Mainland Chinese hoteliers are belatedly discovering the charms of repurposing existing buildings, which adds a layer of historical connection to a destination rather than raising yet another bland steel and glass skyscraper. Case in point is Vue in Beijing.

For their 5-star debut, the owners, who already run a chain of 3-star properties, commissioned Singaporean-based studio Ministry of Design to transform a cluster of 1950s buildings located in Hou Hai’s hutong neighbourhood into an 80-room boutique hotel.

The different architectural styles – among them, ornate roof eaves, gargoyles and plain brick walls – have been harnessed under an overarching palette of dark charcoal greys and gold, while lattices inspired by Chinese screens link the different volumes into private balconies and gardens.

There are unexpected moments, not the least of which are giant wireframe rabbits, yellow Ming chairs in irregular shaped guestrooms, and Barcelonan chef Ignasi Prats who sends out into the metal and wood trussed dining room that’s set in a former warehouse building, paella and suckling pig. Meanwhile, the rooftop bar features a Jacuzzi and bucolic views of Hou Hai Lake, though history buffs might venture off to nearby Prince Gong’s mansion and Soong Ching-ling’s former residence.