Peninsula Hotels / American Airlines Trip
Shanghai and Beijing
Upon arrival in Shanghai, the group was efficiently received by a Peninsula hotel representative who led us to an awaiting motor-coach for the 45-minute transfer to the Peninsula Hotel on The Bund. The hotel enjoys an enviable location at the far end of The Bund with perfect views over the promenade and Huangpu River to futuristic looking Pudong side of Shanghai.
Beautiful, comfortable and very quiet rooms. Mechanical control of TV, drapes, lights done on a very easy touchscreen pad. Standard two-prong electric plugs in the desk and nightstand at the side of the extremely comfortable bed.
With a huge walk-in closet and dressing area which is a plus to many, the drawback to some is that this is completely separated
Walk-in closet and dressing area with makeup mirrors, blow dryer in left drawer and a portable nail dryer in the right drawer.
Dinner the first evening was in the 2 Michelin Star hotel restaurant Yi Long Court. Amazing dumplings, fish entrée and, a to die for crab-meat fried rice with vegetables.
We were met at the hotel by a tour guide with Gray Line Tours who led us on a morning excursion through the Puxi side of Shanghai. French Concession, Yu Yuan Gardens and ending up in the trendy XinTianDi area chocked full of restaurants, shops, outdoor cafes and coffee shops. We had lunch in the famous Din Tai Fung restaurant serving family style on a lazy-susan with dumplings and more.
After the tour, Caroline and I along with Corey from Peninsula Hotel Chicago walked from The Peninsula to The Waldorf Astoria for a quick site inspection of a couple of rooms. A large commercial hotel, but in a very classic Deco style building, housing accommodations in a Heritage building separate from the more contemporary Tower building. We also made it to The Bvlgari Hotel slated to open on June 20 2018. Unfortunately, we were not able to see any rooms as they were doing a deep cleaning in preparation for the hotel opening. It is a mix of old with new here, a Heritage building housing function and meeting rooms and an Italian restaurant, and the guest rooms or in the contemporary tower.
Dinner tonight in the 1 Michelin Star hotel restaurant Sir Elly’s. It was another very good meal and good and it was great that we had a private room because it got a little raucous once the drinking got serious. …… OY-YOH !! (as they say)
Breakfast on our own this morning then a short cooking class in the hotel kitchen to attempt making sticky rice dumplings. They were too sorry a sight undeserving of any photo so let’s move on!
After check-out, we bid farewell to Gracie and Pedro and the staff and boarded the motor-coach for a 40 minute transfer to the Hongqiao rail station. This train station is attached to the airport of the same name. My first experience in a high speed train in China, and I have to say it was a very pleasant experience. The ride that is …. The train station itself is a haven of havoc. Seeming almost as large as an airport check-in terminal, there are no platform signs in English so an escort here is a must.
The Peninsula Hotel was kind enough to send us off with a Bento box meal of a wrap and other condiments. There is food for purchase on the train brought around by attendants with airline-like carts. The trip of 4-1/2 hours made a couple of stops enroute, at speed of up to 220mph it was a very smooth relaxing ride. So much better than hassle of the airport and cramped quarters on plane!
A very hurried arrival at The Peninsula Beijing because we were very late for a dinner at the Cantonese restaurant Huang Ting. A beautiful space, rustic classic Chinese décor. The meal was very good but I’d be hard pressed to tell you what I had, it all went by so quickly! Even a roasted Peking duck was wheeled in, carved in 2 seconds then it was gone!
The all suite property is astounding. Although, somewhat disorienting is the fact that 3 floors of arcade shops make it seem as if you are in another mega-mall the Chinese so adore. The absence of a traditional hotel lobby here is a little odd. As you enter from street level, there is the Grand Staircase going up one level, a seating area with several 4 top tables for snacks and tea along with a piano played throughout the day and accompanying singer in the evenings.
Lovely and spacious suite accommodations here, desk with copy/fax machine is located just off of the living room. Again, standard US two-prong outlets in the desk for easy device charging. Separate bedroom (pocket doors dividing the rooms) from the living room … this bed was verrrrry comfortable and I loved the comforter!
This day was touring with China Tours. Weather was perfect but very hot, mid 90’s and sunny.
After our quick shuffle from one end to the other at The Forbidden City, we were off to The Summer Palace. I am thankful that Caroline suggested that we do a boat ride across the lake to the Palace and then tour from there. Once we departed the boat at the Summer Palace, we walked along a never ending covered walkway strewn with tourists sitting on the ledges and taking in the scenery of the lake.
Dinner this evening at the hotel in the Jing Restaurant (where breakfast buffet a plenty is served) and was a fun gathering of Sales directors.
Breakfast at the hotel, then we were off IN STYLE 😊 with Imperial Tours to see the Temple of Heaven and The Great Wall. Wow, what a difference a tour company makes! We were driven in a luxury motor-coach with a fantastic driver and the guide, John, could not have been more cordial, personable and fun to be with … oh and informative as well!
From The Temple of Heaven it was about an hour drive to lunch outside the city at a unique restaurant named Green T Living. All dishes are infused one way or another with green tea and while the inside décor us somewhat unusual it by no means steals the show from the dishes served.
After lunch it was back on to the luxury motorcoach for a 2 hour (naptime for some!) drive to the Jinshangjin No. 8 area of The Great Wall of China. Again, having been here before I was once again awestruck by the sheer immensity of this structure.
After a walk along the wall and climb up to another of the towers we headed back to the tower in this photo at the top where we were rewarded with a very nice buffet spread of food and drink to enjoy the late afternoon sun. There was literally no other tourists at this section of the wall which amazed me. My previous visit in 2005 was at a section which was flooded with at least 1000 people all fighting for space on the steps and photo ops. Again, kudos to Imperial Tours for having access to this special area and the tower where the buffet was. Simply awesome.
AA had us scheduled on the PEK/LAX flight departing at 5:20pm.
I am very glad that I had the opportunity to experience this trip but I firmly believe that all of the credit should go to Corey Ufberg and The Peninsula Hotels in Shanghai and Beijing for their outstanding hospitality and warm receptions. Also, Imperial Tours for making the touring so wonderful in Beijing.