The Peninsula Palace Hotel
The Palace Hotel, now the Peninsula Palace Beijing, is exactly what one expects from a Peninsula hotel in the Far East. This should not be taken to mean that a stay at the Palace is a predictable experience, in the way that the average chain hotel experience is canned and uninspiring; rather that a visitor here may rightly expect to encounter the extremely high standard of service for which the Peninsula hotels have become known. A foolish consistency may be, as Emerson said, the hobgoblin of little minds; but the brand of consistency practiced by the Peninsula is anything but foolish.
The Palace is just a short walk from Tiananmen Square, perhaps not such an auspicious location upon its opening in 1989. But in today's Beijing, the political (if not trade) capital of this most rapidly developing of nations, a business hotel could hardly ask for a better location - the Palace is right in the center of the city, surrounded by such landmarks as the Museum of Chinese History, the Great Hall of the People, and Mao's mausoleum. The bustling Chaoyang commercial district (home to many of the foreign embassies) is just to the east, and the major shopping districts are also close at hand.
The Peninsula Palace Beijing is a five-star hotel, of course - in fact, if "five-star" simply means that all conceivable amenities are accounted for, then this may as well be a six-star hotel. Everything in the guest rooms is entirely operable from the bedside control panel, including lighting, climate control, and the television (42" plasma screens, in certain rooms). And for those who need help deciding what to wear, another panel by the front door displays outside temperature and humidity.
This Ain't the JW Shanghai...
This is a solid hotel. Whether it is up there with the cream of the crop in the 5 star family of luxury/premier hotels is debatable - think the flagship Peninsula HK, the Ritz Carlton, JW Marriott and Grand Hyatt in Shanghai, the Oriental & Regent in Bangkok. I am not thinking the Peninsula Palace Beijing.
My comments are minor 1s but when the barometer of comparision is set by such outstanding properties as those noted above, they are noticeable. Staff to guest ratio was good but nothing out of the ordinary, always had to wait for cabs, the concierges seemed overwhelmed at times, construction around the building started at 7am each morning so one had no choice but to get up (& could also not take an afternoon nap), the drainage in the bathroom was like my old college dorm room. Again, nothing severe but chinks in the armour of any 5 star contender.
Huang Ting / Chinese rest. was excellent - both quality & value wise. Conversation-interrupting Peking duck. I have to stop thinking about the duck now... I also went to the famous Peking duck rest. on the busy street behind T. Sq / Mao's maus. that every guidebook &/or mag/newspaper articles mentions (I think opened since the late 1800s). It's ok. But so is a Toyota Camry & if i can pay the same price I'd rather have the Lexus. You pay the same amount but the quality of the duck & the service cannot be compared without tempting ridicule from little children. Zing, the other rest., is where breakfast is served - as the other reviews on this site note, excellent. Lots of choice - from western food to dim sum. Gets busy in the rush hour morning traffic though (seems to be a lot of tour groups at this hotel). However, the rest. is also highly rated for it's dinners (Conde Nast ranked i think) - my sis tried it out for dinner but she has yet to give me the thumbs up or down.
Conclusion: if you can get a decent rate, go for it. Otherwise, you may want to check out the Hyatt (connected to the Oriental Plaza - great food court here!)