I visited Beijing three times in May, thanks to American’s amazing $450 business class fares:
- I wrote a detailed trip report about my first trip of the month to Beijing, including about my stay at the W Chang’an Beijing
- For my second trip I stayed at the Park Hyatt Beijing, which I also reviewed
- During my visit to Beijing last year I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Beijing
I wanted to try yet another new property for this stay in Beijing, so decided to book the St. Regis Beijing. The Starwood portfolio in Beijing has gotten interesting recently, especially between the St. Regis and W:
- The two hotels are basically across the street from one another, so I can imagine they’re turning into quite the competitors
- The rates at the two hotels are typically comparable, and sometimes the St. Regis is even cheaper
For what it’s worth, the rate at the St. Regis was 1,440CNY (~$230) per night for the two nights I was staying. This is a Category 5 SPG property, making a free night redemption 12,000 Starpoints per night. Since I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, paying seemed like the better option.
As was the case when staying at the W Chang’an, the ride from the airport to the St. Regis took about 45 minutes and cost about 100CNY.
The first thing I noticed as we pulled up to the hotel was how dated the exterior looked. The windows were all fairly small and it looked more like a hospital than a luxury hotel. Especially compared to the rather modern looking W across the street.
The lobby does “feel” very St. Regis, with high ceilings and a rather grand lobby.
That being said, the furniture in the lobby wasn’t especially well maintained, and it doesn’t seem like they put much effort into keeping the hotel clean. I saw the below in the lobby bar at 7AM (and this wasn’t the only table in such a state).
The reception desk is located inside the lobby and to the left. While some St. Regis properties have “sit down” check-in, this one doesn’t. That being said, the associate checking me in was friendly, and I appreciated that she proactively offered me a Platinum upgrade to a Statesman Suite.
She also explained a bit more about the hotel, including the location of the gym, and the fact that the hotel had a “business center” with complimentary drinks and snacks in the evenings.
The elevators were located diagonally across from the reception desk. I took the elevator up to the seventh floor, where my room was located.
It was a non-smoking floor, though they still had big sand “ashtrays” for extinguishing cigarettes, which seemed a bit odd, especially since the floor did also smell a bit like smoke. Then again, I guess it’s not that different than how airplanes still have ashtrays.
My room, #703, was located at the far end of the hallway after turning left outside the elevator.
As you can see based on the floorplan, the suite consists of two separate rooms, which are each about the size of a standard room.
The room featured a square entryway with an armoire on the left.
Then on the right side was the minibar, which actually had extremely reasonable prices ~$3 for a Diet Coke, which is less than they charge in the restaurant).
Then the living room featured a couch on the right side, a big, yellow chair on the left side by the mirror, and a desk between the two.
I did appreciate that the desk had a proper rolling desk chair. There was also what I believe was a fax machine?
Not that Beijing is a city particularly known for its views, but I thought mine was especially underwhelming.
If I cocked my neck I could see the hotel’s pool and garden area, but that was about it.
Waiting on the table were five bottles of water (two of which were Fiji), a fruit plate, and some sweets. I thought that was a nice touch.
The bedroom was on the small side. While the king bed was well padded, it was extremely worn out, to the point that I could feel the springs.
The bed faced a flat screen TV as well as a chair by the window.
Then just past the bedroom was a vanity, and across from that was a closet.
Past the vanity and closet was the bathroom, which featured a single sink, a bathtub, a walk-in shower, and a Japanese toilet.
As usual, toiletries were Remede branded.
While I appreciated the suite upgrade, overall I found the decor to be a bit dated and past its prime. I do usually prefer modern design, but can also appreciate more classic design. In this case I just kind of felt like lots of things were dated and not well maintained.
Shortly after arriving in the room someone from butler service knocked to explain to me how the service works. They seemed to offer the usual St. Regis Butler service, including complimentary coffee/tea, and pressing of five garments.
I took advantage of the complimentary coffee more times than I can count, given the crazy hours I was up. And I did appreciate that they served French Press coffee.
Breakfast was served daily from 6AM until 10AM at The Garden Court restaurant, which is located across from the reception desk.
The decor is beautiful, and pretty characteristic of the St. Regis brand.
The buffet itself was big. And while I usually love “Asian breakfast buffets” (I realize that’s quite a generalization, but it’s typically true almost across the board), that’s not the case in Beijing. This was the third breakfast buffet that missed the mark.
The food was largely tasteless, lukewarm, and not cohesive.
See the thing in the bottom right? Those are basically hot dog buns with tasteless chocolate cream. Something you’d think would taste great, but it didn’t. Okay, on second thought maybe that doesn’t even sound like it would taste great.
Like, don’t the below muffins look like they’d be delicious? They tasted like cardboard…
Some of the Chinese options were the only redeeming quality of the buffet, including the noodle station.
In terms of the hotel’s other dining options, as I’ve noted in a previous blog post, this hotel does room service really well, which I appreciate.
As I explained above, this hotel has what they call a “business center” on the 18th floor. That seems straightforward enough… except it’s actually a club lounge open to all guests.
There’s an associate at reception who takes down your room number as you enter.
The lounge is a good size, with plenty of tables, as well as a back room with some couches and PCs.
The lounge even boasts nice views of the city (unlike from my room).
The lounge is open from 10AM until 10PM, and they serve complimentary soft drinks and light snacks all day, including cookies, fruit, etc.
Then, oddly enough, there’s an evening reception from 5PM until 7PM, which is complimentary for all guests. This is literally like a club lounge which everyone can access.
There’s a selection of (pretty low end) liquor.
Then there’s also wine.
The spread itself is good, though not amazing. There were all kinds of light snacks, including sushi, fresh fruit, etc.
Then there were a few hot dishes, including gnocchi, spring rolls, and mini-hot dogs.
Lastly, there were a few types of dessert.
Ironically enough the only thing they charge for in the “business center” is using the computer. Seems a bit backwards, no?
As I explained in a previous post about the lounge, I just find the lounge as such to send conflicting messages, and can’t really rationalize it. It’s nice that they have it, but:
- Aren’t they cannibalizing their own food/beverage sales by offering it?
- Is the spread they’re offering really creating the impression of the brand they want? When I think about St. Regis, Beefeater and mini-hot dogs aren’t the first thing that come to mind
But again, I appreciate it, and it’s certainly better that they have it than not. Though that won’t stop me from being confused. 😉
The St. Regis also has a nice gym and spa area, which is located in the other “wing” of the hotel. To access it I had to walk to the ground floor, turn right, walk down a long hallway, and then it was on the right.
There’s an Iridium Spa, as you’d expect at a St. Regis property.
And then there’s a pretty big gym as well.
Lastly, there’s an indoor lap pool.
The only other thing I’d note about the St. Regis is that internet was a real opportunity. I’m familiar with the challenges of internet in China, but I had a VPN, and by far had the fewest problems at the W Chang’an, for what it’s worth.
St. Regis Beijing bottom line
Before I stayed at the St. Regis I was a bit confused as to why it was roughly the same price as the W, and often cheaper. Because 9 out of 10 times I’d choose a St. Regis over a W, all else being equal. Well, this case might be one of those exceptions.
I thought the St. Regis was dated and past its prime. There were no doubt good things about the hotel. For example, the hotel executed room service very well, the club lounge was a nice touch, and service was generally a bit more polished than at some of the other properties I’ve stayed at in China.
That being said, all else being equal I’d probably return to the W in the future for the more comfortable bed, more modern decor, and generally better upkeep of the property.