Just steps from the walls of the Forbidden City, the EMPEROR offers a luxurious visual feast and pampering for body and soul. The Forbidden City of today was once the inner palace for the emperor and his closest ministers, advisors and servants. This inner palace was surrounded by a second wall which enclosed government facilities, the residential quarters of state servants and a variety of trades and crafts serving the palace. Deep in the heart of history, the EMPEROR is located in this zone along the first tree lined alley on the Eastern side of the Forbidden City.
From its majestic setting adjacent to the Ning He Temple from the Qing Dynasty, the building interior was stripped to the bare concrete prior to the creation of the hotel. From this clean slate were crafted 60 rooms, a restaurant and lounge, and a spectacular roof terrace, all encompassing an area of 4800sqm.
The conceptual genesis of the redesign was the consideration of the volume of the existing building as a white mass into which the rooms and hallways were carved. After the first rough cut which addressed the main spaces, a second trace of carvings, a striation of colorful suede was introduced. This striation is combining a multiplicity of architectural elements as one moves through the entire building joining the elements within with one architectural language; from the basement restaurant stocked with rare and fine Chinese Wines through the guest suites to the rooftop terrace with its Spa and Bar which frame a view of the full skyline of the Forbidden City and Beijing.
In the lobby the striation begins as an extended sofa gently protruding into the entryway where guests can lounge and welcome new arrivals. From here the Striation swings up the walls to create displays for local news and city info and then bends into the hallways where Beijings history and Chinese culture is described on flat screens and in sound caves. These sound caves are deeply carved out areas of the hotel hallways; where, clad in lush suede, they invite guests to pause and listen to traditional Chinese opera as it drifts through the hotel.
Continuing on, the striation is present on the doors to the guest suites where graphic abstractions of portraits of emperors replace room numbers. In this way the guest room keys facilitate a journey through history as each room is named after and portrays a different emperor.
Inside the guest suites the striation morphs again, swings to the horizontal along the walls to become sofas and finally the bed. Within the rooms, the suede is imprinted with the rooflines of the Forbidden City, which continues over the glass enclosure of the bathrooms. A seductive narrative of concealment and revelation plays out on the partially frosted glass at once flooding the bathrooms with daylight while providing a minimum of privacy between the bedroom and the shower. Black slate tiles in the bathrooms contrast with the principal white decor of the rooms and custom-build Corian wash tables which continue the sumptuous play of gentle swinging lines through out the design.
The EMPEROR offers varied room types from standard guest suites with views to the neighboring Ning He temple; Junior suites with modern interpretations of traditional alcove beds and exposed bathtubs; and the 70m2 Emperor Suite overlooking over the Forbidden City.
Throughout the hotel the expressive colors of the suede striations change according to floors and suite types allowing returning guests to explore and find their personal color preferences. The Colors used throughout the Hotel are the same as in traditional Chinese architecture. The Ning He Temple right opposite of the main entrance features the Organge/Gold Green in its ceramic roof tiles, the blue along its eaves beams, and the elegant grey of the emperor suite at its base.
The EMPEROR provides multifaceted food and entertainment facilities.
On the lower level, the SHI Chinese for EAT Restaurant is accessible from the hotel by the central staircase, or from outside by way of two wide stairways. These exterior stairs allow streaming natural light in and provide the restaurant and lounge to be used by outside patrons without disrupting the hotel area.
SHI is divided into three areas. The western area encompasses a variety of booth seating, as well as a banquet table with a capacity of 24 seats. In the center area, a central bar and food counter serves as pivot point. The Eastern part serves as lounge; here daybeds separated by translucent curtains are arranged around a central sofa feature with integrated fireplace.
The curtains play with the theme of concealment and revelation present throughout the entire hotel. They are translucent and on each is painted a single stroke of the Chinese character for EAT, when viewed from a perpendicular angle the single strokes align and the full character becomes legible.
Along with the Chinese specialties of the cuisine, famous Chinese HUANG wines are featured. Traditionally these rare small batch liquors were distilled and then buried underground until major family events like weddings and the birth of children gave cause to unearth and consume them. SHI assembled a rare collection of the wines which are on display in sunken displays throughout the restaurant and can be unearthed upon special request.
On the opposite end of the hotel, the roof terrace is another highlight of the hotel. From the hotel bar YIN Chinese for DRINK guests enjoy snack specialty cuisine and an unparalleled view of the Beijing skyline with the golden roofs of the Forbidden City looming in the foreground. Hotel guests can enjoy the reserved spa called Yue Chinese for Pleasant and the gym on the eastern part of the roof level. Aside massage rooms and a shallow pool it features an elevated rooftop hot tub, where guests can soak in panoramic views of Beijing.