THE OPPOSITE HOUSE IN BEIJING
By Ian Robert Knight
Beijing is quickly becoming known as a world-class destination for luxury, art and food. For those of us who have been lucky enough to make the journey to China’s capital, we can recount dozens of stories about our experiences. And when you travel with us to China, staying at The Opposite House in Beijing is one of those experiences that you will remember for years to come.
The Opposite House, part of Swire Properties “House Collective”, sits in Beijing’s popular Sanlitun shopping district. Swire is the company behind Cathay Pacific Airlines. They also operate countless high-end malls and corporate towers throughout China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Other Houses in the collective include The Upper House (Hong Kong), the Temple House (Chengdu) and the Middle House (Shanghai).
The name “Opposite House” may seem a little confusing at first. It refers to the guesthouse that sits opposite the main house in traditional Chinese courtyard homes. When the famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma planned the structure, he wanted to point out how China is slowly losing the charm of courtyard houses. So he designed the low-rise hotel around a large art-filled courtyard. Kuma has projects all over the world, including the Olympic Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Kuma is well known for liberal use of natural wood in his designs, and the Opposite House is no exception. Although the exterior is clad in bright green and gold glass, the room interiors are entirely designed in bare blond wood, making the rooms bright and calming.
The Opposite House does things a little differently from most hotels (not opposite, just different). When you first arrive at the hotel, you’re greeted at the entrance and invited to relax while the check-in is brought to you. There is no reception desk, per se. Everything is handled in a casual, relaxed one-on-one basis, while sitting on a sofa.
Each of the 98 rooms in the hotel is designed for maximum space. They utilize floor-to-ceiling windows, glass partitions and bright white linens. Even the smallest room, at 45 square meters seems quite large and inviting. There are 4 room sizes, at 45, 70 and 90 m2,, and a two-level penthouse with a roof deck.
The rooms include a large tub made from oak, rain showers, huge beds, and a big desk. The mini-bar is free, and replenished daily, and the free WiFi is strong in the rooms. Of course, you’ll need a VPN if you want to access any of your social media or emails beyond China’s famed firewall.
The massive atrium, which sits in the middle of the courtyard design, acts as an art gallery. It regularly showcases big names in Chinese contemporary art. The art in the atrium changes frequently, but there are some permanent pieces in the hotel’s collection. The Chinese contemporary artist Li Xiaofeng has two pieces of “woven porcelain” made from broken pottery from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
There are 3 restaurants, as well as a popular cocktail bar in the hotel. One particular standout is Jing Yaa Tang. It is considered one of the best restaurants in Beijing, especially for the famed roasted Peking Duck. It’s easy to find this delicacy anywhere in the city, but the chefs at Jing Yaa Tang have perfected the art of roasting this dish like no others have. It’s an essential meal when you’re in Beijing. Being able to book a table in the hotel you stay in makes it even better.
The Opposite House in Beijing has been granted many awards since it opened in 2008. This includes “Best Boutique Hotel” in China by Travel + Leisure, and being ranked #22 in T&L’s top hotels in the world. Countless publications have raved about the hotel, with everything from Vogue, Robb Report, Conde Nast Traveller, Forbes and CNN giving praise. It’s no wonder that we love the place.
Join Us in China
Join us on an adventure in China. Our Middle Kingdom adventure begins with several days in Beijing and continues through the water villages near Suzhou. It finishes in Shanghai. And our Southern China adventure starts in Shanghai, and travels through the incredible Li River valley in Guangxi and finishes in Hong Kong.