Where Flavour Meets Comfort: The Best Cafes in Suzhou

Where Flavour Meets Comfort: The Best Cafes in Suzhou
By Patrick Donahue , eChinacities.com

Ahhh coffee! That warm, rich, frothy brew that wakes us up and makes us feel alive. But it's not just about the brew, is it? It's savouring it in the right environment: a quiet place with the right lighting, ambient music, free Wifi, clean floors, good service from a friendly staff, and maybe good company. So where in Suzhou can you find all this... at a reasonable price? No need to pay 60 RMB at a five star hotel when you have a plethora of coffee shops that have opened up in the last year or so where, for anywhere between 15 and 30 RMB, you can have it all.

1) The Bookworm  (老书虫)View In Map
The forerunner of the coffee craze in Suzhou was the Bookworm. They now have two comfortable establishments in the old town. The newer one is located in what used to be a temple just on the corner of Ping Jiang Lu(平江路)close to Lindun Lu (临顿路). This has a bar and friendly staff but does not seem to have built a loyal local clientele.

They all still go to the original Suzhou Bookworm just north of Shiquan Jie(十全街). Here for 15 RMB you can enjoy an "Americano", natural or sweet and milky. Unlike the rather sombre newer cafe, this one is in a pleasant building with lots of windows all around. It sits on the canal's edge, which helps to ensure coolness in the summer and quiet all year round. If you are looking for company, choose one of the tables downstairs: they're close together and you'll be sharing tales in no time. If it's quiet reading you're after, climb the stairs and settle into one of the sofas surrounded by a fabulous collection of over 16,000 books. This is a great place to take kids on a wet Sunday afternoon as they serve a great hot chocolate and have lots of board games to play. For all the above-mentioned criteria, The Bookworm rates as a high contender for "cafe of choice" in Suzhou.

Add 1: 77 Gunxiufang, Shiquan Jie, Canglang District, Suzhou
地址: 苏州市沧浪区十全街滚绣坊77号(乌鹊桥路口)
Tel: 0512 652 64720/139 1558 9753
Website: www.suzhoubookworm.com
Getting there:take bus no.47 or no.2 to Nanlin Fandian stop
Add 2: Xuegao Qiao, Pingjiang Lu, Pingjiang District, Suzhou
地址: 2: 苏州市平江区平江路雪糕桥
Price: 15-30 RMB for a coffee
Website: www.suzhoubookworm.com
Getting there: take bus no.5, 50, 55, 178, 529, 811 or 923 to Cufangqiao Guanqian Jie Dong stop.

2) Fisher's Café  (啡舍)View In Map
Another excellent spot is Fisher's Cafe, also just north of the 300 block of Shiquan Jie (十全街) by the entrance of the Dong Wu Hotel (东吴饭店).  It sits on the canal and offers a pleasant view of the comings and goings on Shiquan Jie. It has a small balcony over the canal where you can share a drink on summer evenings. The courtyard in the back is perhaps the best outdoor venue in town. The prices are comparable with the Bookworm but edge up towards the 30 RMB mark if you like your coffee fancy.

Add: 25-1 Shiquan Jie, Wuyachang, Canglang District, Suzhou
地址: 苏州市沧浪区十全街吴衙场25-1号
Tel: 0512 652 30747
Opening hours: Mon-Thur, 10:00-23:00; Fri-Sat, 10:00-24:00
Price: 15-30 RMB for a coffee
Getting there:   take bus no.47, 204, 501 or 511 to Suzhou Fandian stop.

3) Starbucks  (星巴克)
For a more grandiose outdoor experience, try the Starbucks at the Suzhou Science and Cultural Complex (苏州工业园区) on Jinji Lake (金鸡湖) in the S.I.P. What gives this outlet an advantage over all the others in town is its southern exposure and the great terrace away from traffic, overlooking the lake. It's a good place to enjoy the sunset, or meet up before taking in a play or movie at the theatre.

The two most popular Starbucks are the ones in In-City Plaza on Modern Avenue (现代大道印象城购物中心) (tell the taxi driver you want to go to WoEr Ma – Walmart [沃尔玛]) and across from Singa Plaza (馨都广场) at the corner of Jinji Lake Lu (金鸡湖路) and Xinghai Jie (星海街). Both have terraces but there are no flowers, and no effort made to soften all the ambient concrete. The In-City branch has particularly friendly and well-trained baristas but the terrace sits on the parking lot!

Starbucks 1View In Map
Add:  103-1, Hubin Xiantiandi, 158 Xinghai Jie, S.I.P., Suzhou
地址: 苏州市工业园区星港街158号湖滨新天地103-1店铺
Tel: 0512 676 71396
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs, 08:30-22:30; Fri, 08:30-23:00; Sat, 08:00-23:00; Sun, 08:00-22:30
Price: 32RMB
Website: www.starbucks.com
Getting there: take bus no. 138, 258 or 307 to Hubin Dadao.

