Why You Should Take Your Older Children To Visit The Children’s Peace Monument at Hiroshima

Why You Should Take Your Older Children To Visit The Children’s Peace Monument at Hiroshima

The city of Hiroshima in Japan has the sad honour of playing testament to the horrors of a modern warfare. Unlike Bayeux in France which was spared devastation during World War II by the tactical thinking of the British Allied forces, a large chunk of Hiroshima was explicitly flattened by the American military to bring Japan to its knees. The Hiroshima Memorial Park commemorates the area where the atomic bomb was dropped during World War II. Any Hiroshima walking tour of the park brings home the fact that thousands of children died on the site – a fact hammered home by the evocative Children’s Peace Monument.

Facts About Hiroshima Pre A-Bomb

The area that covers the Peace Memorial Park was a densely populated area prior to the A bomb. In fact, the busiest area in downtown Hiroshima, the neighborhoods had over 1700 households and almost 6000 residents. The city of Hiroshima itself had about 350,000 residents, including Korean and Chinese nationals and  a couple dozen American prisoners of war held at the nearby military jail.

In addition to the residents, there were thousands of others who were unfortunate enough to be in the area when the atomic bomb was dropped at 8:15 AM on August 6, 1945. These were citizen volunteers and junior high school students who were demolishing buildings.

A clock marking the time the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima – 8:15 AM.

These mobilised students were creating a fire wall with the expectation of future bombings on the city. The Americans had helpfully told the Japanese that bombs would be coming without actually pointing out that it wouldn’t be the usual type of bombs.  The demolished buildings would be a bulwark against the ensuing fires future bombs would cause.

A panoramic view of the density of housing in Hiroshima pre-Atomic bomb.

It’s hard to know how many people died in that atomic blast because the city’s records were also decimated. It’s estimated that 140,000 people died between the bomb exploding in August 1945 and the end of the year. Even the Hiroshima aftermath has been lost in the ashes that make up the Hiroshima park.

Fun Fact!  The oleander is the official flower of Hiroshima because it was the first plant to bloom again after the A-Bomb was dropped.

Three days after the Hiroshima sites were bombed, the Japanese city of Nagasaki was also targeted. Japan announced its surrender on August 15, 1945.

5 Interesting Hiroshima Bomb Facts

  • The Hiroshima Bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, was created with 141 lbs of Uranium of which the critical damage was caused by only 0.7g of Uranium. The Little Boy nickname came from the movie, The Maltese Falcon.
  • You hear about “Hiroshima Shadows”  – the ashes of people and objects permanently burned into the ground because of the intensity of the Atomic bomb blast.
  • American propaganda at first claimed there was no radioactive poisoning after the Hiroshima bomb was dropped.  This claim even appeared in mainstream publications like the New York Times.
  • As much as 25% of the people who died in the Hiroshima aftermath could have been of Korean descent. As many as 3 million Koreans were living in Japan during World War 2 to help ease the acute labor shortage. The records are murky because many of the Koreans were undocumented prisoners of war and/or sent back to Korea after World War II.
  • The monster Godzilla was spawned as a result of the Hiroshima bombing and was a metaphor for nuclear war.
Did you know? Lucky Kyoto had a narrow escape because it was on the original list of cities to bomb but an American cabinet member insisted Kyoto be spared because he had spent his honeymoon there.

A monument at Hiroshima memorial park

Hiroshima Memorial Park

The Hiroshima Memorial Park contains monuments such as the Children’s Peace Monument and museums such as the Hiroshima Peace Center Memorial Hall.

Hiroshima Dome

The Hiroshima Dome is all that exists of an exhibition center that was located on the site – similar to the Javits Center in New York City or Olympia in London. It was given UNESCO world heritage listed status in 1996.

The Hiroshima Dome was pretty much the epicentre of the atomic bomb but somehow parts of the structure managed to survive.

Hiroshima Arch

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial museum has exhibits on the atomic bomb and the Hiroshima aftermath. The Hiroshima Arch located nearby frames both the Hiroshima Dome and flame of peace Hiroshima – a before and after if you will.

The Hiroshima Arch is supposed to provide shelter for the souls of the perished.

The shape of the Hiroshima Arch is supposed to provide a shelter for the repose of the souls of the victims. In continuous operation since 1964, the flame of peace Hiroshima will only be extinguished when the threat of nuclear war is eradicated.

The flame of peace Hiroshima will run continuously until the threat of nuclear war is gone forever.

Children’s Peace Monument Hiroshima

The Sadako Sasaki peace monument is the more well known of the children’s monuments because of its colorful cranes.

The Sadako Sasaki Story

The Children’s Peace Monument commemorates the life of Sadako Sasaki who died of leukaemia after being subjected to radiation poisoning at the age of 2 when the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima.

The children’s peace monument with Sadako Sasaki statue on top.

She wished to create a 1000 paper cranes which in Japanese folklore meant she would have one wish granted. She passed away after having folded 644 cranes.  People the world over have brought paper cranes to honour Sadako Sasaki’s wish.

Hiroshima paper cranes kept near the Sadako Sasaki statue

There is a bell under the Sadako Sasaki statue which you can ring.

The Memorial for the Mobilised Students

The Memorial for the Mobilised Students is another children’s monument is dedicated to the school children drafted into military works who lost their lives in the blast. Children from the age of junior high school were forced into helping the military such as working in factories or demolishing buildings. Of the approximately 8,000 children who were forcibly mobilised in Hiroshima, about 75% of them died in the Hiroshima aftermath.

The memorial for the 6000+ mobilised junior high school students who perished.

Hiroshima Peace Bell

The most famous Hiroshima Peace Bell is near the Hiroshima children’s peace monument. There are other versions of a Hiroshima Peace Bell scattered throughout the Hiroshima Park.

Ringing a Hiroshima peace bell

Hiroshima Peace Center Memorial Hall

Approximately 8200 students from local junior high schools were mobilised to create fire breaks by demolishing buildings. Approximately 6000 of these students died in the atomic bomb blast.

The Hiroshima Memorial Hall has a short documentary paying tribute to some of these students by family members left behind.

For example, one boy talks of running to the blast area to find his 12 year old brother and finding only his brother’s bento (lunch) box still filled with the warm rice that their mother had packed. There was nothing left of his brother. That bento box was taken to their family altar at home in memory of their lost family member.

The memorial for the students who forced into military labor draped with paper cranes of hope.

Many of the parents of these junior high school students could not find their children’s bodies. The young bodies were incinerated in the heat which ranged from 3000-4000 degrees Centigrade.

One of the parents spoke of how proud she had been of her son when he had gotten into his first choice junior high school. Weeks into his new school year which had just started, her 12 year old son vanished into thin air – never to be seen again, but never forgotten.

