If Taikoo Li Santilum, the luxury mall hangout and surrounding bar street in central Beijing ranks as the city’s style nerve center, then its boutique hotel Opposite House qualifies as its chic playground.
Tucked behind emerald color blocked glass exterior to provide the illusion of a canopy from the tree lined streets, Opposite House is a serene oasis to the bustle of luxury shopping and youth culture that’s sits right outside its doors.
Strategically opened just before the Olympics in 2008, it’s a balance of Western comfort meets Eastern hospitality. On entry friendly post- graduates speak confidently in English, a welcome skill in city where communication can be difficult. The air of minimalism is experienced right away at check in where tablet wielding attendants process your check in on a chaise lounge in the massive lobby that doubles as Art House, a rotating art gallery.
The Japanese architect Kengo Kuma worked his minimalist magic in combining steel enforced glass railings and a complete caramel colored wood façade spanning ten floors and 99 rooms with all the doors rendered seamless. Inside, it’s the sleek oak wood accents in long cabinets and hidden drawers; a low set bed and an inspired deep-set wooden bathtub that feels like your own private onsen. Meanwhile, the floor to ceiling tinted glass that frames the rooms creates a tree house effect.
Downstairs stylish locals frequent the hipster hangout Mesh to score a flawless appletini and ogle a cute east/west crowd. The mixed space even features gay Thursdays for its varied crowd of patrons. The Village Café restaurant serves up one of the best brunches in town. At basement level Sureño, the Mediterrean restaurant that ranks as one of the city’s best dining spots has been there since the opening. Sharing the floor is a sizeable gym overlooking a pool that seems to be bathed in Rothko-like colored lights. It’s now so fabled that people talk of dreaming about swimming there.
The modernist zen quality of The Opposite House, which takes its name from the guest house which sits opposite the main house in a traditional courtyard, is a trademark of the Hong Kong based Swire Group. The hotel behemoth also operates other houses like Hong’s Upper House and Temple House in Chengdu. The Group’s East Hotel on the Jiangtai side of Beijing opened just last year and has recently emerged as another important business and party address in the city. There, the massive hotel is attracting a wider audience who’ve already discovered its hip restaurants and subterranean lounges. On our recent visit, the farm to table inspired Feast restaurant on its second floor has emerged as Beijing’s power breakfast spot.