I visited Beijing in China for the first time last month where I flew down from SIN to PEK on Singapore Airlines in Business Class (check out my trip report on SQ802 HERE!). As one of the first passengers to disembark from the plane, I was able to clear immigration fairly quickly and got out of the airport in approximately 30 to 45 minutes. I then met with a representative from Hotel Jen Beijing (which has only quite recently opened) in the public area of the Beijing Capital International Airport before hopping onto a vehicle that took me directly to this newly-built property that is directly connected to the China World Complex.
Due to some traffic on the way to the hotel, I only arrived at the Hotel Jen Beijing after approximately 45 minutes. The property is actually located under 30km away from the Beijing Capital International Airport but traffic can be (and should be) expected during most parts of the day. If you are traveling from Singapore and you are looking for an affordable way to stay connected during your trip in China, check out my guide to roaming for cheap. The first thing you will notice as your step into the hotel lobby is the massive digital screen that is directly behind the check-in area. I got to the hotel slightly before 5:00PM and got assigned to a room fairly quickly. While the flight from Singapore to Beijing in Business Class was an absolute joy (considering how much Champagne I have had 39,000ft in the air), I was really looking forward to a refreshing shower after being out for most parts of the day.
While I have been to a number of Hotel Jen properties (specifically the Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore and the Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore), they have always been positioned as a really good 4-star property. What a lot of people do not realise with the Hotel Jen Beijing is that it is actually designed to be a 5-star Hotel Jen property. I got to Level 20 (the highest floor is 22) of the property and was rather impressed by the overall décor of the place thus far - the lift lobby itself looks great with books forming the number '20' and I absolutely love the playful projections on the carpet.
I stayed in a Jen Skyline room at the Hotel Jen Beijing which is the same size as the lead-in category room type (Jen 40) here - it offers 40sqm of space and while the layout is fairly similar to the aforementioned category, the Jen Skyline rooms are located amongst the top few levels of the property which ensures that you get a sweeping view of Beijing's Guomao Central Business District (CBD). Drinking water is provided by the bedside table and I love how you can easily control all the lights (include the day and night curtains) right from the bed - this is especially important in the evening (or in the morning!) when you are extremely sleepy and the last thing you would want to do is to fiddle around to look for the right light switch.
Even if you do book the Jen Skyline room here at Hotel Jen Beijing, it is possible that your room has a different layout - if you were to check out the official room photos, the layout is actually quite different. While I did love the fact that my bed looked out of the window directly, I've found the room rather difficult to photograph.
The Jen Skyline room also comes with a small living area with a sofa that is more than sufficient for two adults - there is a small coffee table here as well that you can move around. Where I've spent most of my time during the stay in the hotel however was the full-size writing desk that is located by the floor-to-ceiling windows. Honestly, this could very well be the largest work desk that I have ever had in a lead-in category room (since the Jen Skyline has the same size and layout). There is also a copy of the 24-hour room service menu here where you will be able to find main dishes like the Beef Noodle Soup (RMB 78) and even Nasi Goreng (RMB 98).
As a modern traveller with plenty of gadgets to charge every day (seriously, I always travel with my iPhone, MacBook Pro, DSLR, electric toothbrush and portable speaker - sometimes more!), I am always grateful for international power sockets and the abundance of USB charging ports - I probably counted at least six different USB ports and easily five universal pocket sockets throughout the room (and I'm not even counting those awkwardly-placed ones that are deliberately-placed for housekeeping to perform their roles efficiently).
What you can't tell from the previous photos however is that the Jen Skyline room that I was in actually looks out to the iconic CCTV Headquarter which is famed for its irregular grid shape. Since I visited Beijing in summer, I was lucky enough to be blessed with fairly good weather on most days so the view from my room has always been quite impressive (with the exception of one day!). Working on my articles from the comfort of this room while staring out to the bustling street downstairs (the adoption of bike sharing services here is phenomenal) is quite an experience!
Since I am still a Jade Member (which you can easily get with just 10 qualifying nights each year at any participating Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts property) with the Golden Circle program (check out The Table by Golden Circle!), I was also given my nominated amenities without fail - cookies, milk, chocolate and instant noodles (for those midnight hunger pangs!). Due to my obsession with hotels and loyalty programs, I do hold a number of elite statuses across a few hotel loyalty programs but the Golden Circle program by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has been flawless at delivering my amenities. Seriously, none of the properties that I have been to (and this includes the Hotel Jen properties) have actually not gotten my requested amenities right!