Hiroshima For Kids

Hiroshima for kids is a walk in the park. Literally.  The Hiroshima Peace Park is beautifully landscaped around the scarred remains of a tragedy.

Figuratively, however the monuments and remains of the Hiroshima sites in Hiroshima Memorial Park are a heavy tragedy to understand. Similar to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Hiroshima Memorial Park is a tragedy of unimaginable scale which needs to be carefully explained so that it is understood. I remember my kids not understanding why Anne Frank had to hide in an Amsterdam attic.

A statue in honour of Miekichi Suzuki who was born in Hiroshima and is considered the father of children’s literature in Japan.

A bit like the 9/11 Memorial Garden, a Hiroshima walking tour meant we could gauge how upset our children were getting and plan accordingly. Actually, having all that life-affirming nature at the Hiroshima park surrounding us helped.

Fun Fact!  The US National Arboretum in Washington D.C. has a bonsai tree that was gifted to the US by the Japanese in 1976 for the bicentennial celebrations. This tree has been around since 1625 and is a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing!  

I visited Hiroshima nearly 20 years ago well before I had kids. This time visiting the Hiroshima Peace Park with kids I was struck by the human toll of young lives. The stories of those innocent children’s lives lost and grieving families really hit home.

Is Hiroshima for kids? Yes, i believe it is. Protecting future generations from the horrors of the past neither erases what has happened nor honors the memories of those who have suffered.

Getting to Hiroshima

Getting to Hiroshima is relatively easy.  The bullet train from Osaka to Hiroshima takes anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours. Getting around Hiroshima is straight-forward as well. There is a loop bus service that will take you from  Hiroshima train station to the Hiroshima Memorial Park. The distance from the train station to Hiroshima Memorial Park is about 3 kilometres.

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What To Do in Boracay With Kids (+ Great Family-Friendly Boracay beaches)

What To Do in Boracay With Kids (+ Great Family-Friendly Boracay beaches)

Boracay has always been and will remain as one of the most sought-after destinations for families in the Philippines. Especially now that the island is newly improved (after 6 months of rehabilitation), the beaches of Boracay are once again poised to be among the best in the country. The natural and effortless beauty of a Boracay beach still stands out above the rest with its powdery white sands and turquoise waters…with the emphasis on “powdery and white”. In addition to the spectacular Boracay beaches there are plenty of other things to do in Boracay Philippines,  Spending time on Boracay with kids is a perfect family vacation option similar to Palawan, the other favoured family destination in the Philippines. In fact, why not make it a two center holiday? It’s easy to get from Boracay to Palawan on a short flight from Busuanga Island.

What to do in Boracay For Beach Lovers

Families who love the beach and take comfort in nature, will not be disappointed with Boracay beaches. Although the main option to just laze on the sand and get the perfect tan on a Boracay beach, there are other Boracay attractions that families can all do and enjoy together for that one ultimate island getaway you will always talk about at every family gathering.

Boracay Beach and island-hopping

Boracay White Beach is the most famous but it is one of many Boracay beaches. There are other beautiful and much quieter Boracay beaches on the island. Other great beaches include Puka beach in Boracay, Ilig-iligan beach and Bulabog beach (famous for its watersports).

Some of the beaches of Boracay have limited access points:

  • Punta Bunga (accessible through Movenpick Resort),
  • Banyugan (only accessible via Shangri-La) ,
  • lapus-lapus (only accessible to guests of Fairways and Bluewater Newcoast Resort).

If the island becomes too crowded and busy for the kids’ liking, hop on a boat and take your whole family to another island more exotic but equally as beautiful as Boracay. You can book private tours in Boracay online quite easily. Some of the islands you can visit are: Magic Island (cliff-jumping is a must-try) and Crocodile Island (for swimming and snorkelling).

Boracay White Beach may be the most famous of the beaches of Boracay but not the only Boracay beach

Boracay White Beach may be the most famous of the beaches of Boracay but not the only Boracay beach

Explore the 3 stations of Boracay White Beach

On a lazy day, what you can do as a family is just explore the entire stretch of Boracay White Beach. There are 3 stations to explore on Boracay White Beach.

  • Boracay Station 1 is where most of the high-end resorts are situated. The beach front is wider and less busy.
  • Boracay Station 2 is basically the busiest part of Boracay White Beach. You can find the biggest mall on the island here (D’ Mall) and the highest concentration of bars and restaurants.
  • Boracay Station 3 is for budget travellers because most of the hostels and budget accommodations are located on this side. The beach here is very beautiful but slopes steeply in some part.

Play beach sports together and then have a bonfire

Kids can spend hours building sand castles together but adults can have their own Boracay activities. There is a wide array of beach sports on Boracay beaches to enjoy together, like Frisbee, beach volleyball, or soccer. After the sun has set, you can arrange for a bonfire pit to warm yourself by, while exchanging stories with your family and grilling marshmallows.

Water sports are among the things to do in Boracay Philippines

Water sports are among the things to do in Boracay Philippines

Get a massage on the beach, henna tattoo and braids

A massage on the beach is always a treat and everyone in the family deserves this after a long day of fun activities. A lot of beach resorts in Boracay offer pampering spa treatments.

Top Tip!  You can score big discounts on beach massages with a large group.

Henna tattoos on a Boracay beach are fun and nice (unless you are allergic to ink). They don’t last that long (perfect for teenagers). You just need to go to one of the stalls and choose the design that you want or you can think of your own design and let the artist create it for you.

Finally, a braid is always well-liked by kids and young adults and it puts some people to sleep (like a soft head massage).

A Boracay beach is the perfect place for a snooze in the sunshine

A Boracay beach is the perfect place for a snooze in the sunshine

Non-Beach Boracay Activities

There are plenty of things to do in Boracay Philippines when you tire of the beach. When you visit Boracay with kids you can enjoy both land and sea-based Boracay activities.

Sail on a glass-bottom boat

Kids will have a great time checking out the underwater life in the waters in the sea which is one of the most amazing Boracay attractions. With a glass bottom boat kids can  look into the water without getting wet. which is great for less-adventurous or non-confident swimmers.

An aerial view shows off a wide stretch of famous Boracay beach

An aerial view shows off a wide stretch of famous Boracay beach

Go on a thrilling banana boat ride

Kids love banana boat rides.  Banana boatss are inflatables shaped like a banana and you will have to hold on for your dear life as the boat is pulled by a speed motorboat. This activity is done with life vests and helmets so kids are safe while still having a thrilling ride.

Ride a Paraw and sail onto the sunset

One of the best things to do in Boracay Philippines is watching the spectacular sunset which luckily is a regular occurrence. Instead of just  waiting for the sunset at one of the beach resorts in Boracay, try to watch it on-board a Paraw. Quite and environmentally friendly, Paraw sailboats use the wind and no motor to navigate. Families might prefer to book this attraction in advance, since the availability is limited.

