China has become famous for throwing itself wholeheartedly into the future, developing new skyscrapers and districts at a dazzling pace—and with little regard for its rich 5,000-year history.

But the Peninsula Beijing, which just unveiled a $123 million renovation, is an inspiring exception to this trend. Informed by the opulent palaces and gardens of the Middle Kingdom, designer Henry Leung used luxurious materials like bronze, jade, and rosewood throughout the hotel along with classic Chinese motifs, such as the calligraphy painting-inspired fish mosaic in bathrooms.

Factor in an infusion of contemporary art from some of China’s most dynamic talents, and the result is an enchanting interpretation of centuries of old and new Beijing. You’ll appreciate this fusion from the moment you set foot in the soaring three-story lobby, passing through a traditional pailou archway once reserved just for royalty. You’ll marvel at six pillars hand-chiseled with floral emblems in the same white marble used in the palaces of the Forbidden City, just steps from the hotel, as well as bold abstract ink paintings by Qin Feng and Zhang Du’s two bronze sculptures of tea drinkers—a nod to the hotel’s venerable afternoon tradition.

Here’s a closer look at the Peninsula Beijing and how it gives guests an authentic, timeless experience of China. 

The Spacious Suite-Style Rooms

The Peninsula has radically redrawn its floor plans, reducing the original 525 rooms and suites to just 230 suite-style rooms, each with a separate bedroom, living room, bathroom, and dressing room. Even the standard rooms average a generous 700 square feet, making them the biggest in Beijing. (To go even bigger, book one of the Peninsula’s 61 themed suites.) They’re full of gracious design touches true to the destination, including wallpaper with hand-embroidered floral blossoms, blue-and-white paintings inspired by Ming Dynasty porcelain, and photos of modern-day landmarks like the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium.

Each stay is also deeply personal thanks to the Peninsula’s fully customizable and proprietary in-room technology, including bedside tablets that can be set to control all functions (and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, too). You even get to choose exactly when you want to check in or check out; the services are available around the clock. 

The Museum-Quality Art Collection

China’s contemporary art has attracted international attention, and one of the best places to immerse yourself is right at the Peninsula Beijing. Wherever you turn, you’ll encounter eye-catching paintings, sculptures, or installations—selected in collaboration with Michael Suh, executive director at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Beijing.

Not only can you admire the handiwork of a variety of established and emerging Chinese talents as you explore the hotel, but you can also observe such artists as they work thanks to the Peninsula Beijing’s Art Residency program—the first of its kind in a luxury hotel in China. It enables artists to live and create here for three months while their works are exhibited in the Peninsula’s new gallery and their studios left open to the public.

The Refreshed and Tasteful Hotel Dining

What’s on the menu at the Peninsula Beijing is whatever’s fresh and seasonal. An on-site greenhouse cultivates herbs used for garnishes, and the hotel works directly with 22 farms in China to source sustainable and often organic products. All these farms are fully certified by either the Chinese or US government, and chefs from each Peninsula restaurant visit regularly to ensure the finest quality and safety of the ingredients.

Jing, pictured above, fully embraces the farm-to-table concept with Mediterranean dishes served in a space inspired by a secret Chinese garden. Huang Ting showcases Cantonese specialties in what resembles a traditional nobleman’s courtyard home; its adjacent tea lounge beckons with dim sum and Ming Dynasty-era flourishes. The Lobby restaurant, meanwhile, is the spot to savor the afternoon tea experience along with live music. It’s a reminder that even as the Peninsula Beijing ushers in a new era, it continues to celebrate its heritage.