THE BACKGROUND: Part of Swire Hotels Group, which owns The Upper House in Hong Kong, this stylish property was designed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. With just 99 rooms it's a stand- out concept in China, where size rules.
WHERE IS IT? Beijing's leafy, well-to-do embassy district Sanlitun, at the heart of prestigious retail project The Village, a polished collection of shops and cafés. Also close to The Bookworm, a legendary bolt- hole for literature-loving expats seeking a decent cup of coffee/glass of merlot.
THE HOTEL: On entering the hotel I pondered its choice of name, because after negotiating the streets of Beijing it was like arriving in an alternative universe. Contrasting with the heavy wooden doors, which are a reminder of the Forbidden City, the open lobby is light and futuristic. Striking modern art hinting at traditional Asian themes illuminates the space. With no front desk, we're checked in off-the-hoof by stylishly dressed staff who hand us designer mineral water. There is no set check-in or out time.
THE ROOM: Minimalist and simple with floor-to-ceiling windows, blank white walls and linens and natural wood floors (heated) and furnishings, including the bath tub. A separate glass-cased shower, a sofa for lounging, a desk for working, LCD TV, free mini-bar and Wi-FI, iPod docking station and entertainment system.
THE RESTAURANT: Breakfast is in the light and airy Village Cafe, where chefs cook in an open kitchen. An impressive menu includes salmon and zucchini fritters. Guests can help themselves from a buffet of crusty breads, pastries, cereal, fruit, cheese and cold meats. There's also the Mediterranean-style Sureño and Bei, which specialises in northern Asian dishes. Hotel bar Mesh is dark and moody, with chain maille dividers and low leather seats, where the present and wannabe cool of Beijing come to mingle and be seen.
FACILITIES: Fitness room with free weights and technogym® equipment, a 22-metre stainless steel pool, two massage treatment rooms and a juice bar.
THE COST: RRMB1,950 (£185) + 15 per cent without breakfast, RMB2,070 (£197) + 15 per cent including breakfast.
THE DETAILS: Tel: + 8610 6417 6688
Enjoy edgy art in the form of a light switch, or sipping chilli and watermelon martinis Sex and the City-style? This is as good as it gets. If mood lighting puts you in a bad mood, forget it!
Journalist, Selling Long Haul