The Jen Skyline room also comes with a massive LCD TV that is mounted on an adjustable TV bracket. While you are able to watch it comfortably from the sofa in the room, you can angle the TV to facilitate watching in bed. There is a rather healthy selection of satellite and cable channels here (I actually ended up watching Channel News Asia) so you do not have to be afraid of running out of things to watch. If all else fails, complimentary WiFi is provided here but you do require a login from the hotel (make sure you have your VPN set up if you intend get around the firewall in China in order to use Facebook or Instagram!). There is also a minibar here in the bedroom which makes it easy for you to chill your favourite beverages that you buy from outside - there is a supermarket located next to the hotel!
On top of the nominated amenities that I have received as a Jade member of the Golden Circle program, the team at the Hotel Jen Beijing were also super nice to arrange for some extra candies, local snacks and a welcome letter for me. Behind all these, you will find a basic coffee and tea station but there is no Nespresso machine here unfortunately - the good news is that the restaurants actually serve a pretty good espresso so if you are ever in need of a pick-me-up, you know where to go!
The Jen Skyline room that I was in comes with a double sink, a massive shower area and toilet with a TOTO washlet system (including a seat warmer!). It is to my understanding that some of the Jen Skyline rooms come with just one basin but a deep-soaking bathtub instead. While I would have personally preferred the latter room type, the bathroom in my room was sufficient for a short stay. The showers had excellent pressure, the bath amenities were dutifully replenished every day (in fact, at least two sets were provided at any given point) and more importantly, that lighted mirror is just perfect for dressing up in the morning.
There is also a sizeable wardrobe outside of the bathroom where you will find some really comfortable bath slippers (albeit disposable), an iron, ironing board, bathrobes, a safe and also two strange canisters which contain some kind of fire protection device - I was actually curious enough to examine the canister. The safe is also large enough to fit my 15" MacBook Pro and it can be locked with a 4-digit pin code.
After taking a much-awaited shower, I headed down to Beersmith Gastropub (鲜啤吧) which is located on street level of the Hotel Jen Beijing. With an actual brewery that is located in the basement of the property, the Beersmith Gastropoub serves up to 16 specialty and seasonal beers and ales daily. The pub grub here is also pretty impressive but I will cover this experience in a separate post but since I do not wish to deviate too much from the accommodation experience.
I returned back to my room after plenty to drink (and eat) and was rewarded with this amazing night view of the CCTV Headquarters from my very own room. What a lot of people do not realise about this iconic building however is that the world-renowned architecture firm, Buro Ole Scheeren, has also worked on notable projects like DUO as well as the MahaNakhon in Singapore and Bangkok respectively. The 44-storey skyscraper on East Third Ring Road is also known as 大裤衩 (which translates into the big pants or big boxer shorts) by the locals and being able to see this impressive structure right from the comfort of your own room is truly magnificent.
With all that being said, I did not actually have time to walk over to the building to see it up close so I will definitely have to return to Beijing sometime (preferably not in summer) to check out this place.
While both of the Hotel Jen properties in Singapore have executive lounges that I am personally a huge fan of (how do you say no to free-flowing alcohol in the evening, breakfast and all-day refreshments?), it has to be made known that the Hotel Jen Beijing does not have an executive lounge (or club lounge). What it does have instead is a co-working space that is accessible by both hotel guests and the public for a nominal fee (there is also a monthly-access membership) but I will cover this a little later. Since there is no executive lounge in this property, I went down to San Wu Tang Kitchen (三五堂) which is located on Level 2 for a buffet breakfast instead.
Breakfast starts at 6:00AM daily and it ends at 10:00AM (even on weekends) which I found to be slightly cruel to vacation-goers - most of the hotels keep breakfast running until 10:30AM (or even 11:00AM) on weekends. However, since the Hotel Jen Beijing is located in the Guomao CBD, it is reasonable for breakfast to end slightly earlier since most of the guests (who are presumably business travellers) have to get to work anyway. The breakfast spread is quite extensive and you will be able to find a selection of Western and Eastern dishes - there is a salad bar at one end, and on the other side, a 'live' noodle station.
