This article was originally written for Etihad, and can be viewed here.
Beijing Design Hotels
Beijing boasts a parade of trendy, unique and thoughtfully luxurious hotels, at prices far cheaper than cities like New York, Paris and London.
Singapore agency Ministry of Design have transformed a former government compound on the shores of Beijing’s historic Houhai Lake into a boutique sanctuary that’s ready to party. Shades of slate, grey and black are punctuated by pink wireframe rabbits peeking over rooftops, and quirky, Beijing-themed art pieces in the 80 guest rooms. Room design is spacious and contemporary, with bed-side hot tubs and integrated tech. But Vue’s crown jewel has to be Moon Bar, an expansive terrace space overlooking the water, with a swimming pool, DJ booth and menu of creative cocktails.
9 Yangfang Hutong, Xicheng District, Beijing (+86 10 5385 9000)
Owned by a wealthy Hong Kong art collector, this 100-room design hotel boasts original Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol art pieces, and ostentatiously-themed guest rooms ranging from the modish (Playboy) to the magical (Harry Potter). The entire hotel is set within a LEED-certified glass pyramid also containing the city’s coolest shopping mall, meaning you can sit “outside” on your balcony in the middle of a freezing Beijing winter. It also means there are twenty “lagoon suites” boasting their own private pools – popular for high-rolling birthday parties and fashion shoots.
9 Dongdaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing (+86 10 8561 2888)
The designers at this ten-room boutique hotel have transformed a crumbling Qing Dynasty-era courtyard into a beautiful boutique space, offering white-walled rooms with private gardens and rooftop terraces with magisterial views of the nearby Drum and Bell Towers. Clever architecture blends the old with the new, preserving original rooftops and beams, while making the most of a compact space. A new in-house restaurant, Toast, offers modern mezze small-plate dining and an excellent wine list.
65 Baochao Hutong, Gulou Dong Dajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing (+86 10 8404 4818)
Built for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, this Swire-owned property is a five-storey box of emerald-tinted glass designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Rooms have a minimalist yoga-studio aesthetic with wooden bathtubs and Egyptian cotton beds, and the capacious public areas host rotating sculpture exhibits by Chinese and international contemporary artists. David Beckham choose one of the Studio 95 suites when he stayed, taking advantage of a spacious rooftop balcony (complete with hot tub) overlooking Sanlitun, the capital’s most happening party district.
11 Sanliun Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing (+86 10 6417 6688)
When the reception staff are sporting bespoke tailored three-piece suits, you know you’re in for something special. Though it’s rather bigger than boutique, Rosewood Beijing feels personal thanks to all the little details, from trendy mismatched furniture in guestrooms to odd pieces of sculpture, bound books and object d’art. The CBD location means striking views of Beijing’s iconic CCTV Tower from most guest rooms and the hotel’s trio of restaurants, which includes the excellent Country Kitchen, a Chinese restaurant dishing “hidden recipes”, local northern ‘Shang’ dishes forgotten during Communist times but rediscovered by the hotel’s culinary team.
Chaoyangmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (+86 10 6597 8888)