Review: Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng Hotel

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Introduction
Review: American 787 Business Class Dallas To Beijing
Review: Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng
Touring Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, And The Great Wall
Review: American 787 Business Class Beijing To Dallas


During past trips to Beijing I’ve reviewed the Grand Hyatt BeijingPark Hyatt BeijingSt. Regis Beijing and W Hotel Beijing Chang’an, so I wanted to review a new hotel for this trip. Since we were booking two rooms I really wanted to book a Starwood hotel, since I could get elite night credits for both rooms that way. It’s great to get six elite night credits for just a three night stay (though I guess I’m getting that anyway now thanks to the targeted double elite qualifying promotion which Starwood is running).

I quite liked the W Beijing (I generally like W properties in Asia, including in Guangzhou, Singapore, Taipei, etc.), while I didn’t like the St. Regis Beijing as much, as it was quite outdated.

I wanted to try something new, so figured I’d book what looked to be the next best Starwood property in Beijing, which I determined to be the Sheraton Grand Dongcheng Hotel. The Sheraton brand is undergoing a major refresh under the “Sheraton 2020” plan, since Starwood recognizes that the brand is pretty lackluster; it’s so lackluster that Marriott doesn’t even know what to do with it after the merger.

However, this is a “Sheraton Grand” property, and the “Grand” designation is reserved for the top Sheraton properties out there.

The rate for the Sheraton Grand Beijing was 800CNY (~$125) per room per night before tax and service charge, or about ~$145 per night all-in.

The Sheraton is located about 30 minutes from Beijing Capital Airport, though the travel time can vary significantly based on whether or not there’s an accident on the main airport roadway.

The exterior of the hotel is modern, as it’s part of a larger business complex, otherwise consisting primarily of office buildings.

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Sheraton Grand Hotel Beijing exterior

The driveway even has a cool futuristic-looking awning of sorts.

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Sheraton Grand Hotel Beijing driveway

Upon arriving at the hotel we were greeted by the bellmen and directed to reception, which was located inside the lobby and to the left.

The lobby was spacious and modern, but oh-so-sterile. Sheraton, here’s the problem with your brand: even if you upgrade hotels and get them to the “grand” standard, they’re still so sterile and boring, and lack personality. This hotel is the perfect example.

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Sheraton Grand Hotel Beijing lobby

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Sheraton Grand Hotel Beijing lobby

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Sheraton Grand Hotel Beijing lobby

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Sheraton Grand Hotel Beijing lobby

Once at reception we were quickly assisted by a friendly associate. As I often find to be the case in Asia, check-in took forever. I paid for my stay with the Citi Prestige® Card, which offers 3x points on hotel purchases with no foreign transaction fees.

It was a good 10 minutes before we had the keys to both of our rooms. Fortunately both rooms had been upgraded to the club level, with one suite and one standard club room, which is awesome, since technically the second room wasn’t eligible for elite benefits.

Do keep in mind that even if you don’t have status with Starwood, those with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express get access to club lounges at Sheratons, which is a very generous perk.

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Sheraton Grand Hotel Beijing reception

We headed to the elevators, which were located behind reception and to the left. We took an elevator up to the 23rd floor, where our two rooms were located (we were assigned rooms next to one another).

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Sheraton Grand Hotel Beijing elevators

The hallways of the hotel were sleek, and our rooms were located down the hallway and to the left.

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Sheraton Grand Hotel Beijing hallway

First let’s talk about the standard club king room, which was what the second room was upgraded to.

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Sheraton Grand Hotel Beijing floorplan

It featured a long entryway, with a sculpture immediately to the left upon entering, and the bathroom to the right.

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Sheraton Beijing club king room entrance

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Sheraton Beijing club king room entrance

The room had a king size bed which faced the TV.

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Sheraton Beijing club king room

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Sheraton Beijing club king room

The room had an open layout between the bathroom and bedroom, though had a sliding door and shades for privacy.

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Sheraton Beijing club king room

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Sheraton Beijing club king room TV

By the window was a love seat and daybed combo.

