I’d been eagerly awaiting my first stay at a Raffles Hotel, one of the most renowned hotel chains in the world. The boutique hotel started operations with the famous Raffles Singapore, and has since spread to several corners of the globe. Famous for incredible service with a classical touch, the hotel was sure to impress!
This one of the final components of the November trip:
- Singapore Airlines Premium Economy (Sydney – Singapore)
- Singapore Airlines Economy (Singapore – Beijing)
- Hilton Wangfujing, Beijing
- Air Koryo Economy (Beijing – Pyongyang)
- Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang
- Hyangsan Hotel, North Pyongyang
- Tour of North Korea
- Air China Economy (Pyongyang – Beijing)
- Raffles Beijing
- Hong Kong Airlines Economy (Beijing – Hong Kong)
- Singapore Airlines Economy (Hong Kong – Singapore)
- Singapore Airlines Premium Economy (Singapore – Sydney)
Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by the Raffles Butlers who took our luggage and showed us to the check-in desk. The attendant at check-in was slightly underwhelming, and failed to inform us of all the room and hotel features. He also presented us our room keys, slotted into a classy Raffles card holder.
The hotel’s lobby is spectacular, with high ceilings, plush carpets, polished marble and stunning chandeliers. The building is one of Beijing’s oldest, and the hotel has maintained the traditional charm well.
We were booked in an Executive Deluxe room, which featured a larger room space as well as access to the Executive Club Lounge.
The room had a separate living room and bedroom, with a large bathroom between. The living area featured a couch, study area, TV, coffee table and lounge chair. This room’s bed area simply had two queen beds as well as a TV unit.
The bathroom was expansive, with twin sinks, ample wardrobe space, a separate shower and bath tub.
Technology wise, the bedside tables had a complex-looking control panel with buttons that controlled temperature and lighting throughout the room. It was more or less functioning, however several aspects were difficult to use. Some buttons controlled things other than what they labelled, making it difficult to use. There was also a lack of power points near the bedside, making charging a phone/ tablet very difficult. The power points that were at the bedside had power controlled by this control panel, and we found them to be labelled as some sort of room light.
Furthermore, as we experienced at the Hilton Wangfujing, air conditioning control is very limited. In large buildings in China, air conditioning systems are state-regulated. As a result, changing the temperature on the control panel has limited to no effect. Thankfully, though, there are window vents that could be opened to let in fresh air.
We noticed that a turndown service occurs at some point in the evening. When we were out for the evening and returned, we found the bed corners turned over, slippers placed on a mat next to the bed, curtains closed and fresh water bottles placed at the bedside. They’re such little details which may often go unnoticed, but are what make the Raffles, the Raffles.
Hotel amenities are a little conservative, but of very high quality. The usual shampoos, conditioners and soaps are available, as well as sewing kits and shower caps. They were replenished daily. What is really breathtaking is the Raffles stationery. The welcome compendium featured incredibly high quality paper, postcards and envelopes, with the Raffles logos carefully imprinted. The laundry and welcome items were placed in a tray on the bed, and also featured a small card with a story about Raffles. This story card was changed each day to give the guests something new to read at night. Very nice touch.
Possibly the highlight of the stay was the Executive Club Lounge. Located just outside our room, it featured plush seating and carpet in a quiet and oriental atmosphere. Complimentary soft drinks, tea, coffee and refreshments are offered throughout the day, with complimentary alcohol and more generous food servings made available in the evenings. I also got to know the attendant very well. He was incredibly welcoming and greeted me by name each time I entered. On the final night, he handed me my business card, took my email down, booked a taxi to the airport and offered to take care of check-out in the morning.
The room also included daily buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The choice was incredibly generous and of a high quality. Possibly due to high guest numbers and low staff numbers, though, made-to-order coffee and tea was rather slow.
It’s also worth noting that staying in an executive room comes with several other perks, including complimentary pressing of 2 items-per-day, discounted laundry and discounted drinks/ food at the hotel bar/ restaurant. We took advantage of this at the Writers Bar, which was surprisingly empty.
Service is astounding at the Raffles, with incredibly friendly and helpful butlers/ concierge/ bell staff. They all remembered us each time we entered the hotel and greeted us with “welcome back”. The concierge were also very helpful at taking care of tour bookings and other requests.
A stay at the Raffles Beijing will not disappoint. It definitely lived up to the Raffles name, and I look forward to staying at more Raffles hotels in the future.