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Dinez: Katia tells tourists where to eat in Beijing (2)
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#2 Nightlife: Fantasy Paradise

"You either hate it or you love it," Katia said, flicking her glossy auburn hair behind her ear, "It's a new Philip Starck place and it's crowded with all the celebs and nouveau riche in Beijing." The pretty Frenchwoman was talking about Lan, a restaurant club in the Central Business District that her girlfriends had dragged her to a few nights ago.

"I went because I was curious as a little chatte, and I stayed, you know, because the colors, the lights, the decorations, they made me laugh and feel very light in my heart," she continued. Lan certainly has appeal for people of all ages and races and walks of life. The space is massive, located between the two twin towers with a disco, an oyster bar, a club that offers a fusion of western and eastern cuisines, and every square inch contains mind-boggling décor. The French interior designer Starck has created many clubs around the world; with LAN China has now become part of the interior design cool set. Eating, drinking and partying at LAN is not cheap and not for the fainthearted. Move starlets, wealthy playboys and an assorted contingent of foreigners from all over the globe regularly flock to this place seeking pleasure, contacts and relatively good food.

"I wouldn't say that the food is fantastic," Katia commented. "It's okay and it's expensive. But I think it's worth it because the décor is so fun to wander around in, and the drinks are really strong and very delicious. Perhaps it is more of a feast for the eyes than for the stomach." She also recommended that visitors go with friends because the place is too big to experience alone. "And it's actually in a rather odd location -- it is between the two towers and encased by offices. Most discos at home are separate from business establishments, I guess that makes Le Lan a little bit more unique -- just by dint of the location," Katia remarked with a smile.

Indeed, the rooms are lavish and unique. Some seem reminiscent of an eighteenth century drawing room, others appear almost colonial, and many rooms are definitely designed to promote an intimate, romantic, even sexy ambiance. Reservations are required to book certain rooms. Several private rooms are designed to look like yurts and have a very snug feel.

"You know I'm French so I am very particular regarding fashion and design," Katia said, "I couldn't tell you that this club is beautiful or chic but I can tell you that if you go to this place you will not feel indifferent. Parts of the place seem very kitchy -- some of the lampshades are decorated with seashells and plastic stuff but it does catch the eye. And the toilets: you must experience the toilets."

For people who like crowds and for those looking for an unusual environment Lan is the place to go. Le Lan is located at 2007 4/F Twin Towers B-12 on Jianguowenmai Avenue in the Chaoyang District. Tel: 5109-6012/13.

Website address: www.lanbeijing.com

Reservations: gordon@lanbeijing.com

(China.org.cn by Valerie Sartor and Katia Loridon, May 13, 2008)

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