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Beijing is the site of many of the world’s most treasured historical sites: the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, as well as hundreds of smaller temples, palaces and statues. Travelers from around the world flock to these and also the nearby access points to the Great Wall of China. Beijing is also China’s government capital and an administrative hub that draws visitors on corporate or government-related business all year round. Whatever your reason for visiting Beijing, the copious and diverse local hotel offerings will certainly suit your needs.
Best Overall: The Opposite House
This wholly unique hotel is the brainchild of cutting-edge Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who blends the minimalist conventions of traditional Japanese design together with strikingly modern interpretations of Chinese architectural elements for something altogether new. The public areas of the hotel, which include a large mixed-use atrium, modern art exhibition space, four restaurants, a pool, as well as a fitness center, are designed to flow into each other, rethinking entirely the idea of what a hotel lobby can be.
Guest rooms are strikingly minimalistic and every element of them evokes zen and tranquility. The bamboo floors, the plush bed outfitted with 400-thread-count linens, the traditional Japanese-style oak soaking tub and the low lighting and light colors all let your mind become uncluttered. The Opposite House thinks of itself as being opposite from a normal hotel experience and, indeed, that seems to be the case.
Best Budget: Double Happiness Beijing Courtyard Hotel
Stroll down one of Beijing’s famous hutongs (alley-like streets) to this traditional siheyuan (courtyard-style home) for an authentic and affordable stay in Beijing. Rooms are decorated and furnished in a traditional Chinese style: red silk fabrics, intricately carved wooden furniture, paper lanterns and traditional porcelain. Modern amenities are also part of the deal, though. The bathrooms are fully modern, with walk-in showers, the whole hotel is equipped with Wi-Fi and air conditioning, and there are flat-screen TVs in every room.
It’s a small hotel, but the English-speaking staff takes great pride in helping guests with anything they might need, whether it’s making an arrangement for a bus to the Great Wall or cooking a favorite item that isn’t on the dinner menu in the small on-site restaurant. A large breakfast buffet is included with rooms and offers both Western and Chinese delicacies. Double Happiness is within an easy walk to the Forbidden City, the National Art Museum of China and other central Beijing attractions.
Best Boutique: Hotel Eclat
The luxury boutique Hotel Eclat is as much an art gallery as it is a hotel. Modern pieces by Western artists like Dalí and Warhol and Chinese artists like Fan Xiaoyan and Shen Jingdong are on view in the enormous, oddly-shaped lobby as well as in the guest rooms and suites. Each room is designed individually, often to highlight one or more art pieces, and the result is a bit wild, often even bordering on surreal, but for art and design lovers, it’s a dream. Bathrooms are modern, with high-end Japanese toilets, rain-style showers, separate deep bathtubs, and modern vanity fixtures.
The Eclat is part of a complex that includes an adjacent luxury shopping mall with restaurants and a food court, which makes food choices plentiful. Breakfast is included, as is an afternoon tea and a cocktail happy hour. The location is excellent, with both modern shopping and art galleries and historic attractions (Temple of the Sun) within a short walk.
Best for Families: Novotel Beijing Peace
Though this is a fairly typical and not entirely unique member of the French Novotel hotel chain, it’s an ideal choice for families visiting Beijing. Rooms are simple and, aside from some small touches of Chinese décor, quite standard, but clean, large, and attractive. Adjoining rooms for families are available, as are suites, and all rooms have bathtubs. The location is very close to the center of the city, putting it in walking distance to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
The best reason for families to stay here, though, is the special attention paid to children. Kids will be greeted with special welcome gifts, and a play area and swimming pool are both ready and waiting to be played in. The hotel has two restaurants, one of which is buffet/à la carte style, so picky kids can choose from a variety at all times. Room service also includes a kids’ menu and is an easy choice for when kids are tourist-ed out.
Best Romance: Four Seasons Beijing
It’s no surprise that the Four Seasons Beijing is, like every hotel in the Four Seasons family, flawlessly luxurious and beautifully appointed, with notably comfortable beds and crisp linens. Nor is it a surprise that the staff at the Four Seasons Beijing will do everything they can to make every stay special. With that in mind, even the simplest visit here can be effortlessly romantic — staff will arrange bouquets, flower petal baths in the huge soaking tubs in your room, breakfast in bed, or any other romantic extras you might need.