Starbucks 2View In Map
Add: 1025b, In-City Plaza, 1699 Xiandai Dadao, S.I.P., Suzhou
地址: 苏州市工业园区现代大道1699号印象城购物中心1楼1025b号铺(近苏嘉杭高速)
Tel: 0512 695 63781
Getting there:take bus no. 2, 26, 53, 68, 100, 109, 110, 148, 156, 158 219, 261, 812 or 818 to Yinxiang Chengbei stop.

4) Franco Papa(法歌烘焙)View In Map
A nice alternative to the Jinjihu Lu Starbucks is 20 metres west at the newly opened Franco Papa pastry shop. For a change, try their mile tea for 12 RMB, not too sweet and a fair size serving. You can also pick up freshly baked pastries here to accompany your cuppa.

Add: 1B-120 Singa Plaza, Jinjihu Lu, S.I.P., Suzhou
地址: 苏州市工业园区金鸡湖路8号馨都广场1B-120号(近星汉街)
Tel: 0512 676 17658
Opening hours: 7:30-21:30
Price: 25RMB
Getting there: take bus no. 146 or 178 to Jiayiyuan stop.

5) Ping Jiang Lu  (平江路)
"Cafe Kilometer" is the stretch of Pingjiang Lu from Gangjiang Donglu  (干将东路) running north to the Humble Administrator's Garden on Dongbei Lu (东北街). Three years ago there were no cafes here. Now they number in the teens! Most are tastefully decorated. Those on the west side of the street are right on the canal, some with a second floor, which is usually quieter.

6) Swiss Dream Coffee Shop  (瑞士梦咖啡)View In Map
For something different try the Swiss Dream Coffee Shop. Here, for 78 RMB, you can purchase a paint-by-number kit complete with paint, brushes and canvas and you can create a masterpiece while you enjoy your beverage! This novel idea is no doubt fun to do with friends when the weather is no so friendly outside.

Add: 2/F, 802 Shiquan Jie, Canglang District, Suzhou
地址: 苏州市沧浪区十全街802号2楼
Tel: 0512 653 00577
Opening hours: 11:00-23:00
Getting there: take bus no.1 or 102 to Sanyuanfang stop.

7) The Green Room  (绿咖啡)View In Map
Another niche cafe in The Green Room. Mr. Yu, the owner, is from Hong Kong and is a missionary for free trade LOHAS products. He makes an excellent cup of coffee that soothes body, soul and conscience, as you can sip your mug with the knowledge the bean growers are getting a fair cut of the benefits.

Add: 49 Pingjiang Lu, Pingjiang District, Suzhou
地址: 苏州市 平江区平江路49号
Tel: 0512 651 17931
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs, 11:00-22:30; Fri, 11:00-23:30; Sat –Sun, 10:30-23:30
Website: www.greenroomchina.com
Getting there: take bus no. 5 or 50 to Cufangqiao Guanqian Jie.

8) Rainbow Shopping Center  (天虹商场)
Rainbow Shopping Center (天虹商场) on Suxiu Lu (苏绣路)  just east of Central Park (中央公园) in the SIP offers three options. If it is cold try the Croissanterie Shop on the second floor. The tables are set next to the south windows overlooking the square. It's a good place to chat and watch the shoppers and roller skaters below. A popular place for ladies is the Paris Baguette right on the south square of Rainbow. Seating is available inside or out. There is no atmosphere but the shopping, pastries, sun and quiet of the square seems to offer a good combination. My preferred winter venue in the SIP is the KFC in Rainbow. For 8 RMB you get a decent cup of coffee, but no froth, which I take up to the second floor and chose a table on the south west corner overlooking the trees of central park. It is a great place to read or work, but make sure to leave before 4 o'clock, when all the students start pouring in to do their homework together.

Rainbow Shopping CenterView In Map
Add: 388 Suya Lu, S.I.P., Suzhou
地址: 苏州市工业园区苏雅路388号(星都街路口)
Tel: 0512 629 90188
Opening hours: 09:30-22:00
Website: www.szrainbow.com
Getting there: take bus no. 4, 32, 53, 146, 148, 178, 200 or 518

In any case, however you like your java, Suzhou now has enough cafes that you can try a different one every week and still be exploring new places a year from now. So choose the one that fits your temperament for that day, sit down and enjoy!

Warning:The use of any news and articles published on eChinacities.com without written permission from eChinacities.com constitutes copyright infringement, and legal action can be taken.

Keywords: coffee shops Suzhou Ping Jian Lu Suzhou drinking coffee in Suzhou cafes Suzhou Bookworm Suzhou

1 Comments

All comments are subject to moderation by eChinacities.com staff. Because we wish to encourage healthy and productive dialogue we ask that all comments remain polite, free of profanity or name calling, and relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion. Comments will not be deleted because of the viewpoints they express, only if the mode of expression itself is inappropriate.

1

baoluo
comment|24564|0

The Green Room has moved out from Ping Jiang Lu and now reopened in SIP.
106-1 Block C, Genway International Hotel, Jinji Hu Commerce Square, Wang Dun Lu, SIP

Feb 18, 2012 09:21 Report Abuse