Five Things To Consider About Beijing Hotels

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I know many of us are soon headed to Beijing thanks to American’s awesome ~$450 business class mistake fare, which they’re honoring.

If you’re anything like me, that means you have about 42 a few sets of hotels to book. 😉

I’ve been to Beijing a few times before, so originally I was going to write a post about where to stay in Beijing.

And then I realized that Beijing has over 5,000 hotels on TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor-Beijing

To put that into perspective, New York has about 500 hotels, Tokyo about 800 hotels, and London about 1,000 hotels. So ain’t nobody got time to read (or for that matter, write) a comprehensive post about Beijing hotel options.

Instead I figured I’d just share five things to consider when booking Beijing hotels.

It might not make sense to redeem points

Beijing as a market has too many hotels. Hotel capacity has grown disproportionately to demand the past few years.

As a result, I think you’ll find that while points can be a great value at lower end properties, that’s not always the case at higher end properties. In many cases it’s not worth redeeming points at higher end properties in Beijing.

Purely as an example, take a look at the two “premium” SPG options in Beijing — the St. Regis and W. While rates vary greatly, in general I’m finding that both run $200-300 per night, while they require 16,000 Starpoints for a free night. I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so the rate would have to be at least $350 for it to make sense to redeem points, in my opinion (even more than that when you factor in the points you’d be forgoing by booking an award).

SPG-Beijing

The math works out much more favorably at some of the lower end properties.

Hyatt’s Points + Cash can be a great deal

Hyatt has two properties in Beijing — the Grand Hyatt and the Park Hyatt.

Grand-Hyatt-Beijing-15

I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Beijing last year. It’s a nice enough mega-hotel. Keep in mind that:

  • The Grand Hyatt Beijing is a Category 4 property
    • A free night redemption costs 15,000 points per night
    • Points + Cash costs 7,500 points plus $100 per night
    • You can redeem your Hyatt Visa Card annual free night certificate here
  • The Park Hyatt Beijing is a Category 5 property
    • A free night redemption costs 20,000 points per night
    • Points + Cash costs 10,000 points plus $125 per night

I’ve asked about availability over many dates, and in general it seems like the Park Hyatt has a lot more Points + Cash availability than the Grand Hyatt. Which is great news, because the Park Hyatt is where I’d want to stay anyway. So the Park Hyatt is what I ended up booking for a couple of my stays.

I value Hyatt points at ~1.5 cents each, so making a Points + Cash booking there is the equivalent of spending ~$275 per night there (which is consistently lower than cash rates). Keep in mind that Hyatt Gold Passport is an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so those are points you can transfer from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Grand-Hyatt-Beijing-65

Don’t forget about Virtuoso, FHR, etc.

If you’re staying at luxury hotels, there are a few programs that can add even more value to your stay.

I’m talking about programs like American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, Virtuoso, SPG Luxury Privileges, etc., which are valid at select chain and non-chain hotels (to have access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts you need to have an The Platinum Card® from American Express).

The only “catch” is that in order to qualify you have to book whatever the best available flexible rate is. In other words, you can’t book a corporate rate, AAA rate, etc., and get these benefits.

In terms of chain hotels, the following hotels participate in the following programs:

  • The St. Regis participates in American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, Virtuoso, and SPG Luxury Privileges
  • The W participates in SPG Luxury Privileges
  • The Grand Hyatt Beijing participates in American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
  • The Park Hyatt Beijing participates in Virtuoso

Just to give an example, for booking the Grand Hyatt Beijing through Fine Hotels & Resorts you can receive a fourth night free, in addition to early and late check-out, complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade based on availability, and a $100 food & beverage credit.

Grand-Hyatt-Beijing-FHR

Club Carlson is a great value, as always

This isn’t really unique to Beijing, but Club Carlson can be an amazing value, especially in conjunction with the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card. If you have the card then the second night of every award stay is free.

Club Carlson has several properties in Beijing, though let’s use the Radisson Blu as an example. It’s 28,000 points per night, which means that in conjunction with their co-branded credit card you’d pay an average of 14,000 points per night for a two night stay. That’s a great deal for a hotel that goes for $125+ per night.

Radisson-Blu-1

Hotels to consider near the airport

Beijing is pretty spread out, so the distance from the airport to the city depends on which part of town you’re staying in. When I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Beijing last year it took about 45 minutes to get to and from the airport, which wasn’t horrible, I thought.

That being said, if you’re inclined to stay at/near the airport for all/some of your stay, there are a couple of chain hotels to consider.