But for the ultimate in romance and decadence, book yourself and your partner the hotel spa’s signature Midnight Magic experience, available to just one couple per night for maximum privacy. You and your sweetie will sip tea in silk robes, take a private dip in a heated pool, sip champagne and eat gourmet treats, and enjoy a two-and-a-half hour couples’ massage and facial, all by candlelight.
Best Nightlife: W Beijing Chang’an
Young travelers will love the contemporary décor and decidedly party-friendly vibe at the W Beijing. DJs perform in both the lobby lounge and in the top floor bar every night, providing easy on-site access to dancing and drinking. And for rejuvenation, the next day, a luxurious lap pool and a full-service spa are both available… or simply take advantage of room service and have hangover-curing noodles sent right to you.
Every area of the hotel is youthful and edgy, with lots of mood lighting, striking fixtures, and quirky design elements. Guestrooms all have hardwood floors, accented with bright abstract area rugs, and bathrooms have rainforest showers and huge circular bathtubs. The beds themselves are a highlight, with glowing headboards, 400-thread-count sheets, and a pillow menu from which you can select your perfect headrest.
Best Business: Rosewood Beijing
A prime position in the heart of Beijing’s bustling Central Business District makes it an obvious choice for most corporate visitors, but the Rosewood has much more to offer than simply location. Each room is designed to be a comfortable urban oasis, with soothing pale colors and clean lines, high-end amenities including Frette linens and bathrobes, and fully modern tech systems, Wi-Fi, and a 50” smart TV. Other on-site amenities include a spa, fitness center, and multiple restaurants.
Business travelers should seriously consider upgrading their stay to a Club Room for access to the Manor Club executive lounge, where guests can enjoy breakfast, snacks throughout the day, a pool table, a bar, meeting facilities, international newspapers and magazines and the company of fellow executive travelers. Club Rooms also come with butler service, complimentary laundry/pressing and coffee or tea on demand at all times of day or night. It’s an upgrade that will certainly make doing business in Beijing much easier and more pleasant.
Best Luxury: The Peninsula Beijing
From the moment you arrive at the airport and are greeted by a Rolls Royce Shadow from the Peninsula’s own fleet, it’ll be clear that the amenities provided by the Peninsula Beijing are a cut above. This large hotel, with its Chinese-style red roof, is all-suite, with the interiors decorated in dark woods and muted cream, grey, and white fabrics. Suites include huge marble bathrooms with soaking tubs (which have inset televisions), separate showers, Oscar de la Renta toiletries, walk-in closets for clothing and luggage storage, a comfortable living area, and coffee and tea facilities. The room’s heat, light, and sound are all controlled via a tablet — a fun (and convenient) modern touch.
An international restaurant, Jing, and a Cantonese fine dining restaurant, Huang Ting, are both on site, and afternoon tea — a worldwide tradition at Peninsula hotels — is served daily in the lobby. A pool, fitness center, and full-service spa can all be found in the building. The Peninsula is an easy walk from the Forbidden City and all other central Beijing attractions. For the ultimate experience, see what’s on offer through the Peninsula Academy, a series of tours and programs that give guests deeper exposure to the city’s sights and culture — from cooking lessons and rickshaw tours to visits to the Great Wall in a helicopter.
Best Hostel: Beijing Downtown Backpacker Hostel
This tidy hostel offers simple lodgings to backpackers and other bargain-basement travelers in a great spot very close to all of Beijing’s central city attractions. Both dorm-style shared rooms and a few private rooms are available. All rooms have clean private bathrooms with hot water. Beds have privacy curtains and outlets are available for charging. Breakfast, hot tea and Wi-Fi are all included.
A basement hangout area and rooftop terrace offer some different options when you don’t quite want to stay in your bed, but don’t quite want to go anywhere, either. When you are ready to get out, though, the hostel has bicycle rentals available and is also a popular provider of Great Wall of China tours, which travelers (even those who do not stay here) recommend enthusiastically.