1. The Aman at Summer Palace (颐和安缦)
Within Aman’s 1.2-square-kilometers of polished clay floor tiles lies the last word in imperial luxury — a period Qing Dynasty resort of crisscrossing courtyards, halls and suites, unfolding symmetrically like a miniature Forbidden City. Attached to the Summer Palace (it even has its own secret entrance), Aman is Beijing’s priciest hotel. Expect all the fawning and comforts “Aman junkies” take for granted: huge bathrooms, period furnishings, a packed program of tours and cultural events and seriously fine dining at Naoki Restaurant, which serves Japanese kaiseki cuisine. Some distance from the city center, this one is designed for escape, not exploration.
1 Gongmenqian Lu, Summer Palace, near Tongqing Jie 颐和园宫门前街1号, 近同庆街, +86 10 5987 9999, room rates: from RMB 4,000, www.amanresorts.com
2. The Opposite House (瑜舍)
Opened in 2008, this six-story, glass-walled, 99-room boutique hotel is the city’s hippest address. The work of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, it shows off Beijing’s Olympic commitment to design and style. White rooms have a breezy, yoga-studio aesthetic. Even the bath is wooden. Downstairs you’ll find a stainless steel pool — like something from Doctor Evil’s lair, though with no piranhas — and Bei, one of Beijing’s finest restaurants. The hotel even has its own nightclub, Punk. In the middle of a large shopping and dining complex, The Opposite House is in a good setting for night owls.
The Village Building 1, 11 Sanlitun Lu, near Dongzhimenwai Dajie 三里屯路11号,三里屯Village1号楼, 近东直门外大街, +86 10 6417 6688, room rates: from RMB 2,500, www.theoppositehouse.com
3. China World Summit Wing (国贸大酒店)
Rising like a steel mast over Beijing’s CBD, the 81-story, 330-meter China World Tower 3 (the city’s tallest building) hosts Shangri-La’s Summit Wing hotel on its uppermost floors (64th-80th floor). Bill Gates books a suite here when he’s in town, but even the standard rooms measure in at an impressive 55 square meters, with Narnia-sized wardrobes and a tub big enough for one-on-one water polo. This slick business hotel has decorative Oriental flourishes, giant feather pillows and jaw-dropping vistas, smog-permitting. Since opening in 2010, Atmosphere Bar on the 80th floor has garnered a following for its views of the bright lights of CBD. The 25-meter infinity pool on the 78th floor — yup, it’s like swimming in the sky — might well be the highlight of your stay.
1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, near Dongsanhuan Zhonglu 建国门外大街1号, 近东三环中路, +86 10 6505 2299, room rates: from RMB 1,888, www.shangri-la.com/en
4. Park Hyatt Beijing (北京柏悦酒店)
Check-in takes place on the 63rd floor at this haven in the sky, and from there it’s breezy comfort all the way. Generous suites come with a butler, the biggest bathtub in town and soothing views — just the place to unwind after a long evening clinking baijiu glasses with your Chinese business partners. China Grill offers premium dry-aged steaks and seafood. For cocktails and a hopping house band, rooftop bar XIU regularly packs out, especially on its near-legendary “ladies night” every Thursday. If buying bling is your bag, the Park Hyatt sits atop some of the best luxury shopping in the city, connecting directly with China World Mall beneath the street.
2 Jianguomenwai Dajie, near Dongsanhuan Zhonglu 建国门外大街2号, 近东三环中路, +86 10 8567 1234, room rates: from RMB 2,100, beijing.park.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels
5. The Peninsula Beijing (王府半岛酒店)
Everyone from the doorman to the butler who comes to replenish the mini-bar seems to make it their mission to make you feel fabulous at this centrally located palace. Standard rooms are a little smaller than at some of Beijing’s newer five-star hotels, but the 14th floor has a row of funky duplexes with tall windows. There’s always the 660-square-meter Peninsula Suite with private elevator, banquet room and tub with a view reaching as far (in nice weather) as the Forbidden City and Jinshan. An annex built in 2008 holds one of Beijing’s most luxurious spas, The Peninsula Spa, with an extensive menu of treatments for both sexes.
8 Jinyu Hutong, Wangfujing, near Dongdan Beidajie 王府井金鱼胡同8号, 近东单北大街, +86 10 8516 2888, room rates: from RMB 1,600, www.peninsula.com