Aman at Summer Palace, located by Beijing’s historic garden estate, is an exclusive, hidden gem. Whether you are visiting the Northern Capital on a ‘once-in a lifetime’ trip or are a Beijing resident wishing to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, at Aman you will find luxury, elegance and tradition in a spectacular location.
Nestled on the east corner of the Summer Palace, Aman shares the same architecture and style as the imperial estate. On the shores of the Kunming lake, the Summer Palace was the favourite residence of Cixi, the Empress Orchid, in the late XIX Century. Empress Cixi used to spend the summer months here, to escape the Forbidden City’s oppressive heat.
But Aman is equipped to cater guests all year round. I visited the exclusive boutique hotel in winter and the welcoming, friendly staff and cosy atmosphere all over were very inviting. Aman is built with traditional materials and decorated with Ming dynasty style furniture and accessories, adding a regional touch and a feel of the imperial period. The suites and rooms, which surround internal courtyards, are crisscrossed by pathways separating beautiful gardens in the shade of ancient trees.
Because of this privileged location, you can visit the Palace before the crowds arrive, and after they have left, giving you the chance to enjoy its quintessential peace and beauty. After exploring every secret corner of the Palace, you can return to the hotel to relax in the finest spa facilities, dip in the clear waters of the indoor swimming pool, enjoy a massage and treatment or cleanse your mind and spirit in this sanctuary of peace.
For families with children, Aman offers a crib service, so you can enjoy your activities knowing that your family are being looked after. Older children will also find themselves entertained with a variety of activities, like traditional Chinese kite making or watching movies at the wonderfully equipped theatre.
If learning about traditional Chinese culture is on your wish list, the Cultural Pavilion offers a wide range of classes and demonstrations on arts such as calligraphy, Chinese painting and tea ceremony.
If, like me, you live in Beijing and would like to celebrate a special occasion or anniversary, you can dine at one of Aman’s exclusive restaurants. ‘Naoki’ serves French food with Japanese culinary artistry; The Grill features Western cuisine; and the Chinese restaurant serves Peking duck, imperial dishes and Cantonese cuisine. Afterwards, you can retire to the Cigar room, in the bar, where you can enjoy a pure Cuban and fine whisky, while admiring the beautiful collection of antique pipes and the serene pond in the centre of the courtyard.
At Aman you will experience paradisiacal calm and elegance within close proximity of all the wonders that Beijing has to offer all-year-round.
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Photos: Chelin Miller (2nd and 4th), Aman Resort (1 and 3rd)