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The Great Wall, the charm of traditional hutong housing, an explosive live music scene, and some of the most interesting and wonderful street food in the world, Beijing is a destination for travelers looking for that unique China experience. It’s also home to the Forbidden City, an architectural masterpiece and inevitable bucket list item for many travelers. A place with a distinctive atmosphere, it’s a diverse metropolis and if you’re looking for a more authentic stay check out our selection of the best Airbnbs.

Authentic Houhai area house perfect for families and small groups

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

The winding hutong alleys located in the Houhai area of Beijing are classic, picture-postcard Beijing. The communal living spaces known as Siheyuan are adorable residences and one of the few areas of central Beijing that haven’t been subject to massive development. Sure, if you crane your neck slightly, you might spot the odd skyscraper, but they’re luckily few and far between. A two-bedroom bungalow home in the district, this development is as sophisticated as hutong accommodations come. This is an ideal location for families that are after a side-serving of chic with their Beijing experience.

Four guests, two bedrooms
Price: $258 per night

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Forbidden City studio

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

A dynastic residence of many names: Gugong in Chinese, the Royal Palace, or the more commonly known — and far more evocative — Forbidden City, this is Beijing’s number one attraction. It really must be seen to be believed. This apartment is the place to stay to experience the Forbidden City, a property with its own fully functioning cinema, which can make a rainy night in Beijing still an enjoyable one. Described as a “snail” house, this spot gives total credence to the “beautiful things come in small package” adage. A stone’s throw from the Forbidden City, the sophistication and attention to detail found in this property is second-to-none.

Two guests, studio
Price: $52 per night

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Experience Sanlitun in this spacious condo

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

As diverse as it is chaotic, Sanlitun is the somewhat notorious bar street of Beijing. Host to numerous establishments pumping out Chinese rap music and the odd Celine Dion classic, it’s a lively scene, to say the least. Party people paradise, if you’re looking for budget boozing during your tour, set your internal GPS for Sanlitun and you won’t be disappointed. This large and beautiful Airbnb hosts up to 11 guests across five bedrooms. With an English-speaking host to smooth out any questions, your Beijing travel experience will be supersized with this big ol’ property. Just don’t blame us when you have a hangover from hell.

11 guests, five bedrooms
Price: $461 per night

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Colorful studio in heavenly Houhai

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

This colorful studio is ideal for remote workers, and is located in the historic area of Houhai. An expansive lake complete with rowing boats and water peddlers, Houhai lake is a touch on the touristy side but there’s a reason for this. Surrounded by restaurants, bars, and shops selling Mao-era merchandise, there’s a vibrancy and seductive atmosphere in Houhai that melts your heart. Complete with a dedicated workspace, you also have your own kitchen for cooking up some culinary magic — or instant noodles, the choice is yours.

Two guests, studio
Price: $126 per night

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The Siheyuan for food lovers

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

Siheyuan, traditional dwellings dotting the labyrinthine alleys of Beijing hutongs, are residences steeped in history and a distinctly East Asian quality. Coming with a beautiful courtyard, here’s a property that mixes both old and new, and does it with flair. The nearby Wangfujing street food market is an essential Beijing experience. Buzzing with both travelers and locals, the mainly food-on-sticks fare come in the form of everything deep-fried and barbecued: snake, squid, scorpion, rat, various intestinal innards, and for the more prosaic among us, the odd skewer of chicken.

Two guests, single room
Price: $99 per night

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Two-bed apartment in the heart of the city

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

Beijing is home to a roaring music scene in genres including psytrance, indie rock, drum ‘n’ bass, heavy metal, EDM, and Mandopop — like K-Pop, but from China. This two-bed property is located within convenient distance of the legendary MAO Livehouse, a musical institution that hosts gigs by both local and international artists. Western-themed with attentive lighting design, this property is ideal for remote workers, having a dedicated workspace. It’s both cozy and comforting.

Six guests, two bedrooms
Price: $112 per night

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An apartment next to a row of architectural gold medals

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

The 2008 Beijing Olympics was over a decade ago, but the groundbreaking architecture erected for the event prevails today. From Ai Weiwei’s iconic Birdsnest to CCDI’s cubist swimming pool structure, fans of architecture will be dumbstruck by the sheer volume and ambition that is the nearby Beijing Olympic Village. This one-bedroom, two-bed property is simplicity defined. Clean, bright, and airy, this is the perfect jump-off spot for some sporty building gazing.

Four guests, one bedroom
Price: $92 per night

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Bright house a stone’s throw from the city’s best Beijing duck

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

What it lacks in decor, the Liqun duck restaurant makes up for in atmosphere. Tucked away in a hutong alley, Lao Li, as he’s known, has been roasting the best Beijing duck for decades. Charming decor with a homely ambiance in stark contrast to the thousand-plus tables of the tourist trap restaurants, if you’re looking for an authentic Beijing duck eatery, Liqun has you covered. Hosting up to 12 guests across five bedrooms with a stunningly covered courtyard filled to the brim with palms and banana plants, this home is a jungle retreat in the heart of the city.

12 guests, five bedrooms
Price: $444 per night

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Your very own Summer Palace

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

Once the summer retreat of Genghis Khan’s successor, Kublai Khan, the Summer Palace now serves as a tourist destination with breathtaking architecture. Widely believed to be the most well-preserved imperial palace in the world, the Summer Palace is one of Beijing’s most popular tourist attractions. Located 30 minutes from this private room, furnished stylishly with a markedly modern twist, you’d be hard-pushed to find a spot with a better location. With Tiananmen Square also just around the corner, this property is fantastically located with some of Beijing’s hidden gem eateries also in the neighborhood.

One guest, private room
Price: $48 per night

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A Jingshan delight in downtown Beijing

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

No trip to Beijing would be complete without a trip to Jingshan Park, just north of Tiananmen Square. From Jingshan Park’s not-too-tricky to scale hill, the view of the Forbidden City is awe-inspiring. Take in the sheer size of the imperial palace while enjoying a soothing cup of oolong or an ice-cold beer from one of the many hilltop stalls. A private room that boasts a communal massage chair — perfect for relaxing those muscles after your Jingshan Park experience — Superhost Runa is on hand to offer support and ease during your travel experience with her wealth of hosting experience.

Three guests, one bedroom
Price: $39 per night

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Minimalism at the heart of the 798 Art District

Airbnb

Photo: Airbnb

While some may say the 798 Art District has become commercialized beyond recognition, it’s still a wonderland of some of the most creative sculpture, canvas, and video art that China has to offer. This beautiful Airbnb property itself, fully automated for simple, easy check-ins has an old-world charm and effortlessly blends minimalism and the occasional industrial touch, realized with style and elegance. Located close to the fourth ring road and airport, if you’re looking for a party district, this is probably not the wisest option. 798’s sister art space, 751, is a hop skip and a jump away, as are countless restaurants for fine dining. The 798 and 751 art tours are not to be missed.

Two guests, one bedroom
Price: $61 per night

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