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November 15, 2004
My first reaction was that of surprise. After having driven past the Hyatt and its imposing, albeit crass and impersonal, glass façade that cried out loudly "we serve very important people," I was deposited in front of a fairly non-descript building. As it was set way back from the street, I did not see it until we drove to the front door. Although we came to appreciate the fact that it was all understated, our first reaction was closer to: "Uh-oh, did this taxi driver take us for a ride? Did he just drop us in front of the wrong hotel?"
Our doubts were dispelled the minute we walked through the door. The lobby was a grand vision of white marble and towering palm trees. Because our room was not quite available, we were escorted to the 18th floor, where drinks were served. Then a front desk clerk came to show us to our room. Having gotten it free, we were expecting some cursory space, thinking that this hotel would no doubt have some cringe-worthy rooms set aside for just this occasion. Our surprise started when we saw the foyer, then the walk-in closet, then real orchids in the bathroom and carnations in the bedroom. I have not stayed anywhere with a foyer and walk-in closet and real flowers before, not even the top hotels in the US.
The room was great, but the service was even better. A few minutes after we settled in, our own floor "butler" rang and offered to unpack and press our clothes. Having mentally reviewed the budget stuff that we packed, we declined her offer (aaahh, what a waste). She then volunteered to bring us tea, coffee, and fruits. From then on, every time we needed something, including unlimited water, coffee, and shoe shines, we called our butler. When we needed a transformer for the battery charger and electric shaver, our butler, a young lady who must not have weighed more than 100 lbs, quickly came back with a 30-lb transformer. Never have I seen anything that big, but she laughed and said that many people ask for this type of thing. Believe it or not, if you are extremely lazy, your butler can draw bath water for you. Now, that’s ridiculous.
I can see why the St. Regis is the choice of many American diplomats. You never want for anything, and since the hotel has a world-class health club, four restaurants, plus a cigar lounge and a couple of bars, you might just as well sit back and pretend you are still back stateside, with the exception that now you have a "butler." Sounds obnoxious, but I have to admit that I enjoyed every minute of it.
From journal Return to Beijing
Washington, District of Columbia
April 9, 2003
Upon check-in, the staff is top-notch. Very friendly, cordial, and helpful. They speak very good English and you can exchange money right at the reception desk at a pretty good rate.
Rooms are large, but I''m assuming I had one of the nicer rooms in the hotel. I had a king-size bed with a single comforter, which was turned down every night around 8pm. There was a small couch and chair along the far wall, a good size TV with stations like ESPN, CNN, and HBO as well as "the People''s TV." The bathroom was huge, with a great bathtub and seperate shower. Robes, bottled water, and slippers are all provided for your comfort. The "personal butler" will bring anything you may have forgotten, polish your shoes, or press your clothes, all when you press a button.
The health club/spa/pool is located in an adjacent building. It is a six-lane pool in a large glass atrium area. There are two public hottubs and a lifeguard on duty. The health club has state-of-the-art equipment with weights, treadmills, bikes, etc. In the men''s spa/changing area, massages are offered, there is a hot tub, sauna, steam room, "relaxation room" with TVs, and showers. Lockers and towels are all provided.
I did not dine in the hotel, though a US$25 breakfast buffet was rumored by friends to be very good. There are two restaurants in the hotel, both looked very nice. There are also three bar areas in the hotel, all with pricey drinks, but offering a nice area to have a nightcap with friends.
From journal Playtime in Bejing
September 27, 2001
The interior of the guestroom is also splendid. I especially liked the bathroom. Although it is not large, it has a graceful setting. The quality of the furniture in the standard room proves the height of the grade of this hotel. Their service is amazing. You can call the butler any time for a cup of coffee. Welcome fruit was beautifully set with knife and fork on the table. A telephone call comes from reception on the day of checkout to ask the time of departure, which is an agreeable service of the hotel, having many high-class businessmen as other guests.
In the evening, you can go to the club lounge and have some alcohol and snacks. It is regrettable the fitness center was under construction. The pool was not completed yet. As for as the details of the construction work concerns, it is a hotel in China, a little rough. But as far as the sense of interior design is concerned, it is certainly one of the finest five-star hotels I ever stayed in. I recommend this hotel for those who want to spend the time gracefully in Beijing.
From journal The Trip to China in 2001