Following two weeks spent with our various extended family members across China, Jessy and I continued our summer trip to Asia with a 20-hour layover in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, as part of our journey on Shenzhen Airlines bound for Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
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St. Regis Shenzhen – Location & Arrival
While I’d ordinarily try to avoid unnecessary overnight layovers, in this case our Shenzhen stop would allow me to catch up with my aunt and cousin’s family, who lives there, and in particular my cousin’s two young kids, whom I don’t get to see very often as they grow up quickly.
In addition, I would have a very natural opportunity to redeem my Marriott Bonvoy points at the St. Regis Shenzhen, which occupies the top floors of KK100, the city’s second-tallest skyscraper; furthermore, I’d get to share the experience with my cousin’s family and treat them to a birds-eye view of their city that they might not have seen before.
The St. Regis Shenzhen is a Category 5 property within Marriott Bonvoy, usually costing 35,000 Bonvoy points per night at the standard rate. In this case, I had a free night certificate from the Amex Bonvoy Card that I could use on any hotel worth up to 35,000 points, so I redeemed it here for the one-night stay.
Cash prices here seem to fluctuate between $250–400 per night, so redeeming Bonvoy points would be just about worthwhile on the higher end of that range.
My cousin picked us up at Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport and drove us over to the hotel. Although the journey normally takes about 30–40 minutes, we ended up running into heavy rush-hour traffic, and so didn’t make it to the St. Regis until about 6:30pm.
The hotel entrance is accessed via a covered driveway, opposite the entrance to the KK Mall at the base of the KK100 skyscraper.
As the hotel is situated at the top of the building, the ground-floor lobby is actually rather unassuming, consisting only of a Starbucks outlet and a few scattered seating zones. A few hotel associates are stationed down here to welcome guests to the hotel, and also to prevent non-guests from wandering into the elevators that bring you up to the 96th-floor reception.
Step into the elevators, and enjoy the ride all the way up.
Once you arrive on the 96th floor, turn to your right for the reception desks. Since it was already dark by the time we arrived, I returned the next morning to take some daytime pictures of the stunning lobby (and will come back to discuss it later when I talk about how we spent our time at the hotel).
St. Regis Shenzhen – Check-in
Perhaps as a result of seeing my Canadian passport on file, the hotel had assigned a Russian front desk associate to handle our check-in in English. She was upbeat and friendly, welcoming us to the hotel and confirming that I had been upgraded to an Allure Suite as a result of the Suite Night Award I had used on the reservation.
Suite Night Awards (SNAs) are one of the Marriott Bonvoy perks you can earn as a result of earning 50 or 75 elite qualifying nights per year, and they allow you to confirm a suite upgrade up to five days in advance, subject to availability. I had redeemed one of my SNAs here at the St. Regis Shenzhen since I wanted to be extra-sure of a suite upgrade so that I could treat my family members to a memorable occasion.
The associate also offered me my choice of a Titanium Elite welcome gift, between 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and the daily breakfast for two at the hotel’s Social restaurant. Even though we were planning to have dim sum as a family the next morning, I still wanted to take a peep at the hotel’s breakfast offering, so I opted for the latter.
We were then shown to the hotel’s in-house set of elevators – a separate set from the elevator which brought you up from ground level, which only traverse the 75th to 100th floors of the building. Our check-in associate accompanied us down to the 76th floor and showed us to our home for the night, Room 7619.
St. Regis Shenzhen – Allure Suite
The St. Regis Shenzhen has a few very unique suite types: the Allure Suite, the Metropolitan Suite, the Shenzhen Suite, and the St. Regis Suite are all duplex suites that span two floors of the building, with a staircase connecting the two levels.
Upon entering the Allure Suite, then, I felt immediately wowed by one of the most unique hotel suites I had gotten so far.
The lower level of the Allure Suite is essentially the living room, consisting of a couch and a coffee table facing the television…
…as well as a dining area with a table and two chairs.
The hotel had left for us a few welcome gifts and in-room amenities: a fruit plate on the coffee table, and also a ceremonial tea kit, along with a few teabags, on the dining table.
In addition, the pantry and minibar is found in the corner of the room, and caters to all your needs for coffee, tea, and hot water. And if that weren’t enough, remember that the St. Regis offers its signature butler service, which allows you to order complimentary coffee and tea delivered to your room 24/7.