The most convenient is probably the Hilton Beijing Airport, which is just a very short shuttle ride from the airport. It’s a Category 5 HHonors property, and free night redemptions cost 40,000 HHonors points. For what it’s worth, I don’t see any Points & Money Rewards available.

Hilton-Beijing-Airport

I value HHonors points at ~0.4 cents each, so I’d redeem points if the paid rate is above ~$160 or so, which it seems to be for most dates. If you are staying at the Hilton, it pays to have the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, which gives you Gold status for as long as you have the card (and that gets you complimentary club lounge access and/or restaurant breakfast).

There’s also a Crowne Plaza near Beijing Airport, which looks pretty decent. It goes for 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night, which I value at ~$140. Those points are easy to accrue with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, and if you have the card you also get IHG Platinum status, which might get you an upgrade and some other perks.

CP-Beijing-Airport

Bottom line

Beijing has tons of great hotel options regardless of which program you’re loyal to. There’s no point in covering them all here, though I figured I’d share the thought process for the properties I’ve at least been looking at.

If you’re headed to Beijing, have you decided on hotels yet?

Happy Beijinging!

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Comments

  1. Great and timely post!

    Also, perhaps you can go into:

    1) best ways to get to and from airport to places like the the Grand and Park Hyatt;

    2) Navigating PEK airport;

    3) tourist scams!

  2. If I can suggest you guys a hotel in Beijing: Hilton Wangfujing. Great location, great rates, top service and restaurant. You don’t even feel like you are in a Hilton Hotel. 🙂 Totally different from the US Hilton properties.

  3. Thanks for this post!

    FYI, I was able to use Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee to get the Park Hyatt for $200 a night for a Friday and Saturday. I think this would better than the $125 + 10,000 points at your valuation. I think I found the lower rate on Expedia if anyone is interested.

  4. DT Beijing is only 10000 per night.
    According to the upcoming Daily Gateway purchase, that’s $50 per night.
    It used to be Cat 1 two years ago…
    Although this might not be the easiest hotel to get to, traffic in Beijing is terrible anywhere.
    Folks, go to my hometown Shanghai. You’ll love it. Take the high-speed train for less than 6 hours.
    I’ll be in Shanghai from 5/14-5/27

  5. Ben, I’ve stayed recently at the Ritz-Carlton Beijing (not the financial district) and I certainly recomend it. If you like something less expensive, try the JW Marriott, which I stayed on another earlier trip and is pretty good as well.
    Good and safe travels to all lucky ones !!!

  6. There are several very good and well-located category 4 and 5 Marriotts in Beijing. This is probably one of the best locations to use your free night certificates.

  7. as a frequent traveler to asia and someone who really doesn’t get too deep into the hotel points game, i would strongly recommend investigating some of the smaller chain or unaffiliated business hotels in beijing. when i was in shanghai last, rates for chain hotels on the bund and in pudong were through the roof, but i found a great, newly constructed biz hotel with plenty of amenities right by the metro in a fashionable neighborhood for dirt cheap. there are so many hotels (as you can clearly see) in china now that it really pays to shop around.

    also, consider booking through pointshound or rocketmiles. i got 18,000 AA miles for a 3 night stay at the dorsett in singapore last week. can’t beat that.

  8. I stayed at the Crowne Plaza PEK due to a misconnection. Don’t expect any upgrade or perks as an IHG Platinum.

  9. This is great timing! Just booked my return ticket from LHR to PEK for 2nd Apr. Will be there for 3 nights for a school reunion. Redeemed miles and managed to secure return in First (O class)!! Looking forward to trying that.

    Hotel wise, I find hotels in Beijing of great value for money compared to NYC or London. I booked 3 nights at Sofitel (I am Plat statis with Accor). Looks amazing and great reviews. £334 for three nights, can’t complain.

    Who’s gonna be there over that weekend?

  10. We booked the Ritz-Carlton. At only 30,000 points/night, it was easy to cover using points earned from the sign-up bonuses of the Marriott and Ritz credit cards.

  11. Although people that read Boarding Area prefers to stay at American chain hotels I would recommend taking a look at some other amazing properties which usually are very cheap in Asia but in my opinion offer an amazing quality and service. Shangri-La, Raffles, Peninsula and Fairmont all have rates for around $200 for Beijing in April and May.

  12. I’d also add that if you have a World Elite Mastercard, like the AAdmirals Club Card, I got a pretty sweet deal in Shanghai last year at a Luxury Collection Hotel. I would check those benefits for Beijing as well.

  13. @Lucky – I’ve booked the GH Beijing for my upcoming stay. What makes you choose the PH over the GH? Obviously, PH is a higher category. I assume PH has no lounge.

