We love Beijing. And every time we have guests over, we are more than happy to give them the
through our beloved city. But however impressive the
is, after you've seen it three times, the magic tends to fade.
So, we did some research and put together the ultimate guide's guide: the best places to go to after you've dropped off your visitors at Beijing's main attractions. They explore the city's highlights, you explore some of its best coffee bars and restaurants, and everyone goes home happy.
1 Around the Forbidden City
is a sweet spot to wait if the weather is nice enough. Alternatively, on the east side of the park, at the crossing of Jingshan Dongjie and Shatan Houjie, you can find Alley Café. The cute courtyard is a good spot to read a book.
If you want to get some work done, head west towards Xisi subway station. It's a nice 15-minute stroll from the north exit of the Forbidden City, or the south entrance of Jingshan Park, along Wenjin Jie, with pretty views as you cross the lakes. You'll enter a buzzing area with lots of stores and local restaurants. Housed in an old church on the right side of the road, 1901 Café stands apart from the crowd. Order a coffee, juice, salad, sandwich or a simple pasta dish and you won't have to leave for the next couple of hours. Await Café is only a short walk further. Spread over three floors, this place offers plenty of seating in a fun environment with a small terrace. They serve good coffee, various salads, Asian dishes and pizzas. Make sure to try one of their cheesecakes.
2 Around Dashilan
The Dashilan area
hides some pretty good coffee houses. One of the best is Berry Beans Café
. You can find it on Bada Hutong, one of 'the eight great hutongs', which used to be the red-light district during the Qing Dynasty. Housed in a former brothel, Berry Beans Café serves up soothing flat whites. You can either hang at the bar or enjoy some peace and quiet on the roof terrace, just around the corner from bustling Dashilan Xijie.
Coffee addicts will find a solution to all their problems at Soloist Coffee Co
, a venue of the celebrated chain of Soloist coffee houses. It's a bit pricey, but you will get high-quality coffee, whatever your order. Their home-brew is an afternoon activity in itself.
Another hidden place for a cup of coffee is the Living Room Coffee House
. Just a 15-minute walk south of Tiananmen Square, this place is aptly named it's so cosy. Have a seat at the communal table, order the home-brewed 'Two white cats seasonal blend' and make yourself comfortable. Once your friends are done shopping, you're all caffeinated and ready to continue the tour.
3 Around Temple of Heaven
Right opposite of the east gate of the Temple of Heaven
, you can find two branches of the bakeries Holiland and Wedomé. Both offer decent bread and pastries with an Asian twist and cheap coffee. Although they're not the most atmospheric places, they do the job. And so could you, since they have seating at both places. Or you could just pick up a picnic here and relax at the park like the locals do, while your guests tick off the sights.
There are plenty of Chinese eateries in the small streets east of the park. You could always grab a plastic chair at one of the stalls along Fahuasi Jie.
4 Around Lama Temple
There are plenty of coffee bars in the Gulou
area. Wudaoying Hutong is just one of the many hutongs that's packed with bars and cafes. Your guests will probably love this tourist-friendly area, so you might as well wait for them in one of the hangouts there.
5 Around Houhai
It takes an experienced eye to discover the gems between the loud and busy bars surrounding Houhai lake, so that's where we come in. Your best bet are the cafés on the southwest side of the lake. When you're coming from the Drum and Bell towers, cross the bridge and follow the water back up north. Just off the lake, you will find some more quiet places, like Nevertheless Coffee House.
There are plenty of options on and around Gulou Dong Dajiie, but our favourite is Café Zarah
. Enjoy their weekend brunch, sip a homemade lemonade in the courtyard or join the working forces in the back with their laptops. Zarah's neighbour, Dandelion
, also offers a quiet place for a cup of coffee. Just a few blocks south of Gulou Dong Dajie, you will find garden-themed café Geduo Garden
. When your visitors are done exploring HouhaiLake and the Drum and Bell towers, you can all meet for a craft beer at the nearby Great Leap Brewing #6 Brewpub
6 Around Summer Palace
If you don't want to hang out at one of the many tourist restaurants within the park, your only option in the area is the Aman hotel at the Summer Palace
. Expect to spend some serious cash though. Afternoon tea services are available between 2-5pm, or you could have lunch at the hotel's imperial Chinese restaurant
. Forgot your credit card? There's a Starbucks near Xiyuan subway station.