Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Intercontinental Beijing Sanlitun

1 Jan 2017 by Jeremy Tredinnick
InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun - Exterior


Opened in August last year, this bold, 300-room, new-build hotel occupies the lower half of a tower shaped like a stretched oval, whose glass exterior is framed by a honeycomb structure like an exoskeleton. This is wired up to present an impressive multicoloured light show each evening.


Opposite the southern entrance to Beijing’s trendy Sanlitun retail and leisure district, with Tuanjiehu subway station (Line 10) just a 5-10 minute walk away.


Not your typical Intercontinental, as is apparent from the exterior and its three-storey-high entrance lobby. The feel is bright, breezy and modern, with interesting ornamentation, from enormous picture books of luxury cars to modern sculptures; the pleasant lobby lounge has a living room ambience, and the whole design concept fits in with Sanlitun’s youthful, vibrant atmosphere. Not being a millennial, and considering myself something of a traditionalist, I wondered whether I would “fit in”… but I was pleasantly surprised and it didn’t take long for me to really enjoy its individuality.

Intercontinental Beijing Sanlitun Deluxe room


I was in a 45 sqm Deluxe room (Premier rooms are 50 sqm and Executive suites stretch to 90 sqm). The room layout was interesting: walking through the door the first thing I saw was the oval, stand-alone bath. The toilet was immediately to the left; the walk-in rainforest shower was on the right, and twin sink plinths completed the bathroom area.

Two curved glass panels formed an entrance to the bedroom. Although the room plan is rectangular, the design cleverly makes the bed area circular; there are curves everywhere, from the wall panels to the work desk and chaise longue by the window, plus the round, deep-blue carpet and even the arcing, futuristic desk lamp in clear plastic.

There were universal sockets and USB ports conveniently located by the desk and at the bedside, a Nespresso machine, a Bluetooth music station, and the 48-inch, wall-mounted TV could be twisted towards the bath or sofa. The curved work table was nice but the designer chair did not provide enough lower back support. Another idiosyncrasy is the shower, which, when turned on, by default shoots water from the rainforest head first, not the wall-mounted showerhead as is more usual – so watch out! However, overall I really liked this room’s originality.


Most of the F&B options are on the third floor, and here again the design is fresh and unconventional. Most of the restaurant areas are open plan, with screens instead of walls, and corridors leading you naturally from one eatery to the next. Ying Chinese restaurant leads seamlessly into Ying Japanese (the combined area is where the breakfast buffet is located); Top Tapas leads to the Top Bar, which has a live band and outdoor terrace; and Char steakhouse also operates as an oyster and champagne bar in the evenings. It’s an attractive area that is easy to move around in as your mood takes you. On the 21st floor, the Club Intercontinental lounge is an airy space with a range of seating, fantastic views and an excellent breakfast buffet.


These are on the fourth floor and include eight function rooms of various size (one including an open kitchen), an Event studio, plus an 800 sqm grand ballroom with a double-storey ceiling that can be split into three sections.


These are on the fifth floor and are operated by a third-party specialist company called Green Essence. The spa has ten spacious treatment rooms, while the gym is a large (300 sqm) space with a comprehensive set of Precor-brand fitness equipment. The swimming pool has a fun feature, with five water cycle machines that face straight out of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The pool area has funky lighting and a DJ corner, and can be booked for private events and parties.


The bold design pays off, providing a fresh look that is entirely in keeping with the hotel’s hip location. In the Sanlitun district this is one of the top accommodation options.


Internet rates for a Deluxe room in mid-February start from RMB2,769 (US$402) including taxes and surcharges.


No 1 South Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100027; tel +86 10 6530 8888;

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