Beijing’s hotels are invariably of the unimaginative five-star variety, making CHAO—the new design hotel at the heart of the city’s lively Sanlitun district—a welcome addition to the scene. Hidden in plain sight, it towers above the surrounding neon hustle and bustle; a symbol of understated style amid the chaos. It’s this serenity that makes CHAO such a delight to stay at. From the moment you enter the lobby (more like the sweeping entrance to a contemporary museum than a hotel reception), you’ll feel cocooned in the best possible way. And if the hotel weren’t in such a great location, you’d have no reason to leave. A SOHO House-esque hub for all things creative, it’s full of hidden corners to work on your latest project, or take in one of the regularly scheduled lectures, films, or cultural talks happening in CHAO’s numerous event spaces. A high-spec gym, great restaurant, and one of Beijing’s only alfresco swimming pools don’t hurt either. Despite their occasionally awkward shape, CHAO’s slate-gray rooms are simple, stylish, and extremely comfortable. Cute amenities (bath products are branded with slogans like “It’s better to arrive late than ugly”), multihued mood lighting, and the latest LED TVs mark this new entry to Beijing’s hotel market firmly among its hippest. (86 10/5871 5588; ilovechao.com; doubles from US$365).
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