There aren’t, to be frank, too many streets in Beijing that could be called appealing, so the pedestrianized north–south hutong of Nanluogu Xiang is a little oasis. Dotted with cafés, boutiques and restaurants, it has become a playground for the city’s bo-bos (bourgeois-bohemians). Though some expats sneer at this “Disney hutong”, in the alleys shooting off to the east and west there are enough open-air mahjong games, rickety mom-and-pop stores, and old men sitting out with their caged birds to maintain that ramshackle, backstreet Beijing charm. If there seems to be a surfeit of bright and beautiful young things, that’s because there’s a drama school just around the corner. All in all, it’s a great place to idle over a cappuccino, tuck into a meal or head for a drink in the evening – and there’s some good accommodation in the area too.

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