For so many travellers, visiting the Chinese capital of Beijing represents a major stroke off of the bucket list thanks to the wondrous Great Wall of China not far outside its city limits.
The cultural heartland of the world’s longest-standing civilization, Beijing encompasses both the past and the future of China in one package. One supremely giant package. And that’s what makes choosing where to stay in Beijing one of the biggest challenges in planning a trip to China’s capital!
Not sure where to crash? Let this guide to the best places to stay in Beijing light the way…
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Best places to stay in Beijing, China: A complete guide to the top areas & neighbourhoods for travellers
When you’re sorting out where to stay in Beijing, there’s always bound to be a little difficulty. In China’s massive capital, inhabited by a population over 20 million strong, there are literally thousands of accommodations options to choose between.
As you’d expect in an ancient city, not all of your choices are golden.
Add on top of that a sprawling cityscape that stretches as far as the eye can see, and you’ll have a good idea of why checking yourself into one of the best places to stay in Beijing can be a tad challenging.
Fortunately, unlike expats, travellers can breathe a sigh of relief. Many of the top things to do & see in Beijing are located quite centrally or are easily accessible with the ever-growing Beijing public transportation system. That chops down the work considerably.
To help you plan your trip, we’ve narrowed things down to the following best areas to stay in Beijing for travellers:
- Wangfujing: A central neighbourhood located just west of the Forbidden City. Its close proximity to Beijing’s top attractions makes this area the top choice for first-time travellers and those keen on spending their time sightseeing.
- Qianmen: One of the best neighbourhoods to catch the spirit of old Beijing, Qianmen lies just south of the Forbidden Palace. This smaller area is one of Beijing’s top commercial hubs and the best place to stay for anyone wanting to see an interesting mix of old and new with a host of great restaurants and tons of shopping and sightseeing nearby.
- Houhai: Another more traditional area of Beijing that’s perfect for getting a better sense of the city’s ancient roots. The neighbourhood is famous for its hutong, which are self-contained residential blocks (almost like small villages within the city) assembled into courtyards and narrow alleyways. There’s a wide selection of accommodations in Houhai at every budget level. Foodies, in particular, will absolutely love staying here.
- Xidan: One of the city’s main commercial hubs, Xidan is most famous for its barrage of fashion boutiques & shopping malls. Although its central location just west of the Forbidden City is prime for just about anyone, Xidan, undoubtedly, finds its niche as the best place to stay in Beijing for shoppers & fashionistas.
- Sanlitun: One of Beijing’s most modern quarters, Sanlitun gleams with perhaps the city’s best collection of restaurants, cocktail bars, and nightclubs. It’s the top area to stay for travellers looking to jump into Beijing’s nightlife scene and experience some of the best food the city has to offer.
✓ Best area to stay for first-time visitors & sightseeing
Whether you’ve only got 24 hours in Beijing or you’ve carved out a couple days, anyone who’s serious about sightseeing in Beijing should take a look at staying in Wangfujing.
This centrally-located area spun around Wangfujing Shopping Street in Dongcheng District lies close to many of the top places to visit in Beijing from the ancient graces in & around the Forbidden City to some of the top shopping boutiques, food streets, and night markets in the city.
Simply put: You can’t go wrong staying in Wangfujing.
Attractions in & around Wangfujing: Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, National Art Museum of China, Gongmei Mansion, Shengxifu Hat Store, Ruifuxiang Silk & Cotton Shop, Sun Dong An Plaza, Wuyutai Tea Shop, Wangfujing Snack Street
Recommended hotels in Wangfujing
Thanks to the area’s popularity, Wangfujing has a little of everything in terms of accommodations from budget-friendly guesthouses to some of the top luxury hotels in Beijing.
- Sunworld Dynasty Hotel: An elegant modern hotel located close to the Forbidden City and some of the best shopping in the city. Rooms are decorated with warm colours an a contemporary Asian flair.
- New World Beijing Hotel: Among the top mid-range picks in town, this lovely 4-star hotel features a whole host of amenities from a luxurious indoor swimming pool to a rooftop bar with tremendous views over the city. The Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven are just 15 minutes away by foot.
- The Peninsula Beijing: One of Asia’s top luxury hotels, The Peninsula sets the bar for service and elegance among all accommodations in Beijing. Guests will become immediately enthralled by the spacious suites that feature luxurious bathrooms and mega views of the cityscape.
✓ Best neighbourhood to stay for traditional sightseeing and great food
Along the Wangfujing, one of the best areas to stay in Beijing is the central residential and commercial area of Qianmen in Dongcheng District. It lies just a few major blocks south of the Forbidden City and is centred around the popular shopping street of the same name running between Zhengyang Gate and the crossroad at the entrance to the Temple of Heaven.
