I know many of us are soon headed to Beijing thanks to American’s awesome ~$450 business class mistake fare, which they’re honoring.
If you’re anything like me, that means you have
about 42 a few sets of hotels to book. 😉
I’ve been to Beijing a few times before, so originally I was going to write a post about where to stay in Beijing.
And then I realized that Beijing has over 5,000 hotels on TripAdvisor.
To put that into perspective, New York has about 500 hotels, Tokyo about 800 hotels, and London about 1,000 hotels. So ain’t nobody got time to read (or for that matter, write) a comprehensive post about Beijing hotel options.
Instead I figured I’d just share five things to consider when booking Beijing hotels.
It might not make sense to redeem points
Beijing as a market has too many hotels. Hotel capacity has grown disproportionately to demand the past few years.
As a result, I think you’ll find that while points can be a great value at lower end properties, that’s not always the case at higher end properties. In many cases it’s not worth redeeming points at higher end properties in Beijing.
Purely as an example, take a look at the two “premium” SPG options in Beijing — the St. Regis and W. While rates vary greatly, in general I’m finding that both run $200-300 per night, while they require 16,000 Starpoints for a free night. I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so the rate would have to be at least $350 for it to make sense to redeem points, in my opinion (even more than that when you factor in the points you’d be forgoing by booking an award).
The math works out much more favorably at some of the lower end properties.
Hyatt’s Points + Cash can be a great deal
Hyatt has two properties in Beijing — the Grand Hyatt and the Park Hyatt.
I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Beijing last year. It’s a nice enough mega-hotel. Keep in mind that:
- The Grand Hyatt Beijing is a Category 4 property
- A free night redemption costs 15,000 points per night
- Points + Cash costs 7,500 points plus $100 per night
- You can redeem your Hyatt Visa Card annual free night certificate here
- The Park Hyatt Beijing is a Category 5 property
- A free night redemption costs 20,000 points per night
- Points + Cash costs 10,000 points plus $125 per night
I’ve asked about availability over many dates, and in general it seems like the Park Hyatt has a lot more Points + Cash availability than the Grand Hyatt. Which is great news, because the Park Hyatt is where I’d want to stay anyway. So the Park Hyatt is what I ended up booking for a couple of my stays.
I value Hyatt points at ~1.5 cents each, so making a Points + Cash booking there is the equivalent of spending ~$275 per night there (which is consistently lower than cash rates). Keep in mind that Hyatt Gold Passport is an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so those are points you can transfer.
Don’t forget about Virtuoso, FHR, etc.
If you’re staying at luxury hotels, there are a few programs that can add even more value to your stay.
I’m talking about programs like American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, Virtuoso, SPG Luxury Privileges, etc., which are valid at select chain and non-chain hotels (to have access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts you need to have an The Platinum Card® from American Express).
The only “catch” is that in order to qualify you have to book whatever the best available flexible rate is. In other words, you can’t book a corporate rate, AAA rate, etc., and get these benefits.
In terms of chain hotels, the following hotels participate in the following programs:
- The St. Regis participates in American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, Virtuoso, and SPG Luxury Privileges
- The W participates in SPG Luxury Privileges
- The Grand Hyatt Beijing participates in American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
- The Park Hyatt Beijing participates in Virtuoso
Just to give an example, for booking the Grand Hyatt Beijing through Fine Hotels & Resorts you can receive a fourth night free, in addition to early and late check-out, complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade based on availability, and a $100 food & beverage credit.
Club Carlson is a great value, as always
This isn’t really unique to Beijing, but Club Carlson can be an amazing value, especially in conjunction with the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card. If you have the card then the second night of every award stay is free.
Club Carlson has several properties in Beijing, though let’s use the Radisson Blu as an example. It’s 28,000 points per night, which means that in conjunction with their co-branded credit card you’d pay an average of 14,000 points per night for a two night stay. That’s a great deal for a hotel that goes for $125+ per night.
Hotels to consider near the airport
Beijing is pretty spread out, so the distance from the airport to the city depends on which part of town you’re staying in. When I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Beijing last year it took about 45 minutes to get to and from the airport, which wasn’t horrible, I thought.
That being said, if you’re inclined to stay at/near the airport for all/some of your stay, there are a couple of chain hotels to consider.
The most convenient is probably the Hilton Beijing Airport, which is just a very short shuttle ride from the airport. It’s a Category 5 HHonors property, and free night redemptions cost 40,000 HHonors points. For what it’s worth, I don’t see any Points & Money Rewards available.
I value HHonors points at ~0.4 cents each, so I’d redeem points if the paid rate is above ~$160 or so, which it seems to be for most dates. If you are staying at the Hilton, it pays to have the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express, which gives you Gold status for as long as you have the card (and that gets you complimentary club lounge access and/or restaurant breakfast).
There’s also a Crowne Plaza near Beijing Airport, which looks pretty decent. It goes for 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night, which I value at ~$140. Those points are easy to accrue with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, and if you have the card you also get IHG Platinum status, which might get you an upgrade and some other perks.
Beijing has tons of great hotel options regardless of which program you’re loyal to. There’s no point in covering them all here, though I figured I’d share the thought process for the properties I’ve at least been looking at.
If you’re headed to Beijing, have you decided on hotels yet?