Sanlitun was once a run-down district for young expats and broke students looking for a fun night out. But when the Opposite House, with its modern, green-paneled facade, landed in the middle of this formerly hedonistic paradise, things went distinctly upscale. Sure, there still are a few places just behind the hotel to get a quick drink, but now the area attracts a smart set of young Chinese urban professionals and local fashionistas. Designed by Kengo Kuma, the quirky exterior doesn't do justice to the Asian minimalist styling inside. The entrance itself is a work of art—the huge wooden door has the texture and rawness of age, with beautiful iron handles reminiscent of those adorning the gates in the hutong districts. Inside, find expansive wood floors, glass panels, and rotating art exhibits featuring local artists.
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
Sanlitun is changing fast. Some streets are high-end, with boutique shops and hip designer labels such as Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, while others are distinctly fly-by-night, with shops that will probably close down by the time you read this. It's the grittiness, along with its flash, that makes this district compelling.
Need to Know
Rooms: 90 rooms, 9 suites. From $400. Check-in: noon; check-out: noon. Dining options: A very foreigner-friendly district, there's nearly every global cuisine available, from Iranian to Iberian and beyond. But guests needn't look past the lobby for solid options, including Sureno, a charming Mediterranean restaurant with a great outdoor patio, and Jing Yaa Tang, with regional Chinese cuisine and a fresh update on Beijing duck. Spa and gym details: A swimming pool on the ground floor has soothing, atmospheric lighting. On the same floor is a gym with excellent equipment. Kocoon Spa offers an inspired range of treatments from all over Southeast Asia.
Who's it for: Fans of Asian minimalism. Our favorite rooms: The penthouse is spread over two floors and opens onto a large rooftop patio. It has wood floors and a bathtub, like every other room in the house, but also a stunning pool that flows from the indoors to the outdoor patio. Dumpling bonanza: The hotel debuted Jing Yaa Tang in 2013, and the restaurant offers one of the best dim sum deals in town—an all-you-can-eat brunch for $30. Just get there early before the locals start showing up for baskets of dumplings.