The more the gal travels, the stronger becomes her wariness of ‘butlers’. Far too many are pompous and/or intrusive. There are exceptions however and, honestly, Rosewood Beijing has one of the best, Nick Ren, above, with his ultimate boss Marc Brugger, who runs this amazing luxury hotel. Why is it amazing? Well, it has been developed out of a 70-floor building that has been in the heart of the city, near the CCTV centre since 1990. After considerable spend, floors up to 23 are now, thanks to the owners and designer Stuart Robinson of BAR Studio, a 284-room hotel. Let us start with the lobby, left, a soaring spillikin of a space where existing beams have become part of the appeal: this whole space, as you can see, is a three-dimensional open sculpture.
Up on the serene sixth floor, the spa is reached by a walkway flanked by low decorative pools and candles, lit from dawn on. Turn the other direction to get to five spa suites. I was in 611, a Premier Spa Suite: two pots of grass outside its door show how simplicity becomes superlative design. Inside, I had masses of cool taupe and cream space, a bath-tub for two, a pair of massage beds, an array of serious books that ranged from Henry Kissinger on China to A Pictorial Atlas of Acupuncture (plus Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, its softest-leather purple cover labelled with recessed fuchsia and black letters). I had a balcony, facing the CCTV Tower: with a real hedge along its 35-foot length, it was large enough to entertain ten to cocktails.
Instead of cocktailing, I padded across to the main spa, and through it, to the big gym. Heaven, lots of space, masses of Technogym, televisions working (though for governmental reasons BBC was not among the English channels allowed, so I played mental games instead). Then, oh what bliss to have an in-room treatment, right there and then, in my room. Nick, as if following Downton Abbey guidelines of the Perfect English Gentleman’s Gentleman, discreet disappeared in plenty of time before it started (much later, the PEGG, in his black evening outfit, appeared from somewhere to help with a late-night IT challenge). After my treatment, it was dinner. There are several Chinese restaurants, to try next visit, but tonight it was Bistro B, where the charcuterie, displayed in one of the many glass-fronted cabinets, is all home made.
Bistro B really is the ultimate kitchen-meets-restaurant as you wander around all the preparation areas (what happens to the used dishes, I asked? They are discreetly taken out on a trolley when customers are not looking). I breakfasted in the Manor House, a club that combines local membership with suite guests, and few lucky other guests. Again, there is a full working kitchen here – plus library and pool table. This really is a very well thought-out luxury hotel, and if all the butlers are as good as Nick, no traditional English stately home or manor could have matched this for service. NOW WATCH THE VIDEO OF MY ROOM, BELOW.