Beijing Like A Local

Here Are The Greatest Spots In Beijing, From The Art Scene To Hutongs, Underground Bars, And More
Sky Wang, Butler Supervisor at The PuXuan Hotel and Spa.
Sky Wang
Butler Supervisor, The Puxuan Hotel And Spa

The PuXuan’s butler supervisor, Sky Wang, has been working in hospitality for nearly 20 years. And he hopes to remain in the industry for the rest of his career. He particularly loves the cross-cultural interactions he gets to have when dealing with guests. At PuXuan, Wang helps guests feel comfortable and luxurious at the same time. Before they even arrive, he studies his guests' preferences and qualities as much as possible, like their nationality, age, gender, and the purpose of their trip. Because PuXuan offers 24-hour check-in, guests arriving early in the morning from overnight flights will be greeted by Wang with express check-in and breakfast in their room.

The suites at The PuXuan Hotel and Spa have a minimalist design. The suites at The PuXuan Hotel and Spa have a minimalist design.
The Puxuan Hotel And Spa

A luxurious oasis just minutes from Beijing’s epic Forbidden City, the PuXuan Hotel and Spa is an urban resort in the heart of the city. The hotel’s modern design is inspired by the owner’s art collection and its spacious and luxuriously appointed guestrooms are a minimalist’s dream, with many featuring uninterrupted views of the Forbidden City. The hotel has two specialty restaurants, a lobby lounge, a distinctive tea room with specialized storage for high-end teas, and the sleek UR Spa, which offers tailor-made treatments using CHA LING L’Esprit du Thé and Comfort Zone Italy, combined with Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts. The PuXuan Hotel and Spa is the third Urban Resort Concepts property, after The PuLi Hotel and Spa in Shanghai and The Lohkah Hotel and Spa in Xiamen. The RuMa Hotel and Spa in Kuala Lumpur has also joined the portfolio.

Local Recommendations

The Best Of Beijing

Sky Wang, butler supervisor at Puxuan enjoys advising guests on what to do in Beijing—the city where he was born and raised.

“I love to give advice on dining and city explorations based on guests’ preferences,” says Wang. “One of my favorite parts of my job is working like a local culture ambassador to our guests.” Read on for some of the Beijing native's favorite local spots.

Go For A Stroll In A Beijing Hutong

Hutongs are small neighborhoods consisting of modest courtyard houses with narrow streets between them. Wang, like many Beijingers, grew up in a hutong. “When I was a boy, I lived in a quadrangle courtyard in hutongs, which filled me with so many beautiful memories. Hence, I still like to have a walk or enjoy a coffee in hutongs as my way of relaxation,” he says. The hip WuDaoYing is Wang’s favorite and it’s known for being a more serene alternative to the bustling NanLuoGuXiang. Near the famous Lama Temple (12 Yonghegong St, Dongcheng), the alleyways of WuDaoYing Hutong boast vintage boutiques, a Tibetan style bar, independent designer studios, tearooms, and cafés with terraces.

WuDaoYing Hutong is a charming neighborhood with courtyard homes. Photo courtesy of The PuXuan Hotel.

Have A Drink At An Underground Bar In Sanlitun

One of Beijing's liveliest neighborhoods, Sanlitun attracts locals and foreigners alike at all times of day and night, thanks to its plethora of shops, bars, restaurants, and clubs. A modern take on a vintage dive bar, Janes + Hooch Bar (Building 10, 4 Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang District; +86-10-6503-2757) is a standout. The hidden bar features exposed brick, wood-paneled walls, polished cement floors, and untouched brass ceilings. Sip on cocktails like an Oolong fizz, a New Fashioned (walnut-infused rum with cacao bitters), or Black Forest Martini. “Not as noisy as clubs, Janes + Hooch is really a nice, proper place to hang out,” says Wang.

The subterranean Janes + Hooch bar offers craft cocktails in an industrial-chic setting. Photo courtesy of Janes + Hooch.

Ride On A Human Rickshaw

Taking a ride on a human-powered rickshaw is a classic experience in Beijing and the picturesque neighborhood of Shichahai is the perfect place for it. Shichahai is in the northwest part of Beijing and encompasses three lakes (Qianhai, meaning Front Sea; Houhai, meaning Back Sea, and Xihai, meaning West Sea). Its history goes as far back as the Jin Dynasty (1115–1234) and during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), Shichahai was the terminal point of the Great Canal. On an hour-long ride, your driver can regale you with the history of the area and tell you stories about the surrounding buildings. “It’s a great way to integrate yourself into the local culture and life,” says Wang.

The Shichahai neighborhood has three lakes and is ideal for exploring on a rickshaw.

Explore Beijing's Art Scene

798 Art Area (2 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang; +86-10-5978-9798) is Beijing’s homegrown arts district and it’s a favorite of locals and visitors—especially for taking pictures. “While the big-name galleries at the city's famous industrial art enclave are always worth a visit, venture from the Instagram hotspots to see a few lesser-known treasures,” suggests Wang. He recommends the Highline, which is hidden away at the back of the complex (on the far eastern side). It’s a raised platform that offers close-up views of the now defunct factories and railway line, with wider vantages across the industrial landscape. Another cool spot is Originality Square, a fascinating display of Bauhaus architecture and home to international galleries like PACE and Faurschou.

Beijing’s 798 Art Area is full of photo ops and hidden art gems. Photo courtesy of Flanker Lee.