Hilton's Luxury Hotel Waldorf Astoria Arrives in Beijing (Photos)
The Hilton worldwide brand of luxury hotels and resorts opens its first hotel of the year in its 26th location: Beijing, China. Following the opening of the Shanghai on the Bund hotel, Waldorf Astoria expands its second destination in the country. A representative of the hotel brand told The Hollywood Reporter, "The development team is highly selective about the regions in which it opens its hotels and resorts and is striving to bring something unique to each market – whether it's the conversion of a historic structure or contemporary new build.
In the case of Beijing's Waldorf hotel, each of the 176 rooms (starting from $355 to $11,00 a night) will provide a unique feature for their guests. Samsung tablets will reside in every room, monitoring the lighting, air conditioning, TV channels and curtains. Those who carry Apple devices will also have access to Apple TV connected in all guest rooms, which allows them to stream from their device onto the television in the living room. General Manager of Waldorf Astoria Beijing Marlene Poynder added that the rooms are of Waldorf standard with Ferragamo amenities and feather-top beds with linen.
The contemporary, 12-story building accented by Oriental design embodies the city of Beijing as a modern breakthrough from its traditional roots. Built by Chicago-based Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture and designed by the Canadian firm, Yabu Pushelberg, the team faced certain height restrictions, including the protection of the 100-year-old tree that adds character to the main entrance. "Everybody wants an iconic building to stand in time, and the Astoria is representative to that in its location near rich and old imperial palaces, central government and with its bronze exterior," Poynder said.
Within walking distance to the Forbidden City, the Waldorf Astoria subtly reflects Chinese architecture with its strong use of bronze in large areas of the walls and windows. Starting from the reception area of the hotel to the guest rooms, each part of the hotel offers timeless Chinese art, characterizing Astoria's brand as a luxury hotel. Pieces of art from Ling Jian, Luo Xiaodong as well as profound sculptures by artist Shao Fan are placed throughout the hotel, combining the modern design of Pushelberg with Chinese influence.
Apart from the brand's stylistic qualities, the Astoria is frequented by the likes of stars such as Sir Elton John, Susan Sarandon, Paris Hilton, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Michael Bay and Matt Dillon who have spent their visits in Waldorf's Shanghai location. "It [Waldorf Astoria] was also the site of the world's first-ever Supper Club, making it a hub for entertainers - they came for the unforgettable moments and extraordinary experiences that they knew could only happen at the Waldorf Astoria," said the brand representative.
Another unique feature of Beijing's Astoria hotel is the traditional, detached "Hutong," villas. While the preparation will not be completed until the second half of the year, Poynder stated there have been quite a few inquiries reserving the villas. "We're expecting, in particular with the Hutong villas, that they will be popular with Chinese and international celebrities," said Poynder, who mentioned the hotel has already seen Chinese celebrities during their photo shoots for GQ magazine. The two-story, double courtyard villa has a traditional 200-year old exterior, but a modern design in the interior with Waldorf bed and comforts. Each presidential villa comes equipped with a private swimming pool. There will be three entrances to the hutongs, including a gold-gilded corridor that leads you to an elevator to the main lobby.
Poynder also touched upon the personal service of the Waldorf hotel. A staple of every hotel is the True Waldorf Service, a personal concierge who provides service from pre-arrival all the way through the way to departure. The hotel offers guests a "home away from home, but slightly better," she told THR. She stated that the 260-member staff trained for six to eight weeks in restaurant catering and spa treatment to ensure guests "feel comfortable and understand the type of service we are emulating," she added. "We want guests to walk away with an experience to remember. You'll remember an interaction with someone rather than an amenity, and to achieve that is the hardest thing."