Chilling Out This Summer

Thursday, 12 June 2008

It may be hot in the city, but behind closed doors, it’s nice and shady. Tania McCartney finds some frosty spots where kids can keep their cool

Feeling hot hot hot? Your best shot at cooling the kids down this July may be to slip indoors, before the buzz of the Olympic Games lures us all outside again. Shelve the sunglasses for now and hotfoot it to these inner oases of kid cool.

A fresh flick
Dark. Frigidly air-conditioned. Alternate reality from Beijing’s sweltering heat. Perfect. This summer’s kiddie treats include Kung Fu Panda and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Wanda International (3/F, Bldg B, Wanda Plaza, 93 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang district (5960 3399). 35-70RMB) and East Gate (B1/F, Bldg B, East Gate Plaza, Dongzhongjie, Dongcheng district (6418 5931) 35-70RMB) cinemas are just two frosty theatres showing these treats, so snaffle an icy drink and immerse. Real cool, especially on Half-Price Tuesdays. Squirts under a certain height are free (usually 1.1 to 1.3 metres).

Alternate reality from Beijing’s sweltering heat. Perfect

Icy confections
Lick the heat with Beijing’s diverse range of ice creameries and gelaterias. Hover near the freezers to cool down, and be boggled by choice. Böccherini (23 Kuntai International Centre, 12 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang district (5879 7021), open 9am-9pm daily) and Sprinkles (Oriental Plaza, 1 Dongchang’an Jie, Dongcheng district (136 9927 1548), open 9am-10pm daily) offer fine assortments from full-cream decadence to sorbets and gelati, with the latter featuring a DIY topping-fest à la Cold Rock. For something a little more traditional, try Bellagio’s Taiwanese towers of shaved ice, condensed milk and fruit (6 Gongti Xi Lu, Chaoyang district (6551 3533), open 11am-5am daily) or the cold milk puddings at Wen Yu Nai Lao (49 Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng district (6405 7621)).

On ice
Get cool from head to toe at one of Beijing’s nippy indoor skating rinks. Private instruction is available at both New World Champion Skating Rink (B1, New World Shopping Mall, Chongwen district (6708 9523), open 9.30am-9.30pm daily) and Le Cool (B2/F, China World Trade Centre, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang district (6505 5776), open 10am-10pm daily), with one-on-one sessions ranging from 120-300RMB for 45 or 90-minute lessons. Group lessons start at around 75RMB for 90 minutes. Take your beanie with you!

This ain’t no Ya Show market, but then – there’s no price on cool

A chilly read
Settle with a book into an air-conditioned nook. Chaterhouse Booktrader (The Place, 9 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang district (6587 1328), open 10am-10pm daily) and Wangfujing Foreign Language Bookstore (235 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng district (6512 6903), open 9am-9pm daily) both stock spooky tales that will make the blood run cold, like R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’hoole series. If the kids would rather just browse or borrow, head to The Bookmark (1 Kaifa Jie, Xibaixinzhuang, Houshayu, Shunyi district (8049 9175), open 9.30am-6pm Tue-Sun) or The Bookworm (Courtyard 4, Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang district (6586 9507), open 9am-2am daily) where parents can grab an iced coffee or tea while the kids plunge into a chilling tome.

Hover near the freezers to cool down, and be boggled by choice

Cool Duds
Become cool personified with the hot range of summer kids clothes at Beijing’s hippest kids’ shops. Both Okaïdi (6587 1515) and Zara (6587 1341) at The Place (9 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang district, both open 10am-10pm daily) have babes to teens totally covered. Okaïdi’s tees feature funky slogans (from 52RMB) and girls’ hats start at 87RMB. At Zara, little princesses can frock up and big boys can cool it in hip shorts from 200RMB. Naturino (Pinnacle Plaza, Shunyi district (8046 1788), open 10.30am-6pm, Tue-Sun) has cool dudes catered for with sandals starting at 270RMB. Bring your money with you – this ain’t no Ya Show market, but then – there’s no price on cool.

First published, in part, in Time Out Beijing magazine.
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