A COZY HIDE OUT FOR ALL. 偷得浮生半日闲——隐于市的ALBA CAFE.
It’s a small cosy space, unlike any other in Beijing, possibly anywhere. It’s almost as if it’s secluded in its own little bubble… an escape. The tables don’t match, and neither do the chairs, but that’s all a part of what makes it Alba. Everything has individuality, everything has a story of how they got there. Kind of like the international travellers, expats, media types, artists, fashionistas, the hipsters and all you’ll find reading a magazine, working at their Mac or meeting there. It’s a place to call home, when you’re too far from your own.
As someone who likes to hide away in Alba’s corners, drink in hand and wi-fi connected, I can tell you that the music that plays in the background is almost always either Chicago Blues or Bob Marley. I call it the healing music, the music that no matter where you are, or what is happening, will keep you safe & happy. The walls are always hung with art and pictures of all types, from photographs to watercolour paintings, but always interesting, always beautiful. The art changes from time to time – not often enough, but the selection is always a good one.
喜欢躲在Alba享受安静时光的人们总是能在这儿喝上一杯，上上网；而我总能被店里流淌的音乐打动，有时候是Chicago Blues，有时候是Bob Marley；这一类音乐总是很有治愈性，不管你身在何处，经历了什么，都能感觉安全和幸福。Alba墙壁上的装饰艺术品包罗万象，不管是摄影作品还是水彩画，总是令人赏心悦目的，怡人的。装饰品也不总是固定的，但店主的选择往往叫人惊喜。
The food is good, dependable and always homely. But the truth is, and I’m sure all who go there would agree, that while the food in itself is decent, it isn’t all you go for or perhaps all you look forward to. It’s the classics that play in the background and the missed match of furniture, it’s the warm drinks in the winter and the feeling of being at home, it’s hearing the rain patter down on the rooftop and the embrace of its atmosphere that pulls you in through the front door.
Alba Café will always be known to me as the café with the widest selection of drinks. From the homemade lemonade and ginger ales to the fresh fruit juices and honey lemon sodas, its creativity with drinks is always one that satisfies the curious taste buds. The café is also known for it’s huge selection of high quality whiskeys in possibly the entirety of Beijing.
The café definitely has its target audience for the late breakfast / brunch types with it’s endless selection of breakfast meals. From pancakes to full English breakfasts to ‘create your own brunch’, Alba has you covered for all your morning cravings.
Location, location, location. The café is deep amongst the madness of guloudong dajie; a street jam packed with odd little one-off shops and hidden away cafes. From vampire shops, to leather ones, guitar shops to original hutong courtyards. The place truly is one of a kind, on that is real and authentic, one that isn’t faked or exclusive. Despite Alba Café along with multiple other places in the area being westernised, it’s westernised in a way that accepts all. It isn’t packed away in a 10 story shopping mall or cliqued to suit only the west, but it is itself unique. Accepting. Homely for all.
Calling out to all you homesick travellers, artists, media types, bloggers and all, Alba Café might be the perfect place for you to hide out.
Words and pictures by Hope Evans.
Pictures taken with a Canon T3i.
Translation by Jasmine Wang.