Check In: The Sheraton Chongqing
This glittering, gleaming bronze twin-tower building is hard to miss. Located on a key spot along the Yangtze River in the commercial and residential district of Nan’an, on a clear day (which are, sadly, few and far between in Chongqing), the bustling Jie Fang Bei area can be seen from across the river. It takes just 30 minutes to get here by cab from the airport. And, depending on the direction of your air approach, you might even spot the twinkling twin towers upon your descent. Do note that the Sheraton occupies only one of these gilded structures; the other is a finance building.
Sky high lobby ceilings and an over-abundance of marble and gold-lacquered decorations will make you wonder whether you’ve mistakenly stepped into a recreation of the Palace of Versailles (or more worryingly, Liberace’s boudoir). But before you get too caught up in the kitschy illusion, the hotel’s front-desk staff will swiftly check you in and usher you to your room. Not all staff are fluently bilingual, but there’s an English-speaker always within reach. Don’t forget to admire the lavish lobby lounge on your way to the lifts, equally decked out in gold embellishments from floor to ceiling.
Continuing with the Palace of Versailles theme, a peppy classical tune cues from the telephone as you step through the front door. Their 404 oversized bedrooms are certainly fit for a royal welcome. All amenities, including the toilet and bathtub, are decked out in golden tones. In fact, we found difficulty finding a single room fixture that wasn’t speckled with gold (but after an exhaustive search, we finally located a small silver knob to turn on the vanity mirror light). Guests will enjoy cosying up to the gas fireplace in the colder months.
Despite its gigantic population (30 million and rising), fine Western dining is hard to find in this city, so the Sapori Italian Kitchen is a very welcome addition to Chongqing’s limited food repertoire. Alternatively, Feast offers all-day dining with a decent buffet brunch offering both Western fare as well as Japanese, dim sum and local spicy Chongqing offerings. A decked-out gym and swimming pool are also available, along with a business centre and lounge for Platinum Club guests.
The hotel industry is booming in Chongqing and the Sheraton is just one of the first major hotel chains to stake its claim in the city. The hotel’s (overtly) gilded exterior and key position on the riverside has already made it a landmark in the city and we think it’s well on its way to becoming a mainstay of leisure travellers, businessmen and tour groups alike.
Sheraton Chongqing Hotel
78 Nanbin Road, Nan’an District, Chongqing +86 23 6277 7777; www.sheraton.com/chongqing