|Shunjing Spa’s Open Front Atrium (Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/William Wang)
BEIJING, Nov. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Shunjing opened its doors a mere two years ago, boldly staking out its territory among its hot spring competitors. Located just outside the 4th ring road, this hot spring is within easy reach of downtown Beijing. From its front gate, the feeling is that of a moderately sized modern hotel. Downstairs, visitors are soon informed that the upscale spa contained within is so massive that it is the holder of a Guinness World Record. But obviously, anyone who cares about spas knows that size doesn't matter; so how does Shunjing measure up?
Most of the spa is built below ground level, in the style of an artfully landscaped park. One blue pool is a looping stream, gently winding through the length of space, linking the separate sections while stone bridges jump over it. Atmospheric lighting sets things aglow, highlighting the different sections (the cave section is lit up in red, complete with stalactites and stalagmites reminiscent of underground Guilin).
This is one spa where the map and sign posts are a necessity. Starting in the Japanese Onsen section, the meandering routes weave through the space organically, and you can quickly become disoriented.
At some point you'll bump into a beautiful large cedar sauna, situated near the centre. A large cold plunge pool rests at its foot, allowing people to regain their bearings with a quick dunk.
The outdoor area is unsurprisingly popular. Pools built out of a faux rock cliff flow into one another. The sounds of the nearby expressway are almost drowned out by the waterfall. Unfortunately, the outdoor area is disproportionately small for a facility of its size. Expect these to be the first pools that get filled to capacity.
If you want a break from the hot pools, there's space to nap, a movie theatre, internet surfing stations and even a place where you can go fishing for goldfish. Of course there's a massage station, where the beautiful masseurs have their glossy pictures displayed on the wall. There are also several places to get food or refreshments. Particularly appropriate to the setting are the freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, and fresh coconut milk. You can even try one of the spa's beers, micro-brewed right on-site; and while these won't win any competitions, they do offer a respite from the regular local beer.
Attention to detail is evident throughout the spa in all its design and detailing, all aiming to provide a feeling of soothing nature and harmony. At this point in time, it seems that Shunjing is the best kept secret amid the Beijing hot spring scene. The service and facilities are top notch, but the crowds tend to be thin. The management at Shunjing decided to forgo advertising, choosing to build their reputation quietly through word of mouth. They clearly know they're onto a good thing.
Steamy and Dreamy:For convenience and value, Shunjing is a winner. Located across the street from Ikea, it's just a hop and a skip from the downtown area. From the ticket price, it's obvious that you get more bang for your buck here. The entire facility is in sparkling condition, and offers plenty of space in which to quietly relax; while also providing enough variety that you could exploit the fact that this spa never closes. The staff are particularly keen to provide you with a smooth experience; low key and friendly. It is clear that a lot of attention has been put into making sure that patrons feel cared for.
The Cold Reality:Plastic trees, faux rock formations, and colored lighting in an indoor space can't help but create a Disney World feeling of artificiality. What's more, smoking is allowed indoors at this spa, which may be offensive to some patrons. Luckily the space is big enough that people should be able to find refuge elsewhere.
Cost: 198 RMB
Address: 2 Beisihuan Donglu (opposite Ikea), Chaoyang District
Directions: 10 RMB taxi ride from Sanyuanqiao