A sunset sail is one of the great Boracay activities available to you on vacation

A sunset sail is one of the great Boracay activities available to you on vacation

There won’t be enough space for a big group because Paraw sailboats are usually small and can only fit 4-5 people including the captain. You can hire 2 or more Paraw though to accommodate your whole family if you have more people.

Get a taste of the local seafood local-style

Western cuisines are great but when you are on the island, local seafood is still the best option. The best way to eat your seafood is to pick them from the market and bring them to one of the restaurants and ask them to cook it for you. One restaurant that is happy to cook your seafood for you is D’ Talipapa.

Indulge in local and fresh fruits

The Philippine mango is considered the best in the world. An island getaway with the family is not complete without drinking fresh coconut juice straight from the coconut shell.

Other local fruits to try are pomelo, lanzones (cream-colored clustered fruit with a bitter seed), watermelon, melon and avocado. There are numerous fruit stands in Boracay and you can also try different flavours of fruit shakes and juices.

A Boracay beach bar at Puka beach in Boracay

A Boracay beach bar at Puka beach in Boracay

Be adventurous and explore other Boracay attractions

If you want Boracay activities that take in  action and adventure, head out to the bat cave at dusk and watch numerous fruit bats go on their usual journey every night. Or jump from a cliff at Ariel’s Point located on the mainland. Kids can also try helmet diving (otherwise known as the marine walk), “mermaiding” (swimming with mermaid tails) and if you have money to splurge, rent a helicopter and go for that ride of a lifetime.

TripAdvisor Boracay : Check out what others have said about the beaches of Boracay and what to do in Boracay on TripAdvisor.

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What To Do in Boracay With Kids (+ Great Family-Friendly Boracay beaches)

What To Do in Boracay With Kids (+ Great Family-Friendly Boracay beaches)

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Why A Golden Triangle of India Tour Should Be On Your Bucketlist

Why A Golden Triangle of India Tour Should Be On Your Bucketlist

Will amazing palaces, grand romantic gestures, and scrumptious food tick your boxes for a bucket list adventure. Then you should hurry over to visit the so-called Golden Triangle of India. Covering a super popular tourist itinerary in India, a Golden Triangle of India tour covers 3 cities (New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur) and hundreds of years of history. In a short few days, you will get a highlights of India experience. If you are like most people, this short taster trip will leave you wanting to explore more of the country.  An Indian Golden Triangle tour though is intense. I would totally suggest a Golden Triangle and beach holiday combination to have a chance unwind and to reflect on all the amazing things that you have experienced before you go back to your own reality.

What is the Golden Triangle in India?

The Golden Triangle in India (sort of like the Golden Circle in Iceland) is a popular tourist route in India. Yes, The Golden Triangle India tour is not off the beaten path but for a quick overview of Northern India’s landscapes and heritage it can’t be beat. Sometimes the well-worn path really is the best one!

The Red Fort in New Delhi, a must-visit on any Golden Triangle tour

The Red Fort in New Delhi, a must-visit on any Golden Triangle tour

The Golden Triangle India encompasses three cities (Delhi Agra Jaipur) which includes the capitol city, the two UNESCO world heritage sites of Agra (the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort) and the proposed UNESCO world heritage site that is the city of Jaipur.

India Golden Triangle map

A quick look at a Golden Triangle Map India shows you where the Golden Triangle in India got its name. Yes, it’s a triangle! surprise. Here’ I’ve shown the Golden Triangle India with the suggested beach escape in Sri Lanka.

Create your own travel map

Golden Triangle of India tour

The usual route for a Golden Triangle trip is from Delhi to Agra to Jaipur.  Each part of the journey takes about 4-6 hours. The best way to sightsee the Golden triangle of India is by car. There is an express train that connects these cities but it does take longer.

Golden Triangle tour itinerary

The three main city of the Golden Triangle are Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

New Delhi, the capitol city, has much to see, such as, for example:

  • Humayun’s Tomb (a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in 1570};
  • the Red Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 17th century by the same emperor who built the Taj Mahal);
  • Qutb Minar (a UNESCO world heritage site built in the 13th century);
  • India Gate – A war memorial built in 1931
  • The Jama Masjid Mosque and the Chawri Bazaar in Old Delhi
  • The Raj Ghat – the Gandhi Memorial

Agra is located a distance of 210 kilometres (about a 3 hour drive) away. Everyone goes to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, both UNESCO world heritage sites. The Taj Mahal is indeed gorgeous but it is super crowded – no one leaves the Taj Mahal without forming an impression whether or positive or negative.

The Taj Mahal in Agra, one of the three prongs of the Golden Triangle in India

The Taj Mahal in Agra, one of the three prongs of the Golden Triangle in India

From Agra to Jaipur, the distance is about 240 kilometres (about a 5 hour drive). Jaipur has requested to have the historic city be protected on the UNESCO world heritage list (similar to Toulouse in France. Ouro Preto in Brazil and Philadelphia in the USA). It’s known as the pink city because of its many sandstone buildings.

Jaipur has many fascinating sightseeing places:  the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Observatory (Jantar Mantar), Amber Fort, the City Palace complex, Water Palace (Jai Mahal) and Wind Palace (Hawa Palace).

The distance from Jaipur back to Delhi is 250 kilometres (about a 5 hour drive).

Side Trips on a Golden Triangle Tour

Either on the way to Jaipur or on the way back to Delhi from Jaipur you should check out Fatehpur Sikri. The city of Fatehpur Sikri was built by the Emperor Akbar but was only occupied for 14 years. It had to be abandoned to the desert from which it sprung thanks to a chronic lack of water to keep the city going.

Another place for a detour is Ranthambore National Park (about a 3 hour drive from Jaipur) so that you can combine a India golden triangle tour & tiger safari . One of the largest national parks in India, it was once the hunting grounds of the Maharajah of Jaipur. Ranthambore is one of the best places to see wild tigers in India.

One great option is to combine a India Golden Triangle tour and tiger safari at Ranthambore National Park

One great option is to combine a India Golden Triangle tour and tiger safari at Ranthambore National Park

Udaipur is another interesting add-on in a tour of Rajasthan. Udaipur is famous its famous Lake Palace set in the middle of Lake Pichola.

If you have extra time after Delhi, you should try and combine a Golden Triangle Tour with Varanasi, one of the most holy cities in India. The distance from Delhi to Varanasi is about 250 kilometres (about a 6 hour drive). People bathe and worship on the city steps along the Ganges River which is one of the iconic images of India and of the Hindu faith.

