Spring may not officially begin until March 21, but the winter chill still lingers – meaning that staying indoors is often still the best option. Luckily, there’s a new shopping center in town under one glass roof: Indigo Mall.
If you’re planning to spend a Saturday or Sunday at Indigo, the ideal place to sate that lingering winter appetite is at at Feast by EAST Beijing. EAST Beijing, the newest hotel operated by Swire (which also runs the modern-chic Opposite House), is insistently serene, minimalist but warm, and is directly attached to Indigo Mall. The motto of all food done at Feast is “simple things, done well,” and the weekend brunch lives up to that motto in two or three scrumptious courses. The sun-bathed restaurant has a pleasant view of the eastern Lido area, and the friendly staff and kid-friendly ambiance make for a pleasant, brunch.
To aid digestion, ramble through Indigo, which you can access through a door just past EAST’s front desk. Indigo doesn’t flow like a standard mall, with a block of escalators in a stack; instead, escalators are staggered throughout the meandering mall, giving
patrons time to savor window shopping.
While some stores are still in the process of opening, Indigo is already fortified with local toy and baby shop darlings on the third floor, like Kids Land, Baby Land, and The Fifth Avenue. It will also be rounded out by the forthcoming Counting Sheep – also on the third floor. Kitchen enthusiasts can rejoice in the newest Cuccina store (on B1/F), which has all the cooking gadgets a chef could wish for. Tech fiends will relish the large Lenovo store (3/F) as well as all-around electronics purveyor Sundan (B1/F). There’s a Toni & Guy salon (B/1) if the family needs a trim, and Sephora (1/F), Watsons (B1/F), and Herborist Spa (B1/F) to round out the health and beauty side of things. There are shops aplenty to fill the wardrobe of any family member, including popular chains H&M (1/F, 2/F) and Gap (1/F, 2/F), – which both feature children’s sections. Pick up more threads at Tommy Hilfiger (1/F), Vero Moda (2/F), and Crocs (B1/F).
Be sure to head to Page One (B1/F), the plush but affordable bookstore chain. The Indigo branch has a nook with a decent selection of English children’s books and young adult fiction. The rest of the store has a large collection of English language fiction, non-fiction, and more, as well as a breathtaking art and design books that make for great browsing.
When you’re shopped out, catch a flick at CGV Xingxing International Cinema on the fourth floor. Savor the Hollywood feel of the light bulb-studded ceiling as you ascend the escalator. Screens at the entrance will tell you exactly what’s playing and what languages the films are in (Chinese only or Chinese with English subtitles). Snack combos are reasonably-priced (RMB 25 for popcorn and one drink or RMB 35 for popcorn and two drinks).
In the lobby of the cinema is Cine Shop (4/F), and film buffs will love browsing the modest but intriguing selection of music, DVDs, books about movie stars, and movie-themed accessories. There’s also a Twosome Coffee (4/F) if you want to linger after a showing or enjoy a snack on their terrace that overlooks the mall’s atrium.
When tummies really start rumbling, there’s a wide selection of cuisines and restaurants. Blue Frog (1/F) and Hercules (1/F) make up Western favorites, while there’s Bibigo (1/F) for Korean, Toyo Jazz (2/F) for Japanese, and Xihe Yayuan (1/F) for Peking Duck. If no one can decide, there’s always the Food Republic (3/F) and its abundance of Chinese food court selections. Pick up some sweets for the way home at Godiva (1/F), across from Blue Frog. For steak fans, Flamme is now open from 11am-5pm. Stay tuned for more restaurants, including Element Fresh, Tous Les Jours, Muse, Middle 8, Honeymoon Desserts, and Cold Stone Creamery.
Indigo isn’t yet linked to the metro system, but there will be a stop in front of the mall when Line 14 opens in 2014. For now, grabbing a taxi or hopping aboard one of the free weekend shuttles (see below) are the best ways to get home after a cozy end-of-winter day frolicking in the climate-controlled luxury of Indigo.
Indigo offers free weekend shuttles to and from the mall at Liangma Qiao, Wangjing, Nanshiliju, and 798. Departures for the mall take place every hour on the hour between 11am and 9pm. Buses depart from the mall every hour on the half hour from 11.30am to 9.30pm. To take a bus from the mall, you must show a same day receipt from one of Indigo’s stores.
To reach Indigo by bus, take the: 401, 402, 408, 418, 420, 621, 656, 659, 677, 688, 701, 909, 946, 955, 973, 976, 968, 991, or 107 to Jiuxianqiao Station.
Indigo Mall 颐堤港
Daily 10am-10pm. 18 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District (8426 0898) www.indigobeijing.com 朝阳区酒仙桥路18号
Feast (Food by EAST Beijing)
RMB 168 (two courses), RMB 208 (three courses). Kids under 6 eat free, ages 6-12 eat for half price. Sat-Sun 11.30am-3pm. 2/F, EAST Beijing, 22 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District. (8426 0888,
CJV Xingxing International Cinema CGV 希界维星星国际影城
RMB 30-100 (depending on movie), free (children under 1.2m), half price (children up to 12). Mon-Fri 10.30am-12.30pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am-12.30pm. 4/F, Indigo Mall, 18 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District (8426 0800) 朝阳区酒仙桥路18号颐堤港商场4层
photo by Ellis Friedman