A BEIJING LUXURY RETREAT
A Beijing luxury retreat - Luxury Travel Magazine
|The Entrance Pavilion at Aman at Summer Palace.|
|By: Sandra Nori|
|SANDRA NORI GETS A TASTE OF AMAN LUXURY NEXT DOOR TO BEIJING’S SUMMER PALACE.|
I’ve heard the term “Aman junkie” before and I can now say with confidence I understand its origin - Aman works for me.
Set adjacent and connected to the grounds of the Summer Palace, Beijing, Aman at Summer Palace is a perfect confluence of comfort and style in a relaxed setting, secluded and hidden away from Beijing but at the same time close enough to get out and enjoy local activities.
|The Music Pavilion at Aman at Summer Palace.|
|Architecturally sympathetic to the history of the Summer Palace, upon arrival the resort instantly sets your mood and you feel you are walking into your own little world of Chinese antiquity. The resort boasts three wonderful restaurants, exquisite Chinese, a Western restaurant and a steak house. Breakfast is served either indoors or outdoors by an internal pond. The evening bar is by a small lake, where a musician plays traditional music sending soothing unobtrusive notes over the water as you sip late afternoon drinks in the peace and calm of the surroundings. There are art, history and calligraphy classes, splendid day spa services in elegant luxury surroundings and a very generous indoor pool.|
Service is of the highest standard, your needs are anticipated and met seamlessly. On arrival you have the opportunity to discuss what activities you may wish to undertake an itinerary is drawn up for your perusal. Once agreed to or amended, it all just happens - the cars (modern BMWs) and guides just appear at the appointed time.
The guides and drivers speak excellent English and our guide was highly educated. We went on a tour of the Forbidden City, which was very interesting not to mention comfortable and effortless because of the vehicle service and the knowledge of our guide. My initial guided walk thought the Summer Palace at 6am was similarly rewarding and enjoyable. Even though it was early the park had many locals out for their early exercise, walks, dance and tai chi groups, kite flying, it was wonderful.
|Sleep in comfort and style in one of the Suites.|
|I found one of the ballroom dance groups, just ordinary folk towards the elderly side of life, doing their thing with a CD player, small amp and a rug on the ground to put handbags on. I just approached, smiled and motioned that I would like to join in - none of them could speak a word of English and I can’t speak Mandarin but it just worked! I went for three mornings in a row - I usually danced with one of the more vivacious women, though we swapped around, and I was welcomed with smiles and hugs. I can sincerely say it was one the most authentic human experiences, a wonderful shared moment I have ever had the good fortune to encounter, and it will stay with me.|
To get to the Summer Palace from the resort you walk through an ancient walkway past the cottages that were used as waiting rooms for courtiers waiting to have an audience with the Emperor, then through a heavy metal gate that opens on to the park. On your return you use the mobile that is provided to you to have the gate opened, and you are greeted with the most sweetly ginger scented hotel towelette. Just one of the lovely touches the Aman provides.
The manager Christine Hodder sets the pace, she is a fabulous energetic host and you will meet her because she greets and farewells all guests. She took charge of finding and accompanying my travelling companion and I to some jazz bars. The Beijing has some upscale, New York-style bars with interesting music and excellent service and we were driven home by the resort’s limo service.
|Elegant design in a Suite bathroom.|
|We had been warned that after a visit to the Forbidden City many guests request to see the Academy Award-winning 1987 film The Last Emperor in the in-house cinema, and we too were also inspired to do so. Five minutes after returning (because that is all it takes for the kitchen to prepare a huge bucket of popcorn) we enjoyed the epic on the big-screen, delightfully ensconced on our reclining lounges with our popcorn and drinks.|
It’s so close to the city, yet Aman at Summer Palace has all the ambience and facilities of a retreat providing a wonderful escape to peace and relaxation from Beijing and its surrounds.
|Guests can chill out and watch movies in the property's cinema.|
|Where to stay|
|Rates start from US$750 (about A$731) per person per night for a Courtyard Guestroom and go up to US$3,900 (about A$3,802) per person per night for an Imperial Suite.|
|When to go|
|Beijing has it’s most comfortable whether in September or October, with warm sunny days and clear skies. Spring is from late March to mid-May, and it snows during the long winter from November to March.|
|Virgin Australia flies to Beijing (via Singapore) from Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth, return economy flights start from A$564 and return business class flights from A$2,935. vaustralia.com|
|Aman at Summer Palace is around a 45-minute drive from Beijing International Airport, and transfers can be arranged with the resort.|