Beijing beckons :: a stay with Rosewood Beijing hotel

With only two days in Beijing we focused on just the Beijing classics which includes the Forbidden City. Visit the blog to learn where you can find best view overlooking the Forbidden City and its golden roofs

 

For the best views of the Forbidden City head to Jingshan Park our Beijing guidebook advised. The wide-but-steep stone steps up the imperial park would have made for an easy climb if not for the last of the sauna-like heat that have been clinging to the capital since we arrived earlier that morning. I checked my iPhone for a weather update while trying to ignore the toxic air quality warning: 88F/31C.

Beijing was scorching and no amount of iced milk tea could peter out my jetlagged deliriousness. Relief only came when we made it to the top platform. I caught a glimpse of the Forbidden City and its glorious golden glazed tiled roofs and forgot to complain about the heat any further.

All roads lead to Beijing says the proverb but during the planning stages of our two week trip to China I focused on the roads that would lead me out of the city and into a more rural part of the country brushed with green landscapes and idyllic rice paddy fields, like majestic scenes from the movies. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I would enjoy this ancient city of history and politics that is also home to the most famous of imperial palace dishes, the Peking duck.

Style & substance at Rosewood Beijing

Sometimes a hotel is simply a comfortable place to rest your head after a day of sightseeing. Other times, if you’re lucky, the hotel can add to your travels in the design of its offerings & experiences to the destination. In the latter, the Rosewood Beijing, one of the curated luxury hotels on Mr & Mrs Smith, did not miss a beat. From a seamless airport pickup, in a Jaguar where we melted onto the butter toffee leather seats after a 10 hour flight, to in-room check in we glided through with full appreciation of the time saving measures especially since we only had two nights in Beijing to spare.

Every so often I lingered in the dim halls of the hotel for what felt like a private viewing of the Rosewood’s art collection. Large panels of calligraphy art, ink brush paintings and photography prints lined the walls alongside contemporary sculptures providing not only a sense of place but also a sophisticated appreciation for Chinese art and relics.

Breakfast station at the Rosewood Beijing hotel Manor Club

Wearing a thick coat of city grime after a day of walking through a bustling and polluted Beijing, our return to the hotel was always a welcome respite. The oasis of calm permeated in the building while outside the city’s business district the hordes of  cars, bicycles and motorbikes honked and hummed their way through incessant traffic. The Brit and I giggled like a new couple over herbal tea at the lounge in Sense Spa – a little nervous at the upcoming shared experience which surprised the both of us. We were booked in for a 90 minute couples massage session with Judy & Wilson and couldn’t have been in more capable hands. Sixty minutes in I could hear the Brit’s soft snores in the next table and took that as a good sign.

Country Kitchen at Rosewood Beijing: a tribute to Northern Chinese cuisine

At Country Kitchen we were seduced by the rustic fare of country cooking that paid particular tribute to northern Chinese cuisine. The startlingly orange crab and tofu soup arrived first, tasting as delicate on the tongue as it was bold in color. That dish caught our attention from the outset and heightened our anticipation for a great dining experience as more dishes arrived.

One of the best meals and restaurant we encountered in Beijing was the Country Kitchen at Rosewood Beijing hotel. They hand make their noodles there and also have a dedicated oven for roasting peking duck. Click the link for a review of Country Kitchen restaurant.

A dish of wok-fried okra, an effervescent green with a sturdy stock and a viscous center, demonstrated the quality of produce that the restaurant sources while the handmade noodles that was cut into wide ribbons and topped with chilli oil sauce provided a bounce to the bite with the thrill of fiery chilli. Around us diners filled the room each table brimming with assorted dishes. In a dark corner a chef propped open a foldable table and started to slice pieces off of the oven roasted peking duck. How I wished I was the one who placed that order (I decided earlier in the evening that I’d wait to experience Peking duck at the famous Da Dong restaurant only to regret the decision later on) but I didn’t dwell on it for too long because the roast pork belly prepared in Country Kitchen’s “Lost Recipe” series dating from the 1950s arrived with the accoutrements of soft white buns, hoisin sauce and green onions and I feasted to the very last drip of luxurious belly fat. For the rest of our two weeks in China our many meals were compared to our dinner at Country Kitchen, it still remains a culinary highlight.

Beijing classics

The other highlights of our Beijing trip shouldn’t have been a surprise. The biggest tourism draws are the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. I expected it to be amazing but even with the grandest of expectations being there in person to take it all in surpassed my imagination. The trick to visiting the Great Wall is to have a late start (or an extremely early one). By the time we arrived at 1:30PM at Mutianyu, one of the restored sections of the wall, the throngs of tourists had already left for lunch and we took leisurely strides along the wall, as if we had it to ourselves.

There were times when I found it hard to reconcile the incredible beauty and grandness of classic structures such as the Great Wall and the palaces to the modern day industry of copy culture. The Chinese are guardians of such rich cultural heritage that I’m hopeful they’ll cease to play the imitation game soon as tastes change and their economy grows.

Two nights in Beijing was not enough time to get into the belly of the city. I would have loved an extra day to explore more of the hutongs and visit the famed art district. But based on the teaser of a stay we had I know there will be a return visit.

 

 

 

 

 

Note: I was a guest of the Rosewood Beijing hotel. All views are my own.

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