I’ve had my fair share of hotel horror stories. Probably my best one was when someone started a small fire in the room opposite mine… at 3am. But that’s a story for another time. Recently, I was asked to stay with the Opposite House in Beijing and within seconds, my mind immediately flew into the clouds about what it would be like to meet David Beckham; a frequenter of the Opposite House. We’d obviously fall in love. What he would do with his wife and kids is beyond me, but you make sacrifices for your one true love. Obviously.
So when reviewing hotels, I always like to consider the 6 F’s…
Facilities, Fixtures, Facility, Fitness, Food, Freebies
The Opposite House is designed like an art museum… if a museum had style. All of the installations are replaced every few months so you’ll always see something new. The floor-to-ceiling windows create an airy vibe and you’ll rarely find a fully divided room because it would suffocate the creativity that the palace inspires… I mean hotel. But seriously, it looks like a palace.
My room was posh and minimalist. My German boyfriend thought it was incredibly exciting (he would) and we both appreciated the no-nonsense furniture and decorations. The blankets and pillows felt like dreams and the bath products smelled like my next paycheck. I’m a total addict when it comes to lemongrass-scented anything so I immediately followed up with management about where I could purchase these bath products.
One issue that I had with the room is the fact that it echoes like crazy! Maybe it’s because of the hardwood floors, but my whispers carried to the other side of the room immediately and potentially through the door. However, this is perfect for yelling at your significant other to stop watching soccer and to pay more attention to the important things you need to show him or her on Instagram.
The bathroom was a DREAM and I took full advantage of the tub with the complementary bath salts provided. Recently, I’ve been working 70 hours a week and I took an hour to enjoy the complimentary bath salts and this luxurious bathtub while music hummed throughout the room.
When we came back to the room after dinner, there were two facial masks next to the bed that read, “Been a long day?”… I’m assuming someone was listening to us the entire time (because of the echoes) and I’m not even mad about it.
I’m rarely impressed by service in China. Everyone is constantly busy on his or her phones, the language barrier makes it difficult to communicate your needs, and what is or isn’t “rude” is judged by completely different standards. As in there are no standards. But at the Opposite House everyone had a smile. Everyone looked me directly in the eye. And EVERYONE spoke some degree of English, if not several different languages.
But I would EXPECT a fabulous star boutique hotel to have these things. So I put the staff to the test.
So I had a 问题 or “problem” that I confronted the staff with. I needed a bullet train or flight that left in 3 or 4 days, with two seats available, and I was on a serious budget. Where it was going didn’t matter because I was going to take a second train from there, but it needed to be outside of Beijing and heading south. An employee named “Kate” went above and beyond the call of duty. She checked nearly every listing imaginable for me! Hard sleepers, soft sleepers, bullet trains, flights, hard seats, soft seats, and even by donkey (I’m assuming). She spent a good HOUR trying to help me and eventually we found something that worked and she booked it for me.
Things like this don’t just happen. When I was in Qingdao, their staff just told me “good luck” and to go to the train station myself. Thanks for nothing.
The next day, a male employee named “Brook” booked the second train with a huge smile on his face, while he chatted me up about my life in Beijing. It was clear that he enjoyed working with people and that doing his job well wasn’t an inconvenience for him.
I cannot stress enough how rare it is to see this type of service in China!
Something that was a total surprise to me was all of the cables, gadgets, and doo-dads (scientific term) that the OH provided! There was a whole drawer of cables and plugs for weary travelers who forget a few things back at home now and again. No converters necessary! The OH also provides its patrons with an iPad for easy Internet accessibility (how considerate) AND you can hook up your music to mystical speakers that are hidden in the walls. This was, by far, the most high-tech boutique hotel I’ve ever been too.
Opposite House’s fitness facilities were extremely posh and well designed for most traveling athletes… but it’s no CrossFit box. All snobbery aside, I’m head-over-heels in love with their pool facilities!!! The water is so clear, I thought the pool was empty for the first few minutes! It was heated and the temperature was perfect for loosing yourself mentally and long swims. The gym facility has all the normal bells and whistles: treadmills, machines, lightweights, long mirrors for gym selfies, etc. But the most dramatic difference between these facilities and others is the cleanliness! You can’t put a price on hygiene in China… but if you could, someone should give the maintenance staff a bonus immediately.
The only thing I love more than CrossFit is free stuff. The OH was kind enough to provide a bag filled with goodies, information about Beijing, a CD of something I have yet to listen too, and a neat little box of chocolates that I devoured immediately with the ferocity of a chubby child. They were gourmet… and then they were gone. As I mentioned briefly, someone also broke into our suite and left us two facial masks, two bottles of water, and a hand-written note; it’s the details that really make the difference.
NOTICE: the mini-bar is completely FREE and filled with things that I would actually want to eat! Normally hotels either give you one of two packages:
A) An open mini-bar filled weird foreign goodies with names you can’t pronounce
B) An over-priced mini-bar with yummy snacks that drunk people fall victim to after the kitchen closes
The Opposite House had the best of both worlds. As a frequent traveler, I think it’s the little things that count the most. Why nickel and dime your guests over a Snickers bar or two? If you provide the best customer service possible, your patrons will rave to all their friends about how fabulous your business is.
So this is me raving.
And this is where the cookie begins to crumble. I’m not sure if the Village Café is an independent business or part of the Opposite House, but it felt like the “friendly” nature melted away as soon as we walked towards the brunch table spread. Most of the Chinese staff just gawked at me and my boyfriend (He’s 6’5”) and the chef stared me down without so much as a smile. My meal was OKAY, but not worth Instagramming. My bacon was burnt to a crisp and my cranberry pancakes had maybe three cranberries in it. It was really emotionally upsetting. My boyfriend got the “American Breakfast,” but it was pretty ho-hum as well. Normally I judge food based on two simple questions: Could I have made this myself? Could I have done it better? If the answer is yes, then I’m not impressed.
If you go to the Village Café, go for the brunch spread. The brunch spread was amazing and had everything from green smoothies to fresh honeycomb! In addition to this, there was quinoa, cold cuts, fresh smoked salmon, and variety of dairy products that I couldn’t enjoy because I’m lactose intolerant… But why weren’t there eggs? It’s a breakfast staple!! There also could have been more veggie options. If you are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free, you’re a bit screwed. I guess you could have some water?
Fortunately, there are so many places to eat in Sanlitun that you’ll have the pick of the litter!! While Village Cafe isn’t TERRIBLE, it was below the standard of quality and customer service by the foreign and Chinese staff alike that I was use to in the Opposite House. It was the only thing that fell short during my amazing experience at the Opposite House.
Good For: Maybe Try Some Place Else If You:
– Luxury – Want To Be Near The Great Wall
– Business Men and Women – Want To Be Away From The City
– Romantic Weekends – Are On A Serious Budget
– Art Or Technology Nerds – Hate Relaxation
– People who want to meet David Beckham – People Who Dislike David Beckham
Check out my final standings below and let me know about you experiences in the Opposite House in the Comments Section.