Address: Courtyard 4, Nan Sanlitun Lu
Courtyard 4, Nan Sanlitun Lu
A café, European bistro, lending library and bookshop all in one, this place has been a perennial favorite among expats since its opening in 2000. Regulars flock to The Bookworm for their well-made sandwiches, salads and pastas, a full range of bar drinks and regular community events geared toward both adults and kids.
Visited on 05/04/2013
After being in the Bookworm Beijing already many times I finally decided to write a review after repeatedly receiving bad service and bad food. This place is great if you just want to come here to work and have a look at the books, and of course the cultural activities are also good. But food, drinks and service are a DISASTER. Service is unfriendly, unpolite and dirty, always just chatting behind the bar without even noticing that they have customers unless you shout at them. They definitely need some training and rules to follow Food is bad quality and bad prepared, many times not cooked through or raw and cold. The same for the drinks. Of course, with this service personnel, the place is dirty and not well maintained, starting with the very dirty carpet at the (also very dirty) entrance door. So good place for reading and working, but nothing else. THere are many nicer, cleaner and friendlier places in Beijing.
Visited on 02/15/2013
Actually not a bad place to just go chill and read some books. Staff was nice but not to attentive to the customers. I like there selection of books and stuff. Didnt try any food but the coffees were pretty nice.
Visited on 01/29/2013
I've been hearing great things about the bookworm for awhile now, but I have to say, I came away unimpressed. This isn't exactly the kind of warm and inviting coffee place you might be looking for. That being said, it's supposed to be a good venue for events, and the beer was great, so maybe under the right circumstances the Bookworm could be a great place to have a gathering.
I'm not giving up on it, because, as far as things go, there was nothing outwardly offensive about this place, it just didn't knock my socks off. Maybe next time.
This was my first time here, and what a horrible experience! I planned to attend a speaking event, and although I knew I wouldn't make it on time from work during rush hour, it didn't look like broad enough interest that it would get overbooked.
Boy, was i wrong! I walked in, and was greeted by the manager and a hostile waitress, who both looked ready for a fight and immediately informed me they were oversold. I felt somewhat humiliated in the small main room full of patrons eating dinner, as though I were an idiot for not knowing what a popular establishment this was. I asked if there was a way to book reservations online in the future. The waitress, sighing in clear annoyance that I was still there and that she had to answer this question - AGAIN - curtly informs me that tickets can be purchased in store in advance.
This news to me, since there was nothing on the website about that, or the possibility that things might get oversold. If this is clearly such an annoying, common issue, why not just say something about it online? It would have saved me a two hour commute, cramped subway, and cab fare back home
with nothing else to do but wait for rush hour pass, i stayed for dinner - 50 kuai for the smallest burger in Beijing! Afterwards, I couldn't find any staff the take my bill, and had to go to the bar. It was passed from person to person, each yelling at the last to give me change, until finally landed at the rude manager, who took it without looking up, and continued what she was doing until i decided it just wasn't worth it and left.
wow. i mean, just wow. If i never go back here, it will be too soon.
Just a nice place to chill, read a book and grab a snack on a lazy afternoon...
The bookworm is still an institution after all of these years. Is it a book store? A restaurant? A bar? A literary meeting point or all four and more? Whatever it is the bookworm has always been my favorite meeting place and a solid point of departure for the rest of Beijing. The best reasons to visit are the events, excellent single malt selection, hard to find books, and the little known or used rooftop bar / terrace.
I have been going to the Bookworm on and off for the last 5 years either when other people have chosen the location or for the literary festival and i have to say, the service is consistently bad. I've had to ask repeatedly for refills before they've come, gotten wrong orders, forgotten orders to name a few. To be fair, this is expected in Beijing but the last few times have really left a bad taste.
The last of these encounters was for a literary event. Every ticket comes with a free drink and when we went up to the bar to ask what choices there were, the male waiter dismissively says its on the ticket. I didn't realise it was on the ticket stub and asked him again. He jabs my ticket stub and rudely says in chinese, "its on the ticket stub, how many times do i have to tell you?". In what restaurant is this ever appropriate to say to a customer?!
The Bookworm has got a reputation for staff with real attitude and i'm surprised management hasn't done something about this. I get my work done in coffee shops almost everyday and its a shame the Bookworm isn't a regular simply because of the service.