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Sheraton Beijing club king room couch

The room looked out over sprawling Beijing, which isn’t exactly the most picturesque skyline in the world.

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Sheraton Beijing club king room view

The bathroom setup was pretty impressive for a standard room, based on all the features it had. At the far end was the partitioned off toilet (though I’m not sure I understand why they make it so visible with a glass casing) on the left, and then the sink on the right.

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Sheraton Beijing club king bathroom

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Sheraton Beijing club king sink

Then there was a huge soaking tub.

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Sheraton Beijing club king tub

And then across from that was a vanity.

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Sheraton Beijing club king vanity mirror

Then closest to the bed was a walk-in shower with two shower heads.

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Sheraton Beijing club king walk-in shower

All the toiletries were the Sheraton brand standard ones. If Sheraton really wants to revamp their brand and add some personality, investing in decent toiletries would be a great place to start.

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Sheraton Beijing club king room toiletries

On the desk was a welcome amenity consisting of all kinds of sweets.

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Sheraton Beijing club room welcome amenity

There was also a huge plate of fruit.

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Sheraton Beijing club room welcome amenity fruit plate

Overall I thought the club king room was nice and modern, though also very sterile.

Now let’s look at the suite next door. It featured a wide entryway. Immediately upon entering and to the left was a guest bathroom, with a sink and toilet.

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Sheraton Beijing club suite entrance

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Sheraton Beijing suite second bathroom

Then there was a huge living room, which was really awesome and functional. It featured a dining table with four chairs, and two two-person couches.

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Sheraton Beijing club suite dining table

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Sheraton Beijing club suite living room

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Sheraton Beijing club suite living room

Across from the dining table was the minibar, coffee machine, and tea kettle.

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Sheraton Beijing club suite coffee machine

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Sheraton Beijing club minibar

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Sheraton Beijing club minibar

Across from the couch was a TV, which was the same setup as in the club king room.

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Sheraton Beijing club suite living room TV

Then in the far corner of the room by the window was a desk with an office chair. I always appreciate when a hotel room has a proper office chair.

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Sheraton Beijing club suite desk

There was also the same welcome amenity as in the other room. While any sort of welcome amenity is above and beyond (since it’s not a promised perk), I don’t think I’ve ever been offered such tasteless sweets. All the sweets were stale and tasteless.

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Sheraton Beijing club suite welcome amenity

The living room was separated from the bedroom by some sliding doors. There was a king size bed, and then a daybed by the window.

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Sheraton Beijing club suite bedroom

There was another TV in the bedroom, identical to the one in the living room.

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Sheraton Beijing club suite bedroom TV

Then two sliding doors led into the master bathroom, which featured a soaking tub, walk-in shower, toilet, sink, and vanity. So while it was more spacious than the bathroom in a standard club room, the amenities were identical.

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Sheraton Beijing club suite bathroom

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Sheraton Beijing club suite tub

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Sheraton Beijing club suite sink

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Sheraton Beijing club suite toilet

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Sheraton Beijing club suite walk-in shower

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Sheraton Beijing club suite vanity

Overall the suite was spacious and comfortable, though much like the club king room, it lacked personality. Fortunately wifi in the hotel was fast, at least in conjunction with a VPN.

The hotel’s club lounge is located on the 25th floor. The lounge is one of the more nicely furnished parts of the hotel, and is huge. There are plenty of sections in the lounge, so even if it’s full you won’t notice it.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge

The lounge boasts views of the surrounding area, though in a different direction than from our rooms.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge view

The first morning we were up early, so we were standing outside of the club lounge at around 6:28AM, just a couple of minutes before it was scheduled to open at 6:30AM. There was a Chinese guy standing there as well:

Guy: “You are waiting for the club lounge?”
Me: “Yep.”
Guy: “This means you are staying on the top four floors of hotel. Congratulations, you have made it.”

I guess I can add having used a Sheraton club lounge at one point in my life to my resume. 😉

While the lounge was physically quite nice, I found the food to be extremely underwhelming.

