Intercontinental Beijing Sanlitun


BACKGROUND: Opened in August 2016, this bold, 300-room, new-build hotel occupies the lower half of a tower shaped like a stretched oval, whose glass exterior is framed by a honeycomb structure like an exoskeleton. This is wired up to present an impressive multi-coloured light show each evening. Not your typical Intercontinental, as is apparent from the exterior and its three-storey-high entrance lobby. The feel is bright, breezy and modern, with interesting ornamentation, from enormous picture books of luxury cars to modern sculptures; the pleasant lobby lounge has a living room ambience, and the whole design concept fits in with Sanlitun’s youthful, vibrant atmosphere.

WHERE IS IT? Opposite the southern entrance to Beijing’s trendy Sanlitun retail and leisure district, with Tuanjiehu subway station (Line 10) just a 5-10 minute walk away.

ROOM FACILITIES: I was in a 45m2 deluxe room (Premier rooms are 50m2 and Executive suites stretch to 90m2). The room layout was interesting: walking through the door the first thing I saw was the oval, stand-alone bath. The toilet was immediately to the left; the walk-in rainforest shower was on the right, and twin sink plinths completed the bathroom area. Two curved glass panels formed an entrance to the bedroom. Although the room plan is rectangular, the design cleverly makes the bed area circular; there are curves everywhere, from the wall panelsto the work desk and chaise longue by the window, plus the round, deep-blue carpet and even the arcing, futuristic desk lamp in clear plastic.

There were universal sockets and USB ports conveniently located by the desk and at the bedside, a Nespresso machine, a Bluetooth music station, and the 48- inch, wall-mounted TV could be twisted towards the bath or sofa. The curved work table was nice but the designer chair did not provide enough lower back support. Another idiosyncrasy is the shower, which, when turned on, by default shoots water from the rainforest head first, not the wall-mounted showerhead as is more usual – so watch out! However, overall I really liked this room’s originality.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS: Most of the F&B options are on the third floor, and here again the design is fresh and unconventional. Most of the restaurant areas are open plan, with screens instead of walls, and corridors leading you naturally from one eatery to the next. Ying Chinese restaurant leads seamlessly into Ying Japanese (the combined area is where the breakfast buffet is located); Top Tapas leads to the Top Bar, which has a live band and outdoor terrace; and Char steakhouse also operates as an oyster and champagne bar in the evenings. It’s an attractive area that is easy to move around in as your mood takes you. On the 21st floor, the Club Intercontinental lounge is an airy space with a range of seating, fantastic views and an excellent breakfast buffet.

MEETING FACILITIES: These are on the fourth floor and include eight function rooms of various sizes (one including an open kitchen), an event studio, plus an 800m2 grand ballroom with a double storey ceiling that can be split into three sections.

LEISURE FACILITIES: These are on the fifth floor and are operated by a third-party specialist company called Green Essence. The spa has 10 spacious treatment rooms, while the gym is a large (300m2) space with a comprehensive set of Precor-brand fitness equipment. The swimming pool has a fun feature, with five water cycle machines that face straight out of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The pool area has funky lighting and a DJ corner, and can be booked for private events and parties.

VERDICT: The bold design pays off, providing a fresh look that is entirely in keeping with the hotel’s hip location. In the Sanlitun district this is one of the top accommodation options.

Craig Bright

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