Beijing Boutique Hotels Now Reaching Out Into the Modern World

China, as a nation, has gone through a startling transformation in the early part of this century. The color, tastes, values and life of the West are starting to seep in. People are driving, women are empowered … and the entire look of the country is changing.

One of the best places to see this metamorphosis is through Beijing’s boutique hotels, one of China’s first points of contact with the outside world and one of the areas with the most rapid response to global market forces. From the superstition and imperialism of centuries past, to the reign of communism and beyond, we look at how Beijing is assimilating the culture of the West … starting with some beautiful boutique hotels in Beijing with a distinctly Chinese flavor.

Hotel G is a new Beijing luxury hotel that perhaps embraces modernism in its truest sense, when the movement was at its height in the 1960s. Hotel G’s designer, Mark Lintott, looked to the middle of last century for design inspiration and gave it a noughties-twist, with stunning results.

The hotel facade is most stunning at night, with an array of artfully arranged different colored neon windows. Rooms incorporate enormous full sized original artworks, not only prints, and the deep colors that many corporate hotels cringe at are celebrated in this Beijing designer hotel.

The designers are not the only ones paying attention to Western trends and influences. Hotel G’s service and product offering is also stunningly modern. It is one of the first Beijing hotels to include iPod docking stations in room; Wifi is complimentary throughout the hotel, and the enormous plasma TVs show international stations as well as local Chinese programming.

The Beijing cocktail bars and Beijing restaurants on site, Scarlett Bar, are run independently of the hotel, allowing them to change and thrive as necessary in the city, staying on top of current trends.

Just as modern, but in a completely different way, are a new breed of corporate hotels in Beijing like the Intercontinental Hotel on Beijing Financial Street. The Intercontinental is styled in the way that so many Western hotels are now, with a muted color scheme but rich, superb quality fittings. There is not a Chinese coin or dragon to be seen, and the services and amenities have moved just as far away from Beijing’s old-style personality.

The on site health and fitness center is extensive. Where spas were once the specialty of South East Asian countries and France, this Beijing luxury hotel is catching up. Spa treatments are preceded by herbal tea and followed with not just any shower – a Vichy shower.

In the not-too-distant past, the discouragement of Western enterprise by the government meant that there were only a couple of luxury hotels in Beijing, and these were built before the rise of Mao. Now there are plenty of Western chain hotels in Beijing, with the Holiday Inn, the Regent, The Grand Hyatt and the Ritz-Carlton all making an appearance.

One of the chain hotels in Beijing so new it is partly still under construction is the Hilton Beijing Wangfujing. Hotel trends like walk-in rain showers, iPod docking, open plan designs and complimentary luxury bath products have found their way to the Hilton, and are starting to make good penetration into the hotel market in the city generally.

Hotel G Beijing is the first of an exclusive beijing boutique hotel brand launched by Hong Kong-based real estate private equity management firm Gaw Capital and a model to be rolled out in selected cities of Asia.

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