Model Shu Pei Qin’s insider guide to the Chinese capital
Take a journey east to Beijing, the capital city and cultural heart of China where Tommy opened his newest flagship store, the first in the country to offer Hilfiger Collection. In honor of the event our New York runway show was re-created, American football stadium and all, for a crowd of 800 including Deng Chao, Ziyi Zhang and Liu Wen. Model Shu Pei Qin, who was Tommy’s guest at the Met Gala, opened the show and here offers up some of her favorite local haunts and must-experience adventures.
The Opposite House is a 99-room contemporary boutique hotel designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and is far and away the most stylish pick downtown. Opt for the Aman at Summer Palace if you’re looking to tap into Beijing’s rich history. This sumptuous spot has private access to the old imperial grounds, and is where the Empress Dowager Cixi would have hosted her guests back in the day. Those looking for a cool factor should head to the hutong – the capital’s old alleys – and check into local gem The Orchid, which mixes warm welcomes with cute courtyards.
The top table in town is widely acknowledged to be TRB thanks to its unparalleled service, put in place by a Daniel Boulud protégé, and its modern European cuisine and smart setting within the grounds of a 600-year-old temple. The best sushi this side of Tokyo is at Okra where the Japanese classics meet Chinese influences, all overseen by American maestro Max Levy, the first non-Asian chef at NYC’s Sushi Yasuda. Duck de Chine has Beijing’s premier Peking duck – the city’s specialty – as well as one of the slickest spaces inside a repurposed factory complex. Try Transit for more regional fare, where the spices of Sichuan will sizzle your taste buds amongst sexy surrounds.
Spin Ceramics will turn your head with its perfect porcelain from the hands of master artisans working out of Jingdezhen – China’s ancient pottery center. Head into the hutong for Lost & Found where Mao-era furniture has been beautifully restored and repurposed into 21st-century socialist chic. Wing your way down Wangjing to take in Beijing’s most famous shopping street – home to the brand new Tommy Hilfiger store. It’s the brand’s largest store in China and the first in the country to showcase Hilfiger Collection.
Beijing lies at the heart of China’s contemporary art scene, with the factories-turned-galleries of the 798 Art District previously integral to the movement; today, the UCCA takes pride of place as the most influential player. Get down and dirty at Yugong Yishan where the city’s counterculture thrives via the kids on the local music scene. BC Moma, meanwhile, is the country’s first art-house cinema, with a great bookshop and café attached, and set in the architectural wonder that is Steven Holl’s 54-acre Linked Hybrid complex. Mao moves over for Mozart at the NCPA, commonly called The Egg due to it’s oval dome shape, and is a natural nest for high culture vultures.
It’s practically impermissible to pass on the Forbidden City, which lies at the geographical center of Beijing, and the palaces that were home to the emperors of old. Be sure to climb the hill in Jingshan Park when you’re done for unforgettable views. Escape the urban grind and reconnect with history at the 15th-century Temple of Heaven, where China’s dynastic rulers would come to pray for prosperity. Hang out in the hutong while you still can – the capital’s ancient network of alleyways is fast disappearing – with the lanes of Dashilar (just south-west of Tiananmen Square) another great place to lose yourself.
Sign up with Bespoke Beijing for the unique opportunity to train in tai chi with a martial arts master who joined the world-famous Shaolin Temple when he was just five years old. Those looking for something a bit more formidable can try their hand at kung fu. Follow in the footsteps of eight-time gold medalist Michael Phelps and make a splash at the Water Cube . The scene of the 2008 Summer Olympics has been transformed into a public pool and indoor water park. The Great Wall of China needs no introduction. Get off the beaten path and hike the wild wall with conservationist William Lindesay who has been awarded an OBE for his research.