Great atmosphere and a sense of community. I love being in a room surrounded by walls of books. Comfortable place to set up your laptop or read a book (just pick any off the shelf!), although it might be hard to find a seat on the weekends. The servers are friendly, and the food is okay, though a bit overpriced. The attached bookstore is a great place to look for hard-to-find English-language books.
The Bookworm would be a brilliant place to hang out, if it wasn't for the incredibly rude service I always seem to encounter whenever I go there, even if you are a polite customer. If the wait staff could throw your drink onto the table without any consequences, they probably would. After ordering, nine times out of ten they will mumble back at you while giving you a dismissive nod. Asking for the wi-fi password seems to irritate them too, it's like you are giving them 麻烦, when in fact it is just a part of their job.
However, they are always extra nice whenever they are taking food and drinks orders from the management staff, so it's a shame they can't show the same courtesy to their paying customers. I'm surprised that after reading other user's posts complaining about the waitstaff, that the Bookworm doesn't seem to have been bothered to give their staff the appropriate training on customer service. There are other equally nice cafes in the Sanlitun area minus staff with attitude, who deserve the level of custom the Bookworm does.
I wish the coffee was good. Then I could justify going when I know I won't find an easy outlet to hook my compy into. Sometimes it gets real perilous in there with those laptop power cords strung out all over the place.
Love to buy books from here, love the name of the place... i think its so cozy in winter....ive been three times for food and drinks and to use my laptop in some piece and quiet.... but never again... the waitstaff there are incredibly rude and have some sort of complex going on.... on two occasions got my food order wrong and when i asked to add avocado to my sandwich the waitstaff responded that they dont have any...that it only comes with the salad dish... so if u want avocado u need to select a salad not a sandwich... i was in complete shock... i then insisted on speaking with the manager.. i did.. i was more than willing to pay extra for avocado..that wasnt the issue... issue was resolved but i could tell they were bitching up a storm over where the coffee gets made... As a waitress for 5 years while i studied my degree in australia... that type of behaviour would have seen me fired on day one... i guess my standards for service are higher because i have worked in the industry...obviously not for the small money fu wu yuans are paid here but i still expect some sort of polite behaviour... this is of course not including all the workers at the bookworm.. the staff in the book section are always overly helpful... perhaps i just should use it as a place to purchase books and not eat!
A haven for foreigners, wannabe intellectuals, students types and the like. Its free WiFi [though I couldn't get it to work on my phone which saw it as 'secured' - evidently you need a code!], and the mountains of books draw in many information hungry individuals. The drinks are reasonable, though it is easy to build up a large tab in the course of an evening. A 1.25 litre pitcher of Carslberg is around 60 RMB. Other drinks range from 30-60 RMB. Food seems popular, but nothing on the menu grabbed me. It also has a piano which has a notice saying you are invited to play. The pile of music to one side is made up of Bach, Chopin, Beethoven etc, no jazz or contemporary music! Never seen anyone play, and there was no piano stool.
A few friends and I hung out here for a couple of hours last weekend and the atmosphere was great. The food was pretty pricey (we got this goat cheese thing which was about 50 RMB, but it was incredibly tasty) and so were the drinks.
We had a minor problem with the service - I guess the waitress who took our order forgot to mark it because the first item we ordered came really fast, but when we asked why our other food hadn't arrived about 20 minutes later, they said it hadn't been taken to the kitchen. But after they realized their mistake, our food came within 10 minutes.
I go to the Bookworm quite often. Sometimes to get stuff done on my computer and sometimes just to have a quick meeting with friends. If I spend the morning/afternoon there, I would always order something to eat and drink. I find the waiters annoying when I'm there only for 10 mins to meet with a friend. They dump the menu on your table and stand and watch and pester you until you feel sorry for not ordering anything. Sometimes I just don't feel like ordering anything and I don't think that for 10 mins it's a big deal. It's not like I'm holding the table for hours and other patrons have to wait. One time I was waiting for a colleague to arrive. We were supposed to meet there so that she could pass some work documents to me. She, however, planned on spending the rest of the afternoon at the Bookworm. When I got there, the waiter came and gave me the menu and asked if I was ready to order. I said no I would wait for my colleague to get there first. Waiter was annoyed. Colleague came and waiter gave her the menu and asked me again if I was ready to order. When I said no but my friend would, I was thrown this look like I was some kind of cheap skate who was there only to take advantage of the free wifi and of course occupy a seat too. I mean what the heck is wrong with these people? It's not like our table didn't order anything. My colleague got herself a coffee and a juice. I left shortly after that. I just think that the Bookworm management should get their act together and do some serious training for the waitstaff.
