Yi House Art Hotel
2, Jiuxianqiao Road, 798 Yishu Qu, Beijing, China
- Recommended for:
- Culture vultures, Seasoned travellers, Art, Design and architecture, People watching, Relaxation, Trendiness
Expert review of Yi House Art Hotel
Beijing came to the ‘boutique’ party unfashionably late, probably wearing the wrong shoes too. Yi Hotel, housed in a renovated Bauhaus-style factory building in the far-flung 798 Art District, is the first to really deserve the classification. In a sense, the hotel’s opening marks the zenith of the area’s gentrification. Back in the 90s the best of Beijing’s artistic youth turned the empty factory buildings into studios. Today, the city’s chichi set come here on Sundays for brunch at Yi Hotel’s wonderful restaurant, Fennel, followed by a jaunt around world-class galleries. True it’s somewhat out of town, but if contemporary art is your passion, you’ll be right at home. And you don’t even have to leave the hotel – the walls are covered in it.
Just inside the north gate of 798 Art District, out towards the east fifth ring road. Until the new lines are dug (2012) there’s no subway within range, so you’re at the mercy of Beijing’s traffic to get to the sights. Then again, if you like art, it’s perfect for a few days, and the neighbourhood to the west – known as Lido – is one of Beijing’s wealthier ‘burbs (you might even describe it as ‘leafy’), with good western and higher-end restaurants and a laid-back vibe.
The 30 guest rooms, ranging from boxy singles to more spacious suites, are simple and dignified rather than luxurious, accented with quirky framed prints by contemporary Chinese artists. I love the high ceilings, original Bauhaus windows, mismatched rugs and lovely bathrobes. I’m less keen on the bathrooms, which don’t quite live up to the rest of the styling. The Emperor Suite is king of the pack, with some splendid furniture and a giant tub in the bathroom.
Paved marble floors, white furnishings and tall ceilings impart a restrained stateliness, which makes the contemporary art all over the place even more eye-catching. Outside you’ll find quiet garden space and redbrick patios front and back, beyond which lie the galleries, shops and cafes that comprise the 798 art zone.
A la carte breakfast is included in the room price at Fennel restaurant, a refined, airy space with white tablecloths and an old world, clubby feel. The chef is ex-Raffles Hotel, and specialises in French and Mediterranean cuisine with a contemporary twist. There’s a great brunch on Sundays. Gossip is a tiny bar with a decent selection of seasonal cocktails and wines by the glass.
The 798 Art District itself is a giant playground of cultured fun, and the hotel can organise guided tours of the area conducted by experts from the UCCA gallery. A miniscule but well-appointed gym is up on the third floor.
Very well run, good levels of English spoken. Staff can book tours to typical sites or arrange more bespoke trips. Guided tours of the art districrt also available.
Exhibitors, art dealers, gallery owners, execs from companies like Mercedes, Audi, Siemens etc.
The management seems happy to cut a deal on the price - or offer room upgrades - for longer staying guests.
More information on Yi House Art Hotel:
- 2, Jiuxianqiao Road, 798 Yishu Qu, Beijing, China
- Business Centre, Fitness Centre, High-Speed Internet, Parking, Restaurant, Room Service
- 798 Art District