Golden triangle 6 days

If you have the chance to spend 6 days on a Golden Triangle Itinerary, you will have approximately 1.5 days in each of Delhi and Jaipur. You really don’t need more than 1 day in Agra. This really is an ideal minimum amount of time to spend in each place,

Golden triangle tour 5 days

Because of the driving times between places, a 5 day golden triangle tour India would give you only 1 day in each city (Delhi Agra Jaipur).

Golden Triangle Tour 4 days

For a Golden Triangle Tour 4 days, I would suggest 1/2 a day in each of Delhi and Agra and a full day in Jaipur. This Golden Triangle trip cuts out some of your Delhi sightseeing. If you had to choose between spending the full day in Delhi or in Jaipur, I’d definitely pick Jaipur which is just more representative of India than Delhi which is a cosmopolitan capitol city a lot like many others.

Amber Fort in Jaipur, the third city in the Golden Triangle India

Amber Fort in Jaipur, the third city in the Golden Triangle India

Golden Triangle Tour 3 days

Sure you can do a Golden Triangle tour in 3 days but I would not recommend it. This type of Golden Triangle India tour will have you zipping along from place to place all day and evening with hardly have any time to appreciate the places you are visiting. You will be spending more time in the car than out of it but if you are short on time doing a Golden Triangle tour in 3 days is totally feasible. I understand that ‘needs must’ and vacation time is precious.

A Golden Triangle and beach holiday

We did a 7 day Golden Triangle Tour in India and we were exhausted. It was beautiful and amazing and all the superlatives you could think of – but also tiring.  We even had a luxury Golden Triangle tour with a private driver and staying at some of the best Oberoi hotels in India. We did, however, chose to visit all of  Fatehpur Sikr, Udaipur and Ranthambore National Park and a few days in Mumbai on our way to Kerala.

We did not combine a Golden Triangle and beach holiday because we thought our relaxing time would be spend on a houseboat on the backwaters of Kerala. Ha! That was more sightseeing.  Spectacular but not relaxing.

Mirissa in South Sri Lanka is perfect for a beach holiday in Sri Lanka

Mirissa in South Sri Lanka is perfect for a beach holiday in Sri Lanka

If I were to do it again, I would recommend a beach holiday in Sri Lanka. The country of Sri Lanka has miles of sandy coast line dotted with a wide choice of great luxury hotels from the boutique to the eco-friendly.  The gorgeous colonial town of Galle is a gateway to some amazing beaches on the South Coast. Mirissa, also on the south coast of Sri Lanka, is known for its whale watching opportunities.

I hope you’ve found these ideas for a Golden Triangle tour in India helpful. My suggested Golden Triangle India itinerary is supposed to be adaptable for however long you choose to spend in the area. Sightseeing the Golden Triangle in India is heavy on the history, culture and urban aspects of the country, I would strongly recommend some downtime.

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Why A Golden Triangle of India Tour Should Be On Your Bucketlist

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Why Vintage Japanese Dolls Make Affordable and Cool Japanese Souvenirs

Why Vintage Japanese Dolls Make Affordable and Cool Japanese Souvenirs

When you are travelling in Japan, you see lots of antique Japanese dolls for sale.  These dolls are a relatively affordable souvenir even if they are Japanese porcelain dolls. Sure they aren’t as cheap as a Chinese-made fridge magnet but they are way also way cooler and have a cultural significance.  The most elegantly beautiful vintage Japanese dolls we found were the Hina dolls from the Hinamatsuri festival celebrated on March 3rd every year. Alternatively, the folk art chic of Japanese wooden dolls may better fit your modern aesthetic.

The Hina Dolls

The Hina dolls are associated with Hinamatsuri in Japan, a festival that ensures the healthy growth of a daughter.

Fun Fact! The Awashima Jinja shrine in Wakayama is filled with 1000+ vintage Japanese dolls with the most numerous being Hina dolls.
Japanese antique dolls like these Hina dolls make cool Japanese souvenirs

Japanese antique dolls like these Hina dolls make cool Japanese souvenirs

What is the Hinamatsuri Festival?

The Hinamatsuri festival is a girls’ day celebration on the 3rd of March. Hinamatsuri in Japan is celebrated for daughters until their 10th birthday.

Each family brings out their Hinamatsuri doll set which is a series of dolls placed on a red tiered carpet. Yes, the dolls have a hierarchy too. There will always be a man and a woman on the top tier of Hinamatsuri dolls which is supposed to represent the Emperor and Empress.

At the top of the Hinamatsuri doll set are representation of the Emperor and Empress, representing the hierarchy in society as well.

At the top of the Hinamatsuri doll set are representation of the Emperor and Empress, representing the hierarchy in society as well.

The Hinamatsuri festival has a macabre origin story. The legend goes that one of the mythical founders of Japan (sort of like Romulus and Remus for Rome) purified himself after visiting the Land of the Dead. This purification used to include human sacrifice. During the Heian period though, ritual purification could be done by transferring your issues to a doll and throwing it in the river or sea.

Fun Fact! The Heian period was named for its capital city which is now Kyoto. The Heian period was a flourishing time for Japanese culture. It lasted from 794-1185

The Nagashi Bina Festival which is more like the Heian period festival of transferring uncleanliness onto a doll is still celebrated in some places, including the Shimigomo Shrine in Kyoto. There is a Nagashi Bina Doll Museum in the city of Tottori.

Hinamatsuri dolls wear traditional outfits from the Heian period, widely regarded as a glorious period in Japanese cultural history.

By the late 17th century, the Nagashi Bina festival transformed into the Hinamatsuri festival which is widely celebrated  today in Japan.

The Hinamatsuri Doll Set

Usually a family gets the first two dolls (the Emperor and the Empress) of a Hinamatsuri doll set by the first birthday of their child. You don’t need to have any more Hina dolls because that is the basic set. The dolls are offered little food offerings and sake. We discovered that Shintoism in Japan seems to love sake offerings!

They Hina dolls are displayed for only a brief time because of the superstition that if you left them up too long they would be responsible for the daughter’s late marriage. Heaven forbid.

You can see how detailed and beautiful a Hina doll can be in this version.

You can see how detailed and beautiful a Hina doll can be in this version.

How many more tiers of dolls you have depends on how much  money you have. A Hinamatsuri set ranges from 5-7 tiers with 15 dolls.

Below is a 3-tier Hinamatsuri doll set which has the Emperor and Emperess and their courtiers and musicians in traditional court dress from the Heian period.

A 3 tiered Hinamatsuri doll set.

A 3 tiered Hinamatsuri doll set.

A Hina doll is expensive to buy new. For example a full 5 tier set of Japanese porelain dolls can cost a couple of thousand US dollars. Usually families pass down the Hinamatsuri doll set from generation to generation.

Why Are Second Hand Hina Dolls Affordable?

