Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), the world’s leading hospitality design firm, has completed the first Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Beijing, China this year 2019. Conceptualised as a modern-day courtyard mansion, Mandarin Oriental Hotel conveys and reinterprets the rich history of “Wang Fu”, the aristocratic residences built in the Qing Dynasty, with its distinctively contemporary design.
“The language we chose to use is decidedly modern, but underlined with a narrative of the Chinese tradition and craftsmanship,” said HBA Partner, Federico Masin. Ideally located in the busy heart of Beijing, with the iconic Forbidden City just steps away, Mandarin Oriental Hotel delivers a unique and timeless experience for both international travelers and local guests.
The guests are brought into a skylight court when they enter the transit lobby from the street or the adjacent mall. Inside, a central water feature surrounded by dark stone facades and soft-lit lampshades pays homage to the historic well.
Continuing into the entryway, guests will marvel at the embroidered cobalt and gold panels, accompanied by a welcoming fireplace, timber walls trimmed with dark lacquer shelves, and autumnal colored area rugs. An energetic and richly hued three-fish objet d’art designed especially for the hotel by Frank Gehry hangs in the centre, creating a dynamic focal point.
The fifth floor is home for Café Zi, MO Bar, and The Library, all of which open onto an expansive rooftop garden terrace with spectacular views of the ancient imperial palace. Café Zi, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, is envisioned as a Chinese garden blossoming in the morning sun.
Laser-cut floral panels half-descended from the ceiling, and ceramic-tiled partitions framed in dark timber create pockets of semi-private dining areas. A decorative screen at one end of the cafe becomes a sliding door to MO Bar, a midnight garden where alchemists create signature drinks. The dark lacquered cabinets and leather paneled pull-out drawers remind the guests of the past Chinese apothecaries who mixed potions to produce efficacious remedies for ailing royalty and aristocrats.
The Library, a two-story modern drawing room serving a range of palatable small bites, completes the epicurean journey. The theme of The Library draws inspiration from Australian Sir George Ernest Morrison, a Government adviser known for his extraordinary adventures to China.
A fresh palette and understated design create a contemplative place for browsing sought-after artworks and books, including a 60-volume The Complete Collection of Chinese Arts, covering the nation’s art treasures over a period of 5000 years.
Connecting to the sixth floor, the stairwell is designed to create warm glowing linear steps within an enclosed “lantern” gently leading guests up to their rooms, as well as the spa and wellness centre which features a 25m lap pool with sky roof. The four individually-themed spa suites, inspired by Chinese gardens, promise an exceptional relaxation. Wallcoverings featuring sweeping Willows are framed in timber archways, conveying a subtle interpretation of garden pavilions.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel houses 73 spacious rooms which are among the largest in Beijing. The rooms are designed with a contemporary and sophisticated residential style, blended with subtle traditional Chinese elements. The inspirations from the Imperial Era is represented by the four-poster beds, which refer to sleeping chambers of the princes that once lived in the mansions of Wangfujing.
Other nods to traditional Chinese design include headboard panels with harmoniously aligned flora and fauna and a marble relief engraved with stylized clouds in the bathroom, resembling the Forbidden City’s stone craved stairway. Based on the room type selected, the hotel guests can either enjoy the spectacular view of the Forbidden City or their own exclusive private garden terrace.