  14. Hi Lucky, I know you are a bit of a germaphobe too. Obviously I have read to only drink bottled water but how about showers, etc? Would it be better to jump into the pool with it being clorninated?

    Thanks

  15. I stayed at the JW Marriott Central and really liked it. Awesome breakfast spread for Gold/Platinum downstairs included. Still seems kind of under used since its opening last year.

  16. I have to agree with the posters above that while the points and loyalty game with big chains can be good value in a lot of places, China (Shanghai and Beijing in particular) offers much better value if you look at the luxury independent hotels, or chains without loyalty. You can get great prices (~$150-200) per night in addition to FHR or Virtuoso amenities, and amazing location, service and rooms.

  17. @ Pegasus — Just a function of personal preference. Both properties are pretty “brand standard” for their respective brands, and I just prefer Park over Grand in general.

  18. I would recommend not staying near the airport – it is really too far from everything to have decent visit. Plus, the Hilton at the airport is more expensive than the one I usually stay at (Hilton on Dongfang Road; I always get executive lounge consideration as a HHonors Gold).

    Taxi ride is about 60-100 RMB depending upon traffic and time of day. DO NOT fall for the people milling around the departure gate asking if you want a taxi wait in line. It may take a little longer but it is worth the lack of hassle.

    The Peninsula is a very good property and worth the money. The Westin across from the Hilton on Dongfang also appears to be a very nice property.

    Whichever hotel you choose, go to the website and print out the name and address of the hotel in Simplified Chinese, as most taxi drivers have limited English skills.

  19. Just heads up, depending on where you wanna stay in PEK hotels can differ a lot. My suggestion is try to stay around Wangfujing. Its easier to get around from downtown pek on subways and taxis. Plus its closer to major tour spots. Tons of Nice hotels and tons of motels too. The food is always interesting at night.

    My game plan is simple, I stay at Club carlson park plaza for 2 nights using points then lower quality hotel for a few nights. Though to be honest im not to certain about the motel im in, its more about the location. Thats def more important to me. WangFujing starbucks!!! Some of the high end hotels that are cheaper bc its a lot further away from places. Im going to be in PEK for 9 nights for $150.. Then off to PVG for 13 days.. havent made plans yet for that leg but probably same thing Club Carlson then Cheapy hotel.. I was looking into points but it doesnt make sense. It would be more beneficial to pay then use points. IMHO.

  20. We booked the JW Marriott Central for 5 nights. 15k a night, 5th night free. 60k points.

  21. I agree with @Satastico – besides the PH, the other Virtuoso properties have amazing rates. Partner with the benefits and you have a really great stay.

  22. Unfortunately I missed out on the incredible AA mistake airfare but would have loved to have gone to Beijing again…especially in Business and potentially on the new Dreamliner!

    I wanted to offer up a tip on a great hotel my partner and I stayed in last August in PEK, especially for those looking to redeem HHonors points and wanting to see a bit of the city if only there for a short time. Try the Hilton Wangfujing…it’s in the heart of the city, lots of great shopping nearby on Wangfujing Street (if that’s your thing) and it’s located within a mile of both the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Restaurants and food options were plentiful as well and there’s an actual mall within a block that gas a market for daily essentials such as bottled water, snacks, etc.

    There were plenty of rooms open for points when we booked short notice and it was a fantastic hotel. We opted for a mid-level room knowing we’d get upgraded based on my partner’s HHonors status and it did not disappoint. If you don’t have status but have the points for a room on one of the executive floors, go for it. The rooms were modern and incredibly spacious…not what I expected at all. Plus, you get to start your day with a decent breakfast in the executive lounge that’s included, which is always a nice perk.

    Hilton…Wangfujing…book it! You won’t be disappointed and enjoy your trip for all who were lucky enough to get this amazing deal!

    SFOFlyGuy72

  23. Something to really consider for Beijing that goes way beyond the brand name of the hotel. With the rapid pace of new building only ‘new build’ hotels are actually attractive. Those that are more than 5 years old typically are really ‘let go’ and run down fast. Build quality is usually really poor regardless of the hotel brand (as a test, just take a look at the grouting and tiling in your room, even at the fanciest place).

    It isn’t unusual to have a fancy (but older) hotel be disappointing but a Holiday Inn Express that has just been built be the far more attractive option.

  24. Chase Fairmont Visa. 2 free nights for me, 2 for my wife, 2 free suite upgrades too, and free breakfasts.

    1 block from the #1 subway.

  25. Going to Beijing in May, even though I didn’t capitalize on the AA mistake fare. Planning to stay 2 nights at the Rennaisance Wangfujing, both with Marriott certificates (the 2nd night with a 1-4 cat certificate I just received from another Marriott card. I picked it both for the category, the reviews, and mainly the location/distance to the Forbidden City.

