Most people consume information digitally these days but the Read and Rest hotel in Beijing puts print magazines at the centre of the guest experience. Erica Jamieson reports

At the Read and Rest hotel in Beijing, 60 guestrooms accompany a public library with a rotating collection of print magazines and contemporary publications from around the world.

The hotel is located in the capital’s historic Xiang’Er hutong, in a renovated government building from the 1960s. Read and Rest Hotel, BeijingDesign firm Office AIO used large open doorways on the ground floor, and windows on the first floor, to allow light through the building’s grey brick exterior, illuminating the expansive double-height entryway.

“Through this passage of scale and space the guests can let go of their sense of time and reach a state of enlightenment much like entering a utopian fairy tale,” the studio tells DezeenRead and Rest Hotel, Beijing Read and Rest Hotel, BeijingInside, natural stone floors and grey walls match the exterior palette. A glowing overhanging sign ushers in visitors from the busy city street.Read and Rest Hotel, BeijingMoving through the building, grey shades let way to an oak wood clad library with high ceilings and natural finishes.

Modern light fixtures match cream upper walls and archways. Laid out along a long, narrow space, the room evokes a traditional library feel, with worktables and low leather sofas nestled into alcoves on either side.Read and Rest Hotel, BeijingA diverse rotating collection of magazines are available to read, displayed on a wall-mounted stand by the entrance. The library is open for use by both hotel guests and the public – however, Globetrender wonders whether the Covid-19 pandemic will have put an end to borrowing?Read and Rest Hotel, Beijing“While reading spaces are not traditionally regarded as a ‘standard’ in terms of hotel amenities, we do find this focus especially embraceable and refreshing,” Office AIO tells Dezeen, “Though the habit of reading can happen essentially anywhere, incorporating a library into a hotel highlights and promotes this action”.Read and Rest Hotel, BeijingThe timber and stone theme continues to the hotel’s rooms, which feature grey plaster walls and light wooden flooring. While booking, guests are invited to share their personal interests, and will find personally selected print titles awaiting their arrival after check-in.Read and Rest Hotel, BeijingRead and Rest Hotel, BeijingThe rooms are designed to invite not only reading but also writing, with corner desks and chunky seating ledges below the windows. In some of the larger suites, sliding cane screens connect to lounge areas for additional relaxation.Read and Rest Hotel, BeijingAcross the city, many of the traditional hutong neighborhoods, comprising winding alleyways and narrow historic buildings, are being redeveloped in Beijing’s contemporary style. In 2016, Office AIO designed Big Small Coffee + B&B, a 34 sqm coffee bar and adjoining guest room, in the same district.

What’s the situation in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic in China? According hotel advice on, travellers who have been in middle and high-risk areas in other provinces, regions and cities of China within 14 days will not be able to stay in hotels in Beijing for the time being.

Those from Wuhan must hold a certificate of a negative nucleic acid test result to stay in hotels. People from low-risk areas may stay in hotels with the “No abnormal” status of their Beijing Jiankangbao app. International tourists from the UK and US are not allowed into China yet.

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