Where to go and what to see in Beijing: Personal suggestions for architects from people shaping the city and members of our staff.
Owner, Timezone 8
Photo courtesy Timezone 8
Robert, Owner of Timezone 8
Robert Bernell owns the café and bookstore Timezone8, located in Beijing’s art hub, Factory 798. Bernell describes his enterprise as the “best café in Beijing,” noting its thousands of art and design books and a large array of magazines, as well as fair-trade, organic coffees.
The bookstore is located across from the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, which Bernell recommends for its collection of 1,500 works by Chinese contemporary artists, including Cao Fei, Huang Yong Ping, and Zhang Xiaogang.
For a unique place to stay, Bernell points architects to The Commune, which is located near the Great Wall. The Commune is a complex of 12 houses designed by prominent Asian architects, including Shigeru Ban and Yung Ho Chang. For reservation information, visit the Commune Web site.
Bernell also encourages stopping into Beijing’s Legation Quarter. Not only is it located in the only fully intact foreign embassy remaining from the Qing Dynasty (built in 1903 by Sid H. Nealy Architects), but it also offers unique and upscale dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Partner, Pei Partnership Architects
Photo courtesy Pei Partnership Architects
Sandi Pei from Pei Partnership Architects
Sandi Pei has three recommendations that instantly make RECORD editors’ mouths water. For Beijing’s famous Peking duck—prized all over the world for its thin, crispy skin created in a cooking process that involves blowing air between skin and flesh—Pei recommends Made in China. The restaurant is located in the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Chang An Street. Pei advises ordering the duck well in advance and sampling the giant grilled prawns—or any other dish for that matter. He also praises Made in China’s glass-enclosed kitchen for its view of cooks preparing jiaotzi (Chinese dumplings), noodles, and may other famous Chinese dishes.
Pei also suggests the Lan Club, in the Twin Towers on Chang An Street and across from the Silk Market Building. The club, he says, is on the fourth floor of the east building, which was designed by Philippe Starck. “It’s a must-see place,” he says, even if only “to believe that such an unusual space could exist in Beijing.” He notes the club’s private dining rooms situated in Mongolian yurts and painted by various artists. Pei also fancies the serving china, the silverware, and the 19th-century European throne chairs set against an art deco décor.
Pei’s final recommendations include the noted cuisine at Tian Di Yi Jia—a five-year old restaurant, featured in Food & Wine as a place that “would impress any head of state.” It is located on Chang An Street near the Beijing Hotel. And for dumplings, Pei says one must-try place is Ding Tai Fung. But to find it, he offers only, “Ask the concierge to dial +86 10 6462 4502 x101.”
Partner, Sako Architects
Photo courtesy SAKO Architects
Keiichiro Sako from SAKO Architects
Keiichiro Sako directs visitors to the Green T. House. Owner, chef, and designer, JinR, has been highly praised—not only for her cuisine but also for beauty of the tea house’s interior. Green T. House is located at 6 Gong Ti Xi Lu Chao Yang, Beijing, and can be reached at +86 10 6552 8310. You can also whet your appetite online.
Another “unusual” place to visit, Sako says, is Kid’s Republic, a picture-book store for children. Designed by his firm, it is located on the first floor of Building 13 in the Jianwai SOHO (not the new SOHO) Community, which is at 39 Dongsanhuan Zhonglu and opposite the China World Hotel. Browse the store’s Web site for more information.
Photo courtesy Christian Richters
Christian Richters is a freelance photographer who has spent considerable time in the Chinese capital. As a place for weary travelers to unwind and to catch some shuteye, Richters suggests Hotel Kapok—also known as, the "Blur Hotel"—designed by Studio Pei Zhu. “For Beijing standards this is a very small hotel, quite relaxed and nicely designed,” he says.
Richters advises requesting a "Fashion Suite." These rooms sit on the corners of the building. “They’re quite spacious and bright, with a beautiful bathroom,” he says, adding, “For about $200 US per night.”
Richters also recommends checking out the many traditional teahouses in the surrounding Hutong neighborhood, and, of course, visiting the Forbidden City—“only a two minute stroll away.”