You can, however, get a Hina doll fairly cheaply in second-hand stores. Antique Japanese Hina dolls are not bought by Japanese families. Dolls are supposed to take on human characteristics by virtue of looking like humans. It’s fine to inherit your doll from your family members but you will invite bad spirits into your home if you bring a stranger’s Hina dolls into your home!

My daughter thought they were beautiful until she heard the superstition about them having spirits of their own. Then she just thought they were creepy.

HInamatsuri dolls are used in the Hinamatsuri festival celebrated annually in March.

HInamatsuri dolls are used in the Hinamatsuri festival celebrated annually in March.

So there are lots of Japanese antique dolls floating around Japan that no longer belong to a family. It’s not like you can throw them out because that would really bring the reign down the wrath of a Japanese spirit. (Remember the Japanese horror movie, The Ring? No one wants that). So, these Japanese antique dolls get flogged to foreigners who appreciate them for their beauty and don’t have the attendant superstitions associated with them.

I did buy two vintage Japanese dolls before I learned about the legend and my daughter got spooked. Unfortunately, one of the Hina dolls lost his head somewhere in transit. The Japanese spirit associated with my headless Hina doll is probably very annoyed but has yet to pay me a visit. Sort of like the legend of the Headless Horsemen of Sleepy Hollow, he’s probably still out there searching for his head (somewhere in baggage claim).

Kokeshi Dolls

Kokeshi dolls are simple wooden Japanese dolls that originally started in the Northeast of Japan.

Farmers made these Japanese wooden dolls from scraps of wood to wile away the time during the winters. Kokeshi Japanese dolls were probably a good luck symbol.

Fun fact!  Traditionally farmers made and gave Kokeshi dolls to their children to ensure a good harvest.

Then kokeshi dolls got sold as souvenirs to people visiting the onsens (hot springs) in the area in the early 1800’s during the Edo Period. Eventually they also became a toy for children. Sometimes a Kokeshi doll was given to a woman who had lost a baby through miscarriage or abortion.

Unlike the Hina dolls, the Kokeshi dolls meaning were believed to be a good luck charm. They were both a guardian of children’s souls but also able to contain the spirits of ancestors. Personally, I would have thought that was just as creepy.

There is a Kokeshi Museum in Osaki City which has about 5000 Japanese kokeshi dolls on display.

Vintage Kokeshi Dolls

The vintage kokeshi dolls you will find are super-simple. They have a hand-drawn face, no arms and legs, and a floral design on the body. There are apparently 11 different types of Kokeshi patterns which are associated with different onsens. You may find the artist’s signature on the bottom of a Kokeshi doll.

Vintage Kokeshi dolls are handmade so each are different

Vintage Kokeshi dolls are handmade so each are different

Simple as they are, Kokeshi dolls take a long time to make because the wood is left outside to age for up to 5 years. The wood used can be cherry, dogwood, chestnut or Japanese maple. They are always made of wood, hand-carved andhand-painted.

You are basically looking for a Kokeshi doll that is pleasing to the eye. You want one that is not too top heavy and has a nice pattern. We saw some that my daughter classified as having “weird” faces but really it is a personal preference.

Modern Kokeshi Dolls

Modern kokeshi dolls appeared in the 1950’s and are more colorful and artistic. Artists were allowed more freedom to express their creativity unlike in the vintage kokeshi dolls. Also called creative kokeshi dolls, the body is painted wearing clothes like kimonos or yukatas. Unlike the vintage kokeshi dolls, modern kokeshi dolls can be made on special machines (but are still handprinted).

you can see how modern Kokeshi dolls got their style

you can see how modern Kokeshi dolls got their style

Kimmidoll Collection

The Kimmidoll collection takes the modern kokeshi dolls even further away from the traditional types. Inspired by Kokeshi dolls, Japanese kimmidolls contemporary collectible dolls. Kimmidolls are a mass-market approach to a Japanese tradition. They aren’t as charming as a the aged look of vintage Japanese dolls in my opinion but my daughter thought they were super pretty.

A kimmidoll keychain capitalises on the traditional Kokeshi craft.

A kimmidoll keychain capitalises on the traditional Kokeshi craft.

Each Kimmidoll represents a positive characteristic e such as laughter, understanding, love or entertainment. We got our Kimmidoll keychain at Kiddyland, a Japanese toy superstore in the Ometesando neighborhood near Harajuku.

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Hinamatsuri dolls make cool Japanese souvenirs but they do have a creepy legend associated with them.

Hinamatsuri dolls make cool Japanese souvenirs but they do have a creepy legend associated with them.

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The Hotel Eclat Beijing:  A Chic Luxury Hotel With an Artsy Vibe

The Hotel Eclat Beijing: A Chic Luxury Hotel With an Artsy Vibe

Eccentric luxury sounds like a contradiction in terms and generally not something you want in a hotel. The Hotel Eclat Beijing is the exception though. It’s the brainchild of a Hong Kong tycoon who wants to bring contemporary art out of collector’s confines and put it in public spaces. Nice public spaces though. The Hotel Eclat Beijing is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels brand which has long been a favourite of ours for great luxury hotels that have style and panache. The Eclat Beijing delivers on all of those accounts and with a soupçon of irreverence.

The elegant furnishings of the hotel lobby signal early on that this hotel pays attention to design.

The elegant furnishings of the hotel lobby signal early on that this hotel pays attention to design.

First Impressions

I was a little bemused when we pulled up in front of a giant glass and steel encased mall with modern sculpture strewn across the front garden.  Was this a pit stop? We were supposed to be going to the Hotel Eclat Beijing. When the driver pulled out the bags, we realised we were at the hotel!

The giant glass and steel pyramid entrance to the Parkview Green Mall.

The giant glass and steel pyramid entrance to the Parkview Green Mall.

Once you enter the mall, the entrance to the Eclat Beijing is off to the side. There’s a reception desk and a long lobby filled with more contemporary art. A glass escalator whisks you up to your key-coded floor.

The glass elevator had a red traditional couch. We loved the juxtaposition of old and new.

Style

The Hotel Eclat Beijing is definitely meant for lovers of modern art AND luxury. There are nods to traditional Chinese imagery (such as the red lanterns above the room doors) mixed with modern elan.

Sculpture of a man breaking through a wall.

Sculpture of a man breaking through a wall. What can it mean??

For example, both of our rooms’ terraces had variations of a barfing Buddha as well as giant upholstered leather sofas that would not be out of place in an English  country house library.

What’s the story with the barfing Buddha?

What’s the story with the barfing Buddha? Maybe a bit avant-garde for us.

Ambience

The rooms are spacious, the ambience discreet and the staff attentive. In some views, I felt like I was in a gilded jewellery box.

