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Rustic Relaxation with Style in China

October 2013

By Noch Noch Li, Beijing

Beijingers know how to take advantage of the gentler fall weather, and new outdoor terraces continue to spring up in addition to the usual rooftop bars. Heaven Supermarket’s business model is simple: go in, grab a beer as you would at the convenience store from the fridges and then pay for it at the cashier. The added value lays in the outdoor deck just outside, with chairs and tables for you to consume your beverage with a few friends as you would in a bar – without having to pay inflated prices, or service charges.

Around the corner, wine importer Cheers has also made use of empty spaces outside car parks to set up tables and sun umbrellas for customers who want to enjoy a glass of wine or champagne. If you don’t mind the dust from cars, a bottle of champagne costs only RMB65 (approx USD6) to share between friends.  There are multiple locations, even within the Sanlitun vicinity, so you will never go thirsty, especially as quality and imported liquor are available at reasonable prices.

Unlike other rooftop bars and clubs, such as Migas, Q Bar, Xiu and Fez, Heaven Supermarket and Cheers offer down-to-earth atmospheres. No woman feels compelled to dress up in heels and expensive jewelry to fit in. All patrons just need to remember to bring mosquito repellant to protect their bare arms and legs!

Those in search of nature and tranquility like to head out to the countryside of Beijing. Middle-class families spend a day at farms picking – or even growing – vegetables, though they might spend half their trip coaxing their only child out of an air-conditioned BMW to go fishing in the fishing parks. Those with more pocket money drive their black Audis out to Mutianyu, an area near the section of the Great Wall in the capital, and spend a few nights in renovated courtyard homes, or newly built villas.

For a splurge, try the Commune or Home of the Great Wall. Both boast elaborate houses built to blend into the environment, complete with decks, private dipping pools and Jacuzzis with spring water from the surrounding mountains. However, don’t be surprised if you see women in sun hats trying to climb up the old Great Wall in the latest Sergio Rossi heels and oversized Valentino handbags. It is less about the physical activity and fresh air, and more about looking good and poised for photos to post onto Instagram or We Chat.

Those who truly are interested in nature may choose The Schoolhouse, which promotes eco-living with its solar-powered, renovated courtyard homes. Friends there can gather for a weekend and barbeque in the garden. Couples may also choose The Brickyard, a more pared-down version of The Schoolhouse that is under the same ownership.

Back in the city, singles like to be seen in their best swimwear at hotel pool parties. However, they face stiff competition from Beijing men prancing around the streets in what’s lovingly referred to as “The Beijing Bikini,” better known as t-shirts (or tank tops) rolled up to chest, exposing their beer bellies and a nipple or two.

Liquor, Beer & Wine
Entertainment & Gaming
Food & Drink
Fashion & Style
Beijing's Heaven Supermarket
Stylish country vacationing in Northern China
Terrace dining in Beijing

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