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“Memorable experience at the Incredible Aman”
Review of Aman Summer Palace

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Aman Summer Palace
Ranked #87 of 6,462 Hotels in Beijing
Certificate of Excellence
phoenix
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Memorable experience at the Incredible Aman”
Reviewed June 12, 2012

My husband and 12 year old daughter finsihed our first trip to China with 2 nights at the Aman Summer Palace. We had been saving for this splurge since an Aman is a treat. I highly recommend the hotel for relaxation and for experiencing the Summer Palace. It is a beautiful retreat away from the craziness and smog of Beijing. The staff and service is impeccable. Nokia restaurant was outstanding. The spa treatments are incredible. The private theater is one of a kind and an experience. We rested and enjoyed all the hotel had to offer. We loved it and highly recommend!

Room Tip: Stay away from the "new" rooms at the front of the hotel. Room #2 was lovely!
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
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1 Thank phxfamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
130 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
Reviewed May 20, 2012

After a long work week in China, and stays at the Grand Hyatt Beijing, Intercontinental Hong Kong, and the modern Nanyuan Universe Deluxe Hotel in Ningbo, we were VERY excited about our stay at AMAN RESORT BEIJING AT SUMMER PALACE during our last weekend in China before returning to the US, since AMAN is usually known for high quality service and beautiful properties.

Boy, what a disappointing experience it has been! Upfront, before you go into our litany of complaints, let me suggest you save your $$$ (and it will be much since this is not an inexpensive hotel) and stay at the Beijing Shangri-La, Four Seasons, Hyatt, or similar high end hotels in the city and ONLY COME TO THIS AMAN for the Spa, the French-Japanese Naoki Restaurant or for Tea after a visit to the Summer Palace. The lousy and unprofessional hotel service devalues this beautiful property they have here and will leave you only with headaches and sadness.

In fact, we have reconsidered our next AMAN stay in Thailand in November, and are now booking the W Retreat Resort in Koh Samui instead. Here’s why, with details of the good, the bad and the ugly:

THE GOOD: This is a beautiful space, full of trees, ponds, traditional Chinese architecture, and literally annexed to the Summer Palace. The rooms are well appointed, comfortable and spacious. The Spa was truly superb, with a very attentive and professional Spa Manager, Sandy Yang, who along with her staff offered us several wonderful Spa services. We enjoyed our 60-min Foot Massage, with a break to swim in the fabulous underground pool (just fantastic), and afterwards enjoyed a 2-hour Seasonal Signature massage. The excellent French-Japanese restaurant Naoki (as in Kyoto-based Chef Naoki Okumura’s French-Kaiseki cuisine) is also superb with excellent service: the sous-chef came out and explained each dish to us and checked on us, along with a very attentive waiter, several times throughout the meal. Also, our airport car service and the check-in process was very friendly with the capable and professional Spa Manager Sandy on duty at the Lobby, who received us with cold towels, a delicious home-made iced tea, suggestions for daily activities and led us to our room completing the passport and credit card check-in on her own while we rested.

We should also note that when we voiced our food-related complaints detailed below after several disappointments, the Food & Beverage Manager, Apple Wang, and her second-in-command, Collin, tried very hard to rectify these errors. On our last day we found out they have just very recently (2 weeks ago) started working for AMAN Beijing, coming from the Four Seasons in Macau. We wish them well in their new jobs, but we’re afraid they’ll need to do a major restructure of the hotel’s F&B services and staff. A really major restructure! However, even that pales with what the General Manager Christine Hodder will have to do to get this property’s service staff to the standard of other world-class resorts.

THE BAD: The other two restaurants at the hotel (The Grill and The Chinese Restaurant) have limited mediocre food at best, coupled with lousy service, which makes for a terrible combination in a hotel of this beauty and reputation.

