< CHINA | TIANJIN: The Astor Hotel
In the summer of 1863, John Innocent, a British Methodist missionary, arrived in Tianjin determined to bring Western-style housing to the city. After a few unsuccessful attempts, two buildings were drawn up. One was a storehouse and the other, the first international hotel in modern Chinese history, The Astor Hotel.
The name ‘Astor’ was originally derived from three Chinese characters: ‘Li, Shun, De’ which express the Confucian ideals of the ‘power of understanding’ and the ‘power of reason,’ both close
to missionary values that were deemed befitting for the hotel.
From the onset in 1863 until the end of the 19th century, The Astor Hotel became the prime venue for all diplomatic activity in Tianjin, and was soon named one of the first Diplomatic residences in China. The British consulate held most of its meetings there and the American consulate was first established within the hotel and did not relocate until 1929. Hebert Hoover, later 31st President of the United States of America, regularly patronized the hotel during his mission in China with Morling & Co. Additionally, two international treaties were signed at the hotel, the Sino-Denmark Treaty and the Sino-Netherlands treaty, both signed in 1863.
In the summer of 1886, renovation and extension work began on The Astor Hotel as the hotel was brought up to par with the growing needs of the foreign concessions. From a one-story building, the hotel became a three level structure with a veranda and tower facing the park to the west.
In 1924, a new building emerged, which joined the 1886 building and featured an American Otis elevator. Three decades later, in 1954, a Tibetan committee, including the Living Buddha Apei Awangjinmei, stayed at The Astor Hotel and a special room was organized where the 10th Banchan chanted the Buddhist Sutra.
Now after 147 years of fabled history, a landmark event and substantial upgrade has led the Tianjin Tourism Group to appoint Starwood Hotels & Resorts to manage this prestigious and historic hotel to revive the legend and restore The Astor Hotel to its prime place as the “Grande Dame of Tianjin”.
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