01. Introduction: 13,733 amazing miles in Japan Airlines business class
02. Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Shell Flat Neo) San Diego to Tokyo (Narita)
03. Japan Airlines 737-800 business class Tokyo (Narita) to Beijing
04. St Regis Hotel, Beijing
05. 3 ways this trip to Beijing was exactly like the Apollo 13 mission to the moon
06. BGS Premiere Lounge, PEK
07. Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Sky Suite) Beijing to Tokyo (Haneda)
08. Royal Park Hotel THE Haneda
09. Haneda to Narita transfer bus
10. JAL Sakura Lounge, NRT
11. Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Shell Flat Neo) Tokyo (Narita) to San Diego
Long time readers of my blog will know that choosing a hotel in a new city has always been kind of a nerve racking (yet fun) experience for me. Nerve racking because I really have no idea if the place I’m choosing is in a good location or not, but fun because, well…taking chances and rolling with the punches is what makes travel so interesting. I get the most satisfaction from my travels when I’m faced with a challenge and a need to adapt to an environment that I was not expecting, and taking a gamble on a hotel is usually the kind of travel challenge I like. Hitting the road is a lot less interesting when things go entirely as planned!
One of the things that puts my mind at ease when choosing a hotel in an unfamiliar city is to stick with the fancy stuff. I knew absolutely nothing about the city of Beijing when I was making this reservation, but choosing the St Regis over a lesser quality brand gave me that twinge of confidence I needed in order to think that if the location is good enough for a St Regis, it would be more than adequate for a lowly and uninformed traveler such as myself.
One of these days that line of thinking is really going to screw me over, but it usually works out pretty well. This time was no different. The St Regis Beijing is in a pretty darn good spot if I don’t say so myself – it’s very central, right in the middle of everything with Tiananmen Square just a 30 minute walk away. Of course those 30 minutes felt more like three hours in the sub zero temperatures that I had to deal with while I was there, but I imagine it would be a really nice walk in the spring or fall.
Unfortunately, choosing high-end hotel brands still doesn’t seem right to me after all these years – especially whenever I walk through the grand entrance that first time with three different hotel employees holding the door for me. For some reason or another I just don’t feel like I belong in fancy hotels such as this, but those thoughts usually only last a second or two before my eyes glaze over from the fanciness of it all. The St Regis failed to disappoint in that regard and I felt at home right away, lost in a daze from the hypnotic twinkling lights and glossy marble finishes all throughout the lobby.
Interestingly enough, the initial impression that I had of this hotel being too fancy for my tastes eroded away after the first day. The St Regis Beijing is certainly a nice hotel, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not perfect and not quite up to the standard that I would expect from a high-end brand such as this. For example, the phone in my room would randomly ring at all hours of the day and night, and I’m ashamed to admit that it took three times of that happening for me to realize that the phone was possessed and there that there was actually nobody on the other end. I eventually had to completely unplug it from the wall in order for it to stop, feeling ashamed that I fell for it three times. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
Another minor complaint was the room temperature. The windows were awfully drafty, and I could almost feel the cold wind coming through even with the curtains completely closed. I actually had to sleep wearing the complementary bathrobe because the thermostat couldn’t compensate for all that cold air coming in.
On the flipside, I found the St Regis to be very clean with incredibly helpful and kind staff, and it was also very quiet during my stay. Never once was I woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of guests in adjacent rooms, and I heard nary a peep from anyone out in the hallway. That phone though…that stupid phone.
The next time I return to Beijing (and I will to check out the Great Wall), I’m not totally convinced that I would stay here again. Of course it is a very nice hotel in a very good location, and I’ve got no major complaints about it, but all the walking around that I did made me realize that there are some other really nice hotels within a 3 mile radius of this place which looked even better from the outside. The natural curiosity I’ve got burning inside me wouldn’t allow me to stay in the same place again with so many other options available, and I’m willing to bet there’s an even better room nearby with phones that aren’t quite as possessed. I’ll do my best to find it on my next visit!