You’ll find the hotel on top of the Guardian Art Center in central Beijing, overlooking the tiled roofs of the Forbidden City.
The best place to touch down is Beijing Capital International Airport, which can be reached directly from London Heathrow. It takes around 40 minutes to drive from the airport to the hotel; one-way transfers in an Audi A6 are CNY 700.
Beijing South Railway Station, the largest in the city, is a 25-minute drive away. High-speed services arrive here from Shanghai, stopping of Ji’nan and Nanjing on the way.
You won’t need (or want) a car in Beijing. The city has extensive public transport and any dreams of enjoying open roads will be swiftly curtailed by traffic.
Worth getting out of bed for
Perched on the edge of the Forbidden City, Puxuan taps into Beijing’s illustrious past, channeling a serene and stately mood that defies the frantic nature of the modern city. Part of the hotel’s ‘hostmanship’ concept is to offer a modern sort of luxury that’s flexible and tailored to you – so start by ordering breakfast to your room, where you’ll be able to watch the city come to life. After spending the morning exploring the Forbidden City, return for fragrant refreshments in the Tea Room, which gives China’s most famous export its full ceremonial due; book one of the private tasting areas for the most immersive experience. Afterwards, ride the zen flow straight to spa, where the treatments borrow from ancient healing and cutting-edge science.
The Forbidden City might be just outside, but you needn’t leave the building at all to get a culture kick. Puxuan is built on top of the Guardian Art Center, a museum, gallery space and auction house rolled into one. The centre’s focus is on homegrown artwork and antiques, and if you’re in the market, you’ll be pleased to hear that the safe in your room is big enough for a small painting or two… The National Art Museum is a short stroll away, but for a more off-the-beaten-track experience, try the 798 Art District in Dashanzi. This collection of galleries and studios has been fashioned out of former state-owned factories, including the eponymous Factory 798, which once produced electronics. Now grown into a microcosmic world with its own bars and restaurants, 798 has become synonymous with all that is cutting-edge in China’s contemporary art and design scene, attracting international attention from those in the know. If you’re looking to escape the city for a day, ask the concierge to arrange a day trip to one of the lesser-visited areas of the Great Wall, such as Jinshanling or Gubeikou, where the wall has never been reconstructed. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a section of the wall practically to yourself, and the crumbling, overgrown stone has a much more authentic look than the more touristy areas.
Café Zarah is a coffee shop, restaurant and art gallery that unites old Beijing with the new, occupying the shell of a traditional courtyard house that’s been brought back to life with the help of concrete and blackened steel. Stop in for a craft coffee or one of their Continental breakfast dishes, which are best enjoyed in the peaceful courtyard. For lunch, try Dadong Roast Duck, a restaurant dedicated to...well, you guessed it. The argument about Beijing’s best duck place is forever raging, but you can count on Dadong’s name being thrown into the ring every time it erupts. The restaurant prides itself on sourcing birds that are leaner than average, giving the meat a firmer texture than some of its rivals. For dinner, try Susu, another courtyard house that’s been brought into the 21st century, this time converted into a Vietnamese-inspired eatery. The team of young chefs turn out delicately-spiced spring rolls, flavoursome pho and hearty clay pots with gusto, and the bar staff shake cocktails infused with homemade syrups and bitters. For authentic Yunnan folk cuisine, book a table at Lost Heaven, the Beijing branch of this famous Shanghai restaurant. The spices may have been adjusted for international diners, but the recipes are rooted in tradition, drawing on the cuisine of the region’s minority tribes. For fine-ding, try Jing Yaa Tang, an Alan Yau restaurant known for its excellent Beijing roast duck, or TRB Hutong, where refined mod-European dishes are served in a 600-year-old temple.