For historic romance: Dashilar
Start your romantic evening with a walk around Qianmen. Take in the restored architecture of the old front gate of the walled city and see some of the best juxtapositions of old and new in the city. Walk east 200 metres to Capital M.
Catch the sunset over Qianmen, Mao’s Mausoleum and Tiananmen Square on Capital M’s spectacular terrace.Walk about one kilometre southwest to Deyuan Roast Duck Restaurant.
Enjoy a dinner in a fabulously gaudy staple of Dashilar. Deyuan Roast Duck Restaurant serves unpretentious and authentic Beijing duck, popular with the locals for the thick slices of juicy breast and old Beijing price of 128RMB (Dhs76). Walk 150 metres to the box office of Daguanlou Cinema.
Catch a flick at China’s first cinema. Daguanlou has been screening pictures since the turn of the 20th century and has managed to retain its antique feel through a number of renovations. Films are usually screened in Mandarin, but it’s more about reclining on red silk, Ming dynasty-style couches (35-50RMB, Dhs20-30 per ticket). Walk about 100 metres to the historic Dashilar Dajie.
After lounging on the sofa at Daguanlou, stroll along the main drag of Dashilar Dajie and grab a late-night jianbing (stuffed pancake). The quintessentially Beijing street food is the only way to end a night in ‘old Peking’. 5-8RMB each (Dhs3-5).
For those tired of the Sanlitun area: Xingfucun
Soak up some late afternoon rays on the terrace at Great Leap Brewing #12. The narrow patio fills up fast, so grab a table and head out before the throngs of expats begin to cascade through the open windows. Walk approximately 250 metres further west on Xinzhong Jie, before turning north on Shizipo Jie towards Dongzhimenwai Dajie. Walk half a kilometre across the street to the East Gate Plaza.
Bowl a frame or two at East Gate Plaza Bowling Club. Lanes are 30RMB (Dhs18) a game during peak hours. Pros will appreciate the quality hardwood lanes, while novices will like the modest prices and early-noughties pop. Walk about half a kilometre back down Shizipo Jie.
Head to Jiateng Wu (next to The Golden Pineapple Youth Hostel) for some yoshoku, Japanese-style Western food. Try sweet Vermont curries, omelettes stuffed with rice and an assortment of grilled meats on sticks. It’s dangerously cheap. Head east along Xinzhong Jie, then turn left on Taipingzhuang to BBC.
For night owls: Jiaodaokou
Start your night at trendy pizza hangout Ramo. It serves up gourmet renditions by the slice and the light dough and thoughtful toppings won’t fill you up too quickly (14-20RMB, Dhs8-12 a slice). Walk about 300 metres west along Fangjia Hutong, then head half a kilometre south on Andingmennei Dajie to Zhang Mama.
Zhang Mama has long been popular with Gulou kids for its spicy home-style Sichuanese specialities and its extremely modest prices. Try the deliciously hot bowls of fire engine-red dandan mian noodles.
Few venues in Beijing have the pedigree or history of Yugong Yishan, with a cavernous space and a reputation for hosting big names and local favourites alike. Afterwards, walk back west to Jiaodaokou Nan Dajie and wander north.
Look for the steaming towers of bamboo that cradle the morning’s dumplings and stuffed buns on Jiaodaokou Nan Dajie, heading north towards Andingmen. If you’ve done a proper job of staying out all night, by the time you exit Yugong Yishan the early morning commute is well underway and breakfast staples of fried dough sticks and baskets of freshly steamed dumplings abound for 8-10RMB (Dhs5-6) a basket.
Need to know
Emirates flies direct to Beijing from Dhs2,475 return.