For example, during our first breakfast we got transparent tea-like coffee in a French press several times, and when we asked for stronger coffee we were looked at like they had no idea what we were talking about; we had to ask for milk for coffee 6 times since they kept bringing a tiny milk container for two people who were obviously coffee drinkers; when we finally explained to put more coffee grounds in the small French press (2 cups), we still had to ask for coffee several times because we simply could not get them to bring two pots at a time; the omelet was served with no salt/pepper on the table, and when we asked for some, again it was as if we were asking for something out of the ordinary. At lunch, when we ordered burgers from The Grill to be served at the adjacent Bar overlooking the pond, it took 30 minutes to arrive in an empty restaurant (for which they apologized) and when they did serve us the meat was essentially raw inside (very rare), in spite of asking it for it medium cooked. When we took our 90-minute break between Spa treatments, we tried to order a salad to the pool area before our second treatment began. The room service personnel took 45 minutes to produce a menu, in spite of having the lobby and both restaurants literally a few steps away from the Spa. By then, it was cutting it too close and we had to desist from ordering our lunch. Our second night, when we called room service to order Hot & Sour Soup and two Chinese dishes, the room service attendant seemed unfamiliar with their own menu, so we were cautious to ask the room service attendant to read back our order. Of course, he had copied one of the three ordered items wrongly and was about to bring us Gazpacho instead of Hot & Sour Soup. Nevertheless, we only managed to fully correct him after our complaint below, and with the Food & Beverage Manager’s help who called us one last time (the third on the phone for the same order) to make sure they had the order correctly.

By now, we were fed up with the accumulated errors and called the Hotel Manager, Christine Hodder, (who was away, we were told) and were transferred to Apple, the Food & Beverage Manager, who tried very hard to salvage the experience, along with her assistant Collin, both with our room service order and on our last day. They came personally to the room, apologized profusely, treated us for our room order and made extra efforts the next day so that we would be well taken care of. Our thanks go to them, and the excellent Spa Manager, Sandy, and we do not envy the job they have ahead of them trying to professionalize the terrible service and food staff in the property.

THE UGLY: Our second night when we went at 730PM to try to eat at The Chinese Restaurant, we got a strange look from the one waiter visible as we entered, who proceeded to ask if we had reservations (in spite of the restaurant being empty with only one of approximately ten tables occupied). We said "no" but showed him our room key to explain we were resort guests, since the attitude was one of enquiry of what were we doing inside the restaurant in the first place. He took the key and began inspecting it, looking for our room number on it, almost giving the impression he doubted it was a real key. When he was “convinced” it was real, he simply pointed us to a table across the room, while he attended to the table already sitting with what appeared as local Chinese businessmen. By then, we were not feeling too welcome, so we left.

This was not an isolated incident. We encountered that same attitude of “who are you and why are you here” from several other staff members during our stay, which got increasingly annoying to the point that by the end we preferred to stay in our room until it was time to leave the property. For example, as we emerged from the hotel’s own movie theatre (another nice feature) and headed to our last lunch, we were again assailed (literally a staff member running behind us calling our attention) to ask us if we were hotel guests. We again had to produce our key to continue the short 45-feet walk from the Lobby area (where the theater is located) to The Grill restaurant.

They obviously seemed to have some issue about “unwanted” people walking around the property but Aman Resorts has not trained their restaurant/lobby staff at this property to recognize hotel guests without making them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. A very lousy feature when you’re paying north of US$600/night to stay here. And since we have had excellent-to-superb service at the Grand Hyatt Beijing and Intercontinental Hong Kong during this same week (and Shangri-La, Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton in previous stays around China), it is clear that this is NOT a general issue of Chinese hotel service staffs but of Aman Resort’s poorly-trained service staff in this particular property in China.

We believe much of these problems have to do with the VERY POOR English speaking skills of the service staff in general. Most times, our restaurant/lobby staff knew almost no English and although they tried hard, it was difficult for them to meet guest expectations. And, again as stated above, some staff members didn’t even behave like 5-star hotel staff members, making us feel awkward or unwelcome when running after us and asking for the nth time if we were hotel guests. We can understand this in a 2-star hostel in an interior Chinese province, but NOT in an AMAN Resort anywhere.

