Banking on heritage and cuisine

By Xu Lin ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-07-19 10:27:11

Banking on heritage and cuisine

A lobby in Raffles Beijing reflects the grand traditions of the hotel. Provided to China Daily

Beijing has always attracted visitors with its long history, rich cultural heritage and delicious cuisine. It also boasts a wide variety of hotel choices, ranging from backpacker basics to edifices that are attractions by themselves.

Whether your interest is in history, cuisine or just exploring the city, Beijing has something to offer.

To experience the best of Beijing's past, the Raffles Beijing Hotel is an excellent starting point, being walking distance to Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City. It is at the heart of the capital's business and commercial districts, and just a few kilometers from Beihai Park and the famous Silk Market.

Established in the early 1900s, the hotel has been the choice of visiting royalty, diplomats and celebrities for almost 100 years.

At the historic La Vie lobby lounge stands a century-old piano. It is witness to the hotel's heyday when foreign and Chinese celebrities, such as Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, gathered for balls and meetings.

In more modern times, Americans, including former president Jimmy Carter, actress Meryl Streep and designer Anna Sui have stayed here.

While Raffles banks on its historic links, Swissotel Beijing offers food adventures. The hotel offers a Chinese-style pavilion surrounded by water where guests can sample the cuisine served to the aristocracy of the past.

Fondue, a Swiss specialty, is also a signature offering here.

Cheese fondue has been served here for 20 years, right from day one when the hotel was established. Those who know testify to the chef's commitment to authenticity.

For those in Beijing for a quick business trip, Fairmont Beijing is a really convenient choice.

Besides its location at Beijing's central business district, its suites are designed for fast-paced living. Fairmont Beijing also subscribes to a green philosophy, and the hotel provides BMW bicycles for guests to bike around the city, thoughtfully paired with the proper gear like Reebok sports shoes, T-shirts and pants.

Guests can download biking routes from a special app designed for Fairmont.

Fairmont's food is versatile and its Asian restaurant offers Cantonese cuisine and an excellent Peking duck. You can watch the whole roasting process at its open kitchen, or learn how to slice the Peking duck with the chef.

Fairmont Beijing is owned by the Reignwood Group, and guests may be lucky enough to visit the owner's private museum, which displays his art collections and is a showroom for his extensive wine collections.

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