In contrast to other parts of central Beijing, Qianmen shows off some of the city’s more traditional elements with architecture hailing back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The looks can be quite deceiving in parts as inside many of these classically Chinese buildings, especially along Qianmen Street, hides modern brands like Starbucks, Sephora, H&M and Zara.
As you walk around the Qianmen area, you’ll also get face-to-face with plenty of great restaurants as well as interesting shops and marketplaces.
On top of that, Qianmen presents an opportunity to get acquainted with Beijing’s famous hutong, which are small housing blocks that mix together residential and commercial living within narrow alleyways that lead to central courtyards. In them, you’ll find everything you’ll need for the perfect stay from small grocery stores to restaurants serving some of Beijing’s best food.
Attractions in & around Qianmen: Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Dar Shi Lar, China Railway Museum, Lao She Teahouse, Qianmen Quanjude Duck Restaurant
Recommended hotels in Qianmen
As the Qianmen area is relatively small in comparison to most of the neighbourhoods covered here, there’s a much more limited selection of accommodations both in terms of quality and quantity.
Most of the best places to stay fall within the upper-budget to mid-range categories. There’s also a handful of hostels & guesthouses though the quality can be a little hit or miss.
- pentahotel Beijing: Located on the eastern edge of Qianmen close to the Chongwenmen Subway Station, this budget-friendly hotel features bright, simple and relatively spacious rooms.
- The Emperor Qianmen Beijing: A stylish water-themed design hotel situated within a hutong in the heart of the Qianmen area. Extra amenities like a rooftop pool with amazing views of the city really take this property to the next level. Tiananmen Square is just 15 minutes north by foot.
- New World Beijing Hotel: Straddling the (unclear) borderline between Wangfujing and Qianmen, this fantastic mid-range hotel deserves a second mention for its spacious modern rooms and superb amenities. Taking a relaxing dip in the luxurious indoor pool or sipping a cocktail on the rooftop terrace will prove to be one of your favourite experiences during your stay in Beijing.
✓ Best district to stay to experience ancient Chinese culture & traditional cuisine
If you’re looking for an alternative to the trappings of modern Beijing with a dash of nature, give Houhai or the neighbouring area of Nanluoguxiang a taste. These areas to the north of the Forbidden City—and near the three lakes of Xihai, Houhai and Oianhai—are among the best places in central Beijing to get a grip on ancient Chinese culture and heritage with their immense sightseeing opportunities.
With their hutong culture, Houhai and Nanluoguxiang also make great options for travellers looking to indulge in some of Beijing’s best classic cuisine. There’s a number of superb restaurants in the area serving local favourites like Peking duck, jiaozi (dumplings) and Zhajiang noodles. The area centred around the lakes also hosts a number of bars that are popular with the expat community.
Attractions in & around Houhai: Houhai Lake, Prince Gong Mansion, Former Residence of Soong Ching-ling, Drum Tower
Recommended hotels in Houhai
If your search so far has been limited to areas closer to the dead centre of the city, you’ll immediately notice the excellent value you’ll find in Houhai and Nanluoguxiang. There’s a good mix of everything here from budget-friendly hotels to more mid-range picks. And the quality of many of the offerings is top-notch!
- Shichahai Sandalwood Boutique Hotel: Located in a former Qing Dynasty mansion, this lovely boutique hotel features a centre courtyard brushed with palatial Chinese flair for an accommodations experience experience out of the ordinary. On top of the spacious and well-appointed rooms, the property offers extras like cooking classes and traditional Chinese tea ceremonies to guests.
- The Orchid Hotel: Although it occupies a historical residence, this hotel charms with bright and spacious rooms and self-catering units that blend rich wood finishes from the building’s past with modern furnishings & fixtures. The bustling entertainment & dining area around Houhai Lake is just 15-minutes away by foot.
- Beijing 161 LeZaiNanluo Boutique Hotel: A supremely charming property rolling around in an atmospheric hutong that screams old Beijing. Rooms are delightfully modern and spacious. Upgrade to one of the larger lofts or courtyard rooms for access to a terrace that looks unto the centre of the bustling hutong.
✓ Best area to stay for shopping to your heart’s content
Located to the west of the Palace Museum in central Beijing, the Xidan area is, along with Wangfujing, one of the city’s most famous traditional commercial hubs. Xidan Shopping Street, stretching from Xuanwumen Gate in the south and to Xinjiekou Crossing in the north, harkens back to the Ming Dynasty when it was one of the main thoroughfares into the city centre.