As I gaze across the breakfast spread at San Wu Tang Kitchen (三五堂), I could not help but to notice the Jian Bing station. With a little inquisition and research, I found out that the Jian Bing (which is essentially a crêpe filled with delicious savoury ingredients) is actually the country's most popular street breakfast. While I was not going to jump out on the street immediately to grab one of these, I was delighted to find out that they were part of the breakfast buffet spread here at Hotel Jen Beijing. In fact, I have even heard praises about the ones served here - they are (apparently) quite authentic and it bears resemblance to the ones you can get outside by the street.
I dived in straight for a few slices of Jian Bing and I really loved the contrast of textures and flavours with each bite - I definitely have to try the 'real' version next time I visit China! Since I have not had decent coffee from the time I have landed in Beijing (especially since there is no Nespresso machine in the room or an executive lounge), I was delighted to find a coffee machine here in San Wu Tang Kitchen (三五堂) which actually delivered a decent espresso shot (even though there was probably too much water). There is also an egg station but since I was at breakfast alone and did not wish to leave my seat empty for too long, I decided to skip the eggs and save my stomach space for lunch instead (which was an excellent idea because Sichuan food is absolutely amazing!).
As mentioned earlier, the Hotel Jen Beijing does not have an executive lounge but what it has instead is a co-working space called Prototype which is open to both hotel guests as well as the public. For a nominal sum each day you will be able work from this beautiful space and enjoy complimentary coffee, tea and water. In fact, from now until 31 August 2017, you will be able to gain access into Prototype for just RMB 50 for 4 hours on weekdays (complimentary access on weekends!).
While a VPN was still required to gain access to blocked sites like Google and Facebook, I have found the internet over at Hotel Jen Beijing to be relatively stable. More importantly, I love how the different layouts in the Prototype Co-working Lounge facilitates different kinds of discussions - the cove areas are great for individuals or small groups and the longer more boardroom-style tables are perfect for group discussions.
If you are looking for private office spaces or even a semi-permanent room that you can rent, Hotel Jen Beijing offers meeting rooms and even office spaces (subject to availability) that is designed for the modern business traveller. Some of these rooms come with a smart glass feature that allows you to toggle between clear glass and privacy with a flick of a switch.
One of the most impressive features of the Hotel Jen Beijing is the 3,500sqm Trainyard gym that spans over two floors. Unlike most hotel gyms, the Trainyard comes with a huge workout area, a spinning studio, personal training studios, special exercise rooms, sport treatment facilities, a boxing ring and a heated indoor swimming pool. The free-weight area is especially remarkable - there is plenty of space here and you will probably not have to wait for a free bench ever. While most people do not follow a very strict workout routine (especially on short business trips), it is nice that there are proper facilities here. In fact, even if you are not a hotel guest, you will be able to sign-up for an annual gym membership here that will give you access to this massive workout space (something to think about if you work in the Guomao area in Beijing).
Accessible only by stairs at the moment, the lower floor of the Trainyard gym is where the exercise studios, boxing ring and swimming pool are. There are also treatment rooms where hotel guests and gym members can benefit from therapies like sport massages in one of the private treatment rooms (at a fee).
I was probably the most excited when I saw the heated pool here at the Trainyard in Hotel Jen Beijing - the 25-metre swimming pool is heated (perfect in the winter!) and it even features a skylight with views of the surrounding CBD area. One thing to take note however is that unlike in Singapore, swimmers are required to wear a swimming cap in order to enter the pool - you may purchase one from the hotel at a premium or just remember to bring your own! The graffiti throughout Trainyard gave the whole space a grungy and youthful feel but I am curious to know how long would it be before the design becomes slightly tacky and dated.
The Hotel Jen Beijing definitely stands out as a Hotel Jen branded property and unlike the ones that I have been to in Singapore, this fairly new hotel is actually positioned as a five-star property. The rooms are beautifully-appointed, the food (especially in Beersmith Gastropub which I will cover separately) is delicious and more importantly, the facilities are truly indicative of a brand that is catered towards meeting the needs of modern travellers. If you do intend to check out the property prior to 31 August 2017, be sure to take advantage of the Opening Offer where the room rates start from just RMB 1,199 per night. Otherwise, the Lifestyle Room Package which starts from 01 September 2017 starts from RMD 1,388 per night with unlimited access to Prototype, delicious treats at Beersmith Gastropub as well as a late check-out at 3:00PM.