Yanyue Hutong, its name referencing the music played at court feasts, is a likeable little lane of crumbling courtyard residences and local shops. From here it’s a long amble to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, though for a taxi you’ll need to find your way to the main road. The immediate neighbourhood of well-preserved alleyways is well worth an afternoon’s wandering.
The recently built rooms wrap around an open-air paved courtyard planted with young trees and featuring a pond in the centre. Standard rooms are a bit poky for the price, but all have feather duvets and adjoining bathrooms with shower and toilets. Time-worn furniture, vases, antique mirrors and other period touches are offset by simple, dark painted walls and the occasional in-your-face oriental mural (a little too dominating for my tastes). A couple of suites feature funky, free-standing tubs, sofas and a good deal more space.
The afore-mentioned courtyard is dotted with seating options, and in the back you’ll find the breakfast room, showcasing some great contemporary Chinese art, but otherwise coming over a little ‘hostel-y’. The stairs lead to a truly king-sized roof terrace decked out with sun loungers and killer views of the single storey hutong neighbourhood. If the weather suits, you could easily waste a day up there.
Eating and drinking
A simple continental or Chinese breakfast is included in the room price. The kitchen turns out fairly generic Chinese style snacks throughout the day, and you can pre-order a 6 course set dinner for 250 RMB. A bar menu includes tea, coffee, beers, and a changing line-up of wines.
In-room Chinese massage, bike rental, private car with driver hire for Great Wall and Ming Tombs excursions, some business services like fax, photocopying etc. Cultural demonstrations and art activities slated for 2011 season.
Manager James is clearly new to the position, but friendly and eager to please. The front desk is quite professional for such a small hotel, with comparatively good levels of English. A welcome touch is the taxi flashcards handed to guests to help them get to and from the major sights.
Who stays there
Adventurous holiday makers, couples, honeymooners, culture vultures.
Kids under six stay for free, and the management seem pretty happy to put an extra bed in the room without too much fuss over cost (though you’ll need to be in the suites to have the space to do this). The rooms with king-sized beds are virtually identical in size and spec to those with queen-sized – not worth the extra outlay in my opinion.
- Business Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Seasoned travellers
- Special occasions
- Design and architecture
Pros & Cons
- Atmospheric but central location
- Traditional digs with Western comforts
- Getting on for five-star hotel prices
- Standard rooms rather small