Tianjin has a long and diverse colonial history. The city was once home to nine different countries’ concessions, the legacy of which can still be seen today in the city’s varied architectural styles and charming buildings.
During its heyday as a foreign occupied city, Tianjin was a bustling, lively, and above all, fashionable metropolis. Although the cosmopolitan hullabaloo of the concession era has long disappeared, much of the beautiful architecture is still there to remind us of the city’s former glory.
The Astor (known as Lishunde in Chinese) is not only a hotel; it’s also a key cultural relic protected by the state. You can almost describe it as a museum where you can sleep. The building is brimming with history and reminders of the past. Some of the earliest presidents, the Last Emperor Puyi and former Japanese Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi have all stayed here. However, the hotel is also closely connected with the present. Room 208 of the hotel has been restored to look like Sun Yat-sen’s former residence and is now known as the “president suite.” Every room in the hotel manages to evoke memories of the past and The Astor has been meticulous about using precious historical artifacts and materials to restore each room’s appearance to its former glory.
One thing to look out for when staying at the Astor is that it now consists of two buildings: an old and new building. The old building was the original luxury hotel featuring the classic British architectural style and the new building was built after the founding of the People’s Republic, which features views of the Haihe River. However, the atmosphere in the new building is nowhere near as good as the original building.
Add: 33 Tai’erzhuang Lu, Heping District, Tianjin
Tel: 022 2331 1688
The Kiessling Restaurant
After coming out of the Astor, it’s not a far walk to the famous Xiaobailou area. Here you’ll find Kiessling (起士林), the first foreign restaurant in Tianjin. Kiessling’s is 100 years old and consists of three restaurants and one bakery. The first floor is where the western bakery is located. It’s still the best loved bakery in the city today. The second floor is home to a very affordable Russian style buffet restaurant and is suitable for big school groups. The third floor is where you’ll find the German beerhouse restaurant which provides classic German dishes and freshly brewed beer. And last, a luxurious and authentic tasting French restaurant is located on the fourth floor, run a by French chef with fluent Mandarin.
Add: 33 Zheijiang Lu, Heping District, Tianjin
Tel: 022 2331 5669
Quanye Bazaar is the name of a department store with a very long history in Tianjin. When it first opened in 1928, the mall was seen as a symbol of Tianjin’s commercial prosperity and also served as a major entertainment center in the city. At the time, the bazaar contained a cinema, various theatres, a grand view garden, a roof garden and more. Of course nowadays the building has turned into just another modern department store, but its European style architecture ensures that it remains a distinct and charming landmark in the city. Situated by the Heping Lu Pedestrian Street in the former French Concession area, the surrounding area is also great for picking up traditional Tianjin snacks such as Guobuli steamed buns and various traditional cakes.
Add: 290 Heping Lu, Heping District, Tianjin
Tel: 022 2730 3771