Why would anyone want to visit Tianjin? A 30-minute ride on a high-speed train from Beijing, Tianjin is a relatively stress-free getaway for the busy executive. Once unarguably second-tier, Tianjin is now one of the fastest changing cities in the country and is establishing itself as a lifestyle destination, making the most of its riverside views and historic buildings. .
OK, we've got to Tianjin; why would we choose the St Regis? Opened in November, the 18-floor hotel has become a landmark on the city's skyline. The St Regis sits on the southern bank of the Haihe River, in the central Heping district, close to tourist attractions, restaurants and shopping areas. Most of its 274 rooms and suites have large windows that overlook the river.
Why the odd shape? The hollowed-out cube symbolises a gigantic gate. Tianjin was once a port city and has long been known as a gateway to northern China; the St Regis could be seen as a gateway to luxury.
Could it? What exactly does 'luxury' embody here? It means that, upon arrival, you will be introduced to the St Regis' butler service. At any time of the day or night, a butler will be available to meet every request, whether it be running an errand or unpacking your suit-case. The rooms are spacious and elegant throughout. Inside each fridge, there is a complimentary 'Jin Mary', the St Regis Tianjin's take on the Bloody Mary.
Last month, the St Regis took the plunge into the world of fashion, hosting the inaugural Tianjin Fashion Week. An echo from the 19th century, when Italy had a concession in Tianjin, it was Italian designers who headlined at the 'city's first-ever international fashion event'.
What about the food? Making the most of the local geography, the hotel has not one, but three riverfront restaurants. Riviera (top right) cooks up traditional French cuisine; from onion soup to seafood from Brittany.
What's the bottom line? Room rates start from 850 yuan (HK$1,040) a night, rising to 5,688 yuan for the Governor Suite.
The St Regis Tianjin is at 158 Zhangzizhong Road, Heping, Tianjin, tel: 86 22 5830 9999; www.starwoodhotels.com .