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History and tradition kept alive

History cannot be repeated, and there is a hotel that strives to protect every drop of its essence. Tradition should not be ignored, and there is a hotel that vows to guard every part of its entity. The Astor Hotel in Tianjin, part of the Luxury Collection by Starwood Hotels and Resorts, is the only hotel that's acknowledged as a cultural relic by the Chinese government. Founded in 1863 and offering only 152 guest rooms and suites, one can hardly say the Astor is grand, at least in size. But, without a doubt, it is definitely "grand" in terms of content, significance, and, most importantly, character.

The Astor witnessed, experienced and took part in many key events in history. The tasteful classic British colonial style pays homage to the hotel's fabled heritage. Its rich history also reads like a book, each page filled with delicate emotions and cultural significances.

The Astor prides itself in being the "first" for a number of things in China. It was the building with the first swing door and the first telephone. The first elevator ever used in China is here, still in use and is often used by TV crews to shoot retrospective scenes.

The Astor is also the first hotel with its own built-in museum, displaying not only the rich history of the hotel, but also of Tianjin. Postcards on the walls leading to the museum entrance detail what life was like back then. The time-worn staircase, sometimes squeaky, but very sturdy, is still the same staircase used at the founding of the hotel. In this ever-changing world, the Astor Hotel has safeguarded its traditions, including its love for classics, and its pride for excellence in services

The Astor Hotel strives to provide the best services to its guests. "Indigenous, experience and excellence are our three principles," said Marketing Communications Manager Virginia Yu. "We try our best to get to know our guests, address them by their name and not just by sir or madam. We can also provide newspapers from all around the world, availability permitting, to let our customers feel at home when they are abroad."

What they also offer is the curator's tour service. "We will take you to places that are not on the guidebooks, the 'true' culturally significant places from the history of Tianjin. It allows our guests to really go inside the city, not just enjoy its architecture or view, though equally magnificent on their own."

Regardless of age, the entire atmosphere of the Astor Hotel brings a sense of nostalgia to visitors whether they have lived in that era or not. It is not just an accommodation; it is a learning experience to get to know the city, its culture and its tradition. "Something that doesn't change must have a reason. It must be very luxurious, or a part of precious and irreplaceable tradition," said General Manager Leon Lee. That precisely summarizes the essence of the Astor Hotel