What's it like? The St Regis Beijing is part of Starwood's luxury brand, which includes properties in London (the Lanesborough), Rome, New York and Washington.Built in 1997, the hotel was previously known as the Beijing International Club until it was branded St Regis in 2000. The huge club wing behind the hotel was added in 2001 and now houses the impressive spa, meetings areas and other facilities.
Where is it? Close to the second ring road – Beijing's main artery – and a short drive from Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and good shopping areas. It is around a 40-minute drive to Beijing International Airport,although it's wise to leave longer as traffic can be a problem in the city. Every time you leave the hotel, ask the concierge to write down the Chinese characters for the place you are heading and also take a card with the hotel name in Chinese, to show your taxi driver on the return journey.
How many rooms? 273 including 68 suites. Deluxe is the entry-level room category,followed by executive deluxe, diplomat and then three types of suite:statesman, ambassador and presidential. There are also 70 one-to three-bedroom apartments, let for stays of between six months and two years. Renovation will shortly begin on enlarging and updating the decor of the deluxe rooms – the hotel plans to renovate floor by floor and keep vacant the floors on either side of those in progress, to limit noise disturbance.
Room facilities Rooms are comfortable and understated, decorated in light, neutral shades. My diplomat room had a large sitting area, king-size bed, as well as a walk-in closet and huge bathroom with separate shower and bath. Standard facilities in all rooms include air conditioning,in-room safe (although mine wasn't big enough to hold my laptop),bathrobe and slippers, TV and DVD player, minibar, and a well-equipped stationery drawer with a jogging map, with a trail taking in Tiananmen Square. All guests have a 24-hour butler service, which is a luxurious perk; complimentary butler services include the pressing of five garments on arrival, help with packing/unpacking, wake-up calls and ordering drinks. The only service I used was requesting tea (which I did regularly) and the service was always prompt. Guests in an executive deluxe room or above can use the executive lounge on the 18thfloor (open 1000 to 2200), which is small but has good views and arrange of snacks and drinks. There is one laptop with free internet access but if it is in use you can pay for wifi access on your own laptop. The staff will give you a password – RMB80, (£5.35) for 24hours. It's the same price for wired in-room use.
Restaurants and bars The signature restaurant, Danieli's, serves Italian cuisine and is open daily for lunch and dinner. It has an upmarket rustic feel with plenty of daylight flooding in. I sampled angel hair with asparagus sauce and scallops (RMB76/ £5, for a starter portion), followed by Italian pork sausage with saffron risotto and sage jus – both were excellent. The latter dish was part of the "Dolce Vita" lunch, which costs RMB148/£10for three courses. Other restaurant options include: Celestial Court for Cantonese food, The Garden Court, The Astor Grill, which promises the best steak in Beijing, and the Japanese Shun Sai Restaurant. The Garden Lounge on the ground floor is close to the lobby and offers drinks and afternoon tea. For drinks, the Press Club Bar is small, dark and atmospheric or, in the club wing, there is a cigar lounge with a walk-in humidor and a wine lounge.
Business and meeting facilities The business centre is in the club wing on the first floor. Open from0630 to midnight, it offers services from faxing, photocopying,courier, printing and so on. Internet use here costs RMB1.5 per minute.There are ample meeting spaces, the largest being the 410sqm Great Hallin the main part of the hotel, plus 10 other rooms which are divisible,most of them in the club wing.
Leisure facilities The St Regis Spa and Club is located in the club wing with impressive facilities, including spa baths containing natural hot spring water;men's and women's VIP suites; saunas, steam rooms and plunge pools; and relaxation lounges equipped with personal headsets. The fitness centre is the largest hotel gym I have ever seen (perhaps because the hotel has a strong local membership as well as guests) – along with the 25-metre indoor pool it is open 24 hours. A huge range of massages and treatments are available. Other leisure facilities are a snooker and pool table, two squash courts, a golf driving area and putting green and even an eight-lane bowling alley.
Verdict An excellent hotel with extensive facilities – the highlight is the butler service for every guest, which is a clever VIP touch.
Price No availability in October. Internet rates for a midweek stay in early November started at RMB2,973 (£200), rising to RMB3,548 (£238) for a diplomat room.
Contact St Regis Beijing, 21 Jian Guo Men Wai Da Jie, Beijing 100020, China, tel +86 10 6460 6688, stregis.com/beijing.