Beijing –so rich in history and culture– has been written about by countless poets, novelists, and artists of all kind; and yet words are always lacking when one tries to accurately describe this chaotically spectacular city. The term ‘majestic’ does not do justice to the beauty of the capital of China, but no word gets closer to describe this awe-inspiring and breathtaking Beijing.
A city of castles, temples, walls, skyscrapers, hutons, and highways, Beijing is everything that one would expect China to be: a enthralling yet sometimes confusing mélange of the past and the present, of age-old traditions and hubs of innovation, of exquisite food and luxurious hotels, of small paved streets with wooden houses and vast, eternal avenues. The vibrant heart of a vibrant country, Beijing is a destination that inspires in every traveller a perpetual state of enchantment.
Also known as Yihe Yuan or ‘Gardens of Nurtured Harmony’, the Summer Palace was built in 1750. This beautiful 290-hectare garden estate long served the Qing Dynasty as an imperial summer retreat, and today is considered one of China’s most peaceful and photogenic sites.
Just steps from the UNESCO-protected Summer Palace grounds lies Aman Summer Palace, the ideal location from which to discover Beijing. A serene retreat, with peaceful internal courtyards embracing traditional Chinese architecture, the 51-Suite resort is housed in a series of pavilions. Some date back over a century and were originally used by guests of the Empress Dowager Cixi.
The hotel concierge, with a golden key, opens a discreet door a few steps from my room and the Summer Palace stands before me. The whole experience would seem to be fantasy, here we are royalty, completely and totally immersed in the luxurious past of this glorious monument to beauty.
A hotel like no other - if the term 'hotel' applies to this historical work of art - Aman Summer Palace is a portal to the past. From its excellent cuisine, where we can taste the most typical dishes of the area, such as the exquisite Peking Duck, to its authentic activities and tea ceremonies, Aman immerses us completely, our mind leaving the rest of the world and all our senses focused on the wonders that are unleashed before us.