It's a nice place to work on your laptop, meeting contacts, having a relax afternoon drinking mojioto, Coffee is nice too. But I wouldn't bring friends dinning here. Well I guess its not that easy to run a mix.
As a restaurant, the Bookworm in Chengdu beats this place all to hell. Roomer interior layout, lower prices, and (most importantly) the waiters don't wear a prepetual hangdog look and take your order in the most begrudging manner possible.
And what I can't fathom about the service at the Beijing BW is that it's been like that for years now. Seriously, they can't get new waiters? From the hunted looks they wear around all day, I can't imagine the guys there now wouldn't be happier doing something else.
I used to like to go here.But last 2 times my coffee was so poor.The prices are not cheap.
The place is good for looking at different nationality books and magazines.Thats the only thing unique about this place.
The magazines are not so cheap ,but still can be bought by those who value thier country stuff.
Like the place that they keep organising talks.Thats really good.
Another best thing is networking. You could different persons in an environment where people arent drinking like in a bar.
I like meeting people when they are in their senses.
This is our favourite place to collect foreign magazines and books.
Though we cannot afford to buy expensive magazines, we collect in 1 months atleast 3 or 4 magazines and now are planning to build our own library.
This place you can get a chance to meet new friends as many young people interested in reading come here.
The coffee and snacks are expensive,so we just have coffee here.
Sometimes we take our laptops as its WIFI is good.
Good place to connect to many people and learn from reading.
My favourite place for a hanging around and catch up on the news .
Great atmosphere; great music. I've only been there a couple times to chill; but I look forward to checking out some of the lectures and events in the future.
all time favourite. i love to read. love to be in a place where you can read or work quietly but yet still feel 'alive' with all the people there around you.
but i would have to agree with ivorynightfall and baobabs when it comes to service.
I love this place.
International magazines to read /and to buy in Beijing .
The new books arrrival ,Anyone who loves reading like me , couldnt but be a regular visitor here.
There are likeminded people here to interact if you talking types.
The staff not so intelligent but is okay.The books are sufficient reason for me to get back.
I dont normally buy the food out there except for some drink or coffee .
Its my one in a week destination.
For those who can't help themselves and go dizzy from excitement at the sight of shelves and shelves stocked with books, this place is ideal. Other reasons to never leave the place include moleskines and postcards for sale, good coffee, interesting lectures, great food, an extensive list of drinks and wine, tsing taos at a pocket-friendly 15 kuai and the mandatory wi-fi.
I find it cozy enough but the staff acted a bit peculiar. They were helpful and courteous until a new person went behind the bar (he had a chat with the staff), and from then on the staff looked at me like i had three heads.
Yes, the service here sucks and the everything is overpriced for what it is. The only thing going for this place is its location and the sort of airy, expansive awesomeness of the reading rooms. Their bookstore is decent but don't rely on their "library" for good reading materials. There's nothing new on those shelves.
All in all, I try to avoid this place if I can.
well, what can i say its 9 in the morning and the bookworm advertises breakfast, i can understand that due to the patrons packing the place at 9.00 it takes 20 minutes to get food that is cold, yes i think they forgot that it should be hot when served, the staff forgot to put a order of toast through until reminded 10 min's later and then has the cheek to look at me like its my fault. How this place can justify its prices when the food has issues and the staff to be put in the nicest possible way walk around with a air of snobbery that they work here, i will not be coming back ever
I am sitting here now, and its a very nice looking place (interior). I get a very nice "home" feeling, since we have a few of these in Norway. Anyhow, the prices are stiff with a whooping 25Q for my referance drink: Hot Chocolate.
Its the kind of place I could meet contacts etc, but I doubt I would go here regularily due to the high prices.
Nonetheless you cna borrow books here, which is cute.
Obviously cater to expats with coin and comfort written in their/our eyes.
Nice place, but shame on the poor service. Staff literally avoid eye contact and pretend you don't exist. Can be pretty frustrating trying to get your order or even get noticed for that matter.
