We returned to the Grand Mercure on Sunshine Street for Easter Brunch. This time there were 150 other guests and around noon it was chaotic. (So go early if you go.) While there were plenty of non-desserts on offer, the pastry chef did a remarkable job with Easter themes.
The Grand Mercure Dongchen offers beautiful rooms and good service. I actually reserved a room here by accident. I wanted to book a room at the Mercure by Beijing’s South Cathedral, but inadvertently booked this location.
I found the staff welcoming and the room, a junior suite modern and comfortable. (I’ve stayed at enough Accor hotels this year to get upgrades for each reservation.)
One nice touch was that they printed their hotel guide on scrolls to harken to Beijing’s past.
The hotel is within walking distance of the Yonghegong Tibetan Temple and the Drum and Bell Towers, but these sites are really, in my opinion, of interest for travellers who’ve already seen Beijing’s most famous sites like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace. They’re nice but not essential to see. It’s nowhere near the cathedral I wanted to get to and got lost finding. While I think it’s a lot newer
It’s not very crowded and the cocktail buffet had meagre offerings compared with busier hotels.
All in all, I’d suggest staying here if business brings you to north central Beijing but don’t bother with the Executive Lounge as you’ll probably need to eat more anyway. Room service would be the way to go.
We’ve had a three day weekend for Qing Ming (Tomb Sweeping) Festival. My friends and I have no tombs to sweep and the weather hasn’t been great so rather than go out of town, one friend and I opted for a stay-cation at Jinan’s Grand Mercure Hotel.
Getting the reservation was tricky due to my internet problems and their website problems (i.e. choosing the right number of rooms and people was impossible on the site taking several days and thus I was unable to qualify to book on their three nights for the price of two promotion. How regrettable.)
Eventually I did book for two nights (when I called customer service they couldn’t correct this. Again, regrettable.)
We checked in and got an upgrade from our Executive floor rooms to junior suites. The Executive floor lounge is closed so we got to have our Happy Hour in at the nightly buffet which offered all sorts of vegetables, leg of lamb, beef, chicken, Chinese dishes, American barbecue ribs, and dozens of sweets.
After checking in we asked where the West Market was. We’d heard that it was a great market, but had no idea how to get there. The staff promptly showed us and got us a cab.
The West Market was nearby and first we got let out near a mall. We wondered inside and I’d been here before and din’t think it was much of anything special We saw some shoppers going through what looked like a service door. We followed and discovered a movie theater with the latest releases. We saw another service door and boldly went through. After walking through a corridor we found ourselves in a jewelry and beauty supply wonderland. West Market has vendors selling every kind of accessory and sundries. You could get tons of knock off perfumes, hats, watches, stationery, household goods, accessories, you name it.
After a few hours exploring, we returned to the hotel in time for Happy Hour. Since this Grand Mercure’s Executive Lounge is closed we got to eat in the restaurant – leg of lamb, loads of side dishes, pastries. All so delectable.
The hotel promoted a tea ceremony and morning tai chi but when I left hotel for Easter mass, no one was doing tai chi out front and when I asked about the tea ceremony we were told they didn’t have one but we could go to one at a tea shop. The easiest fix for these is to remove the slides featuring them from the hotel TV station.
Easter brunch at the Mercure has become a tradition for the foreign teachers at my university. Each year it gets a little better. This year there were two little bunnies along with an “Easter tree” and lots of cakes and sweets decorated for the holiday. Not only did we have a wonderful brunch, but the manager gave us a bottle of wine.
I thought I’d never eat again, but after hitting the fitness center and catching up on the world news with the BBC, I managed to make it to Happy Hour.