Rooms start at 1,300 renminbi (about $213, at 6.1 renminbi to the dollar).
For years, the Shangri-La's Kerry Center Hotel in Beijing was a popular destination for the upscale business traveler. Then about a year and a half ago, the company reopened the hotel as the 486-room Kerry Hotel, the second in its new portfolio of "vibrant, unpretentious" hotels for the traveler seeking an "energetic vibe." (The first was the Kerry Hotel Shanghai, which opened in February 2011.) The extreme comfort of the newly redone surroundings more than made up for the noise of the renovations, in progress when I stayed there last year.
It's in the central business district, making this a prime spot for business travelers. Yet because the hotel is linked to the Kerry Center, an upscale mall that has shops, restaurants and bars, it is convenient for tourists as well.
My room, on the club level, was meticulously designed with the traveler's requirements. Need to do some work? There's a drawer filled with paper clips, a ruler, pencils, a stapler and stationery. Need to charge your gadgets? Pull back a slender panel underneath the 40-inch LED television, and you'll find a row of electrical outlets. There's a Bose sound dock, a coffee maker and a DVD player (you can borrow DVDs from the concierge). Everything in the minibar is free.
The bed -- just firm and soft enough -- was incredibly comfortable, too. The leather clock by the bed was a nice old-school touch. So were free shoe shines. (We sent a pair around midnight, requesting them back at 8 a.m., and they showed up on the dot.)
With a built-in TV in the mirror, a bathtub and a rain forest shower, L'Occitane toiletries and an entire drawer filled with items like shaving cream, toothbrushes and even a scrunchie for your hair, I was already satisfied.
But the toilet won my heart: this Toto gizmo came with a panel of buttons allowing you to conjure water to wash and massage various bits. One drawback: because of its proximity to the door, any movement near it caused the automated lid to pop up. When you find yourself saying things like "Not now, dear," to a toilet, it can't be good.
Besides a 24-hour gym, the fitness center includes a large indoor swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, a sauna and Jacuzzi. The old Shangri-La's popular Centro bar (where you can hear live jazz) is still alive and kicking, and the hotel has two restaurants (the Horizon, a Chinese restaurant, and the pan-Asian Kerry's Kitchen) and a deli, Kerry's Pantry. Wireless Internet in rooms is free, and those on the club level have access to a lovely happy hour where wine is served along with a buffet of finger sandwiches, hot treats and (my favorite) a big tray of slabs of chocolate complete with a mallet for you to break off whatever you want.
The club-level breakfast included with our room was a spread that included a vast selection of pastries (some came studded with refreshing dragonfruit), cheeses, cold cuts, sushi, cereal, smoked fish as well as congee, steamed dumpling and eggs-to-order stations. Additionally, you could order waffles, French toast or noodles from your table. I sampled the divine "Beijing noodle," which came topped with minced pork cooked with salty soy bean paste.
With its sheer size, the Kerry experience could feel cold and corporate. Not so. The very attentive service, comfort and terrific amenities make for a warm and very inviting stay.
Kerry Hotel 1 Guanghua Road; (86-10) 6561-8833; shangri-la.com/en/property/beijing/kerry. CHERYL LU-LIEN TAN
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.