The LookOpposite House: Japanese architect Kengo Kuma created the contemporary six-story emerald-glass building for the UK-based Swire Hotels’ flagship property. Inside, it’s all reclaimed timber and rough-hewn stone—no marble and brass here—which, in effect, brings the outdoors in.
Aman at Summer Palace: Inspired by the Summer Palace, which was built in 1750 as a retreat for the Qing dynasty, the hotel includes centuries-old buildings, many of which were used by palace visitors awaiting an audience with the empress.
NeighborhoodOH: In the Sanlitun area, a 15-minute cab ride from the Forbidden City, government buildings stand alongside divey bars and nightclubs. A new shopping complex with luxe retailers like Comme des Garçons, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Fendi is set to open later this year.
ASP: Located at the east gate of the Summer Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the hotel gives guests special access to the grounds’ 720 acres of pavilions and gardens.
Who’s StayingOH: Fashion and entertainment types who prefer something trendier than the Peninsula or the Four Seasons.
ASP: Those who value quiet surroundings more than a central location. (Aman is a 30- to 60-minute drive from the Forbidden City.) Most recently model Kate Moss and fashion editor Candy Pratts Price, who were in town for Vogue China’s Icon Awards, stayed here.
Room to RequestOH: All of the 99 rooms are zen minimal, with natural wood flooring and Turkish sandstone walls. The best is no. 620, a corner studio on the top floor that looks out onto the area’s wooded embassy district.
ASP: Of the 51 guest rooms and suites, courtyard suite no. 7 overlooks the palace’s majestic Grand Theatre. All the rooms are done in earth tones of beige and deep brown, with custom Ming dynasty–style furnishings..
Peak ExperienceOH: Through a partnership with the Beijing Cultural Heritage Society, the hotel offers a guided 90-minute walk through some of the city’s last remaining hutongs, or villages.
ASP: Sunrise tai chi instruction at the Summer Palace, which doesn’t open to the general public until 7 A.M.
Top TableOH: At Bei, New York–trained chef Max Levy applies his nuanced interpretation of flavors from Japan, Korea, and northern China to dishes like suckling pig served with fermented tofu and miso foie gras with steamed sake and eel. Chef Levy also presides over the sushi bar.
ASP: The courtyard Chinese Restaurant’s nine-course tasting dinner menu fuses Cantonese flavors with imperial-style dishes, e.g., the steamed fried rice with shrimp, served in a lotus leaf. There’s lunch and dim sum, too.
Price PointsOH: The large loft-style studios start at $730 a night; the Penthouse, with a roof deck and amenities tailored to each guest’s needs, at $2,900 (theoppositehouse.com).
ASP: Generously sized double rooms go for $480 a night. And at $3,800, the luxe but pricey Imperial Suite even has its own courtyard and spa treatment area (amanresorts.com).