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Here’s a new hotel brand to watch, NUO Hotels that is, a "made in China" luxe brand scheduled to debut in the capital this year.
NUO Hotel Beijing, the flagship of as many as 15 NUO Hotels targeted over 15 years, will offer 5-star “residential style luxury,” seriously sustainable design, and masterful contemporary interiors inspired by the culturally rich Ming Dynasty. Aka, green and gorgeous.
Remember when we told you Kempinski Hotels sat down for 60 days with 60 designers from around the world to come up with the above, the Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, meant to resemble the rising sun as well as a scallop (no, really)?
At the time, opening was scheduled for mid-November, which obviously didn’t happen – then just before the weekend, we got excited by some actual photography from inside the hotel on its website, as well as a ticker that showed only two days left to go. Checking back in today, ready for a cheerful “Now Open!” in its place, we’re faced with the setback of opening another ten days away. Boo… We’ll make do with those photos for now then.
China, bless its little cotton socks, is not a country that we’ve traditionally associated with a thriving boutique hotel scene (the recently opened Jade Gallery Boutique Hotel in Chengdu, for instance, has an onsite casino!). But while the rest of the world busies itself with the millennial market, it looks like China is focusing on its boutique properties.
The latest to open is the Sofu Hotel in Beijing. It’s a fun location, on Huguosi Hutong (Street), a traditionally styled shopping street, which is also home to one of Beijing’s most famous snack bars.
Hotel Openings / W Hotels / Beijing Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Rosewood Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Hotel Hype / → All Tags
What’s more, we actually have a photo from inside the hotel: we present to you, above, what a Spectacular Room looks like. A step up from entry-level Wonderful Rooms, they run at $318 under the “Extraordinary W Offer”. That shoots up to $451 for a fully flexible rate. The room comes in at nearly 540 sq ft, with the prerequisite open plan bathroom and some interesting purple herringbone-style art-slash-headboard. That pattern comes back in the hardwood floors and what we think could be quite a pretty blue area rug.
The exterior of the hotel leaves no doubt about this being a W either: check it out below.
Right after Shanghai (now 2016, but previously 2015) and before Dubai (2018), Bulgari Beijing is slated for early 2017, next to the Liangma river in the Embassy District. Its 120 rooms will, apparently, be some of the largest in the Chinese capital. There will also be an Italian restaurant, bar, spa and – wait for it – a private park.
The hotel will be designed by Bulgari’s regular team from Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Partners, and the look will be “contemporary Italian”, though there are no renderings yet. But know that Bulgari has high hopes – according to the website, “It is conceived as a link between the discerning traveler in search of nature and art, and the sophisticated elite of Beijing.” Backhanded compliment or clumsy wording? We can’t decide. Either way, let's hope it's not Vulgari.
Beijing is adding a few more big names to its roster of hotels this fall: the W should arrive after some major delays in by the end of the month and Rosewood Hotels is set to open its first Chinese hotel in October.
What slightly confuses us is that on the weekend we were able to make reservations from October 20, but right now the availability calendar is blocked out well into 2015. We’ll just assume that’s a temporary glitch and not an indication of the opening date being at risk.
When it does open, Rosewood Beijing will have 283 rooms opposite the twisting CCTV Tower by Rem Koolhaas. Above an impression of what you’ll find inside, which we saw – and liked – for the first time a year ago: clean lines, dark woods, whites, and a bit of burnt orange (cognac?) in the swivel chair. There is of course a variety of rooms and suites, including a number of Spa Suites that have in-room treatment areas.
And no, we're not asking that question because the room rate was so outrageous at $8,400 a night and because taxpayers might be footing the bill. instead, we're asking that because you can be sure that if we have nearly ten grand to spend on a hotel room in Beijing, it's not going to be at the Westin Chaoyang. That's for sure.
We'd rather spend our money at the Opposite House in Sanlitun or try out one of the suites at the just-opened Waldorf Astoria. Wait, what are we thinking? Clearly, we're going to lay our head down on the pillows at the Peninsula Hotel. See, there are plenty of other better choices than a Westin if you've got $10,000 to spend.
