While the bulk of my time in Beijing was spent at the Westin Chaoyang, I did one night at the Beijing Marriott Northeast. I chose to spend my last night in Beijing here. There were a couple of reasons that it made sense to do so. First off, I needed one more night for Marriott’s megabonus promo (yes – i am a fan of Marriott Rewards!). Second, the rate was about $50 US cheaper than the Westin I was staying at, and it even included a 300RMB hotel credit. This credit could be used toward transportation so I figured I would just book a car to the airport through the hotel, and then between the credit and the lower rate, I’d be saving my company some money. Finally, I was just curious to see what the property looked like.
It was quite a trek on foot from the Westin to the Marriott, and the hotel concierge at the Westin didn’t recommend that I walk it, but I got myself into a funny financial situation that I didn’t feel like messing with. What do I mean? Well, it was the night before my flight back to the States, and I didn’t get as good of a deal at Silk Road for my mom’s fake purse as I hoped I would. That left me with only 7 RMB in coins. I could just go to the ATM and get more cash, but then I would get nailed with the ATM fee, and then I’d be converting it right back to dollars the next day, and so I’d get hit with the conversion fee as well. I had already planned on eating dinner at the Marriott that night, and my car service would be booked through the hotel so I was not going to go to the ATM for just a lousy cab ride! Thus, I walked.
Arriving at the Marriott is not quite the same experience as arriving at the Westin. While it’s a tall building, it is flanked by office buildings, and it can be tough to see until you’re right in front of it. The ceilings are not very high in the lobby, and it was a little bit smokey when I first stepped in there, a pet peeve of mine. I walked up to the front desk, and I began the check-in progress. After a couple moments, the agent informed me that platinum check-in took place in the lounge and that I should head up there. She accompanied me to the lounge on the top floor, and I checked in there. I suppose this is a nice touch, but to be honest, it took me twice as long to check in, and there wasn’t any special treatment up there. I got my room, which was fairly large, but it didn’t seem to be upgraded or anything like that.
I turned the lights on in my room and it immediately sounded like someone had turned on an electric chair, at least in the movies…. can’t say I’ve witnessed one in person! So I grabbed all my luggage and went back up to the lounge to get a new room assignment. My new room had the same floorplan as the old one. However, now instead of looking out over a construction site, I now looked directly into the window of an office building. I’m not sure which view is preferrable. I’d probably pick the construction site… less chance of face to face contact.
I was so exhausted from two weeks of working late nights that I decided that I would just take it easy and go for a walk. I walked the direction opposite of the Westin, and I didn’t find too much, but it was nice to get some fresh air (fresh being a relative term, considering I was in Beijing). Actually, I did walk by an interesting gated community. It was a gated housing complex, surrounded by high fences and security guards, where all the houses inside looked like suburban houses from the USA. Maybe this was some type of ex-pat housing?
Coming back to the Marriott, I popped up to the lounge to relax for a bit before dinner. There were a few hot items, and the chef there was making “made to order” fried rice, but seriously, this was the most pathetic fried rice I have ever seen. He might as well have used tweezers add ingredients. Every time I asked for more, he would use his spatula to tweeze just a few more specs of shrimp or onion in there. This lounge was a big disappointment compared to the awesome, two-story lounge at the Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park. In any case, I had some work to do before my return back to the USA so this was not a bad spot to get some work done.
View from the Lounge
I ate dinner at the Indian restaurant in the hotel, and I went to bed to rest up for my final day of travels. When I woke up, I popped down to the gym to go for a jog. The gym was above average for a Marriott, but it didn’t compare to the Westin’s fitness complex. It did the job just fine, though, and after the gym, I went to go check out the indoor pool. Once again, it was a disappointment in comparison to the Westin. The pool had that musty indoor pool smell, and it was hot and muggy in there. Oh well – at least I had breakfast to look forward to…
Or so I thought. It was actually Easter Sunday… and the hotel was doing an Easter brunch in the main restaurant. I was told that as part of my Platinum package, I could eat breakfast for free either in the lounge or in the restaurant. Well if they’re going to do a big Easter brunch, I’ll take the restaurant. Now here’s where it gets funny / crappy. What kind of restaurant tries to run a buffet brunch and a buffet breakfast at the same time, with different selections? Answer: The Beijing Marriott Northeast. I sat down at a table for breakfast, and grabbed an omelette and potatoes to start. For my second helping, I noticed some shrimp cocktails that looked good. I went to grab one, and the host quickly informed me that this was for brunch customers, and that I was just having a free breakfast so I could not eat that. What the heck?
Meanwhile, they were in the process of taking down the breakfast stuff so they were mostly out of that now. I went to the dessert area to get a tart, and somehow, the staff member there knew that I wasn’t part of the brunch service too! When I asked for a fruit tart, he promptly responded with, “No – that not for you.” I was getting annoyed at this point. Nobody ever told me that despite there being one restaurant and one buffet, I would be limited to sub-sections of the buffet. I could not find anyone to complain to, and I didn’t know what to ask for… perhaps making my breakfast more free?
I got pissed off, and just walked out – I figured I would just take my car service to the airport and hang out in the lounge instead. Thus, my fantastic journey to China ended on a sour note, courtesy of the Beijing Marriott Northeast.