The Raffles Beijing is a five-star luxury hotel in central Beijing located just an eight-minute walk from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. It's a real deal when you consider that a room here costs just a bit more than what you'd pay for an average hotel room in N. America. I'm glad that I splurged for this hotel because I loved the tasteful lobby and public areas, the comprehensive and delicious buffet breakfast, the convenient location, not to mention the warmth and spaciousness of the Executive Inc. room (in the back part of the building).
In addition to the short walking distance eastward to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, you can also walk a few blocks north and you'll be in the middle of a "hutong neighborhood". From there, the possibilities for exploration are endless.
The Raffles is an inexpensive taxi ride away from all of the major attractions in Beijing. For example:
- the Summer Palace (60 CNY taxi ride)
- Liulichang Street, for antique shopping (15 CNY taxi ride)
- West Railway Station (30 CNY taxi ride)
- Temple of Heaven (20 CNY)
- Lama Temple / Confucius Temples (20 CNY)
The hotel is also a five minute walk from the famous Wangfujing Street shopping haven. The cornerstone property is the Oriental Plaza with hundreds of stores including JNBY, Calvin Klein, MEXX, Burberry, DKNY, Hugo Boss, Bata, Bally, Coach, Swarovski, Armani, Givenchy, Nike, Ecco, Bauhaus, Swatch, Rolex, Tiffanys, Starbucks, a foodcourt, etc. etc. Further down the street are other western designer-brand stores, some Chinese stores, a mega-bookstore (can't remember it's name), a "Foreign Language Bookstore", a KFC and a McDonalds.
A taxi from the airport to the Raffles cost 75 CNY (= $15 Cdn) at 7 pm (relatively light traffic). The return taxi cost 100 CNY (= $20 Cdn) at 1:00 pm (heavier traffic). I didn't have to take a taxi through the rush hour, that might cost you more. Always use a meter taxi with a taxi light on top, and a sticker on the side rear windows. Taxi drivers don't seem to know what you' mean when you say you're going to "the Raffles Beijing". However, the Raffles is attached to the "Beijing Hotel", and taxi drivers seem to know the Beijing Hotel.
The buffet breakfast was very well done. Options included freshly-prepared noodle soup (with shrimp, other seafood, and/or chicken)., freshly-prepared eggs or omelette, various hot dishes (eg. veal sausages, beans, steamed vegetables, potatoes lyonnaise, baked tomatoes w/gruyere cheese on top, fried rice), assorted fresh fruit (typically cantalope, honeydew, pineapple, papaya, and dragonfruit), breads and pastries, cereals, fresh-squeezed juices, yogurt and cheeses, sushi (not great), bacon, coffee and tea. The service was excellent. Your used plates were whisked away the instant you were finished. Fresh coffee was poured for you when your cup ran low. One thing, though, on the last few days of our stay the Raffles closed down the "hot food area" of the buffet. You could still get a fresh omelette or eggs, but you had to order with the waiter (it was still included with the buffet breakfast). Apparently, they do this latter method in their slower seasons.
Each evening in the lobby a harpist played classical music in the lobby area.
The Executive Inc. room is very spacious and clean, although nothing too fancy (the Landmark Rooms are the original rooms with more tradiional/classic furnishings and draperies). The beds are VERY FIRM. Our rooms had two twin beds in the sleeping area, separated from the 'living area' where there was a loveseat, an armchair, a desk/chair, and a large flat-screen tv. The bathroom was in two sections. One part had a toilet, bidet and bathtub. The other part had a large walk-in shower, twin basins, and a large closet with a large in-room safe (their website describes it as "laptop sized"). There is no view from these rooms in the back section (you're looking onto another building).
The room has a small fridge, which was handy (we bought some snacks from the supermarket in the lower level of the Oriental Plaza... expensive but handy). . Also, in your room you are provided with a kettle, china teacups, tumblers, wine glasses, teaspoons, a selection of teas, and instant coffee.
Other ammenities: terry towel robes, complimentary shoe shines, cloth slippers, lovely lotions, complimentary water, turndown service, hair blow dryer, swimming pool, and a top notch exercise facility.
A few disappointments:
1) The conceirge service: The three times I asked the conceirge to help me get a "regular meter taxi", I was only once obliged, and I suspect that one time was only because I was standing beside the (Australian) hotel manager at the time, and the conceirge staff felt they had to oblige me. On the other two occasions, the conceirge summoned a non-metered car that charges you more than a regular taxi would have cost (I refused to pay, though).
2) Half way through my six-day stay at the Raffles, I walked into the Executive Lounge to enjoy Happy Hour, and was told by the Executive Lounge staff that I could no longer use the Executive Lounge because the "policy had changed" for those of us who'd booked our Executive rooms on Expedia. I would now have to pay 250 CNY per day to use the executive lounge!!! I asked to speak to a manager, and was permitted to use the Executive Lounge for the remainder of my visit. However, I still didn't appreciate the awkward situation I was put in (walking into a lounge and being told you can't be there! If they were changing the policy, couldn't they have notified me in advance somehow to save me this awkwardness?) Anyway, I would recommend you double-check on your entitlements re: executive lounge before you commit to your room. Note: they also changed the hours of "Happy Hour" without any notice to me!
3) When I first checked in, we were given a Landmark Room (bedroom/ sitting area combined in 1 room) despite having paid for an Executive Inc. room (separate bedroom and sitting room). When we called the front desk about it, they wanted us to stay in the Landmark room overnight and move the next day. They said there were no more Executive Inc. rooms available. We asked to speak to a manager, and pressed the point that we didn't want to have to move rooms, but if we HAD to, we thought we should be put overnight in a two-room suite because that's what we paid for. All of a sudden one of the Executive Inc. rooms became available!!!!
I mention these disappointments because I consider Tripadvisor as a forum to be impartial... to say both the good and the bad, so that future travelers can benefit ... the negative stuff is useful to either help prevent the same things from happening to someone else, or (if you can't change it) to be realistically prepared for the 'negatives' of any given hotel.
Despite the negatives, we really enjoyed our stay at the Raffles and would consider staying there again. You can't beat the location, and the comfort of this classic luxury hotel.
- Also Known As:
- Raffles Hotel Beijing
- Beijing Raffles Hotel
- Raffles Beijing
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Reflecting Oriental refinement and French élan, Raffles Beijing Hotel epitomises refinement and exclusivity. Established in the early 1900s, this luxury Beijing hotel was then proclaimed as “the only deluxe hotel in the Far East”. A century on, guest rooms and suites draw inspiration from the golden age of travel but are technologically enabled with discretion for 21st century living. Personality Suites pay homage to luminaries from the hotel’s fabled history while Raffles Inc Business Rooms cater to business travellers on the move.Indulge in gastronomic delights at this Beijing hotel. Innovative French cuisine takes centrestage at the elegant Jaan Restaurant which recalls the glamour of the 1920s with glittering chandeliers and its original timber dance floor.The vibrant East 33 meanwhile offers international fare and the popular weekend Seafood Extravaganza.Ideally situated at the crossroads of famous Chang An Avenue and the district of Wangfujing, Raffles Beijing Hotel lies in the heart of the prestigious business and commercial districts, a few minutes from historical attractions such as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, the Silk Market, and modern marvels such as the ‘Water Cube’ National Swimming Centre and ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium which captured the world’s imagination during the Summer Olympics of 2008. ... more less
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