Old Beijing

Old Beijing was a dream come to true. Whilst one part of me recognises that the Hutong district has been preserved and monopolised for tourists, the other part of me says I don’t care. The restoration has been so sympathetic, and the experience of staying there was so authentic that I immediately fell in love with the place. I loved the fact that i could stay in an authentic courtyard B&B, where custom dictates I wear slippers, interact with our amazing hostesses and eat the most incredible Chinese breakfasts (egg rolls and marinated carrots are out of this world). Upon leaving the B&B, I would immediately interact with local school children, mange ridden dogs, aging gentlemen playing Majong and mingle with locals in the bars and stores of the hutong. That’s why we came to China. 

We were lucky enough to be staying near Lake Houhai in a cold December, and the ice bikes were available for hire. We spent a very happy evening with the locals zooming around on icebikes, circling the Chinese policeman and pulling skids to impress the kids.  I felt like a five year old at Christmas again.

After the cold had reached our special places, we’d head to a nearby tea house and spend and hour or two enjoying the tea house hospitality, drinking cup after cup of delicious green tea.

We chose not to dine around the lake as it was quite touristy and raucous, instead we headed back to our hutong district (Nanluoguxiang) and chose to spend an evening with the locals. We found an amazing Korean restaurant called Saveurs de Coree, and found that we had lots in common with the owners. We returned several times during or trip to Beijing to sample their delicious Bibimbap.

After our meal we loved to head over to the bar across the road for lethal cocktails. Often crowded, loud and very smoky it had a lovely blend of expats, locals and tourists – and a mean whiskey shelf!

Further photos of Beijing are available in our online gallery and in our China photobook.

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