24-Hour Room Service: Raffles, Beijing, China

Arriving in Beijing for the first time was a disorienting experience. First thing in the morning and fresh off a body clock-busting flight, I wasn't sure if I was ready for breakfast or the bar. But as soon as I was shown to my room at Raffles Beijing Hotel, any good intentions of heading straight to the Forbidden City were undone – a few stolen hours between the sheets seemed like the only option.

The hotel started life in 1900 as the small, French-owned Peking Hotel, later rechristened the more regal-sounding Grand Hotel de Peking. The current monumental Beaux Arts building, with its statuesque colonnaded façade, opened its doors in 1917 and, despite its humble beginnings, has witnessed its fair share of events. The 1930s saw it occupied by the Japanese, while in the 1940s the hotel was taken over by the Kuomintang Army and served as a hostel for American troops.

Just over two years ago, a new chapter in the building's history began when it reopened as Raffles Beijing, following a lengthy overhaul. Restored to its former glory, there are also plenty of contemporary flourishes like the soaring glass atrium festooned with over-sized Chinese lanterns that links the original building with one of the newer guest room wings. There is a highly regarded Amrita Spa, indoor swimming pool, a bar, a lobby lounge and two restaurants – the breakfast buffet alone sorts out any ongoing jet lag issues, with a United Nations panoply of cuisines extending from congee to croissants and dim sum to doughnuts.

LOCATION

Raffles Beijing Hotel, 33 East Chang An Avenue, Beijing, People's Republic of China (00 86 10 652 633 88; beijing.raffles.com).

If you want to be in central Beijing, this is the ideal spot, where East Chang An Avenue meets Wangfujing Street. The hotel is a short walk from historic must-sees like Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

Time to international airport: Beijing's Capital Airport is about a 40-minute taxi, costing around Y130 (£10) one way.

COMFORTABLE?

The majority of the 171 rooms and suites have that favoured international hotel palette of soothing champagne and buttermilk hues, but retain a Chinese flavour. It's an East-meets-West arrangement that's far from the traditional lacquer and fretwork approach; designer trinkets are placed alongside pictures of old Beijing and woven rugs. There are also five grand hotel suites, a presidential suite and nine lavishly decorated personality suites, commemorating former guests like Sun Yat-sen and George Bernard Shaw. At night you can drift off to sleep reading a Beijing Bedtime Story left on your pillow.

Freebies: Daily newspaper, valet service, Amrita spa toiletries, Chinese-style slippers.

Keeping in touch: Satellite TV, direct-dial telephones and a fax or DVD player on request; complimentary in-room Wi-Fi.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms start at Y1,596 (£158) per night, room only.

I'm not paying that: The Hotel Côté Cour, 70 Yan Tue Hutong (00 86 10 6512 8020; hotelcotecoursl.com) offers stylish doubles in Old Beijing from Y1,295 (£128) including breakfast.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive

    £20 - 24k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive is needed t...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style