20 best Beijing hotels
That amazing opening ceremony or Usain Bolt's record-breaking 100-meter run might be what much of the public still remembers, but for travelers there's a more important legacy of Beijing’s Olympic Games party: hotel beds.
Thousands of rooms and beds, from big-chain luxury operations to chic courtyard hostels, are left unfilled in the city.
Lots of rooms means lots of bargains on Beijing hotel rooms.
Whether you want to bathe like an emperor in the central business district (CBD) or drop a rucksack an alleyway near the Forbidden City, Beijing has got you covered in covers.
The Opposite House (瑜舍)
Opened in 2008, this six-story, glass-walled, 99-room boutique hotel is the city’s hippest address. The work of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, it shows off Beijing's Olympic commitment to design and style.
White rooms have a breezy, yoga-studio aesthetic. Even the bath is wooden.
Downstairs you’ll find a stainless steel pool -- like something from Doctor Evil’s lair, though with no piranhas -- and Bei, one of Beijing’s finest restaurants. The hotel even has its own nightclub, Punk.
In the middle of a large shopping and dining complex, The Opposite House is in a good setting for night owls.
The Village Building 1, 11 Sanlitun Lu, near Dongzhimenwai Dajie 三里屯路11号,三里屯Village1号楼, 近东直门外大街, +86 10 6417 6688, room rates: from RMB 2,500, www.theoppositehouse.com
China World Summit Wing (国贸大酒店)
Rising like a steel mast over Beijing's CBD, the 81-story, 330-meter China World Tower 3 (the city’s tallest building) hosts Shangri-La’s Summit Wing hotel on its uppermost floors (64th-80th floor).
Bill Gates books a suite here when he’s in town, but even the standard rooms measure in at an impressive 55 square meters, with Narnia-sized wardrobes and a tub big enough for one-on-one water polo.
This slick business hotel has decorative Oriental flourishes, giant feather pillows and jaw-dropping vistas, smog-permitting.
Since opening in 2010, Atmosphere Bar on the 80th floor has garnered a following for its views of the bright lights of CBD.
The 25-meter infinity pool on the 78th floor -- yup, it’s like swimming in the sky -- might well be the highlight of your stay.
1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, near Dongsanhuan Zhonglu 建国门外大街1号, 近东三环中路, +86 10 6505 2299, room rates: from RMB 1,888, www.shangri-la.com/en
Raffles Beijing (北京饭店莱佛士)
Beijing’s grande dame hotel, the 171-room Raffles Beijing (formerly Hotel de Pekin) has seen it all in its 80-plus years of service.
The building was occupied by the Japanese military between 1937 and 1945. A decade later, the People’s Liberation Army held banquets here before the Great Hall of the People went up at Tiananmen Square down the street.
A bit faded, the hotel still exudes class from every glittering chandelier and four-poster bed.
Rooms in south-facing Block "B" (the original section of the hotel) overlooking Chang'an Jie are prime real estate.
Even if you don’t stay here, afternoon tea in the Writer’s Bar with its antique wooden dance floor (upon which a certain Mao Zedong was known to tango on occasion) is worth doing.
33 Dong Chang'an Jie, near Wangfujing Dajie 东长安街33号, 近王府井大街, +86 10 6526 3388, room rates: from RMB 1,588, www.raffles.com/beijing
The Aman at Summer Palace (颐和安缦)
Within Aman’s 1.2-square-kilometers of polished clay floor tiles lies the last word in imperial luxury -- a period Qing Dynasty resort of crisscrossing courtyards, halls and suites, unfolding symmetrically like a miniature Forbidden City.
Attached to the Summer Palace (it even has its own secret entrance), Aman is Beijing’s priciest hotel.
Expect all the fawning and comforts “Aman junkies” take for granted: huge bathrooms, period furnishings, a packed program of tours and cultural events and seriously fine dining at Naoki Restaurant, which serves Japanese kaiseki cuisine.
Some distance from the city center, this one is designed for escape, not exploration.
1 Gongmenqian Lu, Summer Palace, near Tongqing Jie 颐和园宫门前街1号, 近同庆街, +86 10 5987 9999, room rates: from RMB 4,000, www.amanresorts.com
Park Hyatt Beijing (北京柏悦酒店)
Check-in takes place on the 63rd floor at this haven in the sky, and from there it's breezy comfort all the way.
