Posh hotels are great, but they can also be snooty, overly formal and intimidating. For those of you who don't revel in this sense of grandeur (and no lie, a lot of us here at
freaking love it), Hotel Jen brings all the luxury with none of the fuss.
With a prime location in the Central Business District and with picture-postcard perfect views of the CCTV building, Jen seems to position itself as a luxe hotel for the Instagram generation, with a design-focused ethos and the kind of boutique, airy feel that we can imagine would make staying here an easy-breezy pleasure. It's also parked right next to the newest bit of the China World Mall
, so you can get some serious shopping done during your stay.
What's there? Coworking is the latest trend, and Jen has a natty space called Prototype where you can do just that, complete with café, snug little pods for collaborative brainstorming and an open-plan layout that seems like two-fingers up to conventional office rigidity. There's also some meeting rooms with whiteboard walls and (in what might be a Beijing workplace first) soft, pleasant lighting.
We had a peek into both a normal guest room and a suite, which were accordingly relaxed and cosy, with some the plushest beds we're ever had the luxury of plonking our butts down on. The suite even had a bathtub directly looking over the Third Ring Road behind privacy glass, which gave us the sudden and overwhelming urge to chuck in some bubbles, grab a glass of bubbly and, like Mufasa and Simba, survey our glorious domain.
Bet you guys didn't even have a complementary espresso machine.
The Trainyard Gym
looks incredible. State-of-the-art machines, more of those overwhelming views and the aircon whacked on full combine to make the kind of workout experience that even the laziest of gym rats could enjoy, and the space is enormous. There's even a boxing ring, which makes us want to glove up and pummel our frustrations away.
Two words: swimming pool. It's 25 metres long, refilled with crystal-clear water every day according to staff, and it was the least we could do not to strip naked and dive in there and then. There's also a whirlpool, which we weren't as keen on exploiting on the simple basis that, once enveloped in its tauntingly pleasant aerated waters, we might never want to get out and thus end up unemployed.
Not into fitness? Don't worry, as Hotel Jen provides plenty of scope for calorific indulgence. We ate in San Wu Tang, a Chinese buffet restaurant serving up unexpected favourites, like fancified jian bing and malatang, as well as noodles, sweet and sour and other tourist-friendly dishes.
The carving station, featuring a hulking great slab of robustly seasoned pork, was a particular highlight. We also loved the salad bar, and loaded up on kale and beetroot salad, some tasty chunks of cold meat and a drizzle of lemon dressing. Dessert was simple and sprightly; we plumped for a sly serving of compote-topped panna cotta, but there was also yoghurt, fruit, mousses and a serve-your-own froyo machine which we can picture being used and abused by younger guests at the hotel.
There's also sleazily delicious gastropub food, like stacked burgers, ribs and freakshakes, available in the Beersmith Gastropub, which we're sure will appeal to the hungry after-work crowd (us. We mean us). Beersmith also brews its own beer (and even a rather unusual hopped cider, which definitely grows on you after a few mouthfuls) and has some excellent drinks deals and even an in-house band, which is great if you're into saxophone playing over a bangin' '90s dance track.
We say We're pretty into this new concept from the Shangri-La group. Because of the hotel's chilled-out vibe, it should appeal to a slightly younger crowd. It's laid-back without sacrificing the sense that visitors are really treating themselves.
Next time we fancy a staycation – which is literally all the time – we're going to be staying with Jen.