Some hotels are horizontal, they stretch out for ever, it seems. Luxury properties that instantly come to mind include St Regis Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, where the aim is for as many as possible to have sea views, and Bellagio, annual home of Virtuoso’s must-not-miss annual Las Vegas Travel Week (the gal once had end room 16085 and it was 130 yards, not feet, to the elevator, and once she got back to her room to find she had left her room key inside …).
Other hotels soar up. Hilton Beijing is a fine example of a look-up, or look-down, hotel, especially if you are staying in one of the 126 rooms in the Executive Tower, added on for the 2008 Olympics. The rooms in the fan-shaped Executive Tower are all, well, slightly fan-shaped. They all have balconies, with French windows that give fresh air, at least on days when there is none of the prevalent pollution. I thought top floor room 931 was extremely practical, and attractive (see the video, below): I loved having a red robe to match the scarlet bench in the walk-in closet, I loved the scarlet bureau holding the minibar. The triangular desk had an ergonomic choose-your-height chair. Light switches and air conditioning were easy to work. Perfect. This is the type of room that Hilton, globally, does so well.
And every time I went out to the corridor, which of course slightly curves, too, I could look down, to the third floor club lounge. Down there, you look up, which gives an extra feeling of space.
There is more space being added the whole time. There are now 502 rooms in all, and a big gym, also used by local members including some from embassies and diplomatic residences in one of Beijing’s ‘VIP complexes’, five minutes’ walk away. On top of the gym, next to the swimming pool, a little-used rooftop tennis court is being boarded over, to make a summer-time event space – the indoor squash court, by contrast, is used a lot. This is a business luxury hotel that also forms a very convenient meeting spot.
The main lobby’s comfortable seating is taken up day long – when my friend Patrick Xiang, who heads Hertz’s outbound travel for the whole of China, came round, we got the last two chairs. And as soon as we got up, to have a photo with the charming Austrian GM, Stefan Schmid, two others who had been politely hovering took our places. That always shows when a successful hotel is truly part of a community.
And now, take a tour of room 931, and its oh-so-lovely opening French windows, and balcony. See below: