In many metropolitan cities, top hotels can easily blend one into another, all offering similarly luxurious guest rooms, amenities and facilities. It is rare however, to find an oasis in the midst of a thriving city where one can feel an escape from suffocating smog and loud sounds. The Shangri-la Beijing has maintained the Shangri-la Group’s motto of “Paradise_on_Earth.” Upon entering the grand marble lobby, the floor to ceiling chandeliers and impressive flower displays assure you that you have arrived at one of the city’s premier addresses. The exteriors though, belie a hotel that encases hidden treasures.

Take a leisurely stroll through one of Shang’s (as it is affectionately known by its loyal fans) many Chinese gardens, teaming with fragrant blossoms and lush greenery with barely a clue of the outside world. Guestrooms here are expansive, a sophisticated blend of contemporary design and Chinese accents, with gold artwork and classic Chinese calligraphy. Dark wood furniture contrasts the creamy fabrics, providing a soothing and relaxing escape from one of the modern world’s most developing capitals.

With eight venues to dine in, one must take time to appreciate each, from my personal favorite Shang Palace, offering amongst the best Chinese cuisine in the land, to the extensive international buffet at Cafe Cha, certain to please the most discerning palate. Afternoon tea in the Lounge is a fabulous indulgence not to be missed, with views that are quintessential to Shangri-la Hotels worldwide- floor to ceiling windows looking over an expansive garden.

Exclusive to Shang is the beautiful River Dragon Boat, an old style Chinese touring boat which will take you to the historic Summer Palace along the Imperial Route of the Kun Yu River, (passing centuries old temples, houses and bridges) where Emperors and Empresses once traveled. Voyage along the river on a quiet day (if there is such a thing in Beijing) and you may hear the ghosts of royal concubines whispering amongst the trees or feel like royalty yourself, remembering that those same waters once carried people who shaped the course of history.

If the life of royalty is appealing, then experience the award-winning CHI Spa- one of the best in China, offering enticing packages such as “The Indulgence of Time,” beginning with a Himalayan Bath Therapy, followed by the signature CHI full-body massage and purifying facial. Outside of Shang’s enclave, guests will be happy to know that the hotel is in a prime location, with the financial district, Summer Palace and Beijing Exhibition Centre all nearby. For those seeking both serenity and the thrill of people watching, Shangri-la is the perfect choice to call home in Beijing.

Shangri-La Beijing