After spending our first night in Beijing at the Hilton Beijing out in the Chaoyang district (SEE: Hilton Beijing Review), the kids and I hotel hopped to the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing, which is a lot more centrally located. As the name gives away, the hotel is located close to Wangfujing Stree, the pedestrianized shopping area that some see as the heart of Beijing. For our part, I was just primarily looking for a place that was in the center of the city, accommodating to three people in a room, and a good award deal.
The Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing fit the bill nicely. I used 70,000 Marriott points for our five nights. The nightly rate is only 17,500 Marriott points with the fifth night free versus a cash rate of about $145 per night, making it an excellent award deal, in my opinion. The hotel rate actually increased sharply the closer we got to departure, eventually becoming unavailable.
The Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing was actually one of the big winners during the SPG and Marriott merger. The price decreased from 25,000 points per night to its current rate of 17,500 points per night. I had to call in to adjust the price of our booking which was (amazingly) painless. Cash rates seem to fluctuate between about $130 and $200, depending on the dates.
With a central location near Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, and a base room capacity of 3 people available as an award, and the ability to leverage my Marriott status (SEE: Fast track status: how to sign up for a Marriott Platinum Challenge), the hotel was exactly what we needed.
Arriving at the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing
Since we’d been out all day exploring Chaoyang and arrived back to the Hilton later than anticipated, I opted for a taxi instead of hoofing it back to the metro. It was only about $3 more expensive. Entirely worth it, since it saved us walking our bags about 1,200 meters. Plus, we had a helpful concierge to relay the directions in Chinese. We arrived after a roughly 30-minute drive through Beijing just as the sun was setting. The staff at the door of the Renaissance were extremely helpful and courteous, even more so than I’ve experienced at upscale hotels in the United States, insisting on taking the bags, even though I initially told them no twice.
At the desk I inquired if there was a possibility of us being switched to a king room with a sofa bed or roll-away. This was rather unexpectedly shot down. If there is one thing I want my Platinum Premier status with Marriott to be good for, it is changing the room type (SEE: Fast track status: how to sign up for a Marriott Platinum challenge). I know I’d booked two doubles, and the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing considers this adequate for 3 people, but this would not be fun for 5 nights.
However, the agent countered with offering to put a roll-away bed into our double-double room. If they can do that, hey, I’m not gonna complain. I’ve just rarely heard of that being possible in rooms with two doubles or two queens. We were also told this was an upgraded room, but I don’t really know what the difference is between a “deluxe” room and a “premier” room. The hotel did also waive the roll-away charge of 155 CNY per night.
The front desk walked us to the elevator. We had a funny moment as she’d forgotten to give us the key. I managed to communicate that to her just as the door closed. A quick trip to the 10th floor and back down, and she was waiting with a key and ubiquitous apologies.
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing double-double room
While I sort of thought that Marriott Platinum Premier status would get us into a suite, a double double room with an extra bed was entirely sufficient. I suspect the fact that our stay was for 5 nights and not just 1 or 2 helped the desk make that decision. Or maybe it is the kids. Sometimes they help (SEE: My kids magically fixed United). Sometimes they don’t.
We were given room 948. The entryway has a closet and bench, and then opens into the room. The kids sure made themselves at home quickly.
Two double beds are sufficient when traveling with one child. With two kids, they are cramped. We had a mix-up at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley that resulted in a rather uncomfortable night (SEE: Claremont Hotel Berkeley Review). I think that was the last time I tried sharing a double bed with my 7-year-old son.
There was a welcome platter with fruit on it, which must be the Platinum “food and beverage amenity”. The lone bag of chips wasn’t included. I don’t remember how much it cost, but it was too much. My daughter wanted to eat them the whole time.
At the end of the room was the desk and a sitting area. The universal outlets at the desk were very much appreciated. I’d remembered to buy Type 1 plug adapters, but this just made everything easier.
We ended up having to basically sacrifice the sitting area to make room for the extra bed, which arrived about 20 minutes after we did.
It barely fit. I mean, just inches to spare. We had to do some serious puzzle-solving with the placement of the chairs and table (while not speaking the same language) to get it to fit. But it did.
I’m surprised that management was willing to put it in the room for us, but I’m so happy they did. I decided bringing up the fire code probably wasn’t best for all parties involved.
Another thing that came in handy was the clock charger with iPhone dock. It kept my phone alive. I’d left my charger at the Hilton Beijing. They contacted me about it while we were at the Renaissance, and I asked if they could mail it here. Never heard another word from them. So much for that. I had to buy another charger for $16 once we got to the Beijing Capital Airport that would get me through the remainder of the trip.
Below the counter with the chips and fruit was the minibar, stocked with a number of beverages, all too expensive for my taste.
The in-room coffee was a bit of a disappointment, as it is all instant. I recall the same thing in Europe at upscale hotels, which is perplexing. If there is anything that should be included at a nicer hotel, it is good in-room coffee. At least the lounge had decent coffee every morning.
The view from our room faced to the east, toward the new city and Wangfujing Street. No Forbidden Palace view for us.
My, what a bathroom!
While the room was nice enough, the bathroom was the most impressive. It was very spacious. The sink was in the middle, and glass partitions separate the toilet one side and the shower and tub on the other.
The shower was amazing. It is a rain shower over a stone slab and a small piece of heaven for me every morning. When I reach up I’m barely able to touch the shower head, so I wouldn’t worry about height issues if you’re on the tall side.
The tub is nice as well. It was near the window and there was a control for the shade if taking in a view of the city while you bathe is your thing.
