Cityview Beijing: Luxury With Chinese Characteristics

Don't leave Ritz-Carlton Beijing without a bit of chromotherapy.

As in many countries where the capital is not the biggest city, Beijing has endured criticism as a comparatively unexciting place vis-à-vis the (over)stimulation of Shanghai. Also as in other countries, such comments are dismissively brushed aside by those in the know. The Olympic Games of 2008 served as a catalyst for massive construction and infrastructure improvements in Beijing, and today we see a city with heavy traffic, yes, but also a metro system whose trains arrive one minute apart, monumental buildings making bold architectural statements, and a flourishing contemporary art movement added to thousands of years of history.

Ritz-Carlton Beijing's Executive Lounge knows what people need at the end of a long day of work or sightseeing.

First and second on everyone's list of must-sees in Beijing are The Forbidden City and The Great Wall. Each of these can easily fill an entire day. Maybe you have seen these already, but have you seen them from a motorcycle? Real adventurers will enjoy a visit to The Great Wall in a motorcycle sidecar as offered by the company Beijing Sideways, which also creates custom-made tours to meet any touring need.

Seasons Place shopping centre is connected to Ritz-Carlton Financial Street.

Despite its urban reputation, Beijing is also a place where the outdoors is well appreciated, with parks located throughout the city, often with lovely monuments, gazebos, or temples within their areas. The circular Temple of Heaven (Tiantan) in the city's southern district looms over the expansive greenery nearby and is a sight to see when the sun shines on its golden roof. Yes, there is sunshine in Beijing; some of the restrictions to control air pollution in advance of the Olympics have been kept in place, making the air much clearer than before; clear, blue skies are seen with increasing regularity. Don't miss the fantastical representations of gods at Dongyue Temple, whose 376 'departments' display tales of Chinese Dao with graphic depictions of their characters along the perimeter of the temple's very large courtyard.

Even monks go shopping at Panjiayuan Market.

Beijing has always been a well-cultured city, with the rich subtleties of theatre a long-revered art form in China; catch a performance at the Capital Theatre (also known as the Beijing People's Art Theatre) or the magnificent National Centre for the Performing Arts, designed by French architect Paul Andreu (see if you notice any similarities to another of his constructions, Abu Dhabi International Airport) to tap into the centuries of history. Chinese opera is a colourful spectacle; its unique singing style may take uninitiated spectators aback, but they should also note the finesse of physical movement, each one conveying a meaning of its own.

Ritz-Carlton Financial Street, a bastion of contemporary elegance.

One destination that must be visited is the amazing Panjiayaun weekend market. There are street markets all over Beijing, but Panjiayuan is the nicest, specialising in antiques, artworks, and furniture for eclectic homes. The furniture is especially impressive; Chinese woodworking is famous for its intricacy and symbolism, and everything from a single chair to entire dining room sets can be purchased on the spot or custom ordered for delivery anywhere in the world. The classic Chinese beds, with their carved posts, solid sideboards, and canopy frames are among the most beautiful pieces for sale. Decorative accessories to accompany your new furniture can also be acquired; the art supplies section is as popular as the finished products in which they are used. Calligraphy brushes of various sizes are popular souvenirs and are often presented collectively as bouquets in Chinese vases.

Ritz-Carlton Financial Street's spa serves caviar in mask form.

Conveniently located on each side of the city, Ritz-Carlton's two properties in Beijing offered some of the city's most memorable stays. The sublime and divine Ritz-Carlton Beijing, located adjacent to chic China Central Place, is a sumptuous home away from home that pampers guests with beautiful accommodation, fine restaurants, and a location convenient for both business and leisure visitors. As a cherry on the delicious cake, a Rolls-Royce Phantom is available for the ultimate ride around the city or out to the airport.

Across town in western Beijing is Financial Street, another of Beijing's smart shopping/hotel/restaurant/entertainment districts and home to the impressive Ritz-Carlton Financial Street, convenient to west-side sights like the Summer Palace and Beijing Zoo while still close to Tiananmen Square. This is not like other Ritz-Carltons; the Financial Street property's design and interiors are far bolder than one would expect of a Ritz-Carlton, and the results are happily different from the norm. In the rooms, closets are lined with white leather pressed with the Ritz-Carlton insignia, an effect reminiscent of the days of steamer trunks and grand voyages by ship. No detail at Ritz-Carlton Financial Street is left without artistic attention; even the television remote controls are cleverly dressed in miniature cheongsams (Chinese silk dresses). The magnificent Ritz-Carlton Suite, where the hotel's superb in-room décor with Chinese characteristics reaches its zenith, is the domain of a select few. While at the hotel, try a caviar facial mask in the spa; you face will thank you for weeks afterward.

Source = Mr. eTraveller
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