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Work and Play – Beijing

A resident expert’s guide to the city’s must-see highlights.

With 15 years’ experience working for boutique and luxury hotels across Asia, Jessica Wang understands the needs of the 21st-century traveler. Currently director of communications at Rosewood Beijing, in the heart of the city, this is her front-line view of the Chinese capital.

What to do with a free day…
When the weather is good, climbing the Great Wall is both a fantastic experience and great exercise, especially if you visit the wilder bits like Jinshanling, Jiankou or Simatai. Alternatively, you could ski: in the winter, the closest resorts are only an hour drive away.

To kill three hours before a flight…
The Hutongs. China’s capital moves so fast but behind the tower blocks is a slice of old Beijing that’s just been lost in time. Hutongs are centuries-old, tree-lined alleyways and the heartbeat of the old city. Wudaoying Hutong is especially interesting: originally a military campsite in the Ming Dynasty, it’s now associated with young people and hipsters.

Shopping off the beaten track…
Principle M is one of Beijing’s first bespoke menswear labels and definitely worth checking out. If you want something splendid for your home, then Gaobeidian, a village-like area in Chaoyang District, is full of furniture shops and antiques warehouses.

Best place for dinner with friends…
The Taco Bar, also in Chaoyang. It’s a really fun, vivid place: good beer and wine, with plenty of tapas-style food to choose from, like corn salsa under a blanket of molten cheese, but the main event is the tacos: they are brilliant. Friday nights are especially good, but it is always full.

Opened by two of Beijing’s most successful bartenders, Janes and Hooch is where you go for a proper drink

And for a business lunch…
Yes, perhaps I am biased, but I’m recommending Bistrot B in Rosewood Beijing. When it comes to business entertaining, you need somewhere with good quality food and outstanding service. If the place happens to have a good vibe, like Bistro B has, that’s an extra point. Otherwise, Mosto in Sanlitun is a casual-chic restaurant with an al-fresco dining area and some of the city’s best food, served by helpful and attentive staff. The location is very convenient, too, on the edge of the city centre.

A personal trainer at short notice…
My trainer, Zhang Guang Hui, who’s based at Chaowai Soho, a five-minute walk from the Rosewood. An hour with him one-on-one will set you back about CNY500 [about £50]. Or try one of his classes, like the fight fusion camp, which mixes boxing, Muay Thai and freeletics.

The gallery or museum not part of ‘tourist bingo’…
Red Gate Gallery. It’s Beijing’s first private contemporary art gallery, in the Southeast Corner Tower at Dongbianmen (one of the few Ming Dynasty towers to survive the destruction of the old city walls) and shows contemporary and traditional Chinese works. A must-see.

Where to get a late drink…
Janes and Hooch is my absolute favourite, an Asian take on a New York speakeasy, over two floors. It was opened by two of Beijing’s most successful bartenders, Warren Pang and Milan Sekulic. These two Australians came to the city in 2007, just before the Olympics, after working all over the world. They previously ran the Opposite House here in Beijing, which made their name. This is where you go for a proper drink.

Samuel Muston is Deputy Editor at MR PORTER’s The Journal.