The US$123 million renovation of The Peninsula Beijing was conceived in 2013 by celebrated Hong Kong designer, and long-term Peninsula collaborator, Henry Leung of CAP Atelier.
The biggest move was reducing the number of keys from 525 to just 230, with the smallest room now 650 sq. ft. The entry level Superior Rooms, by any definition, are actually suites with the ability to separate the bedroom from living area via a sliding door.
Rooms feature the ultimate in technology. Tablets, phones and displays including light switches, convert to your language of choice. Infrared technology wakes up the control tablet when you approach it, and turns it onto where you left it, instead of going back to a home screen. There is free VOIP long-distance and a speakerphone in the bathtub so you can conduct conference calls and still enjoy a good soak.
All 17 of the Beijing Suites will have surround sound equipped private cinema rooms with 80-inch high definition televisions. The bathrooms (below) in the nearly 1,900 sq. ft. suites have windows above the tub.
The renovation completely changed the entrance, adding a traditional Chinese style entry gate with a redesigned lobby. Traditional hotel-style check-in, guest relations and concierge counters have been scrapped. There will be two desks with chairs, but taking a cue from Apple, guests will be greeted by a floating, cross-trained, tablet ready staff that will provide concierge services, check-in and check-out.
The Peninsula Beijing is one of first hotels in China to offer a 24-hour check-in and check-out service to all of its guests, meaning guests can arrive and depart at their leisure without extra cost.
The Peninsula Beijing’s talented team of nearly 90 Chinese and international chefs is helmed by French-born Executive Chef Dominique Martinez, who previously worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in Luxembourg, Germany and Barbados.
Embracing the “farm-to-table” concept, the hotel works directly with 22 farms in China that supply sustainably produced, predominantly organic vegetables, fruit, meat and honey on a fresh, seasonal basis.
Key addition to the renovation is the new Lobby Restaurant occupying the pride of place in the new enlarged Hotel Lobby which serves a wide selection of international favourites, plus the celebrated Peninsula Afternoon Tea. The Peninsula Beijing’s international restaurant, Jing, has been re-imagined as a contemporary “Farm-to-Table” venue, inspired by a secret Chinese garden. Spanish Chef Alberto Becerril seeks to create memorable dining experiences for guests by preparing inventive seasonal flavour and texture combinations using predominantly organic produce. Jing’s design also showcases a contemporary Chinese design, featuring up to 10 art works from Chinese leading artists.
The signature Huang Ting, Chinese restaurant, which originally opened in 2008, recreates a traditional Beijing nobleman’s courtyard home. The brand new menu emphasises Cantonese cuisine embellished with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The new Huang Ting Tea Lounge, adjacent to the main restaurant, is styled like an ancient palace with Ming Dynasty-era tables and parasols. It serves more than 50 varieties of premium Chinese teas and sweet dim sum.
The hotel collaborated with Michael Suh, Executive Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Beijing, and designer Henry Leung, to incorporate a museum-quality collection of specially commissioned paintings, sculptures and installations into the hotel design.
An outdoor installation of nine granite pieces resembling turtles by British sculptor Jon Isherwood graces the forecourt. Adding an international touch to the arrival experience, the artwork evokes the transition from journey to relaxation. Guests enter The Peninsula Beijing through the hotel’s signature pailou Chinese archway, which was originally reserved for royalty to pass beneath. Refreshed and repainted, the archway welcomes guests in traditional style, and invites them to enter the grand lobby and discover the hotel beyond.
Upon entering The Lobby, hand carved onyx “Spirit Wall” conceived by artist Belinda Chow offers a glimpse into a typical Beijing courtyard home.
Adorning The Lobby are two five-metre-high abstract ink paintings on each side of the grand staircase with bold strokes depicting the sun and moon, and symbolising eternity and the creativity of the universe, on a cobalt blue background. The artist, Qin Feng, is considered a leading light of China’s contemporary avant-garde art movement.
Chinese cultural elements are embraced with Zhang Du’s two bronze sculptures of tea drinkers, which also represent The Peninsula Afternoon tradition in The Lobby.
The artistic theme extends into the hotel’s spacious guestrooms, which are styled in graceful shades of cream and white, with an art wall featuring hand-embroidered Chinese floral blossoms integrated into the wallpaper. The walls feature a blue-and-white painting inspired by Ming Dynasty porcelain, by artist Kong, plus photos of Beijing’s modern architectural masterpieces, including the CCTV Tower, Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium and Water Cube, shot from abstract angles by young Chinese photographers.
The new lobby is completed and the first of the renovated rooms will come online by the beginning of September with the rest of the inventory done by March.
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