Beijing is the capital of China, and is, therefore, home to the country’s most important historical, cultural and political sites! This makes it a rewarding destination for anyone wanting a good overview of life in China.
There are also plenty of great restaurants and bars where you can experience some of the more cosmopolitan features of Beijing.
As the second-largest city in the country (home to over 21 million residents), Beijing is a truly sprawling metropolis that can be hard to navigate. Whilst the ring road system makes it somewhat easier, the recent change to area names and boundaries can make finding definitive information online tricky.
That’s why we created this guide! We have consulted travel experts, bloggers and local residents to bring you this guide to the best places to stay in Beijing. We’ve made sure to use modern boundaries to make things a little easier, and also included our top picks for things to do and accommodation. Whether you want nightlife, culture or history we have you covered.
So let’s jump right into it!
Table of Contents
At A Glance: Where To Stay In BEIJING
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Beijing.
|WHERE TO STAY IN BEIJING|
||Book on Air BnB →|
|PUREMIND Loft Hotel||
||Book on Booking.com →|
|Hotel Jen Beijing by Shangri-La||
||Book on Booking.com →|
If you want a traditional Chinese experience, this AirBnB is the perfect choice! Sleeping up to five people, it is an excellent option for families and larger groups visiting Beijing. The entire apartment is decorated with antique furniture from the local area, and it is close to many of the major attractions in the city.
PUREMIND is a popular hotel chain across China, and their Shichahai hotel is one of the best budget options in Beijing! They are in the best location for experiencing Beijing’s unique nightlife scene, and are only a short walk away from Houhai Bar Street. They also have great attention to detail with the decor.
Hotel Jen Beijing is located within a towering skyscraper that also comes with a shopping mall, restaurants and various business premises! Whilst this obviously makes it a popular choice with corporate travellers, it is also a great pick for tourists that want to stay close to the main transportation hubs.
Beijing is a fascinating city that is just begging to be explored. Every corner has an interesting historical or cultural attraction – it’s no wonder the city attracts millions of visitors every year! Though many tourists use it as a gateway to the Great Wall of China, the city has so much more to offer for those willing to look deeper.
Qianmen Street is one of the biggest tourist neighborhoods in the city thanks to its close proximity to the main attractions! Just a couple of minutes away from Tiananmen Square, Qianmen will likely already be on your itinerary – and staying here can be a great way to gather your bearings in the notoriously intense city.
If you want to be close to the main transport hubs, the Central Business District is a great option! Though this neighborhood doesn’t have as many tourist attractions as the others, it is within walking distance of the more historic neighborhoods, and is home to the main train station where you can take trips further afield in China.
On the other side of the city centre, Xidan is a major shopping destination in the city – especially if you want to check out some local stores. Neighboring Xisi, which for this guide we have included as the same area, is a quiet and leafy neighborhood, making it a great hideaway for families that want to be close to the main attractions without all of the hustle and bustle of Qianmen Street.
Speaking of great shopping areas – Sanlitun is our top pick for indulging in some retail therapy in Beijing! Once the biggest nightlife area in the city, it has since been overtaken by other neighborhoods in that regard but remains an important shopping neighborhood.
This is where you will find some more upmarket options, as well as unique souvenirs.
If you want to know the best area to stay in Beijing for nightlife at this very moment, we have to go with Shichahai! Flanked by Houhai on the west and Nanluogu Xiang on the east, this neighborhood has a truly eclectic range of nightlife options.
Nanluogu Xiang is a bit more traditional, whilst Houhai offers modern (albeit pricey) drinking and dancing options that open a bit later into the evening.
Beijing can be a surprisingly expensive city – but like many large metropolises across the world, the cheapest area can be found near the universities. In Beijing’s case, this is Haidian!
This neighborhood is packed with cheap dining and drinking establishments, and also benefits from a huge public park that is free to enter for tourists. Accommodation in this area also errs on the cheaper side due to its distance from the city centre – though public transport links are excellent.
Of course, if you’re fine with staying further out from the city centre but want somewhere a bit more creative, we recommend the 798 Art Zone! Once a major industrial area, this neighborhood in the Northeast corner of Beijing’s fourth ring road has since been updated to have a more modern and artistic atmosphere. Come here to check out how China’s youth express themselves in a contemporary way.
Whilst Beijing is a huge city with many different neighborhoods, these are our top seven picks for visitors to the city – especially those visiting from Europe or North America! Still undecided on which neighborhood is best for you?
Check out our more extensive guides below featuring our top picks for things to do and hotels to stay in for each area.
