A fast and furious recollection of a trip that is authentically Chinese yet modernly convenient. As if you don't already know but we just had to confirm it, China really does have everything!
First up, you need to book yourself one of those swishy car services from your hotel - we were at the Waldorf Astoria (review here) and it was ah-mazing! Check in and ring up room service to pick up your laundry (express service, of course) once the concierge drops off your luggage.
Tip the guy, pour yourself something nice, cool and preferably bubbly while the tub fills up. Slip in, pop on a face mask and just feel the stresses of the day melt away. Brrrrring! Up and at 'em! Wasn't the sleep divine? I hope you remembered to order up one of their customised pillows - takes the whole idea of sleeping up a notch. Squeeze in a quick run before breakfast (please don't forget to have the dim sum - yummers) and then it's time to head down to Sanlitun in the Chaoyang District for some shopping.
The shop and browse
This time, call for a Didi - it's a lot quicker and if you don't mind us saying, opt for the Premier service. Otherwise you're stuck in some dude's teeny car with the windows wound down and breathing in all that awful air.
First stop in Sanlitun is the equally awful queue at Hey Tea and a cup of their famous Zhishi Jinfeng Chawang (金凤茶王). What did you just say? It's cheese-topped tea. What? Get outta here. Tea with cheese? Yes. Just order it. Ignore the cheese smell and the awfully long queue and just order it. The tea itself is of good quality and the taste? It's sweet, salty and creamy all at once. Trust us, order it.
Once you have that and happily slurping away (didn't we say it was good?) - it's time to check out the shopping. For the more mainstream, Thom Browne, Balenciaga, etc have made themselves at home here. Don't miss the Dover Street Market outpost here - the selection is pretty interesting. And of course, there is the Gentle Monster store with their always interesting installations. Pop-ups, we're told are a frequent affair.
Late lunch is at Hua's Restaurant (花家宜园), housed in a traditional courtyard building. It's the place to be for a bite of that Peking duck you've heard so much about. And we say late lunch because this place is always packed and honestly, who could be bothered with such tedious details like reservations? PS: The other's stuff good too - we particularly liked the egg pancakes and the traditional Szechuanese dish of boiled fish (水煮鱼).
The evening agenda
Time for a catnap so it's a Didi back to the hotel. The parties are legendary in Beijing and we intend to gatecrash one!
One party and a few glasses of champagne too many, we decided to leave for a nibble... plus, if we were to be honest, the party was a bit of a bore anyway. We call for the car (of course, we ordered a car from the hotel - we had to make an entrance!) and before you know it, we're back at Sanlitun. This time, our destination's the Moonshine Whiskey and Craft Cocktail bar at Nali. Be careful - the bartender's not shy to pour and the cocktails are good stuff! Pro tip: Order a plate of jamón ibérico to accompany your bowl of Want Want rice crackers. It's delicious and helps soak up the booze.
The morning after
Before you know it, it's morning and you have just enough time for an invigorating shower, a coffee and a plate of fruit and you're on your way home!