Poetically named after the breeze created by flipping the pages of a magazine, Spring Whispers Book Club
is a café with a difference; it also serves up an array of achingly hip publications alongside your cappuccino.
A large glass window reveals magazines artfully stacked against the back wall, catching the eyes of a number of passers-by. The minimalist aesthetic and abundance of teak are an Instagram-lover's dream. The magazines are mostly independent and modern, with a quick scan down one shelf revealing an eclectic range of features on vintage cars, contemporary photography, cycling apparel and Japanese outdoor lifestyle.
Local architects Fon Studio are responsible for the renovation of a one-storey traditional hutong into this 'magazine library', which is currently in soft opening. We also hear they're launching a membership system that will allow people to borrow and read magazines at home.
In the meantime, a bar area serves a small selection of hot drinks and visitors are encouraged to take a seat and peruse. With a latte setting us back 35RMB, it's a reminder that a minimalist aesthetic is often accompanied by less than minimalist prices – but the potential to while away a whole afternoon here makes up for it.
The surrounding area proves interesting for a wander, with ornamental bridges and grassy sections scattered around. Also winding through the alleys is the 'Sanli He' canal, a Ming-dynasty waterway that appears to have been pleasantly reimagined rather than restored, given its history as a trench to unload household waste and refuse. The neighbourhood itself is quiet and many of the telltale signs of daily life (read: awkwardly placed bikes, drying hosiery, scruffy cats) are curiously absent. If you head west through the hutongs you'll soon reach Dashilar
, where there’s plenty more to discover.