere (especially in the cold Beijing Winter). There is something for everyone, from leisure and business travellers to even families. Business travellers have the ease of using internet in their room, easy access to 24 hour in-room dining and loads of TV channels to kill your time should you wish to do so. The only downside I found is the rather gloomy Beijing weather that can somewhat ruins an otherwise wonderful view (if it is clear that is). The Ritz-Carlton Financial Street is no stranger to reviews- having been voted best Hotel by Conde Nast Traveller in 2009 (Gold Listed). But don’t get me wrong, whatever your plans are, and then the Ritz-Carlton Financial Street is the perfect place to relax and while away your time during your stay in the capital city of China. You can’t ask for anything more (really).
Executive Club Room from 5000RMB (Approx. 750USD|)
Deluxe Room from 4500RMB (Approx 670USD)
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