Styled as a contemporary art gallery, the 11-year-old luxe retreat in the Chinese capital’s Chaoyang district has updated its public spaces and dining venues.
When leisure travel to China is once again possible, bon vivants headed for Beijing may want to check out The Opposite House in the buzzing Sanlitun neighborhood. Originally designed by celebrated Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, and opened in 2009 as the first property of Swire Hotels’ The House Collective, the elegant 99-room retreat has emerged from a phased renovation of its public spaces, restaurants, and bars.
In the newly updated lobby, guests will find an illuminated, undulating origami wall by Kuma that serves as the impressive backdrop for the new reception desk. A lightweight structure made up of acrylic plates and metal frames supports a synthetic textile called Tyvek, which Kuma chose for its translucent qualities and resemblance to handmade paper. Another feature of the lobby is the Atrium, a brand-new gallery space where a rotating roster of installations by Chinese and international artists is showcased throughout the year. Pop-up events can now be held at Commune, a multipurpose space that features a gallery, studio, and a sunken garden best suited for intimate outdoor gatherings.
The Opposite House has also completed a trifecta of new dining venues, with the latest addition being retro-futuristic bar and eatery Superfly. The design for Superfly, which offers a creative spin on Sichuan’s casual neighborhood hangouts known as “fly restaurants,” was courtesy of New York–based practice AvroKo. William Harris, one of the firm’s founding partners, says it was envisaged “as a fun, casual, neo-pop Chinese bistro that channels the energy and eclecticism of China’s youth culture.”
Superfly’s interiors took their cues from the local street culture and pop art; neon lighting, vintage wallpaper patterns, and graphics from Kung Fu comics make for an eye-catching contrast with colorful ceramic tiles and terrazzo tables. A video art installation combining early martial arts videos and old-school children’s cartoons provides a visual focal point.
On the menu, Sichuan-inspired comfort food is paired with Asian cocktails, not to mention draft beer from the well-known Beijing craft brewery Great Leap. Dishes here were conceptualized by executive chef Li Dong, who heads The Opposite House’s specialty Chinese restaurant Jing Yaa Tang (awarded one Michelin star in the inaugural Michelin Guide Beijing for 2020). Li’s creations at Superfly include the sweet-spicy tian shui noodles (sweet water noodles) and hearty dumplings that reinterpret Great Leap Brewing’s popular double cheeseburger.
Superfly complements two dining and drinking venues opened last year. At Union, mixologists whip up craft cocktails inspired by the Silk Road (such as the Genghis Khan Martini—a blend of French gin, Mongolian milk wine, and dry vermouth, muddled with elderflower, coconut, and sea salt) in a high-ceilinged space recalling the late and great British potter Lucie Rie’s 20th century modernist studio, with objets d’art framed by copper architectural elements and surprises such as hidden DJ booths and a bar trolley. The second is modern Italian trattoria Frasca, where chef Marino D’Antonio, who hails from Bergamo in northern Italy’s Lombardy region, serves up authentic regional classics such as Roman pinsa (billed as a healthy alternative to pizza) and Milanese pan-fried, breaded veal chop.
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