Conceived by AB Concepts, the new W Hotel Chang’an stuns with its reimagining of an ancient Chinese philosophical belief, writes Christie Lee.
Top Photo: W Hotel Beijing’s YEN Restaurant
Ever since its launch in 1998, the W hotel brand has built a name for itself with its palatable mix of rich visuals, dynamic textures and high-tech fittings. With interiors conceived by Ed Ng and Terence Ngan of AB Concept, the latest W Hotel Chang’an in Beijing marks mainland China’s second edition of the boutique chain. The highly anticipated opening does not disappoint with its distinctive metropolitan charm and focus on contemporary features inspired by the grandeur of Beijing’s past.
Given that the hotel is located on Chang’an Avenue, a major thoroughfare with easy access to heritage sites including Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, it made sense for AB Concepts to conjure a space that speaks to the modern traveller and yet is attuned to Beijing’s history and culture.
The principal concept for the space arises from Tian Yuan Di Fang, a Chinese philosophical tenet that dictates ‘heaven as round and earth as square’. It’s a belief that AB Concept has distilled in the interiors where the lobby features walls adorned with square and round shaped patterns, a chandelier made up of 26,000 lights and multiple Ming vase plates were placed in a circular shape suspended behind the reception desk.
Imperial ceilings – a signature of AB Concepts’ work, multiple hues, one of a kind installations, bold lighting and textures define individual premises. As Ng and Ngan aimed to “creat[e] a dynamic dialogue between Beijing’s past and present”.
Diverging from the beige and dark wood palette that dominates most luxury hotels, the 349 guest rooms and suites awash in eye-popping shades of red, green, purple and the like. The linearity of the beds and window frames are matched with the oblique contours of the bathtubs, carpets and lighting fixtures. The full length windows grant a grand vista of the city’s historical monuments.
With the emphasis that the W brand places on lifestyle and entertainment, the group’s restaurants and bars are always design gems to behold. At the centre of the Living Room at W Beijing, a LED-lit catwalk leads to a circular bar counter. A fanciful golden glove DJ booth hangs high from an imperial-inspired ceiling in round and square patterns. In the evening, it divides into two, and the bottom half becomes a DJ booth.
Couples can take refuge in a birdcage-shaped secret space tucked behind the bar. A paean to the Chinese capital’s iconic Water Cube aquatics centre, a dense geometric network cloaks the windows at the other end of the lounge. Meanwhile, art devotees will delight in the red and white print of the 789 Art Zone that hangs across a circular wall behind the lounge’s Whatever/Whenever Desk.
Patrons descend via a few steps located at the end of the lounge to The Kitchen Table, where home-style fare is served in a communal table setting. The jewel of the crown however is the Yen restaurant, where ceramic plates depicting Beijing Opera scenes contrast with the golden beams and high gloss purple metallic finishes. The blue and white plates are also an inventive way of reimagining the clay roof tiles atop Chinese houses of yore.
W Beijing gives age old chinese traditions a contemporary and innovative twist, a fitting second edition of the brand in China.