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Beijing's Quirky New Boutique


A hodgepodge of velvet furniture, wireframe rabbits and ornate gargoyles, this quirky hotel is bewitching Beijing. By DAVEN WU.

Published on Sep 26, 2017

 

NEWER ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER. Yes, opening a hotel in a shiny steel skyscraper may cost less than retrofitting an existing building, but as Vue in Beijing proves, in the hands of the right designer, there is considerable charm in sprucing up historical architecture.

Pink wireframe rabbits
Pink wireframe rabbits nuzzle above Vue hotel. Courtesy of Vue.

The 80-room boutique property sits in a hutong neighborhood on the edge of one of Beijing's most scenic pit stops, Hou Hai Lake. The owners—the Orange Hotels Group, which runs a chain of three-star hotels across China—immediately saw the potential of the cluster of disparate buildings that date to the 1950s, and tapped Ministry of Design for the job. For Colin Seah, the principal of the Singapore-based studio who was also responsible for the hotel's branding, signage, landscaping and even the staff uniform design, the Vue was "a chance to create a hotel brand from scratch and to redefine Chinese luxury hospitality."

Judging from the result, redefining luxury is fun. Because the buildings originated in different periods and from different owners, Ministry of Design's challenge was to unify the jumble of architectural styles—among them, ornate roof eaves, gargoyles, narrow balconies, plain brick walls and latticed window frames. Seah's solution was to impose an overarching palette of dark charcoal grays and gold finishes, while lattices inspired by Chinese screens provide a linking motif for the private balconies lined with velvet sofas and armchairs, and elegant gardens. Long, narrow corridors with perforated apertures add layered light and a sense of quiet intimacy—this despite the fact that the Vue hotel adjoins buzzing hutong streets.

The interiors of the rooms
The interiors of the rooms are modern, all about urban style and high-tech amenities. Courtesy of Vue.

Unexpected design elements abound, like sculptures of foxes and deers; giant wireframe bunnies perched on the red-tiled roofs of the Pink Rabbit restaurant; and yellow Ming chairs in the irregular shaped guestrooms dressed in Pop Art colors and polygonal headboards. Dining brings its own surprises, as Barcelonan chef Ignasi Prat sends out into the metal-and-wood trussed dining room that was once a warehouse platters of paella and glistening, crackly skinned suckling pig that will send your taste buds into a tizzy. The rooftop Moon Bar, meanwhile, features a long cocktail menu, a Jacuzzi and bucolic tree-lined views of Hou Hai Lake.

The rooftop Moon Bar
Moon Bar, for cocktails, a soak in the Jacuzzi and a view of bucolic Hou Hai Lake. Courtesy of Vue.

For a closer look, duck out of the side entrance that opens directly onto the shores of the lake, where you can join locals as they glide through their qigong and tai-chi paces, practice melodic er-hu scores, or take a rented bike out for a leisurely spin around the water. After dark, the bars and café are ideal staging grounds for libations and people-watching. But even better than an evening of social espionage, says Seah, is stopping by the nearby park at sunup, where "every morning, a retired musician plays his saxophone for two hours." There's something to be said for holding on to traditions. vuehotels.com.cn; doubles from RMB2,000.

The entrance
The entrance to the hotel. Courtesy of Vue.

 

 

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Vue's courtyard. Courtesy of Vue.
  • Moon Bar, for cocktails, a soak in the Jacuzzi and a view of bucolic Hou Hai Lake. Courtesy of Vue.
  • Bunnies with briefcases at Fab Café. Courtesy of Vue.
  • Inside Pink Rabbit restaurant. Courtesy of Vue.
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