Don’t be worried if you forgot any personal items. There were like four of everything in the drawer. And housekeeping brought us more of pretty much everything each day, to the point that we had like 20 little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion.
The only issue with the bathroom was the opaque door. It was already difficult enough not to disturb the kids in the morning with the light switches located outside the bathroom. But a door that lets light into the room is even more unhelpful.
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Breakfast
Buffet breakfast in available downstairs restaurant is 208 RMB for adults and 98 RMB for kids, plus a 15% service charge. We only ate downstairs once on the day we had to catch the tour bus to the Great Wall. The restaurant opens at 6:00 a.m. while the executive lounge opens at 6:30 a.m. With a 6:55 pick-up time, we would have been rushed eating in the lounge.
The downstairs buffet has a greater variety of options than the club lounge breakfast. The downside is that there is no magnificent view, nor are there really any attentive staff, like we experienced in the lounge.
The restaurant does have a great setting. There is an open kitchen, and you can watch the couple chefs while they work.
Just like the lounge upstairs (and the airport lounge, as we would later find out), there was a noodle station. Maybe I just don’t know that noodles for breakfast is the greatest thing ever, but they never seemed appealing. Plus, you seem to need to know what to concoct. Still a bit too intimidating for me.
There are too many other options to list, both western and Chinese. This is where I run into problems with the kids, as having 83 choices means they have to inspect them all before finally deciding on what to eat. Which ends up being the same every time: fruit, cereal and pastries, unless I make them eat some protein.
Off to one end there was a large selection of juices, plus the coffee machine. There were very few people at breakfast at the same time we were. I recall only seeing one other family.
The kids and I enjoyed breakfast here, but not yet knowing the hotel was going to waive the charge, we opted for the lounge the rest of the mornings.
Overall, the Renaissance Beijing offers a great hotel breakfast. But at over $30 per adult, I’d pass if I had to pay for it. Food in China is cheap.
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Club Lounge
The Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing has a club lounge on the 17th (top) floor. This is where we ate breakfast most mornings. They also serve a selection of food in the evening, something I was unaware of our first night. I figured there would be small bites, but this bordered on a passable dinner. It was described to us as a “happy hour” by the front desk.
The club lounge breakfast is very good. Even though it is a slightly trimmed down version of the restaurant breakfast, there are still plenty of options.
Thank goodness there were typical western options for the kids. I tried to get them to try some of the dim sum, cold cuts, and other non-standard (for us) items, but this was to no avail. At least there were other times during our trip where they *gasp* had to eat Chinese food.
The breakfast buffet was well tended by the attentive lounge staff. Dishes were never messy and everything was always well-stocked.
There is even salad for breakfast, including squash blossoms, if that is your thing.
It was a great breakfast every morning. The kids only complaint was that I didn’t let them drink coffee. But that has been a hard “no” for a while. Yet they still keep asking. *eyeroll*
The last great feature of the lounge is the view. You’re treated to the Forbidden City from the top-floor location. When the kids and I visited the Forbidden City on day four of our time in Beijing (SEE: 5 Days in Beijing: Day 4 – Tiananmen and the Forbidden City), I was able to point out the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing to them.
Other facilities and services
We’d forgotten the kids swimsuits (a major oops), so we didn’t end up spending any time in the pool. It was a bummer for them. I considered getting new ones, but the easier decision was just to skip and save our time for seeing Beijing. They’ll have a chance to swim on other trips. At least the lobby had a foosball table, where we killed some time almost every day upon returning from sightseeing.
There is also an exercise center on property, as well as a spa. We didn’t use either. The hotel also has conference venues, and there was a sign for the “Reinvented Toilet Expo” in the lobby one of the days we were there. I found this odd and funny enough to look up later. Turns out the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” is an ongoing project of Mr. Bill Gates, and he was even in town for this event during the first couple days we were in Beijing, just down the street from the hotel at the Guardian Art Center.
Parking at the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing costs 240 CNY per night (~$35). This is exactly equal to the 10 CNY hourly rate. I wouldn’t call this especially steep, but neither is it cheap. But this is moot anyway for the foreign traveler, as you need a Chinese driver’s license to drive in China.
The location of the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing is excellent for exploring the heart of Beijing. You are a reasonable walking distance from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Shopping and restaurants along Wangfujing and other nearby streets are also quite convenient. You can take a stroll down the Wangfujing snack street and be grossed out by some of the offerings there. Like scorpions on a skewer.
The Dongsi subway station is about a 10-minute walk from the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing and provides access to other Beijing sites fairly conveniently. This is the primary way we explored the city (SEE: 5 Days in Beijing: Day 2 – History and Hutongs). You could also catch some of the buses just down the street if they are convenient to where you going (and if you can navigate the system).
Convenience of transportation is always a major factor for me when booking a hotel, and I would rate the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing as very good for sightseeing in the Chinese capital. My one note on the subway is that you generally have to make a transfer (or two) due to how it is laid out, and transfers are never as simple as hopping off, heading across the platform, and onto another train. Platforms are typically a good 3-5 minute walk from each other.
Our stay at the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing was excellent overall. Five nights there is a fantastic way to spend 70,000 Marriott points. With breakfast and dinner included with status, it is a great value. Marriott has not truly wowed me yet with any upgrades, but our room at the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing was very nice, and perfectly adequate for our stay. The fact that they fit in an extra bed made all the difference.
My take might be different if I did not have Platinum Premier status with Marriott, but from our experience, I think the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing is an excellent pick for a visit to the Chinese capital.