The lower level also plays host to a half-bath with a toilet and a sink, with the main master bathroom located upstairs.
That just about finishes off our tour of the lower level. Shall we head up the staircase then? You know you want to.
The bedroom and office areas occupy the upper level of the suite. The king bed sits against one side of the room, facing the wall-mounted television, as well as the office desk which smartly nestles into the “L”-shaped space along the glass railing.
I greatly appreciated the position of the desk and how it afforded killer views of the city skyline through the two-storey floor-to-ceiling windows, which made it a particularly inspiring and energizing spot from which to get some work done.
Then, the master bathroom is found at the far end of the upper floor. A set of double sinks occupy the central space, with the bathing area (including a bathtub and shower) to the left, and the individual toilet compartment to the right.
Just like the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto where I had stayed earlier on this trip, I liked the fact that the shower and bathtub basically made up one large “wet room”, where water would inevitably get everywhere especially thanks to the excellent water pressure on the shower.
The closet is hidden within one of the walls of the bedroom, and this was the first time that a hotel had prepared an entire family’s worth of bathrobes in the room. Funny story – later on, my young cousins would find the air-conditioning in the room to be too cold, so we wrapped them in the bathrobes to keep them warm.
The suite was even more stunning in the daytime, when the sight of Shenzhen’s concrete jungle, sitting virtually entirely beneath you here on the 76th and 77th floors, only adds to the luxury factor.
Overall, the St. Regis Shenzhen’s Allure Suite left me highly impressed. While the suite isn’t the largest in terms of actual square footage, the two-storey setting is truly unique among all my hotel stays so far, and I thought it divided up the suite nicely into a space for hanging out and entertaining guests downstairs, and the separate upstairs area for working and resting.
In terms of decor, I’d say the Shenzhen hotel had about as much of a “standard” St. Regis look as it gets – a tasteful, almost unremarkable sense of luxury that doesn’t really threaten to go overboard in any particular way. After all, there’s no need to shove luxury in your face when you can just look out your two-storey windows and take in the views of Shenzhen from one of its highest points.
We only had 20 hours in Shenzhen, and we spent virtually the entirety of that time at the hotel, so I’ll just walk you through the rest of the hotel’s features in the order that we checked them out.
St. Regis Shenzhen – Elite Happy Hour
First, after dropping us off at the hotel, my cousin had gone home to pick up our other family members and bring them over. My cousin and I also meant to go check out the St. Regis’s elite Happy Hour offering, which ends at 8pm every evening, so I hurriedly said hi to all of my family members, showed them to the room, and then headed up to the Happy Hour with my cousin.
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite members and above enjoy a complimentary Happy Hour up at the Decanter lounge on the St. Regis’s 100th and top floor.
(While the Happy Hour takes place solely on this level, the 100th floor actually also provides access to Malt, a raised structure accessed via a staircase, which brings you very close to the actual “tip” of the interior of the KK100 skyscraper.
Anyway, the elite Happy Hour consists of a reasonably large food spread, featuring mostly Chinese items such as dim sum, meat skewers, fried rice, and various types of meat and vegetables, as well as a few Western picks like pasta and a salad bar. Jessy and I were feeling quite hungry and didn’t feel like leaving the hotel for dinner, so we filled up on the Happy Hour spread as our dinner for the evening.
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(By the way, even though the Happy Hour is only meant for the Platinum Elite member and one guest, we had asked our check-in associate whether she’d be kind enough to allow me, Jessy, and my cousin to visit the Happy Hour as a trio, and she had very kindly agreed.)
Happy Hour also allows you to order unlimited alcoholic drinks, so we ended up sharing quite a few beers with my cousin as we were catching up.
After eating and drinking our fill, we headed back down to the 76th floor to hang out with my aunt and uncle and my cousin’s children for a while. Of course, the kids had already been having a great time exploring the Allure Suite, running up and down the staircase and playing around in all the nooks and crannies.
Jessy and I spent an hour or so playing with the kids – climbing into the bathtub, jumping on the bed, and of course, continuing to run up and down the stairs – before the adults realized that it was way past their bedtime and brought them home.
Following our guests’ departure, I ordered a few pots of ginger tea via butler service to get us ready for bed…
…and the next morning, I rang up our butler again for a few cups of coffee.
