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.
Eating and drinking
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.
Who stays there
British and other European independent travellers and couples. Some North Americans.
Breakfast not included. Free WiFi.
- High-Speed Internet
- Backpackers / Students
- Escaping the crowds
Pros & Cons
- Personalised service
- Captivating sense of history
- Fantastic location for tourists
- Room amenities quite basic
- Tricky for taxis to find