And we reiterate, we don’t feel this is a problem with the staff themselves, but of poor training by Aman Resorts and the hotel management. The staff was simply untrained to take care of their guests, and it is an immense shame that the hotel management does not have (as they do in other hotel properties in China) several fluent English-speaker support staff (frequently advanced first-tier hotel management students in training) in every restaurant or service area to spot these types of miscommunication problems and assist guests immediately to communicate effectively with staff members, and vice-versa. With few notable exceptions, it was extremely hard to get what you ask for on the first try, and that is unacceptable in an Aman Resort.

As a final example, when we tried to reconfirm the hotel car service to the airport departing at 4am from the hotel, the lobby staff person kept arguing she’d call us a regular taxi instead, as if booking the US$100 car service for us was some type of chore. This type of “struggle” to get the service you require here was a perfect example of our stay, constantly feeling like we had to argue with staff to get the service we were asking for, none of which seemed out of the ordinary here or even in a lesser hotel.

POOR CLEANLINESS AND NOISE IN ROOM AREAS: Lastly, three inexcusable incidents near or in our room: 1) our first day here there were several dirty plates that sat for several hours outside the service closet (not a bedroom) behind the stairs near our room, which Collin was kind enough to remove after pointing them out to him; 2) that same afternoon we found the maid service-sheet had been left in our bathroom sink, which we also gave to Collin; 3) the doors in our building, and I suspect in the entire property, do not have safety-closing hydraulic arms, so doors were loudly slammed by cleaning staff or guests every time they went into or out of bedrooms, an annoying feature if you’re taking a weekend break, as we tried to do at this property, to rest and relax.

In the end, we leave here today annoyed and saddened by our experience at Aman Beijing. We came to rest and relax after a hard workweek, and leave tired from fighting our collapsing expectations for the service at this property and for Aman Resorts in general.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
20 Thank HX M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newport Beach, California
Level Contributor
362 reviews
163 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1,196 helpful votes
Reviewed May 8, 2012

My partner and I just returned from a 3 week holiday in China, during which we stayed at the Aman at Summer Palace in Beijing for 3 nights, the Shangri-la Guilin, the Banyan Tree Lijiang, the Songtsam Retreat in Zhongdian, the St. Regis Lhasa, the Softel Xi'an, and the Peninsula Shanghai. We have previously stayed in Aman properties in Indonesia (Amanusa, Amanjiwo, Amankila, and Amanwana) and the USA (Amangani), and we consider ourselves Aman junkies, to be sure.

The highlights:

(1) Beautiful, authentic feeling property, a true retreat from the craziness of Beijing
(2) Spacious and beautiful Courtyard Suite
(3) Wonderfully easy access to the Summer Palace through the "secret" entry from the Aman
(4) 3 restaurants choices (Western, Chinese, and French/Japanese) for a property this size is a pretty nice luxury. We loved the Western and French/Japanese, in particular.
(5) My partner had a fantastic massage and loved the spa
(6) I swam in their amazing and spectacular underground pool. Wow! Don't miss it if you visit.

The relative low points:

(1) On our second morning, breakfast took over an hour to be served. We were furious. The Aman handled this situation VERY well and VERY promptly, refunding an entire night's stay for the mistake and their lovely, GM, Christine, met us and apologized profusely, even buying us wine to accompany our final dinner.
(2) The air conditioning in our Suite wasn't properly explained to us on check-in and/or wasn't working properly for us...and it took until the final night for the staff to fix it/make us aware how to use it correctly. Once fixed, it worked fine.
(3) The lighting in the Suites isn't the easiest to figure out. As the property was built by the Chinese government, as we learned later, this isn't as surprising as it might otherwise have been.
(4) The Chinese restaurant food was just OK. In retrospect, this may have been more a commentary on Chinese cuisine, in general, as opposed to this particular restaurant, as we really can't say we had better Chinese food at any other restaurant in China, hotel or otherwise. We really didn't love any of the Chinese food we had in China, to be honest.

Overall, we really enjoyed the Aman at Summer Palace, and our stay looks even better when compared to the many other properties we visited during our time in China. Only the Peninsula Shanghai provided an experience as wonderful overall as the Aman at Summer Palace. Good company.

