Why Is This Place so Great?
As China’s capital, Beijing is an amazing city steeped in the contrasts of history and modernity. It is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, as well as seven UNESCO Heritage Sites, most of which have the backdrop to some of China’s most stunning new-age skyscrapers. Be prepared to eat some good food! Beijing is renowned for its infamous Peking Duck. dumplings, and hotpot.
Luxury Hotel: Aman Summer Palace Beijing
Guests here have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves with ancient Imperial Chinese culture by staying in quarters that once belonged to the UNESCO Heritage’s Summer Palace. As a place of historical significance, the hotel’s exterior has continuously been restored and maintained to reflect its former glory when it once housed 24 of China’s emperors and their families. Like all the best palaces, this property houses a secret entrance, exclusive to hotel guests, that provides a direct entrance into the UNESCO Heritage site thus bypassing the crowds queueing for admission.
Despite the property’s traditional exterior, the hotel is equipped with modern, state of the art public facilities that include a 27-yard pool, a private cinema, and two squash courts.
Although there are numerous places around Beijing to be explored, guests staying at the Aman Summer Palace should also take some time to explore all that the hotel has to offer as well. Guests can enjoy a wide range of cuisine from their three restaurants ranging from Cantonese classic dishes, French-Japanese fusion, to Western-style grilled prime cuts of meats.
For something a little more cultural, the hotel has arranged a multitude of activities such as tea ceremony, Chinese calligraphy, paper cutting and kite making demonstrations in their library. Or to keep fit during your holiday, join a complimentary pilates or yoga class within the property’s fitness studio.
Address: 1 Gongmenqian Street, Summer Palace, Beijing, PRC 100091
Luxury Activity: Learn to Cook Chinese Cuisine
(With Chefs from Famous Restaurants!)
For cooking classes, we definitely suggest you try Beijinger Kitchen. They invite top chefs from famous restaurants or five-star hotels to teach you how to cook popular Chinese dishes hands on. Not only will you get the chance to taste the meal you’ve personally cooked, but the chefs will also cook other dishes, including those from the Szechuan and Canton province, so you can taste the different culinary styles.
Not interested in taking a class? That’s fine too! Beijinger Kitchen offers a unique private dining experience where they invite top chefs to create a ten-course meal that covers eight famous Chinese cooking styles so you can try them all in one sitting. With the chefs cooking privately for your party, you have the opportunity to pick their brains and ask them questions about Chinese culinary techniques.
If you have any allergies, let them know in advance and they will try to accommodate your needs as best as possible.
Address: No. 13 Fangjia Hutong, YongHeGong St. Dongcheng District, Beijing
Luxury Dining: Cai Yi Xuan at the Four Seasons
Photo of the restaurant’s Soy-Braised Pork Belly dish with Abalone and Black Truffle Sauce. Courtesy of the Four Seasons Hotel Beijing
Winner of multiple awards for its excellent wine and food, Cai Yi Xuan is a must try whilst visiting Beijing. The Head Chef has had over 20 years of experience cooking in multiple different Chinese techniques, which is reflected in the food you will taste here in this restaurant. Enjoy some dim sum during lunch hours, or dine a la carte during dinner (definitely order the Peking Duck). You can’t go wrong!
Address: 48 Liangmaqiao Rd, SanYuan Qiao, Chaoyang Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100096
Lifestyle Hotel: Hotel Éclat Beijing
Hotel Éclat is one of the few hotels around the world that perfectly satisfies all three of our categories: Luxury, Lifestyle, and Boutique; however, its amazing environmentally friendly initiatives are what made us decide to showcase this hotel in the Lifestyle category.
Why is this hotel so fantastically Lifestyle? First of all, the mixed-use building that houses Hotel Éclat was designed with a triple glazed glass exterior, which allows the hotel to use 50% less energy in comparison to buildings of comparable size. To further reduce energy consumption, the hotel uses LED lights throughout the hotel.
The building was also sustainably designed with a “grey water” reserve from water used in baths and showers to flush toilets. Furthermore, the products used to clean the rooms are also non-toxic as well as eco-friendly – even the bed sheets are off-white so bleach does not need to be used!
On a wellness note, in addition to the 24-hour gym located on hotel premises, guests staying here will have free access to one of Beijing’s most progressive fitness clubs, Philosophy, located within the same complex. Here, hotel guests will be able to participate in group training classes in aerial, barre, TRX, pilates, amongst others.
Also in the Chaoyang District (similar to EAST shown below), Hotel Éclat embraces its artistic surroundings. With over 100 pieces of art meticulously placed throughout guest rooms and private spaces, the hotel is also home to original sculptures and paintings from some of the greats, including works from Andy Warhol and China’s largest privately owned Salvador Dali collection.
This hotel is also “Luxury” for its impeccable service. Not only do guests receive personalized service, but every guest staying in the hotel also has access to Hotel Éclat’s 24-hour lounge that serves breakfast (a la carte with some buffet options), all day light refreshments and canapés, and a late night menu all complimentary during your stay. If you’re looking for something with more substance during the day, In-Room Dining is served fine dining style too.