Breakfast was served daily from 6:30AM until 10:30AM. In terms of variety the spread was fine, though I found the quality to be really underwhelming. This is a problem I’ve found with Beijing hotels in general, where bread and pastries which look tasty are actually stale and tasteless.

The lounge had an espresso machine. The proactive attendants would always ask what we wanted to drink when we entered the lounge, and then make it for us.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge snacks

The food was served in two areas. One section had the hot options, which included an omelet station and miso soup (the latter being one of the few redeeming qualities of the breakfast selection).

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge breakfast spread

Then there was the other section, which had cereal, pastries, cheese, salad, cold cuts, etc. I was disappointed by the lack of fresh fruit.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge breakfast spread

In the evenings there were cocktails and snacks from 6PM until 8PM. There were several types of wine available in a nifty machine, much like in the Amex Centurion Lounge San Francisco.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge evening wine selection

However, the food selection was equally disappointing in the evenings. Oddly there was a little bit of fresh fruit in the evenings, which I wish they had in the mornings.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge evening snacks

There was also salad, some cold cuts, and some small appetizers in individual serving bowls.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge evening snacks

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge evening snacks

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge evening snacks

Then there were several hot options.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge evening snacks

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge evening snacks

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge evening snacks

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge evening snacks

There were also a few dessert items.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng club lounge evening dessert

Overall I thought the club lounge was a beautiful space physically, though the food was terrible. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t find most breakfast buffets in Beijing to be especially good, but the quality in the lounge was even worse than usual.

As far as other hotel features go, the pool and gym setup were quite nice. They were on the same level as the spa, which featured a nice reception area.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng spa area

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng spa area

The gym was modern and had plenty of equipment, both in terms of variety and quantity.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng gym

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng gym

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng gym

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng gym

The hotel also had a very nice pool, though I didn’t have a chance to use it.

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Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng pool

Now let’s talk about the service. I would say overall the service was well intentioned and reasonably friendly, aside from the concierge team. The concierge staff here were probably the most incompetent concierge staff I’ve dealt with anywhere.

For example, I tried to arrange a tour of The Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and The Forbidden City. Like, tours don’t get more standardized than that. The concierge told me it wasn’t possible to arrange that (even though I’ve done it several times before), because he claimed there was only one tour company they could book with, and they didn’t offer that type of tour. When I asked about other tour companies, he said it wasn’t possible.

On another occasion, we wanted to have dinner at a restaurant at the JW Marriott, so I went to the concierge and asked him if he would write down the address of the hotel. I told him both the hotel name and restaurant name, which he Googled, and confirmed. He stated it back to me correctly, including the address. He said “I will just tell the taxi driver.” I again asked if he could write it down, and he said “it’s easier if I tell the taxi driver.” So he did, and 30 minutes later we found ourselves at the wrong Marriott hotel on the wrong side of town…

Lastly, the location of the hotel is fine as well. Beijing is sprawling, so there’s not really a single best area to be, in my opinion. No matter where you stay you’ll have to take a taxi to most places. The immediate area around this hotel wasn’t as interesting as at the W or St. Regis, but it was fine. So I’d say the location is neither a pro nor con of the hotel.

Sheraton Grand Beijing bottom line

Overall I thought the hotel was modern and functional. I was grateful for the suite upgrade, as it was nice to have so much space. The club lounge was also physically a nice space, as were the gym and pool.

Unfortunately that’s where the good stuff I have to say about this hotel ends. Starwood: if “Sheraton Grand” is the future of the Sheraton brand, then I don’t have much hope. The hotel had zero personality or local touches, to the point that it almost felt unfinished. No wonder Marriott doesn’t know what to do with Sheraton, because Starwood doesn’t seem to know either. From the bath amenities to the decor, there’s just nothing about the property which seems unique to the destination or unique to the brand. Unless the uniqueness to the brand is them trying to emphasize how bland they are.

