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Surprising sights at the Bulgari Suite, Beijing's most spectacular new hotel suite

John O'Ceallaigh
The Bulgari Hotel Beijing's Bulgari Suite - TOMMY-PICONE

Should the dignitaries and VIPs who check in to the Bulgari Beijing hotel’s Bulgari Suite be visiting the Chinese capital for the first time, what might surprise them most is the perspective it offers on this notoriously congested city. Set in the capital’s embassy district, the hotel overlooks a sweep of grand low-rise residences all enshrouded by trees and shrubbery, and a little river that was populated with relaxed swimmers enjoying respite from the summer heat when I visited last month.

The vista could almost be described as soothing, and it’s easy to imagine that some jetsetting, jet-lagged celebrity might fleetingly mistake that unexpected expanse of greenery, buffered eventually by a spread of skyscrapers in the distance, for Central Park. The tranquillity jolts when you expect to find yourself in the midst of a megalopolis.

A different perspective: the view of Beijing from the suite's lounge area Credit: Tommy Picone

The suite’s other attributes are probably more in keeping with guests’ expectations. Opened in September 2017, the hotel has been designed - like the five other properties in the Bulgari portfolio - by Italian architects Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel. Its best suite (at 380 square metres, huge for a one-bedroom in Beijing) offers the ultra-glossy, expensive aesthetic that is something of a brand hallmark.

Flooring is black granite; the immense bathroom, with its plunge pool-sized Jacuzzi bathtub, is finished in green onyx; a private spa area includes a treatment room, sauna and gym equipment. (There’s a generously sized, well-equipped kitchen, too, although I was told none of the previous guests has ever made use of it.)

Irene Kung's photography is on prominent display throughout the suite

Along with those views, my favourite features were the custom-made crystal chandeliers - two dazzling crowns descending from the living room’s double-height ceilings - and a series of remarkable black and white photographs by Italy-based Irene Kung. Her images show ancient and enduringly beautiful Roman and Beijing attractions side by side.

The suite's bedroom

That simple, stirring tribute to both cities is one that provides a welcome sense of place, something that isn’t always adequately provided by Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel’s designs. While each Bulgari property contains signature features - an oval bar, moored like a sailboat in the centre of the room, for example, or a fireplace in the lobby - idiosyncratic flourishes that reference the locality were less conspicuous in the two other Bulgari properties I have stayed in (London and Shanghai) and they at times felt austere and tough rather than truly inviting.

In Beijing a slightly softer palette, coupled with a buzzy, welcoming lobby and pleasant garden, planted with Chinese pines, bamboo and peach trees, work wonders. It feels good to be here.

The hotel lobby Credit: Tommy Picone

The market seems to have responded enthusiastically, too. Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin told me the success of his company’s hotels would be measured in part by whether they were able to charge the highest room rates in their locations. Bulgari Hotel Beijing achieved that distinction within three months of opening, despite stiff competition from the relatively new Rosewood Beijing and the recently revamped Peninsula Beijing.

Guests who opt for Bulgari will also have access to the hotel’s highly advanced Workshop Gymnasium and spa and while European clients might lament the lack of an interesting Chinese eatery, the property’s Il Ristorante Niko Romito serves accomplished Italian dishes and has attracted the attention of the city’s upper classes.

A rarity in Beijing, the hotel has a garden where aperitivo is served in the evening

Venturing out for Peking duck does, at least, give you the opportunity to avail of complimentary transfers in one of the hotel’s Maseratis, and during my stay the concierge team did a good job of sourcing guides and facilitating access to the city’s most famous attractions.

But it’s likely that even the most seamlessly arranged tour will be mired in traffic and delays, inevitabilities in such a massive city but ones that make an eventual return to the property, and the almost pastoral views that envelop it, all the more welcome.

City-view rooms at Bulgari Hotel Beijing start at £396, while river-view rooms start at £500. The Bulgari Suite starts at £17,065.