Lifestyle Activity: Climb the Great Wall of China
(With a Cable Car and/or Toboggan ride!)
One of the Seven Wonders of the World and a featured UNESCO Heritage Site, the Great Wall of China is not to be missed whilst in Beijing. Its history can be dated back to the 7th Century and was used to protect the Chinese empire from enemy forces entering its vicinity.
Winding over 5,000 miles long, the Great Wall of China would take approximately 18 months to walk its entire length. While it is completely possible to accomplish this challenge, we don’t suggest it since large sections of the wall have become dilapidated due to its age.
Consequently, we recommend travelers to take a day trip to Mutianyu, approximately 45 miles away from Beijing. This route is much quieter in comparison to the main section (Ba Da Ling) that most tourists visit, which has become quite overcrowded due to its close proximity to Beijing.
We love this option because people have the choice to make this trip to the Great Wall as challenging or fun as they like. Mutianyu is a small town below the mountains which house this section of the Great Wall. Consequently, visitors can choose to either walk up the mountain for approximately 30 to 40 minutes until they reach the Wall or take a cable car up. The entire span of this section of the Wall is 1.5 miles long and contains 23 watch towers in between. Once finished seeing the wall, you then have the option to take a Toboggan (a long slide) back down to the village.
Check out this video to see what you should expect during this activity.
Lifestyle Dining: King’s Joy
Photo of the Restaurant. Courtesy of King’s Joy
King’s Joy is a fully organic and vegetarian restaurant that chooses its ingredients from local farms. Their Head Chef is a true believer of the Slow Food Movement and is finding innovative methods towards providing patrons with clean and healthy food by doing his best to showcase the key ingredients used in each dish. This means the food served is low-sugar, low-fat, low-calorie, and without preservatives.
With harpists regularly visiting the establishment to entertain the patrons, this restaurant is most definitely a NoFilter luxury-lifestyle mixed restaurant, and you can expect the price to be reflected.
Address: 2 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100027
Boutique Hotel: EAST Hotel Beijing
EAST is a very trendy hotel located in Chaoyang, one of the more populated areas of Beijing.
Just a 12 minute walk away from the infamous 798 Art District, EAST also boasts a large collection of specially curated art by young local artists featured around the hotel.
The hotel’s 369 rooms have been designed to maximize relaxation and all include features such as walk-in rainfall showers, luxury Australian designed bath amenities by Appelles, and iconic skyline views of Beijing. Guests also have the ability to stay connected with the wide range of in-room technology such as a mini Bose speaker, 37-inch LCD television, and international power sockets available in every room.
If you’re looking for some added luxury during your stay, book an Upstairs Room or East Studio to receive VIP arrival and departure services, a Nespresso machine in your room (as opposed to the standard complimentary tea and coffee received in lower category rooms), a separate bathtub space, and access to East’s Upstairs Lounge which provides complimentary full breakfast as well as light meals and drinks throughout the day.
There are tons to explore amongst the hotel itself. If you’re looking to get your “BEAST” on, head to Body By EAST to use their 17.5-yard heated indoor swimming pool, or use their state-of-the-art gym featuring Life Fitness cardio equipment, resistance machines, and free weights.
Hungry? Then “FEAST” on one of the hotel’s four food and beverage outlets. Dine around the world at Food by EAST and enjoy their semi-buffet with à la carte options, or choose to dine at Domain on Feast’s à la carte menu to meet, work, and network if you need to get some business done. Guests can also enjoy Japanese favorites including udon, tempura, and freshly made sushi at Hagaki. Finally, if you’re in the mood for a party head over to the hotel’s multi-level venue called XIAN to enjoy some fresh oysters and locally crafted beer whilst listening to some live DJ performances.
If that’s not enough, the hotel is conveniently located in close proximity to the INDIGO shopping mall, where you will be spoiled for dining options with some of Beijing’s best gourmet restaurants in walking distance.
Boutique Activity: Visit the Local Markets
If you want to see local customs and culture in action, visiting the markets is the way to go. For souvenirs, we recommend Panjiayuan Antiques Market. At this market, you will find vendors selling everything from Chinese calligraphy brushes, to ceramics, and even Ming or Qing era furniture. However, if you are specifically looking to purchase tea or tea sets, check out Maliandao Tea Street instead.
This is an indoor market where close to 900 vendors trade their products. On this street, you should be able to find products at a cheaper rate for the same quality of goods. For our more adventurous travelers, we recommend visiting Donghuamen Night Market near Wangfujing. Here, you can find cooked scorpions, grubs, and seahorses, amongst other exotic foods to tickle your fancy… be warned this is not for the faint of heart (or stomach!).
Boutique Dining: Pingwa Sanbao
The owner of this restaurant initially opened this restaurant because he found people getting sick from the street food they were eating and wanted to create an establishment that was trustworthy to serve Beijing snack foods at the same affordable price. All the food in this restaurant is Beijing-ified Northern cuisine. If you stick to the menu, you can’t go wrong.
Address: Baijiazhuang Rd, Chaoyang Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100001