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Bejing: Renaissance Beijing Capital (Marriott)

61 Dongsanhuan Middle Road, Phone: 86.10.5863.8888

Reviewed by: Jeff H from NH, review #2631

When: May 2009

Ultra modern high rise with five restaurants and bar lounge and a nightclub on the premises.

Seven days and seven nights in the heart of Beijing, at a top shelf hotel. The whole scene is ultra modern, with lots of art and sculptures and such throughout the common area. Very clean, very efficient, and friendly, too.

The room was ample in size, with a large bathroom and a large stall shower and a separate tub if you needed a soak. The one drawback was high speed internet service was $10 per hour of usage within 24 hours ... Nick used it, because he owns his own business and had to on a couple of occasions.

A broken light switch (broken by yours truly) was fixed within 15 minutes by the on site staff at 7:30 in the morning. That's good service.

The breakfast room ("BLD") was sleek, white walled with flying arches supporting a white ceiling about 20 feet high and it was loaded with a variety of foods spread out over six or seven counters (buffet style); lots of glass and lots of light - and good strong coffee! Since we were in China, I laughed and told my Italian-American friend, "You ain't gonna find suprasatta for breakfast in China." Guess what? Yes, they had it! Just an indicator of the variety of foods served up on the buffet.

The bar/lounge is staffed by young, enthusiastic, friendly and at least one English speaking bunch of kids, who work very hard dealing with the subtleties of some of the more special drinks ... we kept to the beer or gin and tonic to make their lives simpler.

Oh, and an American Express card threw them off so badly, they had to call accounting to come bail them out at the cash register, but at no time did they stop smiling or complimenting our awful tries at Mandarin or practicing their English on us. Next door is a full service Tea Bar, but it wasn't doing much business, but had a wide variety from which to chose, and not just Chinese.

The Italian (Fratelli Fresh) restaurant of the three others (Fratelli Gourmet, BLD, Fat Duck was the only one we tried (twice)...and it was very good - my antipasta and risotto were large and delivered promptly. More business-like staff than in the bar, to be expected. Interestingly, it's managed by a guy from Liverpool - English Management + Chines Cooking, serving up delicious Italian food. How 'bout that?

Throughout the stay, we had to swap currencies at the front desk a couple of times each - this got to be a comedy. Due to counterfeiting problems we were told, they will not accept anything but perfectly clean and perfectly crisp American bills. A small ink stain, tiny clipped off corner, serated edge along the side? All these were causes for rejection of that bill. A bit of a pain for folks who (due to pickpocketing) carried their money folded in a front pocket of a pair of bermuda shorts... But we always managed at the ATM around the corner, when we were rejected by the front desk (with a smile and an apology...always!).

Black and white are the predominant colors, as you might imagine, in keeping with the ultra modern look and feel. Polished marble, sleek tile in most areas, too. All being looked after by a squad of ladies sweeping, mopping, dusting and polishing very quietly and very unobtrusively - if looked for, though, they were everywhere.

Highlight: the restrooms on the lobby level are as state of the art as anything I've ever seen. Waterfall sinks with a tilted slab of marble, rather than a bowl - the slabs tilt away from the front to a common drain (in the wall) behind ... very cool.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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