Sitting on the City Walls
57, Nianzi Hutong, Jingshan Front Street, Beijing, China, 100009
- Recommended for:
- Backpackers / Students, Couples, Singles, Escaping the crowds, History, Sightseeing
Best for On a budget - Expert review of Sitting on the City Walls
As soon as I stepped through the non-descript alleyway door I was hooked. The hotel occupies a secluded hutong locale a stone’s throw from Jingshan Park and the Forbidden City, but it’s peaceful and quiet - a sensory escape from the bustling tourist sites on its doorstep. The ‘city walls’ in the name reference its perch just within the long-gone Imperial City Walls - an inner set that once enclosed the immediate area outside the Forbidden City. Boss Rick, a fountain of local knowledge, informed me that the address – Nianzi Hutong (millstone alley) - was where grain was once milled for the Emperor and his entourage.
In a safe, quiet and wonderfully atmospheric hutong area a hop, skip and jump from Jingshan Park and the north gate of the Forbidden City. Senior government and military officials live it up in grand courtyards close by (some of the most expensive real-estate in the city), side-by-side with swarthy locals who still share common toilets. It’s also close to the bars and restaurants of Houhai Lake and Nanluogu Xiang.
Simple and clean – most guest rooms open on to the central covered courtyard, but light sleepers might want to request one of the outer rooms. There are no TVs or toiletries to bump up the price, just basic twins and doubles with soft beds and big shower rooms. Two of the rooms are large enough to add an extra bed, and a split level dormitory can also cater for groups or a big family.
The covered courtyard is the usual melange of potted plants, tables and chairs, central water feature and check-in / booking desk, but brighter and tidier than most. Shamefully, I like the full-sized replica Terracotta Warrior glaring at you as you step through the moon gate. Props too for just how much of the original structure remains – check-out the foot-worn stone steps and the creaky, crooked ceilings in the bedrooms.
Like similar hotels, the courtyard area doubles as the restaurant, serving basic, foreigner-friendly Chinese nosh like dumplings, fried rice and ‘kungpao’ chicken. It can get quite sociable in the evenings depending on the guests, helped by the fact that big bottles of local beer are only 3 RMB (30p). Coffee and snacks are similarly good value.
Free bike hire (though they’re a bit old and rickety), tour and ticket booking, a bookshelf, chess table other bits and bobs to play with.
Excellent. Rick and his team are clearly passionate about what they do and proud of the hotel and its neighbourhood.
British and other European independent travellers and couples. Some North Americans.
Breakfast not included. Free WiFi.
More information on Sitting on the City Walls:
- 57, Nianzi Hutong, Jingshan Front Street, Beijing, China, 100009
- High-Speed Internet, Restaurant
- Jingshan Park