Today, Xidan bustles with shopping malls, boutiques, department stores, and top fashion brands along with a vast array of restaurants serving just about anything. The neighbourhood is trendy and fashion-forward, and is a great choice for where to stay in Beijing for a glimpse of the Chinese capital’s youth culture.
To the north, the area around Xisi is another great option. Quieter Xisi lacks the buzz of Xidan, and is more of a residential neighbourhood chock-loaded with hutong, small cafés and local restaurants.
Attractions in & around Xidan: Culture Plaza, Xidan Books Building, Cloud Watching Memorial Arch, Daoxiangcun, Joy City, Xidan Shopping Centre, Huawei Mansion, Pearl Market
Recommended hotels in Xidan
There isn’t a massive selection of accommodations in Xidan itself. Most of the properties here fall within the mid-range with more budget options (including a number of hostels & small guesthouses) available in the Xisi area to the north.
- Kelly’s Courtyard Hotel: Located in a hutong in the northern part of Xidan, this guesthouse offers clean budget-friendly rooms just steps away from the action. The leafy terrace is a relaxing touch.
- Grand Mercure Beijing Central: A trendy mid-range hotel featuring a cool modern design aesthetic that’s a step above most chain hotels. The massive indoor pool is a huge bonus. Xidan Commercial Street is just steps away.
- Peking Garden Hotel: An oasis of calm that truly lives up to its name, this lovely hotel prides itself on its horticulture with flowers and plants popping out at every turn. Its location in a quiet hutong just off the main drag is simply perfect.
- Pan Pacific Beijing: If you’re looking to up the comfort and luxury on your stay in Xidan, you can’t get better than this 5-star hotel. From the pristine and spacious rooms & suites to its bright and luxurious pool, you can’t go wrong with booking your stay here.
✓ Best area to stay for nightlife & business travellers
Although located a little further afoot from the top Beijing attractions than other areas on our list, don’t discount Sanlitun in Chaoyang District quite yet. Known for its crazy nightlife and premier food selection, Sanlitun is one of the best places to stay in Beijing for anyone wanting to kick their itinerary up a notch drinking, eating & being merry.
As you walk the streets centring around Sanlitun Road you’ll stumble upon everything from chic cocktail lounges and ritzy nightclubs to high-end Chinese restaurants and European-style cafés. The area is a favourite for expats and well-to-dos, which might explain its slightly more “global” and upscale focus.
Attractions in & around Sanlitun: Sanlitun Bar Street, Workers’ Stadium (Gongti), Yashow Market, Taikoo Li, Blue Zoo, Chaoyang Theatre
Recommended hotels in Sanlitun
With Sanlitun’s high-end vibe, it’s unsurprising that many of the area’s top places to stay hover around the mid-range to luxury segments. For more budget-friendly picks, you’ll probably want to look to other areas like Xisi or Houhai.
- Yolo House: The top budget pick in the area, this hostel/guesthouse offers both private rooms and dormitories. Guest will love getting treated to extras like a shared sun terrace.
- Holiday Inn Express Dongzhimen: A good value property for the location, this budget-friendly hotel features moderns rooms and everything you need for a simple, comfortable stay in Beijing. Sanlitun Bar Street is about 15 minutes away by foot.
- The Opposite House: A unique design hotel inspired by Beijing’s own traditional courtyard-style architecture, this property is a stylish as any in the city. Rooms are large with an refined contemporary look that’s bound to turn your head. The sleek pool area is nothing short of sublime.
- InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun: A fantastic luxury hotel at the heart of Sanlitun offering guests spacious and ultra-modern rooms with jaw-dropping views over the city. Extras like the luxurious indoor pool, relaxing spa and well-stocked fitness centre really push this incredible 5-star to the next level.
The best hotels in Beijing: Our top accommodations picks
- Shichahai Sandalwood Boutique Hotel: This graceful boutique hotel in Houhai, set in a lovely Qing Dynasty mansion, offers some of the best value among hotels in Beijing. The rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated. And with extras like a traditional Chinese ceremony and Chinese cooking classes, you’ll get more than your money’s worth here.
- New World Beijing Hotel: An incredible 4-star hotel betwixt Qianmen & Wangfujing. It’s got everything you’d ever need for your stay in Beijing from clean & spacious rooms to luxurious extras like a sleek indoor pool and a rooftop bar with vistas of the cityscape.
- The Peninsula Beijing: It’s hardly a surprise that this legendary 5-star hotel sweeps into the top luxury spot in Beijing. Like all of its sister hotels across Asia, The Peninsula Beijing always pushes the boundaries of superb service to the next level. Everything about this place—from the elegant rooms to the world-class amenities—will leave you speechless.