Aman at Summer Palace
- Location: Summer Palace
- Address: No.1 Gongmenqian Street, Haidian District, Beijing
- Tel: 010-59879999 (Book this hotel, call 800-2682918)
- Hotel Name in Chinese: 颐和安缦
- Lowest Price: $578
A unique hotel demands a unique presentation. To describe the Aman at Summer Palace (ASP) as one describes a conventional hotel, however swank the hotel, is to recite a poem as one would read prose! To the task, then...
Firstly, the ASP is partly refurbished historical patrimony and partly a nod to historical patrimony. That is to say, the ASP is erected on the site of the ruins (a series of pavilions) of part of the Summer Palace that came to be associated with Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908), though the Summer Palace was originally built in 1750, during the reign (1735–1796) of Emperor Qianlong.
The Summer Palace was sacked and burned in 1860 by troops under the command of Lord Elgin, son of Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin (of Elgin Marbles fame/infamy). During Cixi's "reign", the Summer Palace was restored, albeit to somewhat lesser glory, at great cost to state coffers. As in the case of Catherine de Medici of Renaissance era France, who ruled as regent (1547-59) even when her sons nominally ruled France, Cixi ruled China as de facto regent from 1861 to 1908, first in place of her son, Emperor Tongzhi, who ascended the throne at the death of his father, Emperor Xianfeng, and later, in place of the nephew that Cixi herself had installed as the Guangxu Emperor.
Alas, the Summer Palace would again be destroyed by foreign powers, this time under Cixi's rule, in 1900, at the height of the Boxer Rebellion. The palace proper has since been restored, under the government of the PRC.
The part of the Summer Palace that is now the ASP is situated east of the northern extremity of artificially-created Lake Kunming, near the palace's East Gate. The East Gate complex served as temporary residences and waiting rooms for persons either on an official visit or transient visitors ("petitioners") who had been granted an audience with Cixi; among the latter was Sarah Pike Conger, author of "Letters from China" and a great admirer of Cixi. Conger was the wife of Edwin H. Conger, the then US Minister (Ambassador) to China.
Aman Resorts, in cooperation with the government of the PRC, has restored the parts of the East Gate complex that could be salvaged, discreetly dovetailing into them the requisite modern amenities so as to preserve the original atmosphere, and has added on new buildings in a style true to the restored patrimony, hence the (well-meant!) reference to "mock-historical".
Open since 2009, the ASP preserves the typical courtyard style of Beijing. It offers much more than immediately meets the eye, since roughly half of the 9-courtyard complex's facilities are located underground. The ASP consists of 18 (or 2 x 9) guestrooms and 33 suites, including the most deluxe suite, the Imperial Suite, that will set you back the modest sum of $3900...
There's a 9-room spa (note that the "imperial" number nine ("9") figures frequently in this, a former imperial abode) offering holistic body treatments, a workout gym, two squash courts, a heated 25-meter indoor pool, a Pilates studio, a library and a movie theatre seating 37 guests.
The tall, white-walled, ceiling-less rooms, accentuated by Ming style lacquered wooden beams aloft, feature 4-poster beds, massive Ming- and Qing style armoires and stylish lattice woodwork room dividers, while the heated floors are of golden-brown, polished ceramic tiles in the Jin style, with thick rugs in all the places you'd want them.
The public areas are decorated with Ming period furnishings, including many articles in silk, while paintings and photos of the premises' former imperial inhabitants adorn the walls. The brightly colored, lacquered exterior of the pavilions conveys a quintessentially Chinese atmosphere.
The ASP has three dinner restaurants and a breakfast/lunch restaurant. The Lobby is elegant but casual, serving continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and light evening meals. The Grill serves Western fare, including seafood and some of the best grilled-to-order steaks in Beijing. The popular Chinese Restaurant, occupying 9 rooms (that "9" again!), serves primarily Cantonese dishes; its Peking Duck is renowned. Lastly, the Naoki, named for its famous Japanese chef, Naoki Okumura, serves principally French cuisine with a Japanese twist (there's even a Japanese name for it: kaiseki (think: French preparation/ Japanese presentation); the Naoki's adherents have difficulty avoiding hyperbole!
In conclusion, the ASP is like no other hotel experience you will have had anywhere – unless it happens to have been at another unique Aman resort! There are special touches to a visit to the ASP that help to preserve the sensation of being plumped down in the middle of something quintessentially ancient Chinese. These include the surroundings themselves, such as the willow- and bamboo-lined stone pathways, the picturesque nearby lake and the period architecture, both within and without. Even room service is delivered by a waiter who brings the ordered items in stacked bamboo cases that are suspended from either end of a bamboo pole balanced across the waiter's shoulders.
A few other specialties include a Cultural Room, where the visitor can see the "house" calligrapher in action (he also demonstrates the arts of ancient Chinese painting and paper cutting), a waterside Music Pavilion where the visitor, in late afternoon, can enjoy the gentle melodies of ancient Chinese folk music, and a special secret entrance, at the end of a series of serpentine walkways, to the nearby Summer Palace. Two more modern specialties that set the ASP apart are its on-site foreign currency exchange service and its airport- and train station pick up service (ordinary room service is available too, of course).
A stay at the Aman at Summer Palace – besides being a luxurious experience in and of itself, whatever the decor – is at the same time a trip back in time to China's recent, sumptuous Ming-Qing era imperial past, where the "royals" lived a life of pampered luxury. You'll feel yourself regaled too!
- Payment Method: pay using our secure online payment service or pay at the hotel at some hotels.
- Triple/quad occupancy may require an extra bed at extra cost.
|Hotel Services||Luggage service, Laundry service, Room service, Express check-in/check-out, Currency Exchange, Wake Up Call, Permanent English-speaking staff, Business Centre, Copy Service, E-mail, Fax Service|
|Room Amenities||Air conditioning, Alarm clock, Color Television, Coffee/tea maker, Telephone, Hair dryer, In-room safe, Refrigerator, Mini Bar, Bath and Shower, Free for Internet|
Hotel Amenities: Air-Conditioned Facilities, Indoor Swimming Pool, Beauty Salon, Sauna, Business Center, Gift Shop, Gymnasium , Deposit Box at Front Desk, Fire Detector, Table Tennis room, Squash room
Dining Facilities: Chinese Restaurant, Western Restaurant, Cafe, Bar, Lounge Bar
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- Address: No.1 Gongmenqian Street, Haidian District, Beijing
- 地址: 北京市海淀区颐和园宫门前街1号
- Tel: 010-59879999