Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Piece of Tibet in Beijing

At the beginning of each month I want to show you places where I’d rather be at that very moment. As you know I am constantly either travelling or dreaming of travelling and I want to share my favourite bars, restaurants, hotels, cities and countries around the world with you. And I am looking for your recommendations for my next trips.
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Today I am taking you to a exotic place. Exotic in more than one way. First of all it is in Beijing, china. Secondly it is a Tibetan hotel, which is very unusual due to the independency aspirations of Tibet from China. And then it is right in the middle of one of the old quarters of Beijing – so called Hutongs. They are not only one-storeyed buildings, but complex communities and unfortunately they are torn down to make room for 90-storey high skyscrapers of modern Beijing every day. So hurry up and you may be able to see this incredible area before it disappears forever.

The entrance to the Qomolangma hotel and temple complex

The rooms and suites in the garden houses are particularly beautiful – there is lots of green around you (very rare in Beijing!), it is quiet (even rarer!!) and the rooms are decorated in the traditional Chinese style (gold, dark wood, lots of China and other pieces of art)

The only downside of this amazing hotel is the dining room which is located in the basement of the main house. It is lavishly decorated, but still there is no natural light. It is okay for having breakfast and watching some Chinese soap operas in the morning, but for lunch and dinner I highly recommend leaving the hotel (which I strongly suggest no matter where you are!). There are lovely restaurants near Lake Longtanhu or plenty of food vendors on West Gulou Street.

The food is always good, because Chinese people LOVE their food. They simply wouldn’t accept anything but great food – no matter whether you pay 10 cents or 30 dollars per dish. Ordering food is usually simple as well – either you point at what you want (especially easy at food stalls in the street or at markets) or you order something of a menu with photos (they show very vividly what chicken feet look like) or you just order ‘blindly’ something of an all-Chinese menu (believe me the English ‘translations’ won’t help you a bit!). If you opt for the adventurous ‘blind’ order, but want to avoid too adventurous food (Chinese people seem eat all kinds of meat and all parts of an animal!), my advice is to order something more on the cheap side, because these are usually the vegetable or chicken dishes. Turtle, guinea pig, snake and chicken tongue are Chinese specialties and therefore usually the most expensive dishes on the menu. Even if your Chinese host or waiter strongly recommends them, I would rather insist on something simple ;-) That said during my three trips to China I spend about 30 days there, I ate three times a day (at least!), I had several dishes at every lunch and dinner (due to the great tradition of sharing dishes), at chic as well as dodgy restaurants, at cafes, markets and on the street, in big cities and small towns, I tried lots of new dishes, I wasn’t always sure what was on my plate, but ... I NEVER EVER had one dish that didn’t taste amazing. So, I am sure you’ll enjoy trying out new restaurants.

Where: 149 West Gulou Street, Beijing, China; between Drum Tower and Deshengmen
phone: (010) 640 188 22, fax (010) 640 11 330, email:

Highlight: situated in the over 100-year-old Guan Temple inside a beautiful park

More photos, information and ideas: Hotel Qomolangma, amazing photos of Beijing’s hutons, Hutong tour

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