I actually felt like I was in an episode of the Truman Show where I was living in an enclosed bubble. We were separated from the noise, pollution and OTT-ness of Beijing by the glass dome which covered the mall.

The view of Beijing from the Hotel Eclat.

The view of Beijing from the Hotel Eclat.

I’ve heard people have complained that the glass dome was filmy.. Hello??? This is Beijing. The crazy pollution of the city is just outside that dome and the glass is never going to be clear.

The mall was perfectly temperature controlled so we could sit out in our terraces and enjoy being outside without actually being outside. While inside our little dome, we did not have the itchy eyes and a rasping throat that plagued us when we were out and about in Beijing.

The Good

I never thought I’d enjoy staying at a mall but I did! It also felt totally Chinese – an homage to conspicuous consumption and an artificial reality constructed to make everything seem pleasant.

Parkview Green Mall

Parkview Green Mall in Beijing is one of the best high-end malls in Beijing. It also has modern art scattered throughout.  The stores are a blend of Chinese and Western brands. We saw Gap, Build-A-Bear, Van Cleef and Arpels and Stella McCartney which is a fairly odd combination in my opinion.

Being located in an upscale mall has its advantages in terms of foodie options. It’s got a Starbucks, and a branch of a couple of our favourite Chinese restaurants (Dadong for Crispy Duck and Din Tai Fung for dumplings. There’s a whole slew of options including pizzerias, cafes and Japanese restaurants. Something for everyone, then.

A multi-coloured Buddha is one of the modern art pieces on show.

A multi-coloured Buddha is one of the modern art pieces on show.

The Location

Hotel Eclat Beijing is located in an upscale area of Beijing near the Embassies. It is located bout 20 kilometres away from the Beijing international airport. The hotel is in between the central business district which has the tourist sightseeing places. and the trendy area of Sanlitun. There is a subway nearby should you chose to avail yourself of that mode of transportation.

Family-Friendly

We did see other children around but the hallways and common spaces were quiet. Maybe you wouldn’t want small children around all of the artwork, but my kids got a kick out of it. Besides, its clear that everything at this hotel has a price tag. I’m sure if your kid breaks something, they will be expected to pay for it.

The television had mostly Chinese channels with a few English-channels like HBO and Cinemax. The room though had an Blu Ray player with a disc full of children’s favourites.

A disc with English language movies to keep the kids happy.

A disc with English language movies to keep the kids happy.

There seems to be candy everywhere – from the lobby to the Afternoon tea. It may be a hipster thing but it made my kids very happy.

We had asked for connecting rooms so that our children could be next door. The initial rooms they gave us were not connecting. The hotel did rectify this situation as soon as they had a room free next door to the one in which we were staying.

The George Bar

You get a voucher for a free drink at the George Bar in the lobby when you check in. My husband took my son down to the bar to oversee the math homework he had been assigned from school. In return, he took my free drink voucher which  I thought was a fair trade.

The French colonial glamour of the Georg Bar.

The French colonial glamour of the Georg Bar.

Although the atmosphere was lively, the bar was not too noisy with attentive staff. I loved the vintage French decor – a nod to the glamour and decadence of French colonial rule further south in Asia.

The Great

We thought our rooms with the connecting terraces were fabulous. I could totally see myself having an apartment in New York with a similar set up. It gave us enough privacy but also gave the children assurance we were nearby. We had temperature and pollution-controlled outside space to enjoy as well.

The Rooms

We loved our rooms which had connecting terraces. The bathrooms were large with separate soaking tubs and power showers. My kids were super-impressed with the Japanese style deluxe toilets which was operated with remote controls. In fact, the lid opened and closed with a motion sensor. The beds were comfy and we slept like babies.

We had a comfortable queen bed in our room and twin beds in the children’s room.

This hotel is the first one which had a massage chair in each room. I am a huge fan of massage chairs and kept ours pretty busy sorting out the knots in my back from travelling and carrying bags.

Why don’t more hotels have massage chairs?

Why don’t more hotels have massage chairs? Travelling is the worst thing for my back

My kids absolutely loved the toy-gun activated bedside lamp.

My kids LOVED this lamp which turned on when you pointed the gun at it.

As with everything else in the room, the lamp was for sale. A price list handily appears on the television screen as does the room service menu.

The television handily lists all the things you can buy from the hotel

The television handily lists all the things you can buy from the hotel, including the bath mat. Who buys a bath mat?

The Terraces

The terraces were charming. Plenty of room to sit and relax in your own hideaway. They had couches, lights and giant tables perfectly set up for outdoor living. It reminded me of many New York City apartment terraces.

One of the terraces in our hotel room at the Hotel Eclat Beijing

One of the terraces in our hotel room at the Hotel Eclat Beijing.

If you pay more than we did, you can get one of the 20 rooms with terraces which have individual pools.

Room Service

We were feeling so pampered, we opted to have room service on our terrace at the Hotel Eclat Beijing. It’s all done through the iPad in the room, but ironically the hotel staff had to call you to confirm a few things. For exam, my daughter wanted pasta but they called to confirm the type.

The food was excellent, the service prompt and we had a lovely relaxing time hanging out as a family in the terrace.

The room service dinner menu had a good variety of food options. We were all able to have a variety of items. I was craving something spicy which I got in the form of  Laksa soup. My daughter ordered pasta which is her go-to anywhere. My husband and son got comfort food for themselves, too – steak and ribs. The burgers and steak was Wagyu beef so it was a prime cut with matching prices.

Could Be Better

I felt I was nitpicking when i tried to find things I disliked about the Eclat Beijing. It’s a bit too trendy – so there may be trends you dislike such as for example, the lack of privacy in bathrooms.  The afternoon tea and the gym were a bit lame. And, if you find good WiFi in Beijing that’s considered a bonus. Definitely don’t expect it.

Trends I Dislike

I honestly really dislike bathrooms that allow you to see into them. On the plus side, there are window dimmers so you can have privacy. No matter how much you love someone you don’t want to watch them brush and floss their teeth.

You can dim the window from the bathroom into the bedroom.

You can dim the window from the bathroom into the bedroom.

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is served to hotel guests. We were a little surprised to find that this meant a huge assortment of candy and some cakes. Needless to say the kids were thrilled. My husband and I were feeling peckish and expecting an English-style afternoon tea though with those little finger sandwiches.

There was free candy on tap to the delight of my children.

There was free candy on tap to the delight of my children.

Gym

The gym is a small room overlooking the mall which has just enough equipment to be adequate.

The small hotel gym overlooks the mall.

The small hotel gym overlooks the mall.

Wifi

The Wifi was honestly as terrible as in the rest of Beijing. Being in a luxury hotel is no guarantee of having good WiFi. Your best bet is to find the nearest Apple store and hang out fo awhile if you want to catchup on the outside world.