Generous suites come with a butler, the biggest bathtub in town and soothing views -- just the place to unwind after a long evening clinking baijiu glasses with your Chinese business partners.
China Grill offers premium dry-aged steaks and seafood. For cocktails and a hopping house band, rooftop bar XIU regularly packs out, especially on its near-legendary "ladies night" every Thursday.
If buying bling is your bag, the Park Hyatt sits atop some of the best luxury shopping in the city, connecting directly with China World Mall beneath the street.
2 Jianguomenwai Dajie, near Dongsanhuan Zhonglu 建国门外大街2号, 近东三环中路, +86 10 8567 1234, room rates: from RMB 2,100, beijing.park.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels
The Peninsula Beijing (王府半岛酒店)
Everyone from the doorman to the butler who comes to replenish the mini-bar seems to make it their mission to make you feel fabulous at this centrally located palace.
Standard rooms are a little smaller than at some of Beijing’s newer five-star hotels, but the 14th floor has a row of funky duplexes with tall windows.
There’s always the 660-square-meter Peninsula Suite with private elevator, banquet room and tub with a view reaching as far (in nice weather) as the Forbidden City and Jinshan.
An annex built in 2008 holds one of Beijing’s most luxurious spas, The Peninsula Spa, with an extensive menu of treatments for both sexes.
8 Jinyu Hutong, Wangfujing, near Dongdan Beidajie 王府井金鱼胡同8号, 近东单北大街, +86 10 8516 2888, room rates: from RMB 1,600, www.peninsula.com
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Grace Beijing (格瑞斯北京)
Back in the 1990s, artists like Ai Weiwei (艾未未) set up shop in the empty factory buildings that would eventually become the 798 Art District. With the opening of Grace Hotel (formerly Yi House Art Hotel), the area’s gentrification is complete.
Though it’s outside of town, the hotel is surrounded by world-class contemporary art galleries.
There are only 30 guest rooms, but from boxy singles to spacious suites they claim lofty ceilings, original Bauhaus windows (that open), luxury linen and lots of arty prints.
You can fill up on terrific European fare at Yi House Bistro, which has a great two-course lunch deal for RMB 108 (except for Sunday).
2 Jiuxianqiao Road, 798 Yishu Qu, 706 Hou Jie 1 Hao 酒仙桥路2号院, 798艺术区706后街1号, +86 10 6436 1818, room rates: from RMB 616, www.gracebeijing.com
Billed as a "hostel for grown-ups," The Orchid is a laid-back boutique hotel in one of Beijing’s most vibrant hutong neighborhoods.
The lobby bar hosts regular wine tastings (free for guests), and serves potent locally brewed beer -- pretty soon everyone is well-acquainted, especially with only 10 guest rooms.
The most affordable rooms occupy wooden-beamed Qing-era buildings that surround an idyllic courtyard.
Premium rooms have private outdoor space and come with thoughtful extras like a mobile phone pre-loaded with useful numbers.
All rooms have an Apple TV set, goose-down beds and jars of high-grade tea.
From the trio of roof terraces you can catch sight of the Drum and Bell Towers looming over tiled rooftops.
65 Baochao Hutong, Gulou Dongdajie, near Nan Luogu Xiang 鼓楼东大街宝钞胡同65号, 近南锣鼓巷, +86 10 8404 4818, room rates: from RMB 680, www.theorchidbeijing.com
With its over-designed "retro-chic" decor and MacBook-wielding clientele, Hotel G is a slick operation providing good value: giant flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, Nintendo Wiis, complimentary mini-bar drinks and other treats for less than the price of chain hotels.
Hotel G isn't in the most attractive part of town, but it's in a good position for business meetings -- the nearby Lido area hosts many multinational companies -- and Beijing’s biggest nightclubs are a few hundred yards away.
Scarlett is the best kind of hotel bar-restaurant. Affordable brasserie fare is complemented by an excellent wine list (with many by the glass), and very possibly the most tempting cheese board in China.
A7 Gongti Xilu, near Dongyingfang Hutong 工体西路甲7号, 近东营房胡同, +86 10 6552 3600, room rates: from RMB 1,088, www.hotel-g.com
Courtyard 7 (秦唐府客栈7号院)
For a semi-authentic Chinese experience without compromising on comfort, Courtyard 7 ticks most boxes.
