A forgotton Tibetan Buddhist temple near the Imperial Palace in Beijing has been given a new lease on life as a design hotel. Belgian entrepreneur Juan van Wassenhove discovered it eight years ago while biking the hutongs, the ancient alleyways that are considered part of the city’s heritage (though disappearing at an alarming rate). As described by The Wall Street Journal, van Wassenhove made it his mission to rescue the ancient structure. Today it’s a boutique hotel with personality, celebrating both Imperial age architecture and contemporary art. (The collection includes the James Turrell light installation called Gathered Sky.)
The Temple Hotel Beijing officially opened at the end of 2013, a highly-anticipated debut that CNN Travel predicted would be the most “talked about hotel opening in Beijing of the year.” Touted as an urban oasis where you can even hear the birds singing, the hotel also has a restaurant owned by Ignace Lecleir, who first brought Maison Boulud to Beijing in 2007. The eight guest rooms showcase a mélange of contemporary décor and historic touches, like original wood and flooring.
The “Monk’s Quarters” are housed in the original monks’ dormitories, while two suites are located in the adjoining building, a TV factory dating back to China's Great Leap Forward. The largest room of all is “Dragon and Phoenix,” the imperial suite which occupies the former quarters of a Qing Dynasty monk.
The Temple Hotel, 23 Shatan North Street, Dongcheng District, Tel: +86 10 8401 5680, Ext 8000, www.thetemplehotel.com