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A couple of streets over in Zhujia Hutong at number 9 is a former brothel, now reimagined as an elegant coffee shop Berry Beans (0086 10 8319 7503; no web), with fashion label Bifu (0086 10 6313 5944; no web) across the courtyard.Lunch on the run Southern Fish at 166 Yangmeizhu Xiejie (0086 10 8315 2539; no web) serves homestyle Hunanese food (translation – lots of wok-fried vegetables tossed with chilli) in a simple-chic setting.The icing on the cake If you’ve come all this way, you’re going to want to climb the 21,000-kilometre Great Wall.
Its modern Chinese restaurant Jing Yaa Tang does the best Peking duck in town amid the slick gold-and-black décor, designed by restaurateur Alan Yau to look like a traditional Chinese theatre. A walk in the park The 1,000-year-old imperial gardens of Beihai, next to Jingshan Park, are positioned in the middle of a lake: meaning calm Sunday morning walks around it, if you avoid local Beijingers getting their weekend exercise.
The focal point is the cake-topper-style white pagoda that gazes over the park’s preened Chinese gardens. Out to brunch The modernised slate grey courtyard houses of Dong Bu Ya Qiao hutong along the banks of the Jade River hide the Scandi-inspired The Georg at number 45 (0086 10 8408 5300; georgjensen.com), a restaurant, bar and gallery concept from Danish silversmith Georg Jensen.
Getting there British Airways (08, ba.com) and Air China (00800 86 100 999, uk) fly direct to Beijing from London Heathrow.
Return fares start from £387 with Air China and £409 with BA.
Take a ride With deep pockets, a taste of the strange and untamed urban growth, Beijing has spawned some increasingly weird architecture.