Hotels and those who run them need to know their market. The Regent Beijing, to put it bluntly, has to accommodate a lot of people – it has 500 rooms, and it cannot rely on support from a brand the size of, in alphabetical order, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott or Westin. It only has its few siblings, it has lost a couple of projects. The highly-admired The Regent Singapore (which had opened, in the last century, in 1982 to be exact, as InterContinental, which it was for six years) is now today confusingly part of Four Seasons. And Regent, the hotel company, has no connection with Regent Seven Seas cruises other than sharing a logo and not surprisingly many jolly sailors stay here pre- or post-cruise. The gal gives full marks, therefore, to this well-oiled machine, The Regent Beijing, that seems to run two offerings simultaneously, a mass-market that is more than a commodity lodging place, and an inner, super luxury, hotel.
Not necessarily wanting to be nosy but to find out the difference, I had two breakfasts – something you cannot do when flying as no Economy passenger is allowed anywhere near the First Class cabin, and none of those passengers would even think, for one fleeting moment, of putting up with the dry long-life bread roll that might be all there is at the back of the bus. Here, I must confess, both venues offer a selection of home-made fruit yoghurts in glass pots, and individual sizes of glass jars of Tiptree preserves, but there the similarity ended. If you are part of a large tour group breakfasting in the main restaurant, for instance, coffee is poured out of metal thermal jugs, and you queue for the egg chef – how many of those standing patiently realise that ‘queue’ was the long back plait men wore during Manchu times here in China?
But there is entertainment in that large dining space – I enjoyed watching those working in the heat of the Chinese food area managing their woks at lightning speed. Upstairs in the airy 17th floor club lounge, by contrast, the 30 who breakfasted, at different times, the day I was there were brought individual cups of just-made coffee from an industrial-size Nespresso machine. But there are many other reasons for buying-up to club, here. You get personalised service, to the extent that my laundry was brought back, in under two hours, by an excellent club manager called Gary, for whom nothing was too much trouble. I look forward, now, to seeing what the GM, Nick Emery, who truly knows luxury from his days at L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills, and various Fairmonts, does to enhance this club product even more.
You cannot expect a luxury hotel to succeed in today’s over-supply without elements of fun. Here, the robes, at least for suites, are those divinely cuddly ‘Mr Cuddles’ types, from Ploh, and, for me, I had a welcome that included an edible notice implying that working out furiously in the gym was good for enhancing the appetite. And when I came out of the gym, there was a sign on the wall reminding me of the deli down in the lobby, where, admittedly, the sweet things did look jolly appetising, at least for those who like sweet things. For those who like their national comfort foods, by the way, they are readily available: the room service has a special ‘favourites’ section, listing Korean beef bibimbap (menu sensibly explains that the accompanying gochujang is a sweet-spicy soybean-based chili paste), Singapore chicken rice, and Taiwan braised beef noodle soup. Clever. NOW SEE THE VIDEO BELOW