Beijing: Home Away from Home

On April 19, 2012, in Beijing, Nightlife, Nightlife, by Jack Li

This article is intended for anyone who will travel to Beijing and stay long enough to feel they miss some comforts from their western homeland. Sure, the malls in Beijing offer plenty of outlets which you can find back home such as McDonalds, Zara and Starbucks; but outlined below are some venues where you can unwind and even forget your in a foreign country. All the places mentioned below are well within the city and thus suitable Beijing hotels will not be a problem too far away.

In particualar, some places down Guangqu Road might interest you. Here is where you will find western-style venues; namely, The Brick, Grinders Bar and Lily’s American Diner. If you are looking for a pub/bar, the Brick fits the bill. After noticing the brick walls when the walk in, the name of the bar becomes clear with bare ‘brick’ walls covering the interior. At first glance, the Brick might pass you by because of its small size, yet this place is worth having a relaxing drink with friends. The laid-back décor of the Brick means customers can chill out over a pint in quite an intimate setting. Hanging above the bar, for instance, you will be able to spot an old bike whilst up the spiralling staircase you and your friends will be able to enjoy a few games of pool.

A couple of doors up from The Brick is the North American-style bar, Grinders. The bar is attractive and spacious and an ideal environment to watch a sports game, drink a beer and grab a bite to eat, with the bar providing at least three decent sized screens. Perhaps the only criticism of the bar is that it is relatively expensive compared to other local venues. However, this makes sense after considering that the wide-range of their tasty beers is imported. The selection of beers on offer includes European, North America and Australian brands. Typically, you might expect to pay around 40RMB for a drink and 50RMB for their signature sub-sandwiches (which, after sampling, are definitely substantial and delicious).

If any readers are a fan of the late-1990’s early-2000’s TV show Friends, then the ‘Friend’s Café’ in Beijing is a must-see. The owners of the café have meticulously fitted the place with furniture and items to give the appearance of Central Perk café from show. Situated on the sixth floor of the Chaowai Soho complex, the café was founded in 2010 by Du Xin (who has himself been likened to ‘Gunther’, the manager of Central Perk!) The Friends Café is the perfect place to unwind and sit on the couch as the TV characters often would. The only difference here is that you have the opportunity to watch countless Friends episodes while sipping your coffee and nibbling on a cake. Alternatively, you can hang out in ‘Joey’s Apartment’ next door and play some table-football. Once a week, the café may even host some entertainment for customers to enjoy and even participate with songs and games from a Phoebe look-alike!

One more place for your consideration is Paddy O’Shea’s which is Beijing’s only Irish-owned and Irish-managed bar. This venue is full of life and was voted as the ‘Best Sports Bar in Beijing’ for over three consecutive years. The bar is roomy and, of course, serves stouts and Ireland’s famous Guinness (again, these might be quite costly). Nevertheless, this is another prime location to socialise with friends as the bar holds regular events such as weekly quiz nights and live music. Note that Paddy O’Shea’s is also the perfect place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and becomes teeming with jovial customers. That said, all these abovementioned places will hopefully encourage you to book you Beijing flights even sooner!

Jack Li
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