Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Sofitel Wanda

26 Feb 2008 by Mark Caswell

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Open since August 2007, this is the first example of the new-look Sofitel. It occupies a purpose-built property, and as you walk into the large lobby the first thing you notice is three large Swarovski peony flowers on the wall – just one example of the East meets West concept seen throughout the hotel.

WHERE IS IT? At Wanda Plaza in the Chaoyang District of Beijing. It is well situated for access to the major tourist attractions (7km from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square) as well as the diplomatic areas. The nearest underground station is Da Wang Lu on line one.

HOW MANY ROOMS? 417 rooms and suites throughout the hotel.

ROOM FACILITIES The hotel has 27 floors and the Club rooms are spread over floors 25 to 27. Mine was a good size and decorated in a blend of Western and Chinese styles with wooden, leather and cloth furnishings and a chandelier. Deluxe rooms are a little less ornate but of a good standard with similar features. My room had a table with desktop built-in power and broadband access (or wifi if you prefer), a large LCD TV and electric curtains. Sofitel’s “My Bed” was very comfortable with a down duvet and a pillow menu offering five choices. The room also had a good-sized safe and a minibar, and as I was in a Club room I could have my shoes shined for free. The bathrooms are surrounded by glass, so you can see into the bedroom and vice versa, but if that makes you uncomfortable there is also a magic switch which makes the glass turn opaque. There is a large separate bath with a TV at the end of it, a rain shower and L’Occitane toiletries (which may be replaced with Hermès once a wider partnership between Hermès and Sofitel is established) are provided. Club rooms also have access to the Sofitel lounge, located on the 26th floor (open from 5.30am to midnight). The lounge offers express check-in, breakfast and evening cocktails, as well as access to a team of butlers. I only managed to attend one breakfast but there was a good buffet of hot and cold items as well as a chef on hand to cook eggs to order.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS The Lobby Lounge (Vous) is open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. On the sixth floor is the M Bar (open 4-11.30pm); Kagoya Hachibay, a Japanese barbecue restaurant; Farm House, a Cantonese restaurant; and Le Pre Lenotre for top-class French cuisine. All are open for lunch and dinner. In addition, there is VIC (Voyage of International Cuisines), which is an open-kitchen/buffet restaurant serving food 24 hours a day. I had lunch at Le Pre Lenotre where three courses cost £16. In the evening you can dine à la carte, or choose from a three-course menu for £34, or a Menu Dégustation for £62 (or £87 including wine). The restaurant has an extensive selection of French wines, which will suit every palate and pocket. The Farm House was equally good for dinner, with an excellent selection of dishes and a more varied international wine list.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The business centre on the lobby level is open from 6.30am to 10.30pm. It is well staffed although there is only one computer terminal. Laptops can be arranged for use in guest rooms and free wifi is available throughout the hotel. There are a number of meeting rooms, most of which are on the seventh floor. The hotel boasts one of the largest ballrooms in Beijing, which at almost 1,400 sqm can accommodate up to 1,250 people. There are nine other meeting rooms, from a boardroom to larger facilities which can accommodate 180 people.

LEISURE FACILITIES There is a 28-metre swimming pool (on the fifth floor) and a well-equipped “So Fit” gym. Both are bright and airy with lots of natural daylight. There is also a Le Spa (open 10am to 11pm).

VERDICT A modern and well thought-out hotel with exceptional service. Congestion in Beijing means you should also consider your meeting locations when choosing a hotel and this one has a good offering.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in March started from CNY1,909 (£133) for a Deluxe room. (72-hour cancellation.)

CONTACT Sofitel Wanda Beijing, Tower 12, Wanda Plaza, 93 Jianguo Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing; tel +86 10 8599 6666; sofitel.com.

Julian Gregory

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