The Bookworm is a restaurant, bar, bookshop, lending library and events space. So, its up to you what you'd like to do when you visit us. You can eat and drink in the bar and restaurant, you can join the library and borrow books, you can come to any of the regular events we host. We'd prefer that if you come to read the books on the premises that you do buy something, otherwise its a bit difficult to run a business. Please visit our website www.chinabookworm.com for more info and for contact details in case you have any more questions.
sorry, is it a cafe or a bookstore? can i just see or borrow some books without paying for any food?
I am really starting to be discouraged/saddened/frustrated/annoyed by the wait staff at places that mainly serve expats and see to have developed some kind of unreasonable (and illogical) superiority complex. Yes, I look Chinese even though I left for the US when I was 4. The result? Complete inattentiveness.
I walked in and none of the waitstaff turned their heads. I walked around, checking out the best place to plop down with my computer, which has a complete lack of battery life. There were no outlets that would properly fit (mine works in the regular 2-prong round/straight outlets as well as the three prong 2 straight/1 round). There was one extension cord that I could have used but it was all filled up. So I approached the waitstaff, who were happily chatting in the back, and asked for a menu and for another extension cord. She promptly told me that there was only 1 extension cord. 1 extension cord? In such a seemingly popular place. Why have only 1 extension cord (obviously you don't have any for your clients) unless you use that cord to handle your own electrical stuff - lamps, etc. - but then how can you give that away? I have never had trouble asking for extension cords at Wudaokou.
Anyways, I looked around, saw the oblivious (perhaps purposely so?) wait staff, and walked out.
Never going back.
I agree with amyvicious about the punching of douchebags and blogging their douchey conversations. Still, the Bookworm is the place to be! I can't stay away!!!
I love going here for coffeee and internet, the food is good but exppppensive!!!! Still, I can't stay away! Bravo Bookworm!
Change in Event Policy
Thanks to the continued success of The Bookworm’s busy event programme, we’re making some changes to the way we run our events.
Although we’ve always been reluctant to charge an entry fee for book talks, it’s become evident that there’s really no other way to manage demand, and to guarantee that if there’s a particular speaker that you absolutely have to hear, we can confidently guarantee you a seat.
So, from July 1st 2008, you’ll need a ticket to attend events at The Bookworm. Tickets for all events will be 20RMB for Bookworm members, and 30RMB for nonmembers, and will include a glass of wine, a beer, or a soft drink. Tickets for events will be available one week before each event. For example, a ticket for an event on Tuesday 22nd July will be available from Tuesday 15th July onwards.
If you don’t have a ticket for an event, you won’t get a seat.
Tickets are available at The Bookworm.
We will not take reservations for tickets.
Obviously some events will be more popular than others, and so the tickets will run out more quickly. This means that in some cases, tickets will be available on the door on the evening of the event, in other cases they won’t. We’d like to ask you to use your own judgement as to when you think you’ll need to come and buy a ticket. Our website will always carry as up to date information as possible on the status of ticket sales for each event.
Where possible, for heavily oversubscribed events, we’ll broadcast talks over the PA system to other parts of the shop. There will be no charge to listen to the talks this way.
We hope this will alleviate some of the frustrations you might recently have experienced in finding you’re unable to see the talks you want. We’re making these changes in accordance with the feedback we’ve received from you, our audiences, and hope the new system will be a change for the better.
Please see our website www.beijingbookworm.com for details of how to become a member of The Bookworm.
The Bookworm Team
please mail email@example.com with any further questions
I love the atmosphere and the concept of the lending library. And yes, I have a pair of headphones so I never have to hear the surrounding conversations, thus I can't really complain about my time at the bookworm.
The food however, is another story. I've found it's all rather bland, which still doesn't bother me, because I never really come here to eat anyway.
Good environment, yet-to-be-improved Spaghetti, and good wifi. Tweetup-worthy. ;-)
They have the latest books in from the states and you can check out books from here like you would at a public library in the states. There are cool people to meet here, and the coffee is decent. The food is lacking, but who goes here for the food?
Cool hangout if you've got a bit of nerd in you like me!
Really liked the place. Food was great as well!
