Peninsula Hotel, Beijing
A high-end shopping arcade with upmarket boutiques dominates the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel, Beijing. The stores with big brand names are located here, both on the main and basement floors with a convenient ATM for converting to local Yuan currency. Being shop-o-holics, we dump our bags in our room and get back to the lobby to explore.
The kilometre long Wangfujing Street, close to the Peninsula Hotel, Beijing is full of shops with international brands. The Oriental Plaza is huge, with over 40 worldwide known brands; it is possibly one of the largest shopping malls in Asia. It is Beijing’s version of the Bloomingdales and the Wangfujing shopping district comparable with the New York's Fifth Avenue, the Champs-Elysees of Paris and the Ginza in Tokyo. But it is time for us shopaholics to return to our hotel.
The rooms are comfortable with shiny marble bathrooms, flat screen televisions, and plush beds. I have slept well, experienced the city’s historical sights and satisfied my appetite for shopping. Duplexes are rare in Beijing hotels, and the Peninsula's are top-notch. Suite 1448 has especially pretty city views north toward Jingshan Park.
Having rested well, we hit the Huan Ting restaurant in the hotel. Designed beautifully in an old Hutong style, Huan Ting is known for Cantonese cuisine. We order half of Peking duck to be split among two and it was just about right. The staffs offer to carve the duck and wrap the pieces with all the fixings into the tortilla. It is normally quite a bit of work, so take them up on their offer! We also fell in love with their dumplings – a must try.
The next day was for sightseeing so after an early breakfast at Jing, which had a huge selection of Chinese and western dishes, we hit the road. The great plus of the Peninsula is that it is only a few blocks down from two underground train stations which makes getting around town extremely easy. We took the Metro on the first two day but once we got hang of the place, all the important tourist destinations like Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Drum Tower etc, seemed just a walk away.
To erase the lingering pain from walking and jet-lag, I try the Peninsula's Spa Freedom of Life–Oriental Life Dance treatment, which includes a fresh ginger foot buff, an Indian scalp massage, and a hot-stone body massage. When I woke up, I was a like a piece of jelly, barely able to walk to the shower. I plonk myself on a chair, sip my juice and just chill whilst reading a magazine at leisure... allowing myself time to truly relax and indulge!
One More Thing: It is time to go and the hotel’s BMW waits to take me to the airport. But let me tell you one more thing. The hotel also has two Rolls Royce Phantoms which you can hire at a hefty price. Reluctantly, I step into my waiting car but I am already contemplating a return to this shopper’s paradise.
Beijing Capital International Airport, about 12 miles (19 kilometres) northeast of the city centre, is served by numerous international carriers from the UK. Taxis at the airport are plentiful; the ride into town costs about $20 and can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour and a half, depending on traffic. For the adventuresome there's also a train that whisks you in 23 minutes to a fairly central station in Beijing from which you can cab it to your hotel.