【明報專訊】From the moment it opened its doors in 1915 just about everybody who was an established member of the city's foreign colony, as well as anybody sojourning in Peking temporarily, passed through the doors of the Grand Hôtel de Pékin (北京飯店) — certainly nearly everybody in this book. The Grand Hôtel de Pékin was Grand Central Station, Times Square and Piccadilly Circus all rolled into one; it was the Ritz and the Savoy, the Algonquin and the Waldorf Astoria, Paris's Hôtel de Crillon and the Hôtel Lutetia, the Adlon of Berlin, the Metropol of Moscow — in Peking. In 1915 the Grand Hôtel de Pékin was smarter and more modern than any hotel in Shanghai or Hong Kong. Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, the Peninsula in Kowloon, and Sir Victor Sassoon's Cathay on the Shanghai Bund would all come later. In 1915 the two grandest hotels in all Asia were undoubtedly the Sarkies Brothers' Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the Grand Hôtel de Pékin.