Our Opinion

You can stay in Hotel Eclat Beijing and be in your own little world. Is that a good thing? It depends on your opinion of Beijing.

For the latest rates for Hotel Eclat Beijing, here are a selection of travel booking sites:

Hotels.com Expedia Booking.com

You can read other reviews of the Hotel Eclat on TripAdvisor which seem to like this boutique hotel in Beijing as much as I do. 

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Where To Stay in Beijing If You Are Seeking Design-Led Hotel Luxury (Including Family-Friendly Options)

Where To Stay in Beijing If You Are Seeking Design-Led Hotel Luxury (Including Family-Friendly Options)

Beijing is an enormous sprawling city and deciding where to stay in Beijing can be a daunting task. Since the former Palace Hotel (now Peninsula Beijing) opened in 1989, numerous 5 star hotels have opened in the city. There are outposts of Western brands, Chinese own brands and Beijing boutique hotels. The Chinese have embraced luxury like the French to pate. For example, like Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, the Pangu Hotel has given itself a seven-star rating even though there’s technically nothing above 5 stars. In a world where Beijing is trying to out-nouveau riche the Middle East, what’s left for hotel luxury other than great design?

A captivating dessert - white chocolate and milk chocolate ducks set on dry ice.

A captivating dessert shows of culinary artistry – white chocolate and milk chocolate ducks set on dry ice.

We’ve stayed a total of 10 days in Beijing to date. So where IS the best place to stay in Beijing and the best neighbourhood to stay in Beijing? We had a specific set of criteria in mind when we chose our hotels.   The design and interiors geek in me likes cool design hotels. As for my family, my husband wanted convenience and the kids just wanted simple hotel luxury.

The Best Neighbourhood To Stay in Beijing

After conversations with expat friends who live in Beijing and the expertise advice of Abercrombie and Kent, who organised our trips to China, we would suggest two neighbourhoods, Wangfujing and Sanlitun, as the best place to stay in Beijing for tourists seeking contemporary style as well as hotel luxury.

Where to stay in Beijing for family-friendly Beijing boutique hotels

Where to stay in Beijing for family-friendly luxury hotels

Sprawling Beijing

To give you an idea of the city’s size, Beijing has 7 ring roads circling it. This last 7th ring road is under construction. The Beijing International Airport is on the northeast side of the 6th Ring Road approximately 20 miles from the city center.

As you can see, the airport is miles away (a distance made even longer with traffic) from central Beijing.

As you can see, the airport is miles away (a distance made even longer with traffic) from central Beijing.

Both these areas have good transport links, including subway stations. We, however, stuck to taxis. And, walking extended periods in the brutal smog and humidity wasn’t an option either.

Do you want to spend your vacation time stuck in a taxi in Beijing? Sure, you can find cool hotels like the Beijing NUO Hotel (a Beijing boutique hotel loaded with art and style near the 728 Art District). This 728 Art District area though is not very central. There is a Beijing NUO Wangfujing which has a more traditional French-Colonial feel because it’s in the former Beijing Raffles hotel. The 7 star Pangu Hotel which was mentioned above is on the fourth ring road near the Olympic stadiums – a total non-starter for us.

If you would like to stay outside of Central Beijing, I would suggest the Aman Summer Palace which is near one of the bucket list items that is on everyone’s itinerary for Beijing anyway. The amazing Aman service will also ensure that you get your sightseeing in central Beijing done smoothly as well as enjoying your hotel luxury in beautiful surroundings.

Staying in Wangfujing

We personally considered Wangfujing as the best place to stay in Beijing because we loved the area. Admittedly, the neighbourhood doesn’t have much of a nightlife scene but we were travelling with kids. There are great hotels located relatively closely to the Forbidden City which is about a 20 minute walk.

All the big names are in the area of Wangfujing shopping street

We consider Wangfujing shopping street one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Beijing

There are large malls with upscale stores and food courts in addition to Wangfujing shopping street. Wangfujing night market sells some of the strange street food you have heard about. We got our fix just by looking at the Wangfujing street food – Fried scorpions anyone? And, there’s a ginormous Apple Store in with excellent WiFi which made my kids happy.

Fun Fact!   Wangfujing shopping street is the busiest street in Beijing. Every day Wangfujing shopping street is traversed by 600,000 people (and double that number on holidays).

It’s totally a microcosm of modern China – traditional culture, luxury goods and a population obsessed with conspicuous consumption.

Staying in Sanlitun

If you are travelling with teenagers, you may consider Sanlitun to be the best place to stay in Beijing. Sanlitun is an up and coming trendy area with lots of young and artsy hipster types. Think Shoreditch in London or Brooklyn in New York. Unlike these other areas though, there are many embassies located nearby.

Din Tai Fung, a one Michelin-starred dumpling restaurant, has a location in one of Beijing’s upscale malls.

Din Tai Fung, a one Michelin-starred dumpling restaurant, has a location in one of Beijing’s upscale malls.

Sanlitun definitely attracts a well-heeled and well-dressed crowd. There’s a large Sanlitun Village entertainment complex in Sanlitun which has shops, cafes and restaurants so there’s plenty to do in the neighbourhood as well. Sanlitun Village has a great website in English if you want to browse for what’s available (and positioned prominently is Opposite House Beijing).

Fun Fact! Sanlitun Village actually was the location for China’s first Apple store.

Beijing Where To Stay Centrally

These hotels are in our preferred areas where there is plenty to do in the evenings in terms of shopping, restaurants and people-watching generally.

The Peninsula Beijing

After the Peninsula Beijing got its recent £100 million facelift, this Grande Dame is looking good again! Located in Wangfujing area, the all-suites hotel is probably the definition of hotel luxury. It’s got everything you would expect from The Peninsula including excellent service,rooms and amenities.

The moon over the Peninsula Hotel Beijing

The moon over the Peninsula Hotel Beijing

Way back when the hotel opened in 1989, it was China’s first Western luxury hotel! Much though has changed in Beijing (and China in the intervening nearly 30 years). It was time for The Peninsula Beijing to be refreshed as well!

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Gone are the dowdy interiors and the hotel is now light and airy. Post-renovation, the Peninsula Beijing no longer has check-in desks. It’s filled with contemporary art chosen by the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Beijing. And, acres of luxury materials such as jade, marble and mahogany.

Families can get connecting rooms with the second room at a discount. Kids will love the large (black!) swimming pool. Adults will love the spa and gym facilities. There are two restaurants (Cantonese Chinese and farm-to-table international cuisine) and a pastry cafe. It’s also got the distinction of having a luxury shopping arcade on site with names even my kids recognised – Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Bottega Veneta and Tiffany to name a few.

Check out what how The Peninsula ranks among TripAdvisor Beijing hotels!

