Hotel Review: W Beijing Hotel Chang’an
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Though the high-design W Beijing Chang’an had a soft opening about six months ago to get all the kinks out, they recently had their official launch, and invited me to the spectacular opening party. I stayed three nights there as well, and was impressed—the property is stunning from the outside, and inside the staff shine even brighter. Throughout my stay I met several staff members who went above and beyond in special ways, which is why, in my opinion, the W Beijing is truly top-notch.
Conveniently located on Beijing’s high-end Embassy Row, the W is in good company with other luxury hotels like the St. Regis. The Forbidden City, Silk Market and Tiananmen Square are close by, and the Great Wall of China and the Summer Gardens are a little over an hour’s drive away. It’s a great base for seeing Beijing if you don’t have a lot of time.
Booking & Check-In Experience
I booked a Wonderful Room at ¥1,288 CNY ($208.00 USD) per night, with no taxes and an automatic 15% service charge included per room. With SPG Free Nights, it’s 12,000 Starpoints per night at this Category 5 property during non-peak months, which, according to this schedule, appear to be only July and August.
All other months—including April, when I was there—are considered peak times, and require a redemption of 16,000 points per night. Those 16,000 points would have saved me $208, or far less than 2 cents per point, so I just decided pay the cash rate. If I had stayed five nights (rather than the three I actually did), an SPG redemption would have been a bit more lucrative, because you get the fifth night free.
Before arrival, I’d emailed the concierge several times, and it usually took more than a day each time to receive a response. However, once I was there, the staff consistently went above and beyond—more on this later. Also, prior to arrival, I saw I had been upgraded to a Fantastic Suite, and at check-in they were happy to confirm me in a Marvelous Suite. There were tons of Starwood execs, celebrities and international press at the hotel, so I wasn’t expecting such a nice last-minute upgrade!
Our Marvelous Suite was a huge corner suite with incredible views—and we actually had some pretty nice weather to enjoy them!
It had a really funky design, but I liked it. The living room chair had a remote control that let you spin in circles to enjoy the view, and all of the shades and curtains were electronically controlled, as well.
The bedroom was roomy and had plenty of lighting choices, including a lighted headboard piece that was just over the top enough to be enjoyable. Attention to detail and a combination of design themes were excellently executed.
The bathroom was absolutely gorgeous, with a double shower, plenty of room and the W’s usual (and wonderful) Bliss products. Again, design is king here and it’s clear a lot of thought was put into the look and feel of the room, which is a rarity for such a large hotel.
I didn’t mind that it was open to the bedroom, because it was so beautiful and inviting—and could be closed off with curtains.
And with an enormous changing area filled with mirrors, you know you’re looking your best before you leave the room. (How many times have you made last-minute adjustments in elevator mirrors?!)
The Platinum breakfast is a smorgasbord, with a generous mix of Chinese and Western delights. There was even a chocolate fountain—and tons of fruit, too. We were talking with the head of food & beverage early one morning, and I’m not sure if he was bored or he does this for other guests, but that morning, acting as Chef, he made us a breakfast tasting menu that was absolutely delicious…and left us too full for lunch!
The AWAY Spa was sleek and luxurious, and the FIT GYM had amazing views—including a dedicated yoga area. The WET indoor heated pool was nicer than the ones I’ve seen at most hotels, but knowing that there were gorgeous views to be had, I do wish it had been near some windows.
Above and Beyond Service
The real stars of the of the hotel, however, were the staff. When Julio needed an emergency root canal—not normally the highlight of a trip to Beijing—Welcome staff member Jonathan not only made the appointment for us, but came to the dentist to act as translator and make sure everything was done correctly. Then, knowing that Julio had not eaten, the hotel spoiled him with food and sent notes to make sure he was okay. I can’t say enough about how well we were treated by the staff, and especially our hero, Jonathan!
As for amenities that extended outside the property itself, the hotel is happy to arrange BMW sedans and Mercedes-Benz Viano vans, all equipped with WiFi for rental. Although Uber is available in Beijing; while in most other cities I use Uber, in Beijing it can be a hassle and sometimes there are waits of 20+ minutes for a car. Since I’m a procrastinator, I liked having a car ready for me—especially for our day trip to the Great Wall at Mutianyu (stay tuned for more on this in this weekend’s “Favorite Places” post). The service wasn’t that expensive, and being able to get around the city and see the sights in comfort and ease was priceless.
While future guests won’t have the same experience, I just want to talk about the opening party for a moment. Special guest Dita Von Teese gave a stunning performance, and my good friends The Dolls—an amazing fashion DJ and violinist—performed as well, and totally rocked the opening party.
If anyone ever needs entertainment for an event, I highly recommend them! As far as I could tell, the party went off without a hitch, and a good time was had by all.
The W Chang’an is a cut above many in the W Hotel chain, and is definitely more chic than those in the States. I tend to find the ones there a bit hokey and kind of dated, but this one is top-of-the-line luxurious in the way only massive Asian hotels can be. It’s really all about design at this property, and it shines like a diamond.
The hotel went above and beyond when it came to SPG Platinum recognition, with my huge suite and the amazing full breakfast buffet (vs. the simple continental breakfast they’re required to offer). And finally, the staff absolutely deserves one more shout-out here. Obviously, a hotel’s style and amenities can make or break an experience, but when the staff (even despite language barriers) can make you feel like home—that’s a place you’ll go back to again and again.