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the seven best neighbourhoods in Beijing. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
Just south of Tiananmen Square, Qianmen Street is a major tourist district thanks to the proximity to some of the biggest attractions in the city! This one street is almost six centuries old, and it’s easy to see the rich past in the street’s architecture. For first time visitors, Qianmen is a great way to get to know Beijing – both its past and its future.
As one of the most central neighborhoods, Qianmen is well connected to most of the other neighborhoods in this guide! Some of the public transport lines terminate here, and there are plenty of fantastic tour companies offering trips around Beijing and as far as the Great Wall of China.
This stunning apartment beautifully combines modern design with Chinese tradition to create a bright and airy space close to Tiananmen Square! It is packed with modern technology to improve your comfort – including a smart lock, which is perfect if you are arriving late and want a quick check-in.
There aren’t many budget-friendly accommodations in Qianmen – but Hill Lily Courtyard is a great option if you are just looking for somewhere simple and cheap! Dating back to the 1910s, this historic building is now home to one of the best rated budget hotels in the area. They provide an American style breakfast.
If you would rather upgrade to something more luxurious, this gorgeous five star hotel also comes with fantastic reviews! It is only a ten minute walk from Tiananmen Square, and a couple of minutes from Qianmen Street. They have vegetarian options for breakfast, and a lavish interior with modern design.
Whilst the Central Business District (often shortened to CBD) isn’t the most impressive area tourism wise, it is a great place for those that want to easily get around the city! It is connected to the city centre in the east, and is where the two most popular public transport lines terminate. If you’re only visiting for a couple of days, this is a great place to stay.
It does, of course, have some attractions in its own right – most famously the awe-inspiring skyscrapers that tower high above the city! This is also a great destination for those interested in upscale shopping and fine dining.
This apartment’s real selling point is the gorgeous views of the city centre! Right in the heart of the CBD, it is stylishly decorated and spacious. The kitchen is well equipped with utensils imported from Germany, and there are power showers in the bathroom. This is perfect for couples and solo travellers.
Whilst there aren’t any budget hotels in the Central Business District, the Beijing Broadcasting Tower Hotel strikes a great balance between cost and comfort! It’s only a short walk away from the Silk Market, as well as the main embassy district. Rooms are decorated in the traditional Chinese style.
Located within the China World Complex, this hotel is part of one of the biggest features of the Beijing skyline! Whilst there are plenty of restaurants within the tower, the hotel also has its own dedicated restaurant with a complimentary breakfast every morning. Rooms are spacious, and come with modern bathroom suites.
Haidian is quite a large neighborhood – though for this guide we refer mostly to the area surrounding the universities. Thanks to the major student population, this neighborhood is one of the most budget-friendly in Beijing! The cafes, bars and restaurants all offer favourable prices on their products, and even the hotels have some good deals.
Price aside, Haidian also has some interesting historical attractions in its own right! The Summer Palace was once a major imperial monument that is now open to the public. It has some gorgeous gardens, and even some hidden caves waiting to be discovered by more adventurous visitors.
This well-facilitated apartment is only a short walk away from most university campuses, and the minimalist interiors create a bright space with a calming atmosphere! With only one bedroom, this is a great pick for solo travellers and couples wanting to save some cash whilst staying in Beijing.
Within the university campus area, this budget friendly hotel is surrounded by cheap places to eat and drink! Despite staying in a hotel, you will feel just like a local in this part of the neighborhood. Rooms are basic but come with all the modern conveniences you need for a short stay in the city.
Crowne Plaza are known across the world for their elegant hotels – and despite being in the budget neighborhood, their Beijing offering is no exception! If you want to live in luxury without breaking the bank, this is one of the cheapest five star hotels in the city. There are three restaurants on-site.
Xidan is a historically significant neighborhood that was once the main entrance into the city for trade from abroad! It is now a more modern district with shops and restaurants everywhere, though has still managed to retain a historic charm in certain areas. Though it can get busy, it is significantly calmer than Qianmen.
For families, the neighbouring Xisi area provides a quiet respite from the bustling city centre – whilst still remaining close to the main attractions! This is a great place to kick back and relax after a long day of exploring the city – and many of the cafes and restaurants in the area are family friendly.
Straddling the boundary between Xidan and the city centre, this apartment is well placed for families that want to stay close to the main attractions! The apartment has been carefully decorated to represent Beijing’s cultural heritage, and comes with a spacious bathroom that has a traditional suite.
This hotel manages to retain a traditional atmosphere, whilst still benefiting from modern conveniences in all the rooms! They offer bike hire – a unique way to get around the city and check out all of the attractions within fifteen minutes of the property. They also provide a complimentary breakfast buffet.
