Well, it may not be fully finished until early 2017 but The Peninsula Beijing will then be even more gorgeous than ever. This is a venerable luxury hotel that is completely re-inventing itself. Apart from the 13-floor exterior’s white tiled walls and tiled roof, nothing remains. The front garden has been completely re-done, to push the entrance out with a glass pre-arrival area a little like that at The Peninsula Paris. Inside, the lobby’s grand staircase now faces you – before it was at right angles to you. Two 16-foot paintings, black scrawl on bright cobalt, symbolise sun and moon, by abstract ink artist Qin Feng. Everything in the lobby seems more practical, and more gorgeous, says the gal.
The lobby of what will be a 230-room hotel is nearly finished. The lower-level Jing restaurant is ready, and is at trial stage. Menus are being tried out on family and friends, and I was lucky enough to be among their number. Beforehand, we looked at the chinoiserie PDR (private dining room), with its hand-painted wallpaper. We looked at an overflow room that will be used for breakfast – the breakfast buffet area, next to the kitchen, is cleverly partitioned off for the rest of the day. The main room is soft avocado, and tables are set with elegant palest green-turquoise cloths that particularly complemented one wall that has living ‘pictures’, circles filled with growing plants.
Then, in the main restaurant GM Joseph Sampermans had both Executive Chef Dominique Martinez, to the left of the photo above, and Jing Chef, Alberto Becerril, on the right, on hand. Seventy percent of the edible produce here is now organic, supplied by 17 farms. It is asparagus time in China, and Alberto Becerril is presenting it in different ways – I started with an asparagus composition, went on to a block of steak tartare and ultra elegant salad, and then we headed to see what was going on. GM Joseph Sampermans was quick to point out that first redo was of the staff restaurant: the lucky team now has an adjacent business centre, and the buffet really looked appetizing – they have a new gym and staff clinic coming (120 of the total-640 team are also housed).
Then we headed up to the one guest floor being transformed right now. Fortunately the show room showed another world, a world of space, and beauty, thanks to designer Henry Leung and Inverse lighting specialists. My beloved ‘-00’ end suite has had a neighbouring room added to it, to give it, now, a dining room and, also, a media room, with lie-back seating for five. Pale colours, the now-standard Peninsula perks of cat-flap, and nail varnish dryer, and smoothest lacquer woodwork are all here, and a five-fish tiled collage over the bath tub is a nice touch. It is just amazing that all this has been, and will be, going on without closing the hotel. It is equally amazing that Joseph Sampermans still manages to smile. SEE WHY HE IS HAPPY WITH THE NEW LOBBY, BELOW: