U37 Idea Loft is a small collection of formerly residential buildings just east of the first ring in the Shuinianhe area. The place has been developed into a destination worth a visit with cafes, art and cooking studios, and unique shops. There is a strong emphasis on sustainability and preservation of the neighbourhood, with the old buildings and green cover maintaining the atmosphere of the area.
Some of the best sweets we’ve had in Chengdu in recent memory are served here. There is a vintage shop selling secondhand clothes, a few photography studios that are making good use of the photogenic surroundings, art and cooking classes, and some bars. There is also a youth hostel in one of the buildings and a boutique hotel. The place is deserving of a daytime visit for the graffiti alone – several murals are done by a local artist. Below are some of our favourite stops in the area.
9:30am to 9:00 pm
“The world is so big, we just want to make you a really good, small cookie” reads the placard over the till. Mios bakes several varieties every day fresh. They have some very nice crisp shortbread cookies which are made with obvious quality ingredients, and we love that they offer a savoury cheese and herb cookie that would be a fantastic side for a salad or soup. We especially love their chocolate ‘soft heart’ cookie which at 4.5 yuan is one of the best chocolate lovers experiences in town. Boxes of cookies are 28RMB to 56RMB for a box of 8-10 or 12-16.
Uid is still the busiest cafe in the block with its cool retro interior and fresh roasted beans that you can smell being ground from two metres away. They have seriously upped their game in the sweets departments, serving beautiful cakes and pastries from nearby Baker Street in a box lit like a jewel case just inside the door. The cookies are also from Baker Street, and the sables melt in our mouths.
This store specializes in cactus arrangements which customers can DIY or special order. Drinks are also served. It’s the first time we’ve seen this combination of businesses, but we like a lot of their work that is on display, and it feels totally organic in the space. You can get individual cactus plants, but the arrangements are the most popular. Succulents are among the most forgiving greenery to care for, so we think this is a great gift spot.
Hui Cafe is a popular gathering spot. It’s expansive and cosy at the same time, with tables on two levels and many patrons gathering in groups to work or chat. The interior is comfortable and has large tables and armchairs and ashtrays provided. They make waffles and other goodies for customers, and we think it would be a good morning stop.
U-Bamboo Boutique Hotel
This hotel on a top floor in one of the buildings has a selection of small but nicely redone rooms. There are a few quaint tatami rooms and others with a bed, TV, tub and closet.
We like how they’ve used local materials and kept a comfortable minimalist