We highly recommend the Aman at Summer Palace for any Aman junkies visiting Beijing, or anyone else visited the city who prefer to be outside the hustle and bustle of the city center (which we found to be quite cold and heartless). The Aman provides a nice retreat, and offers exemplary service. It isn't cheap, but as we learned after our trip concluded, you can definitely get much worse at even 5 star luxury hotel brands in China--so we felt it was totally worth it. If ever we were to return to Beijing, the Aman would be our pick.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Bill R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
111 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
Reviewed May 1, 2012 via mobile

I had the privilege of being invited here for dinner with the general management driven by the drive from ritz Carlton financial street Beijing for 1 night only at Aman summer palace on the lake , how stunning this property is, I was also taken of night time tour of the closed summer palace of the last emperor by the hotel GM it has to be one of the best examples of a stunning property integrated in a national monumental historically beautiful palace used by past emperors in being absolutely stunning the rooms astonishing the food outstanding and the quietness meditative I loved this property.

Stayed June 2011
Helpful?
2 Thank W0rldcitizenkiwi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pampanga, Philippines
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed April 24, 2012

Situated near the Summer Palace, Old Summer Palace, and Peking University, Aman is among the top-class hotel in Beijing. Ancient design, historic atmosphere, peaceful environment, tastefully appointed room, meals of gourmet quality, cheery and attentive staff, everything was highly appreciated. A bit pricey but overall, an impeccable property for a perfect night in Beijing.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank geochodu y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Frankfurt, Germany
Level Contributor
30 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 138 helpful votes
Reviewed April 23, 2012

The Lobby is serene, not so huge as I am expecting – well design… comply to its originality without overpowering the theme – it is summer palace and yes.. I can feel it.

The arrival process went smoothly as expecting – all requested were reconfirmed upon check in. As our suites were being serviced (not ready yet), they provided us with a courtyard rooms – allowing us to refresh before we continue with our daily plan. Bravo for make thing smooth – latter on I found out that the hotel was sitting on 85 % occupancy.

The Agent did arrange a complimentary hotel car to drop us of at the main entrance of the summer palace – which only a short minutes drive from the property. A backpack was provided which includes - cold waters, map and certainly a cell phone to reach the hotel upon our return - to access the direct secret entrance, which is adjoining to the hotel.

On my way to the spa – I encountered with the GM – down to earth person, and very resourceful, AMAN is very fortunate to have him for Beijing property.

Spa is wonderful, Huge, Quiet… and Luxurious – lovely setting (serene) – excellent service – wonderful facial treatment.

The Gym & Pool are my favorite part – refreshment were offer at the pool, all the agents are attentive – their whirlpool and sauna are Amazing… we were the only one there – and it is 85 % full – well, I guess that is why there are so many AMANJUNKIES around – once you in – you get hook-up with it !

The only small area of improvement is for their restaurant/dining. I found their Chinese restaurant was not so overwhelming, neither do their breakfast (the set up was just OK). It might be only my personal taste or opinion – but to be honest, having dining in many places – I believe, this is the area that they could improve.

Love AMAN Summer Palace – it is the perfect place to relax and just enjoying your self. After 5 days enjoying the city of Beijing – we were glad that we picked AMAN as our last stop before we flying back to Europe.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank luxadvisor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atherton, California
Level Contributor
131 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
Reviewed April 12, 2012

This is a great resort with the highest service standards. The private access to the Summer Palace is a treat. Rooms are large with wonderful historical ambiance. Its expensive but a special treat!

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank JLHIII
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Aman Summer Palace

Property: Aman Summer Palace
Address: No.1 Gongmenqian Street, Yiheyuan, Haidian District | Summer Palace, Beijing 100091, China
Location: China > Beijing > Zhongguancun
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #87 of 6,462 Hotels in Beijing
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Aman Summer Palace 5*
Number of rooms: 51
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Just steps from the East Gate of the Summer Palace grounds lies Aman at Summer Palace - the ideal location from which to discover Beijing. Housed in a series of pavilions, the resort is only 15km from the Forbidden City. A serene retreat, the property provides easy access to such cultural landmarks as the Great Wall, The Temple of Heaven and the hutongs, as well as Beijing's restaurants, art galleries and other contemporary delights. ... more   less 
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