Anyway, in conclusion, I probably wouldn’t return to the Sheraton. My top pick in Beijing is probably the W Hotel, with the Park Hyatt or Grand Hyatt as my backup. I’d really like to try the Rosewood Beijing at some point in the future (I really enjoyed my Rosewood Abu Dhabi stay late last year), which can be booked through Virtuoso or Fine Hotels & Resorts. Sometimes I do wonder why I’m loyal to the major hotel chains when you end up in a hotel this bland…

What’s your favorite Beijing hotel?

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Comments

  1. It couldn’t be more hideously predictable if it tried.
    Omg the vulgarity and then the grovling with paying on citi to avoid foreign transaction fees its laughable.

  2. I have to admit I don’t understand the fascination with hotel lounges. As an SPG Plat, I get to use them all. They’re usually crowded and loud. The food is usually stale, picked through, and/or gross. I guess the booze is nice, though I’d rather have it in my room. With some room service, without 50 people clawing past me to get to the stale finger sandwiches.

    If I’m traveling for work, I want to be alone in a quiet place after a day of meetings.

    If I’m on vacation, I want to be out and about, exploring the location – eating real food, people watching, etc.

    I don’t know what I’m expecting to happen in the lounges, but I always check them out and I always want to be somewhere else.

  3. Wow, not one but two credit card plugs in a review. Ugh.
    And it’s somewhat curious to me that you would think the Sheraton Dongcheng to be superior to the Westin Chaoyang.

  4. Stayed at the St Regis Beijing and loved it. If every Asian hotel offered free french press coffee 24-7, I wouldn’t spend nearly so much time stocking up on sbucks vias at costco. The St Regis is also less than 5 min from the Beijing Metro, which always took us to the right destination 😉

  5. The same thing can be said for the Sheraton Grand in Bangalore. Looks similar to this. Sterile with no personality.

    Then on the other side of the spectrum, there is the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, which is also a Luxury Collection (but also is in the Grand category). This is one of the finer hotels in all of Starwoods Portfolio.

    It’s always confusing to me how inconsistent that are in their collections.

  6. Hi Lucky,

    Long time reader of the blog, but wondering if you knew anything about the Citi Prestige card? I heard about it before, but couldn’t find any information on it here.

  7. I agree that many Sheraton Grands are fairly nice, but I don’t really understand Sheraton having a premium sub-brand. Shouldn’t nicer Sheratons just get bumped up to Westin? Someone at Sheraton or Starwood seems to think the world has more affection for the Sheraton brand than it actually does.

  8. I agree with another commenter here that the Westin Chaoyang is superior. I haven’t stayed at the Sheraton Grand but judging by the pictures (even of the Club room) the Westin looks to be a much more stylish hotel. And its executive lounge is excellent. And yes I know it’s nitpicking and being literal but the Concierge definitely didn’t “Google” the address – since Google is blocked in China!

  9. Agree with Andy about Beijing Metro – it’s a fantastic system and I would really choose my hotel accordingly. For any place in Beijing that’s reachable by Metro, that’s often the best option, rather than taxi. Taxis are plenty cheap but traffic can be a nightmare.

  10. I agree with @02nz. Westin Chaoyang is THE choice if you want to stay in a SPG hotel when traveling to Beijing. Sheraton Grand Dongcheng is a joke because their staff members are very poorly trained, and this is a known fact among Chinese frequent travelers.

  11. If you are not beholded to a chain, try the Rosewood Beijing. The best club lounge in town with free-flow champagne for happy hour

  12. Yes, it doesn’t look very appealing. Certainly functional and OK to stay, but no sense of style. No concept in the furniture, lots of easy-to-clean, flat surfaces, no finishing touches.

    I find Beijing in general to be a difficult city with hotels. Prefer Shanghai in this regard.

  13. Stayed in the Four Seasons twice and the Ritz Carlton once (the Ritz in Chaoyang District, not the Financial Street one) with FHR. Highly recommend both hotels. Stayed in club rooms at both, and in both cases, the clubs were great – delicious food and enough food for full meals (at least for breakfast and dinner). Great service as well.

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