Wine and dine at Nali Patio
For a more sophisticated night out, head to Nali Patio, another addition to Sanlitun around the 2008 Olympics. Built in the style of a Spanish hacienda, this multistorey Mediterranean hang-out is loaded with some of Beijing’s hottest bars and restaurants, such as Mosto, Jubang, Agua and Moka Bros coffee on the ground floor. The Hidden City dining precinct and the range of fast-casual eateries around the Workers’ Stadium are other highlights of Sanlitun’s culinary landscape.
Shopping has been at the centre of Sanlitun’s regeneration in recent decades, especially the sparkling retail wonderland that is Taikoo Li. Another Sanlitun landmark unveiled in 2008, Taikoo Li is a destination in itself, with 19 buildings, two different sites and countless flagship stores of huge labels like Rolex, Nike, Apple, Armani, The North Face, Longchamp and Adidas, which is the largest Adidas shop on earth. Shopaholics can also get their retail fix at the Soho Nexus Centre, the Shimao Department Store and the 3.3 Building.
Peruse the shelves of The Bookworm
Another part of the Sanlitun shopping scene is one of the best English-language bookshops in Beijing. The Bookworm is a café-bookstore that boasts a huge collection of English titles, and also hosts lectures, book clubs, writer talks and even its own literary festival. Book lovers should also visit Page One, a chain focussed on art and design books. The two-storey Sanlitun store sells Chinese literature as well as stationery, gifts and books in plenty of other languages to cater to the area’s large émigré crowd.
Catch a game at the Workers’ Stadium
This 66,000-seat stadium was one of the Ten Great Buildings constructed for the 10th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 1959, and enjoyed a facelift in 2008 before the Olympics. Gongti is now chiefly a football stadium, home to Beijing Guoan – and the club’s green-clad supporters produce one of China’s best sporting atmospheres inside this monumental concrete bowl. And after the game, you won’t have to go far for a feed or a drink, as countless bars and restaurants are sprinkled around the gates of the stadium.
Stay at the Opposite House
With an ultra-convenient location within the glamorous Taikoo Li precinct, the Opposite House looks like a Rubik’s Cube from the outside. But step inside the six-storey atrium drenched in natural light, and you’ll realise you’ve checked into one of Beijing’s most stylish boutique hotels. The 99 rooms showcase cutting-edge contemporary design, the result of an all-star team made up of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, London interior designers Neri & Hu and Australian chef David Laris. The Sanlitun neighbourhood is all about eating and drinking, and the Opposite House gets in on the act with three glamorous in-house dining options to sink your teeth into.