Beijing City Guide

Gay Beijing Beijing City Guide

In one of his epic romantic poems, Mao Zedong wrote: "One Who Fails to Reach the Great Wall Is No Hero." No matter that one esteemed translator described Mao’s poems as “not as bad as Hitler's paintings, but not as good as Churchill's.” The sentiment is the same. Have you fully lived if you’ve never walked the Great Wall of China? A trip to Beijing lets you check that box as well as plenty of other marvels: Peking Opera, roast duck, Forbidden City, hot pot soup, Tiananmen Square, a weird building that looks like a pair of pants, imperial gardens, chic hidden cocktail bars and, if the heart desires, even a drag show. While it’s nowhere near a gay mecca, Beijing does have a gay scene, as evidenced the Beijing Queer Film Festival and its own LGBT Center. At the time Mao penned his mediocre poems, gayness was underground owing to its being pathologised and criminalized. However, same-sex sex was finally deleted from the criminal codebooks in 1997, followed by its removal four years later from the mental illness textbooks. That said, being gay is still highly stigmatized so the scene, while fun, easy to find and accessible, is still fairly discreet. 

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The best hotels in Beijing

If you’re keen to dive deep into of one of the world’s most ancient civilizations but prefer to lay your head in a setting that is more contemporary chic, The Opposite House  is for you. Inside the lime-green glass cube building, you will find minimalist rooms with bleached wood floors, open-plan bathrooms and walls of dark slate. Striking art installations dot the soaring common areas and the pool bottom is made of stainless steel. The hotel sits at the centre of the Sanlitun, a massive complex for shopping, eating and nightlife. It’s got a great bar/club called Mesh that’s posh and full of expats on Thursdays. In the same district, the high-design CHAO Sanlitun Beijing is a striking mix of futuristic, classic, and Zen. The hotel was conceived as a place where guests can mix with the local community. To that end, it’s got a common area, a co-working space, an art centre and even an amphitheatre. Pretty cool. A stunningly extravagant property is the Hotel Éclat Beijing, which showcases museum-quality art in a building that resembles the Louvre Pyramid. A member of the exclusive Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the hotel’s collection includes Salvador Dali, Zhang Guolang, Chen Wen Ling, Andy Warhol, Gao Xiao Wu, Zou Liang. We’re not sure hotels get any better than this. If big hotel complexes aren’t your thing, Double Happiness Beijing Courtyard Hotel is a lovely and affordable option. No two rooms are the same at the converted 200-year-old courtyard house located down an alleyway. The whole space feels eclectic and personal. Another courtyard hotel but with a slicker vibe is the Beijing 161 Drum Tower Hotel, which also has a great outdoor terrace. Another version of the traditional courtyard house hotel is the hip and laid-back The Orchid. With just 10 rooms and a maze of flowery terraces and warm heartfelt service, this place is the proverbial gem.

Photo: Zhang Kaiyv

Photo: Zhang Kaiyv


Recommended hotels in Gay Beijing - Beijing
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