Getting out of Beijing for a short trip to the tropics during the Labor Day holiday this year may be a bit of a challenge now because of overly expensive flights and other travel costs.
But it turns out that peaceful respite can be found in the comforts of rural Beijing. We’ve visited a couple of relaxation centers around the perimeter of the city and here’s what we found out.
Huairou District (Northern Beijing)
Huairou District, with parts of the Great Wall perched on the glorious and green peaks of Jundu Mountains, is your best bet if you want to experience tranquility without leaving Beijing at all. While some properties in Huairou are tourist destinations (including the guesthouses near the Mutianyu section of the Wall), why not explore a little further and see another side of the district?
Sunrise Kempinski Hotel and its smaller but equally beautiful sister property Yanqi Hotel, are sights that adorn Yanqi Lake in Huairou. You may have seen these high-profile properties as they hosted the Belt and Road Forum in 2017.
The properties are mainly aimed at business people, but they still offer a pleasant retreat for families wanting to get out of the Beijing hustle in a mere 90 minutes (around 60km north of CBD). Your family might be tempted to ride a boat on the lake; however, it’s not yet possible to do it from the hotel proper as you need to drive to the other side of the lake and pay a separate entrance fee for the park.
Regardless, there’s a huge area where you can get in touch with nature and enjoy the mountainscape and the blooming shrubs, a view that can be experienced in any of the guestrooms housed in Yanqi Hotel (RMB 1,688 per day for 2 adults and 1 child).
The kids’ area at Yanqi Hotel is smaller compared to the ones in downtown hotels, though there are activities like a cooking class for young children. Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, Beijing & Yanqi Island are also gearing up for kid-friendly camps in the summer, so watch out for their announcements on their official WeChat account!
If you are a foodie and enjoy Chinese cuisine, you’ll find your comfort food at Yanqi Hotel. Its sister Sunrise houses a branch of Paulaner Brauhaus and also regularly holds Concertini, a series of musical performances by young students.
Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, Beijing & Yanqi Island
13 Yanxiu Road, Yanqi Lake, Huairou District. 怀柔区怀柔雁栖湖雁秀路13号 (Joyce Jiang: 6961 8888 ext. 3600, email@example.com, official WeChat account: kempinski_yanqilake)
35 kilometers further north of Yanqi Lake (around 2 hours from the CBD) is a quiet valley on the banks of a small river, where you’ll find Cedars Country Holiday Hotel, which boasts ten elegantly appointed rooms (from RMB 788 per night Mon-Thu, RMB 988 Fri-Sun), arranged around a central courtyard. Four of the rooms are large duplex suites that look out over the river and the hills rising beyond, and each one has a unique theme or color scheme full of plush touches, setting Cedars apart from the rustic minimalism that many similar hotels and guesthouses favor.
Kids will love exploring the path alongside the river, simply hopping on and off stepping stones or perhaps fishing in the summer (rest assured that the water is fresh and clean). Alternatively, a path climbs up into the hills opposite the hotel, with pretty pagodas to stop at along the way. The path is quite steep so this might be a better option for older kids with stronger legs. There are also plenty of scenic areas and things to do within easy reach of the hotel.
Cedars Country Holiday Hotel
13-14 Shangwenpu Village, Liulimiao Town, Huairou District. 柏璟•山水赋 乡村度假酒店：怀柔区琉璃庙镇双文铺村13-14号院 (132 6198 8851)
Langfang, Hebei Province (South of Beijing)
Further south of Beijing’s Daxing District (where the new airport is located) is the prefecture city of Langfang in Hebei Province. Once you get there, you’ll feel the city is just yet another part of semi-rural Beijing, although much greener and more developed.
Seven-Cultivation Hotel and Ovation Health
Now on to Seven-Cultivation Hotel and its sister property Ovation Health — the hotel’s facade may be reminiscent of Peking University’s library, but don’t let that look deceive you. The hotel’s interiors and rooms will give you a glimpse of what a futuristic Chinese resort that infuses traditional aesthetics into modern architecture looks like, and Seven Cultivation Hotel got it just right.
The hotel is named after the seven rituals (namely virtue, diet, kung fu, calligraphy, incense, music, and flower arranging) that help cultivate the mind and health, at least in ancient Chinese traditions. With that inspiration, the hotel-slash-resort transforms into an “academy” full of family-friendly activities rooted in the aforementioned rituals. When you go to the “music academy,” don’t be surprised if your toddler gets to play traditional bronze drums like crazy, as their tones are calming and mellow.
If you’re looking for a retreat or to experience the other captivating facets of Chinese culture this Labor Day holiday, Seven-Cultivation Hotel and Ovation Health offer an all-inclusive package for families. And that means families of at least one parent-and-child pair can enjoy access to several “schools” related to the seven rituals, a woodworking workshop, fan making, and more for RMB 1,299 (one-night stay). Other packages are available here.
Ennova Seven-Cultivation Hotel and Ovation Health
Friendship Road, Langfang Economic and Technological Development Zone, Hebei Province. (+86 316 6089999)
Photos: Andy Penafuerte; courtesy of Yanqi Hotel, Cedars, Seven Cultivation Hotel