  26. Beware! The Grand Hyatt has the hardest beds I have ever experienced. It was just bearable for me after 2 mattress pads were put on. My friend slept on the couch.

  27. Had a great stay at the Westin Chaoyang with a great suite platinum upgrade for about $100/night. Its the only hotel I’ve stayed at with a retractable big-screen TV at the foot of the bed. It was perfect for watching the Superbowl with breakfast.

  28. The Radisson hotel is dreadful and dated. No way is it worth the points (or even paid) value. The location is not great either except going to and from the airport. The Park Plaza is a little better, both location-wise and quality-wise. There are really better options for points or cash however.

  29. @Michael

    2. Make sure you to directly to the official taxi queue. Do not bother with anyone asking if you need a ride. Make sure you have a printout of your hotel name in Chinese to show to the driver. If this makes you nervous, most hotels can arrange for a car pickup at the airport for about $120, but the official taxis are generally safe and don’t overcharge.

    3. The main scam at the airport is the unofficial taxi scam. Other major scams include the Chinese girl who wants to practice her English/take you to a way overpriced tea house and various pickpocket scams.

  30. I am doing way budget for this trip. Staying at the Ibis Beijing Jianguomen ($35) which is really close to T. Square. I have three fantastic trips (Beijing, Santiago, Rio) all in May so my credit card needed me to cut costs somewhere. And since I don’t plan spending anytime in a hotel, hotel was it.

  31. @ Nic, they sure are and very sleek, modern…very impressed. The staff was always so helpful too! I used their car service to/from the airport too. Really nice and swift. Mercedes in and a BMW back. A bit pricey but hey, I was on vacation.

    @ Dubz, you really can’t go wrong with the Wangfujing area, IMO. It was my first time to PEK but I was very impressed with how central it was.

  32. I’m in a similar boat as Martinpj. Usually when abroad I couchsurf or go to a hostel, because I prefer social interaction and cultural exchange over something fancy. The Chinese visa makes this more difficult because of the invitation letter. So I’ll probably stay at highly rated, affordable accommodations and try to meet up with couchsurfers or boardingarea/FT/MR enthusiasts.

  33. @Joel

    You don’t need an invitation letter for a tourist visa, just proof of hotel booking. Book a refundable hotel stay and cancel after you have the visa and couchsurf/go the hostel route.

    Couch surfing is a little more problematic in that you are required to register yourself as a foreigner if you stay at any location for more than 24 hours. Hotels and hostels do this for you but you will have to do it yourself if you couch surf.

  34. Hey everyone, this is way off topic but does AA give a pass for fast track customs for first/business pax? If so do they do it for PEK and ORD?

    Just kinda curious as i don’t have GE.

    Thanks

  35. @Rusty

    China doesn’t have a fast pass procedure for tourists. Everyone waits in the same line.

  36. @Andrew M thanks. Will I get a pass in ORD?

    Sorry for a newb question. Will apply for GE if they don’t thanks!

  37. There is no fast pass for US citizens, although these days the waits are usually fairly short. Still, if you get stuck when a bunch of planes landing at once GE could be much faster.

  38. Wangfujing Hilton is certainly the best hilton in greater China, perhaps one of the best of Hiltons. Highly recommend.

  39. Going to agree on the Hilton Wangfujing, great recognition of Gold members (lounge and upgrade) and nicely located. They even let me check-in at 7AM. Service was impeccable and was definitely the nicest Hilton I’ve ever stayed in.

  40. Lots of interesting places on Airbnb that are a great value, and you get a more interesting visit with a local !

  41. @Charlie – Enjoy the Fairmont! Stayed there twice and both times were great. Very friendly staff, perfect location for sightseeing (easy to get to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City), and great rooms. The Fairmont Gold lounge was very nice as well, a great place to end a day of exploring the city.

  42. For those who’ve never been on a subway in beijing, be prepared for a very tight squeeze. And when you reach your stop, you pretty much have to push your way out, forget about being polite. My husband was quite baffled by this when we were there =)

  43. Hi Lucky – I stayed at the Park Hyatt and I think you’ll like it – it has a totally different feel than the Grand Hyatt. The views from the room and from the hotel are fantastic on clear(er) days. The location is not as central so make sure to take a business card from the hotel to give to taxis as I found the taxis got lost trying the find the hotel quite frequently. I also used the subway when the traffic was really bad.

  44. Also I used the Park Hyatt’s car to pick me up from the airport and they met me at the door of the airplane to escort me through the airport – not sure if they are still doing that but I found it very helpful (and quick!)

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