Oh amyvicious - glory be. Your comment "This place is packed with douchebag intellectual-wannabe conversationalists and without some sort of barrier, you will want to punch a lot of people for being so lame & will spend your time fighting that urge or blogging the overheard convos rather than doing work" had me wondering if I was having a schizoid moment and had taken on another persona at CW and was really actually you. It was like you had taken a chunk of experience from my own head and pasted it on this page. RELATE!!!! especially the "punch" and "blogging the overhead convos" part. God bless you.
P.S. They never put enough alcohol in their cocktails so you're better off asking for a shot and telling them to fill that sucker up (otherwise they will pour 3/4).
Yeah, the crowd there drives me to drink.
I call it the Vicious Bookworm Cycle (get excited, go to BW, get depressed by douchiness, get a few drinks to temper the rage, get happy-ish, drop money, get pissed about having to pay for a fapiao and refuse to do so on principle, go home, forget why BW stinks, repeat the following week).
Yep I have been asked to pay extra in order to get a fapiao.
On a 180 yuan tab, you want me to give you 1 yuan to get a receipt so I can expense it!?
This was enough to get me to stop going & I used to go once a week and drop at least 120 yuan each time.
It is a really shady practice that gives tax breaks to the business.
I never ever ever ever ever have this problem at local places where the food is cheaper and the wifi is just as good.
If you must go, bring your headphones. This place is packed with douchebag intellectual-wannabe conversationalists and without some sort of barrier, you will want to punch a lot of people for being so lame & will spend your time fighting that urge or blogging the overheard convos rather than doing work.
Love this cafe, so cozy and so different. It brings sort of attachment to people, but it is sometimes too noisy and hard to find seats. Popularity is not always good thing.
I agree that it is overpriced, but totally worth it as the atmosphere is supreme. The only thing I would change is the smoking.
On the dining note: Did I mention their Mushroom Risotto as Excellent? It reminds me of what I had in Italia, really authentic! I've heard rumor saying their Blueberry Smoothies is really good too, but I haven't been able to try it (Is it seasonal or is it off the menu?) Mango smoothies is not bad either. It'd be even better if there's more non-smoking area... as it's tiny and smoke swirl tends to stay in there...
People are always moaning about the bad service at The Bookworm but I've actually never had a problem. They are prompt and orders usually come at the same time, which is a bonus in Beijing where waiters never seem to understand that people want to order and eat together. I order the steak quite often, and it's always well done and the meat is decent for the price.
The only negative is the mad rush to get a seat when they have events. Why can't you reserve or book tables when there are book talks/lectures? Unless you get there two hours before the event is going to happen, it seems like it's impossible to even get a seat.
Cozy (exclusively) international place, has a real chill set-up and the food seems good.Nice Christmas atmosphere; really bad service though!!!
Found a review of a book on some site, *China: The Art of Law*. The review was covering the author's book signing at The Bookworm. So, I thought, I'll go to the bookworm and see if they have a copy --- which they didn't. They didn't even seem to remember this past event.
...which is all okay, I guess... anyhow, so I picked up two other Chinese business books from one of our local business consulting companies. However, when I tried to pay they refused to give a *fapiao* under the pretense they were 'out of them'... *boggle*
I expect these kinds of hijinks from a hole-in-the-wall kebab place, but not from an alleged pillar of the community like The Bookworm. Give me a break!
I hope they clean their act up, because until they do I'll never buy a book from them again... and will continue to refer others away due to these shady practices.
Come here for the people-watching, cozy, airy, space; and loads of books (and magazines, including all the latest celebrity rags!). However, I find the food (with newly inflated prices) to be nothing special. Best to come on during the off-hours (in the mornings or evenings) as there seems to be a sense, during busy times, of having to rush and finish your drink to make room for other customers.
**love the talks, hate the crowds** i alternately love bookworm events and hate it when i arrive 10 minutes before only the find the place slammed and attempting to see a lecture through a throng of shoulders and standing on my tiptoes.
**Old location memories...** I really liked the cozy atmosphere of the old location. The 2nd floor location is a bit like a chain bookstore instead of a cellar with lots of rare gems inside.
Also, it seems the electrical outlets aren't so plentiful in the northeastern room.
**great atmosphere, but overpriced** The lectures/talks organized are wonderful and the atmosphere is also terrific. But I always feel like I'm being ripped off when the price of a small cup of coffee is around 20yuan (no refills!) and a small sandwich is around 40yuan.
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Total reviews: 54
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