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The upcoming Waldorf Astoria Beijing actually wasn't on our radar when we released our Master List of Hotel Openings last month (mea culpa!) But with its March 1 opening just a few weeks away, we're honing in on what is expected to be the brand's most contemporary and art-conscious hotel to date.
Located in downtown Beijing, across from the Peninsula Hotel and within walking distance to the Forbidden City, the Waldorf Astoria is a brand-new building with an unusual bronze exterior, giving it a crazy cool effect. And according to general manager, Marlene Poynder, the bronze will cause the exterior's color to change over time. Even cooler.
Poynder also filled us in on some of the amenities expected inside the 176-room hotel such as AppleTV hookups (not available for sale in China), Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries and Samsung tablets that controls nearly everything inside the room.
The hotel's interiors were done by design firm Yabu Pushelberg but they still incorporate elements of Chinese design such as traditional dressers, intricate rugs and silk-paneled walls. The hotel is also filled with contemporary Chinese art including the Waldorf Astoria Clock (found in each Waldorf Astoria hotel) which "appears weightless while resting in its glass cabinet, creating the illusion that it is floating, or of 'time being suspended.'"
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Way back in 2012, we snapped a few pictures of another newcomer: the W Beijing Chang’An, hoping it would be ready for what then seemed an eternity away – the first day of 2014. That, unfortunately, did not quite work out as planned, with the hotel now pushed back until late June. New Year’s day of 2014 was going to be a double party, with the joint opening of sister property W Shanghai – The Bund, but there we’re looking at June next year before we get to go inside. At least we have some glimpse of what the hotels look like for you now.
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Not only did we ogle Rosewood London last week (hopefully just phase one in Europe for the group), we also picked up some additional news: a first few snapshots of the rooms at Rosewood Beijing (coming next year) and the exciting update that another hotel is being planned for Bangkok.
Both hotels sound like they will be rather unique; the building in Beijing “will recall a mountain profile with contrasting volumes and shapes” and Bangkok promises 650-square foot Pool Sky Villas, with large terraces and private plunge pools (!!).
Where will Mandarin Oriental open next?
The company made the announcement last summer that a Mandarin Oriental Beijing was in the works again (with the same design on the same site and everything) but after talking with several Mandarin Oriental execs yesterday, we were relieved to hear the project was very much alive with a tentative opening date of "sometime next year."
But Beijing might be small potatoes at this point. Mandarin has quite a few more properties to open before then. Fresh off opening in Shanghai and Guangzhou, Mandarin Oriental will continue their expansion with Mandarin Oriental Taipei , Mandarin Oriental Bodrum and Mandarin Oriental Milan, which we're already anxious about. (Word is this is the next Mandarin Oriental to open but we're working on getting some more intel.)
Beyond those big openings, Mandarin Oriental plans on expanding even further with hotels in the pipeline for Chengdu, Maldives, Moscow, Costa Rica, several places in the Caribbean, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Istanbul, Marbella and Marrakech. Expect all the new hotels to have the signature Mandarin Oriental spa, a fine dining experience and a cake shop. Definitely cannot go wrong with that!
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As we learned from our extensive coverage of Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover” show, a stopover in a city can be as fun as you make it. And if you’re a savvy traveler (which we know most of you are), many of you will plan your flight arrangements to include a break in a city that you love or want to cross off your bucket list. Certain routes seem conducive to extended layovers—Beijing being one of them.
But instead of holing up in an airport lounge of one-of-the world’s most historic and exciting cities, the Four Seasons Hotel Beijing has come up with a better idea--the “Experience the Best of Beijing in 72 Hours” package.
For the first time ever, tourists can spend up to 72 hours in Beijing sans visa. So, now a hotel staff member will arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport, tuck you into a FS car (either limo or BMW 5, hand you a steaming cup of traditional tea, then whisk you away to the hotel to get freshened up.