Gray brick buildings with vermillion beams and steep, tiled roofs wrap around meticulously tended gardens, quadrangle-style.
Spacious rooms are dominated by traditional rosewood-framed beds girdled with silk drapes -- firm for the uninitiated, but comfort is assured elsewhere by cozy under-floor heating, rainforest-style showers and a hearty buffet breakfast.
Best of all is the location, a quiet side alley off Nanluogu Xiang straddling the old and new parts of town. Head east for lattes, cocktails and Mao kitsch, west for traditional snack vendors and card-playing locals.
7 Qianguloyuan Hutong, Nanluogu Xiang 南锣鼓巷前鼓楼苑胡同7号, +86 10 6406 0777, room rates: from RMB 650, www.courtyard7.com
Set in a former primary school, this low-rise boutique is a newer addition to Face Bar, an upscale drinking hole south of the Worker’s Stadium.
Guest rooms and public areas are strewn with eye-catching Indian, Balinese and Thai artworks from the owner’s personal collection.
Rooms come with giant TVs, attractive Chinese furniture, big bathrooms and lots of hanging space. Previously employed by Banyan Tree, the manager, Lu Hu (陆虎), ensures service remains a priority.
The hotel's Thai restaurant, Lam Na Thai, with a manager and chefs imported from Thailand, is popular.
26 Dongcaoyuan, near Gongti Nanlu 工体南路东草园26号, 近工体南路, +86 10 6551 6738, room rates: from RMB 700, www.facebars.com
Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing (北京丽亭酒店)
Close to the Forbidden City and tourist shopping at Wangfujing, Park Plaza is a smart choice for first-time visitors nervous about culture shock.
Rooms are neat and tidy, with decent-sized bathrooms, big comfy beds, free Internet access and a smattering of foreign channels on the box. The downsides are no pool, and the breakfast buffet costs extra.
A team of efficient concierges is on hand day and night to take care of all of your Great Wall and Peking duck enthusiasms.
Book at least a month ahead in high reason if you want to snag a room at this popular and affordable mid-range hotel.
97 Jinbao Jie, near Dongsi Nandajie 金宝街97号, 近东四南大街, +86 10 8522 1999, room rates: from RMB 595, www.parkplaza.com
The Brickyard (瓦厂)
On the outskirts of Mutianyu village, this eco-conscious boutique retreat rests in the shadow of Beijing’s second most visited stretch of Great Wall.
A former glazed tile factory, it’s gone through a full makeover. The old firing kilns now house the reception area, and shards of colorful tiles are set into paths that wind through neatly clipped gardens.
Floor-to-ceiling windows with Great Wall views are installed in all guest rooms at ground level, but curtains are absent, so expect to rise with the sun (or use the eye-shades provided).
Breakfast (included) features local bacon, freshly baked pastries and jams made with fruit from the surrounding orchards.
A newly opened spa with pool, an outdoor Jacuzzi, sauna and treatment room has all wellness needs catered for.
Beigou Village, near Mutianyu Great Wall 北沟村, 近慕田峪长城, +86 10 6162 6506, room rates: from RMB 1,380, www.brickyardatmutianyu.com
Hotel Kapok (木棉花酒店)
Bright, white and contemporary, this Chinese approximation of a design hotel falls just short of greatness.
Open plan rooms have nifty enclosed balcony gardens, glass-walled bathrooms, big beds and techy gadgets.
Service is orderly and accommodating, despite spotty spoken English.
The lobby restaurant hands out iPad-style touch-screen menus, but the burgers, pizza and Hunan-style Chinese dishes are rather more humdrum.
Public areas sport space-age white booths kitted out with books and magazines.
Best of all is the location right beside the east gate of the Forbidden City, and minutes from the Wangfujing night market.
16 Donghuamen DaJie, near Beiheyan Dajie 东华门大街16号, 近北河沿大街, +86 10 6525 9988, room rates: from RMB 788, www.kapokhotelbeijing.com
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Holiday Inn Express Beijing Dongzhimen (北京东直门智选假日酒店)
This crisp, new budget hotel is surrounded by great Western and Chinese restaurants, and just across the street from April Gourmet, a U.S.-style grocery store open late for that emergency jar of peanut butter.
Good value rooms have funky lime-green armchairs, walk-in showers with lots of rolled towels, tea and coffee facilities, comfy beds and flat-screen TVs.
