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“Quite oasis away from the crowds”
Review of Aman Summer Palace

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Aman Summer Palace
Ranked #81 of 6,606 Hotels in Beijing
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 5, 2012

We stayed two nights at the Aman at Summer Palace and we thouroughly enjoyed our stay. The hotel representative met us at the airport and we had a nice drive to the hotel. We arrived late and we were quickly checked in and taken to our room. The hotel is beautifully designed and we had a nice room tucked in a courtyard. The bed was extremely comfortable and the shower was fantastic. My only complaint would be the slightly moldy smell in our bedroom (it had been raining quite a bit before we arrived) and the uncomfortable sofa that was the centerpiece of the room.
We had excellent service and the staff was extremely cordial. We had dinner at the Japanese fusion restaurant and enjoyed our meal. It was only a tasting menu and it would have been nice to have the option to order separate items. The setting is romantic beside the pool and the restaurant service was excellent. We also had a nice lunch at the Chinese restaurant and breakfast at the Grill.
The spa is serene and housed in the basement. I liked the dark, quiet feel and the massage was excellent. We slipped into the movie theater after the massage and enjoyed the end of a movie in silence as the only guests in the theater.
On the day of our departure our flight was delayed and we attempted to book another flight back to the US. The front desk staff was very helpful and polite and went out of their way to help us.
The hotel was perfect for us after an exhausting trip to Mongolia.We had already been to central Beijing and the Forbidden City so we enjoyed being outside of town. I would not recommend staying here if you planned to spend a lot of time touring central Beijing-- traffic is tough and the 30 minutes can quickly turn into over an hour in traffic.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank lwohara
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 26, 2012

We were recommended this hotel to complement the stay at the Peninsula. It was indeed a relaxing and untroubled place. The main attraation, apart from the usual Aman touches, was the ability to enter the Summer Palace at any time. It remains impossible to avoid the tourist crocodiels and the accompanying blare from the competing microphones at the busiest times but.... Early morning in the week bears its many rewards including seeing the birds and obtaining some idea of the peace and tranquility that the Emperors and their courts expereinced.

As to the hotel, it is part of the old Palace complex. As the Aman delivers ithe rooms are located in the old building carefully restored. Understated luxury remains the order of the day. Nothing fazes the staff who are solicitous.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank SueKot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2012

What a great stay in what was the old kitchen complex of the Summer Palace. You feel you are part of history. Well appointed suites with a large bathroom, a small but comfortable sitting room and working room. The food was excellent in our friend's Imperial suite as well as at Nooki which serves the French Kaiseki Cuisine(combine the best of French technique with Japanese sense of artistry). The hotel organized for us private cocktails on top of the Wancheng tower in the Summer Palace. A magical sunset, 5 minutes walk from the hotel. Dinner at the Club House was a good Chinese experience with beautiful dances. The last day brunch at the Restaurant was a perfect end to a beautiful stay.
The staff was very friendly and helpful. The GM was a wonderful lady dressed in superb Fashion.

Room Tip: We stayed in a Courtyard suite which was perfect. Suites come in 2 in a building with a common lobby...
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  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank JeromeMarrelGoa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 16, 2012

bad service......not the standard aman service!staff was inconsistent,unable to comprehend basic english,kinda rude.....and not friendly at all. the staff need to be retrained in hospitality and english! not worth the 1200++usd i paid nightly!

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with family
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7  Thank karina s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 20, 2012

I was there for one night, I stayed at the courtyard room. The place is absolutely stunning and all the architects and interior are very well preserved! Although the location is very far from Beijing's CBD, the staff gave me the best experience, I attended their calligraphy and tea ceremony class - even though they don't speak English fluently they always try their upmost best to understand and address the guest's needs. The night I was sick I had to get some medicine at 2am and the concierge assisted me going to the pharmacy. I was very well treated and pampered, it was truly an experience!

I would recommend going with a partner/spouse, it's not a "family" oriented hotel - they really do try to keep peace and tranquility within the premise.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank steffitjan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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1  Thank phxfamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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20  Thank HX M
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

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 #81 of 6,606 Hotels in Beijing
Price Range: $468 - $816 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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