St. Regis Shenzhen – Breakfast
We had made plans to reconvene with our family members for dim sum, but before that, I wanted to take a look at the St. Regis’s breakfast buffet, which is served in the Social restaurant on the 95th floor.
You can either take the elevator straight to the 95th, or access to restaurant by way of a striking suspended staircase in the middle of the atrium from the 96th-floor lobby.
As you’d expect from a St. Regis hotel in Asia, the breakfast selection is vast and comprehensive. A wealth of Asian and Western items are available for your choosing, both in the buffet itself and as part of the live cooking stations that serve up omelettes, eggs cooked any style, and many different varieties of soup noodles.
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I couldn’t help but treat myself to a bowl of noodles and a few finger foods as part of a cheeky “pre-breakfast breakfast”. After all, while dim sum is the staple breakfast food here in the southern parts of China, it’s actually not really my favourite and wouldn’t be my first choice for breakfast, so I didn’t mind snacking on a few other items beforehand. Jessy, who feels the same way about dim sum, would later come to regret the fact that she didn’t come join me for the St. Regis breakfast as well.
St. Regis Shenzhen – Other Facilities
After our dim sum breakfast at a restaurant right downstairs, we had another hour to spend with the family before it was time to depart for the airport for our 1pm flight to Phnom Penh.
We mostly spent this time back in the room again – while the kids weren’t running up and down the stairs, they were peering out of the windows (along with my aunt and uncle as well), engrossed by the birds-eye view of their city.
We also spent a few minutes up on the 96th-floor lobby, which afforded city views from an even higher vantage point, and from a few different angles as well. The family had a great time wandering around the 96th floor’s 360˚ lobby space – which is fitted mostly with seating and lounging areas, but also plays host to the St. Regis Bar in the back.
I also very briefly stopped by the St. Regis Shenzhen’s gym and pool, located on the 75th and lowest floor of the hotel, just to have a look and take some pictures.
The gym was a good size, and I thought the treadmills, with views overlooking the city, would’ve made for a particularly satisfying workout if I had the time. I’m sure that the kids would’ve loved swimming in the pool and looking out of these windows as well, if I were staying here for longer.
Finally, I also needed to use the hotel’s business centre in order to print out our e-visas for Cambodia. Even though there was a room marked “Business Centre” right on the 76th floor (where our room was), I found it locked for some reason, and needed to call a hotel associate in order to use the room.
Printing stuff wasn’t straightforward either – I needed to send the document to the hotel staff member via WeChat, and then she’d print it out for me (I’m sure email would’ve also sufficed, but everyone in China uses WeChat, so that was the default option).
And furthermore, printing wasn’t complimentary – instead, I had to pay a printing rate of 6 RMB ($1.13) per page, so our Cambodia e-visas for two people came to 24 RMB ($4.50) in total.
Anyway, soon after that, it was time to pack our bags and check out of the room. Jessy and I, along with my aunt, uncle, cousin, cousin’s wife, and the kids, all took one last glance out of the floor-to-ceiling windows of our Allure Suite, before taking the elevator back up to the 96th-floor lobby to complete our checkout formalities.
We were all in great spirits as we took the elevator back down to the ground floor, saying our goodbyes before Jessy and I hopped into my cousin’s car for the journey back to the airport.
While the St. Regis Shenzhen is neither the most opulent nor the most modern St. Regis property I’ve tried, its position at the very top of the KK100 skyscraper, as well as its unique duplex suites, suffice to make it an incredibly special experience. I’d highly recommend this hotel for any visit to China’s high-tech capital, and will probably stay here again the next time I come to visit my family.
Speaking of which – since they live in Shenzhen while the rest of my family lives in Beijing, I only get to see my aunt and cousin’s side of the family once a year if I’m lucky. It was therefore an awesome feeling to be able to treat them to a rare opportunity of enjoying the views from one of the tallest points of the city, and to see the amazed looks on their faces as they stood by the windows, picking out familiar places in the distance such as their apartment block or the kids’ elementary school.
This was one of those occasions that I felt truly grateful for the magic of Miles & Points, beyond the simple luxuries that I could enjoy for myself, but also because it gave me and my family members a very nice memory to cherish.