Young staff clad in orange sweaters are happy to help, but you might need to break out the Mandarin phrasebook.
Beijing’s best nightlife is within walking distance.
1 Chunxiu Lu, near Dongzhimenwai Dajie 春秀路1号, 近东直门外大街, +86 10 6416 9999, room rates: from RMB 485, www.hiexpress.com
Peking Yard (北平小院国际青年旅舍)
This upmarket hostel caters to the needs of today’s “flashpacker” tribe.
Housed in a handsome old house halfway up an interesting hutong, it opens into a chilled, wood-beamed lobby bar selling Belgian beers, pizza and burgers, with comfy couches and leafy plants. There's a quiet garden in the back, a few dorm beds are available, and there’s a cute sun terrace with loungers.
As a place to meet other travelers and compare Great Wall adventures it can’t be beat, but the price is getting into mid-range hotel territory.
28 Wangzhima Hutong, near Dongsi Beidajie 汪芝麻胡同甲28号, 近东四北大街, +86 10 8404 8787, room rates: from RMB 420, www.pekingyard.hostel.com
Double Happiness Courtyard (阅微庄四合院)
Family-friendly service and a great alleyway location make up for the Chinese-style beds and small bathrooms at this charming, tumbledown courtyard hotel.
No two rooms are the same it would seem; try to get one of three with a private balcony.
Rooms come with kettle and coffee machine, simple breakfast, Chinese-style wooden furniture, flat-screen TV and even a desktop PC for free web browsing.
A well-equipped bar is just inside the entrance, and the hotel staff are unfailingly friendly and adept at booking tours and onward travel. A lack of under-floor heating definitely halves guests' happiness, so this is probably one to skip in winter.
37 Dongsi Sitiao, near Dongsi Beidajie 东四四条37号, 近东四北大街, +86 10 6400 7762, room rates: from RMB 580, www.doublehappinesscourtyard.com
Sitting on the City Walls (城墙旅社)
So called for its perch just inside the long-gone Imperial city walls, this simple courtyard hotel is high on period atmosphere.
A eunuch’s snip away from Jingshan Park and the Forbidden City, it’s marvelously located, and boss Rick Dou (窦宏图) is a well of local knowledge. The Beijinger will tell you all about the history of the area.
Most rooms open onto the central covered courtyard -- the usual mélange of tables and chairs, booking desk, beer fridge and (rather less common) a life-size replica of a Terracotta warrior.
Basic rooms have soft beds and big shower rooms, and the kitchen turns out serviceable kung pao chicken and cheap coffee.
Free bike hire lets you explore the surrounding maze of old alleys at your leisure.
57 Nianzi Hutong, Jingshan Houjie, near Dianmen Neidajie 景山后街碾子胡同57号, 近地安门内大街, +86 10 6402 7805, room rates: from RMB 380, www.beijingcitywalls.com
Templeside Deluxe Hutong House (广济邻国际青年旅舍)
In the shadow of a little-known Tibetan temple, this covered courtyard feels a long way from the cappuccinos and shopping malls of contemporary Beijing.
Rooms are basic, with firm beds, thin towels and tiny shower rooms, fridge, TV and free Wi-Fi. Choose a south-facing room for temple views. There are three threadbare "family rooms" with bathtubs.
A small second-floor terrace has great views across the rooftops to the temple stupa.
Beijing-born owner Bobby Zhang (张昊) and his wife make every effort to make guests feel at home, with weekly group events like dumpling-making and family-style meals.
2 Baita Xiang, Zhaodengyu Lu, near Anping Xiang 赵登禹路白塔巷2号, 近安平巷, +86 10 6617 2571, room rates from: RMB 400, www.templeside.com
Peking International Youth Hostel (北平国际青年旅舍)
Another hip hangout for 21st-century nomads, this hostel in a compact courtyard beside the east gate of the Forbidden City offers small rooms and lovely public areas.
The open-air courtyard is a rarity in Beijing. Its long bench tables suit summer socializing and sunny breakfasts.
The building itself is particularly atmospheric, with peeling beams and period fixtures.
The downside is that drinks are Starbucks prices, and service is a little frostier than at other hostels.
No. 5, Beichizi Ertiao, Beichizi Dajie, near Donghuamen Dajie 北池子大街北池子二条5号, 近东华门大街, +86 10 6526 8855, room rates from: RMB 420, www.peking.hostel.com
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