This is one of the few five star hotels that has rooms that sleep three or more people, making it a great pick for families that want the luxury experience! All of the rooms are spacious and modern – and even come with a private hot tub in the bathroom. A vegan friendly breakfast is provided every morning.
Shichahai is technically two areas – Houhai and Nanluogu Xiang. Houhai is a more modern neighborhood and is home to the latest in Beijing’s nightlife scene! Though bars here can be a little pricier, this is a firm favourite with tourists and expats in the city and is worth visiting at least once.
If you want a more typical experience, Nanluogu Xiang offers some of the oldest bars in the city – with better pricing and a more local atmosphere! This is the largest collection of hutongs in the city. Hutongs are traditional alleyways connected by courtyards that date back to the founding of Beijing.
This creative apartment blends old and new to create a contemporary space that remains respectful of traditional design! There is a small courtyard that guests can access where you can enjoy some peace and calm away from the busy city. Sleeping up to two guests, this is our top pick for couples in Beijing.
Just a few minutes away from Houhai Bar Street, PUREMIND Loft Hotel is the perfect choice for diving into Beijing’s nightlife scene! Rooms are spacious, and come decorated in a contemporary style with exposed brick walls and modern technology. The on-site desk is open 24/7 and can help with booking tours.
This lavish five star hotel maintains a perfect balance between tradition and luxury with extravagant furnishings and mesmerising decor! Housed in what used to be an imperial mansion, they offer both western and Chinese style rooms to suit your preference. Breakfast is also included, and there is a traditional tea house on-site.
Once the only nightlife area in the city, the rise of other neighborhoods closer to the city centre has left Sanlitun with a more bohemian atmosphere! This gives it a laid-back vibe, that can actually be quite rewarding in an otherwise hectic city.
Sanlitun has now developed into a major shopping neighborhood in the city – especially if you are looking for souvenirs or clothing! It is one of the few areas of the city to feature international brands alongside locally owned stores.
This gorgeous apartment is one of our favourites for solo travellers – though it can accommodate up to four guests if necessary! It is only a stone’s throw away from the main nightlife spots in Sanlitun, and the kitchen is very well equipped for even the more extended stays in the city.
This is one of the most basic hotels in this guide – but is nevertheless a great pick if you just want somewhere cheap and cheerful to lay your head at night! The 24/7 front desk not only helps with tour bookings, they also provide car hire at a discounted rate to guests. A breakfast buffet is included with the rate.
This five star hotel was designed by an award winning Japanese architect – and is a perfect example of how modern and cosmopolitan the Sanlitun neighborhood is! They offer a number of studios, and these all come with complimentary mini bars and rainfall showers – as well as oak bathtubs where you can unwind after a day of exploring.
Like many cities across the world, Beijing has a few abandoned industrial areas that have since been taken over by the local youth. The most famous of these is 798 Art Zone – which has been going strong since the late 90s!
There are heaps of galleries in this area where you can discover the creativity of local youngsters – as well as some bars where you can soak up the cool atmosphere! This area is still a bit of a hidden gem – perfect for avoiding the tourist crowds
A little bit further out from 798 Art Zone than our other accommodation picks in the area, it is still within walking distance and well worth the journey! The decadent interiors create a sense of subtle luxury, and the host clearly has a keen eye for details that ensure you have an above and beyond experience at their property.
Holiday Inn Express are known globally for their budget friendly comfort – and this hotel is no exception! One of the best budget options close to the 798 Art Zone, this is a great pick for artsy travellers that don’t want to break the bank. A buffet breakfast is included, and it is linked with the Focus Shopping Mall.
As the name suggests, this hotel draws upon the creative atmosphere of the neighborhood it is located in! The modern bedrooms come with spacious bathroom suites, with art adorning every wall across the hotel. There is a large fitness suite on-site, and guests can book massages throughout their stay.
Beijing is a surprisingly eclectic city with plenty to offer tourists willing to explore beyond the headline visitor attractions! The city centre has plenty of historic and cultural attractions, whilst the outer suburbs reveal a more modern and cosmopolitan side to the Chinese capital. If you can, make sure you leave plenty of time on your itinerary to truly get to know this city.
In terms of the best neighborhood, we are going to go with Shichahai! This area has the biggest variety when it comes to attractions – with a deeply traditional neighborhood in the east and a more modern and up-and-coming area in the west.
That being said, this sprawling city has so much going for it beyond Shichahai – and all of the neighborhoods in this guide have something different to offer. Wherever is best for you depends on your own needs, and we hope we have helped you narrow down your options before your upcoming trip.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!