10/20 - 10 Questions, Answered in 20 Words or Less!
Sarah Keenlyside, Founder and Managing Dictator for Bespoke Beijing
Launched in 2009, Bespoke Beijing fast became the first and best source for Beijing novices and frequent visitors alike. Founded by Sarah Keenlyside, who also founded Time Out Beijing, the company provides life-saver ‘Savvy City Kits’ as well as fully customisable itineraries and a host of special and stylish services.
1. What was the inspiration for Bespoke Beijing?
Between Lonely Planet and full-blown package tours there wasn’t a middle option, and all people want is a reliable expert!
2. What does Bespoke Beijing offer that is different from any other city tour in or guide to Beijing?
Flexibility, personalisation, and complete travel confidence. Our a la carte service menu means you choose only the parts you need!
3. What in your opinion is an absolute must see for a first-timer in Beijing?
Jingshan Park on Sunday morning! Next is to climb Park’s ‘Coal Hill’ at dusk for the best views in Beijing.
4. Where do you recommend savvy shoppers go for custom clothing?
The tailors in Yashow market, like Tailor Ma, are still some of the city’s most reliable and talented.
5. What for you is the most iconic/best Beijing restaurant you recommend to visitors and why?
We consistently recommend Duck de Chine and TRB - the former serves Beijing’s best duck, and TRB is just magical!
6. What are some of the hardest requests to accommodate from your users?
English speaking drivers. Though we have one or two, unfortunately these are extremely rare in China.
7. Your calling card is your network of the city’s most knowledgeable people. How did you build this team?
Over a long period of time! But my own contacts from three years at Time Out were a good start.
8. Bespoke Beijing also organises day trips of the city, what are your top tips on where to go?
Well the obvious one is the Great Wall, and for good reason. But the most underrated day trip? Tianjin.
9. If you could design an itinerary for the Peninsula businessperson on his/her day off, what would you include?
For first-timers, Forbidden City and Great Wall. Next, the Temple of Heaven, labyrinthine hutongs, and the fascinating 798 Art District!
10. Are there any plans to expand Bespoke’s services? Is Shanghai or Hong Kong on the radar?
Yes! We should launch Shanghai next spring and then a third Chinese city by year end – can’t say which yet!