For the latest rates for The Peninsula Beijing, here are a selection of travel booking sites.

Booking.com Hotels.com Expedia

Vue Hotel Houhai Beijing

Have kids in tow but do you still want to be part of the action? The Vue Hotel Hou Hai Beijing is a good option if you want to hang out with the cool kids but you have kids of your own.

 

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The Vue Hotel is young, hip and trendy and an easy place to join the action around the venues of Houhai Lake. Then you can go back to the hotel which is secluded from the main action and put the kids to bed!

The Vue Hotel Houhai Beijing is close to where we took a rickshaw tour of a traditional hutong (a neighbourhood of alleys with courtyard homes leading of the alley). Houhai is one of the lakes in Beijing which is a popular place to hang out.

The rickshaw tours of the hutongs start near Houhai Lake

The rickshaw tours of the hutongs start near Houhai Lake

The Vue Hotel Beiing is is decorated in assorted shades of grey trendiness with pops of color. It’s design credentials are impeccable having been designed by Ministry of Design, a Singapore firm and featured in Wallpaper (naturally).

There are lots of contemporary flourishes including open-plan bathrooms like the Muscat Chedi. There is a high-end restaurant, a French pastry cafe and a slick bar.

Check out what how the Vue Houhai ranks among TripAdvisor Beijing hotels!

For the latest rates for Vue Hou Hai , here are a selection of travel booking sites.

Hotels.com Expedia

Rosewood Beijing Hotel

The Rosewood Beijing hotel is a slick sophisticated hotel set in a skyscraper. The decor is non-risk taking, high end contemporary with a calm muted palette. Think Kelly Hoppen. What’s extraordinary though is the gallery’s worth of contemporary artwork on display.

There’s a hotel spa, gym and yoga studio to add to the hotel luxury. Unfortunately,  the large emerald green pool is adults only but there is a smaller kids’ pool. There are interconnecting rooms available which would be suitable for families.

The Rosewood Beijing hotel offers several dining options (Northern Chinese, Szechuan Hot Pot and French) and a trendy bar scene. If you pay extra for the members lounge, you get free breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails which is remarkably good value (for adults).

Check out what how the Rosewood Beijing ranks among TripAdvisor Beijing hotels!

For the latest rates for Rosewood Beijing, here are a selection of travel booking sites.

Booking.com Hotels.com Expedia

Opposite House

A slick, minimal and hipster-friendly boutique hotel, Opposite House Beijing is located smack dab in nightlife-central, Sanlitun. There’s nothing so bourgeois as a check-in desk for example at this Beijing boutique hotel.

Opposite House Beijing is light, airy and spacious which is hotel luxury in itself. I felt this accomplishment particularly keenly in Beijing where the city’s concrete smoggy drabness seems to weigh down on you.

There are two restaurants (Chinese and Spanish/Italian fusion cuisines), a cafe and a bar on site. There’s also a small stainless steel pool and a gym also at this Beijing boutique hotel.

In terms of family friendly, one kid can stay for free in your room at Opposite House Beijing. On the other hand, this hotel is better for teens who will appreciate the hipster quality of its hotel luxury so do you really want a teenager bunking down with you?

Check out what how Opposite House Beijing ranks among TripAdvisor Beijing hotels!

For the latest rates for Opposite House Beijing, here are a selection of travel booking sites.

Booking.com Hotels.com Expedia

 

Hotel Eclat Beijing

Hotel Eclat Beijing is located in the Parkview Green mall in fantastic location between the central business district and the nightlife area of Sanlitun. The Parkview Green is one of Beijing’s best malls. For a suburban American kid like me, a luxury hotel in a great mall is a dream come true!

Where to stay in Beijing if you are seeking luxury and good design hotels.

Where to stay in Beijing if you are seeking luxury and good design hotels.

Staying at this Beijing boutique hotel is like staying in an art gallery and also being in something like the Truman Show. You are covered by the glass dome that covers the Parkview Green – so it’s all temperature controlled and the Beijing smog is kept outside.

We didn’t have a pool but we did have interconnecting terraces in our rooms. These large terraces reminded me of Manhattan apartment living. It’s like being outside without actually the terrible heat, humidity and smog of being outside. It’s very artificial – but we loved it! I consider not having to deal with Beijing smog hotel luxury in itself.

The pools at this hotel are individual  to the particular rooms. The decor is cool and quirky. Although not an open-plan bathroom, the bathroom did have dimmable glass if you wanted the world to see you bathe (or not). My kids LOVED the lamp that you can turn on and off with a gun.

There’s no spa and the little gym is a bit lame. Obviously you can choose from Parkview Green’s mall restaurants or the hotel restaurants (Spanish or British cuisines). There’s a bar at which hotel guests get a free drink.

Check out what how Hotel Eclat Beijing ranks among TripAdvisor Beijing hotels!

For the latest rates for Hotel Eclat Beijing, here are a selection of travel booking sites.

Booking.com Hotels.com Expedia

Beijing Where To Stay Further Afield

Aman Summer Palace

If you don’t mind being away from the tourist spots in Beijing, the Aman Summer Palace is a great option. A plus side? The air is a lot cleaner when you are 1 hour+ from Beijing. You are near the Summer Palace (a UNESCO world heritage site) and pretty much nothing else.

The hotel is set up as a traditional Chinese complex (courtyards, walkways, and gardens). It’s got a gorgeous pool and spa all of which are in an underground complex oozing hotel luxury.

The Aman Summer Palace has several restaurants (steaks, Japanese and Cantonese) as well as assorted cultural craft activities on offer to make up for the fact that there’s very little to do in terms of entertainment nearby.

Tip – Even if you do not stay at the Aman Summer Palace, you should consider stopping by for tea in the library room after a visit to the Summer Palace before your long trek in traffic back to Beijing. Speaking of treks, the Summer Palace is famous for having a very long corridor of approximately 1/2 a mile. Afternoon tea will be a welcome break after experiencing this walkway and dodging hordes of domestic Chinese tourists.

The tinkling sound of Chinese music is prevalent. One of my kids’ complaints about China was this tinkly version of Chinese Muzak that you hear everywhere. I told them to get over it! The Chinese are probably as used to hearing the tinkly music and tuning it out as we are to Muzak.

Another big bonus is that you get direct access to the Summer Palace before the tourist hordes arrive. Like the rest of China’s attractions, the Summer Palace gets very crowded and so it’s nice to have this one UNESCO world heritage site almost to yourself in China.

Children under 12 can stay free with parents but only in suites and older children pay a reduced rate. There are two types of suites that have double en-suite bedrooms that sleep up to four people.

Check out what how the Aman Summer Palace ranks among TripAdvisor Beijing hotels!

For the latest rates for Aman Summer Palace, you can look it up on Expedia.

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.