Today’s Beijing is an almost schizophrenic mish-mash of history and cutting-edge modernity; ancient culture and youthful energy; traditional customs and punk rock. Along with this new Beijing comes cool, creative places to see and be seen, where young hipsters hang out and party down.
One such place is 1949 The Hidden City. Built in the old Beijing Machinery Factory from 1949 (hence the name), this mixed-use compound kept much of the original building materials and added glass, metal, sculpture and other contemporary touches to create an architectural masterpiece.
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Here, nestled between skyscrapers, 1949 provides 6,000 walled-in square meters of a neo-industrial chic dining and entertainment venue, in the heart of Beijing’s party district (Chao Yang). In this little pocket of serenity, you would never guess you’re in the middle of bustling Beijing.
Restaurants, bars, gardens, events spaces, art gallery, and private member’s club take the concept of the commune to a new level of get-down harmony. Come early in the day to work at the coffeehouse or sit in the courtyard amid fountains for lunch from the Noodle Bar. Treat yourself to Dutch pancakes with your choice of toppings at the Sugar Bar, or check out the current exhibits at Gallery 49. Wi-fi is comprehensive, and young professionals on laptops abound during daylight hours.
As evening falls, 1949 turns into a sophisticated party zone. Have cocktails and dinner at the understated, warm Taverna – or ladies, check out the women-only Club Décolloté where men are allowed only as guests of the female patrons.
1949 is also known as a place to get one of the best Peking duck dishes in the city. Duck de Chine is Beijing’s most stylish, most innovative duck restaurant featuring China’s first Bollinger Champagne Bar. Duck de Chine does not compromise traditional renditions of Peking duck, but adds the best French-style duck dishes to the menu.
Call ahead to reserve your duck, which is roasted carefully for hours in the restaurant’s wood ovens. The Executive Chef makes the hoisin sauce from his own personal recipe.
About the contributor: Shelley Seale is a freelance writer based out of Austin Texas, but she vagabonds in any part of the world whenever possible. Shelley has written for National Geographic, Globe Pequot’s Insider travel guides, Washington Magazine and Andrew Harper Traveler Magazine among others. Her new book, The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India, follows her journeys into the orphanages, streets and slums of India where millions of children live without families.