Where to Stay

Forbidden City & Dōngchéng Central

For

Hugely historic. Highest concentration of sights. Good mix of ordinary hotels and hútòng accommodation.

Against

Some parts are less residential than other neighbourhoods, and so can be eerily quiet in the evenings. Slim pickings on the nightlife front.

Drum Tower & Dōngchéng North

For

Běijīng’s most desirable neighbourhood. Perfect for delving deep into the hútòng. Plenty of courtyard hotels. Cafes, bars and live music on your doorstep.

Against

Budget backpackers may be priced out. No five-star hotels.

Běihǎi Park & Xīchéng North

For

Plenty of hútòng action, and the area by the lakes sees little motorised traffic, and so can be peaceful. Less touristy than Dōngchéng District.

Against

Evening karaoke bars can ruin the lakeside ambience. Choice of accommodation, restaurants and bars is more limited.

Dashilar & Xīchéng South

For

Backpacker Central. Great choice of hostels; some historic. Hútòng vibe is still strong around Dashilar.

Against

Extensive reconstruction has stolen some of the character from the area (particularly around Qiánmén) and seen restaurant prices rise, although hostel rooms are still cheap.

Sānlǐtún & Cháoyáng

For

Great for shopping, eating and nightlife, and excellent choice of mid- and high-range places to stay.

Against

Area lacks character and any historical narrative.

Summer Palace & Hǎidiàn

For

Less touristy than more central areas, while the presence of lots of students means there's nightlife.

Against

A trek from the centre of town and the choice of accommodation is limited.