To be relaunched as Grace Beijing later this summer, Yi House Hotel is located in the heart of Beijing’s 798 Art District, which I visited on my only visit to the Chinese capital five or six years ago.
Then just getting underway with a handful of artists' studios, art galleries, a bookshop, and a couple of restaurants and cafés, 798 has since developed into one of Beijing's leading tourist attractions as well as a gathering place for artists and others working in creative industries such as design and fashion.
798 Art District
Located in Beijing's Chaoyang district, 798 was the result of China's first Five Year Plan. It was built in the 1950s to serve as an industrial complex. Designed by East German architects, the factories were highly functional, with architecture reflecting a strong Bauhaus influence.
There were large indoor spaces with cantilevered skylights to let natural light into the workplace, while not harming the eyesight of the workers working there.
The complex was originally going to be torn down and redeveloped. In 1995, when Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), was looking for work space, artists and academics from the institution discovered the site. Originally, they thought they could rent the space temporarily before it was torn down.
After cleaning up one of the disused factories, they realized that thanks to the large spaces and indirect natural lighting, it would make a perfect venue for artists'studios.
Yi House Backgrounder
Yi House has 30 rooms, each with its own unique decor. The renowned hotel restaurant has been re-named ‘Yi House’ to honour the hotel’s origins. It offers modern Mediterranean and Asian cuisine with a superb wine cellar.
“This district is the perfect environment in which to introduce the charm and understated elegance that epitomises the Grace service and design philosophy,” says Philippe Requin, Chief Executive Officer of Grace Hotels.
“Yi House the hotel has attracted many from the arts community and has often hosted its own art exhibitions. The Grace Beijing will offer the perfect city escape for anyone on business or vacation looking for international standards of luxury and service in the context of a chic boutique hotel. In the coming weeks Grace Hotels will add its signature style and service touches before re-launching the Grace Beijing.”
Visiting the 798 Art District in its early days and interviewing one of the key movers and shakers in its inception (Thank you Palace Peninsula Beijing for arranging the interview!!!) was one of the highlights of my visit to Beijing.
798's future then was still unsure. I'm thrilled to learn that it has not only survived, but prospered.