I think the first 10 seconds of finding the lane that brought me to this hotel explains everything: serendipity.
I travel quite frequently to Asian countries such as china for work, but this time i wanted to stay in a different kind of hotel in Beijing to experience local culture and a more laid-back setting. Let me say that Hutongren did not disappoint. From the moment i stepped in and Blackie (hotel dog) barked and later pounced at me welcomingly, i felt really at home. The front yard is serene and beautiful and the girl at the front desk (i think it was seven) had a really wonderful and genuine smile on her face as she welcomed me. The welcome tea and small snacks she prepared for me were excellent, and with Blackie accompanying me whilst i was sipping the tea and relaxing in the front yard, it was a really comforting experience after the long flight and tiring trip from the airport.
Room i stayed in was Hidden time, which is just off the backyard.
The room is quite nicely decorated- simple but adequate. the beds are very comfy, towels very good, interior very clean and well-maintained. I like the touch of nature (small plants) they place all around the hotel and in the rooms as well. They provide 2 bottles (1 per person i expect) of drinking water daily, which is a nice touch. There is also a fully-functioning heater/air-conditioner in the room, and a ventilator to prevent dampness and suck away any bad odor from the room.
the bathroom in hidden time has a bit of an 'open concept' with no proper door separating the 'bedroom' and toilet, just a small partition and shower curtain for the shower but it wasn't a problem for me as i was staying alone. No weird odor or sewage smell experienced, unlike what others have reported during their stay. The terrace is small but lovely, and i expect it should be amazing to dine upstairs during spring/summer but during my stair it felt a bit chilly so i only went up a bit to take photos.
Now to explain why my rating is a 4 instead of a 5 out of 5-
Despite having many positives, i found some areas that could have potentially wowed me but instead left me slightly disappointed.
Firstly, no handwash. This is a minor point, but even hostels provide handwash or soap, which makes washing sanitary. Also, soap/handwash is hardly costly, so i'm not sure why it isn't provided. It irked me slightly every time i had to turn around to the shower to use the shower foam as handwash when i needed to wash my hands.
Second, though the staff were in general helpful and cheerful towards me,during my stay i hadn't even once experienced the kind of warmth or action others have written about in which the staff went out of the way to make my stay a better one. Others have written that they were welcomed with tea and fruits upon returning to the hotel after sightseeing, recommendations for places to visit etc. Of all these services/actions i had experienced none.
To further illustrate an example- one evening as i was heading out after i completed work, i asked of the girls at the reception (not sure who it was, short haired girl with spectacles) if she knew of a church in Wangfujing and how to go there. She simply replied, 'erm, i'm not very sure', and then resumed text-messaging. I didn't want to be a bother so i just told her i would find it myself but I couldn't help feeling slightly disappointed. Even if she hadn't knew where it was i would have expected she would help to ask around or search online since she had her laptop with her internet browser on and also her mobile on. I didn't see why she couldn't have at least tried to find out where it was.
third- the location. Many have written about how wonderful the location of the hotel is, being right in the middle of nanluogu lane, yet far enough for things to be peaceful and to get proper rest. it's also within walking distance to Houhai area and the bell tower, which are beautiful and worth a visit. However, this hotel is a good 15 minutes to Andingmen station, which can be a long a painful walk after a whole day of work/sightseeing. This makes getting to anywhere else in Beijing pretty inconvenient, particularly if you plan to take the subway to get around in Beijing, which is what most choose to do (it's so cheap it's great, 2RM anywhere).
If you're only planning to explore the Houhai and bell tower area, then this is an excellent option and should be considered an advantage, not a disadvantage.
last- the price. I was travelling for work so the price didn't quite bother me as much since this is considered moderate compared to mid-range or pricier business hotels, but amenities-wise though respectable, they failed to impress (no handwash! and body foam/shampoo is a large bottle which had probably been the same bottle used as the previous traveller staying in the same room). Also for the price i was expecting a better spread for breakfast, or at least a hearty meal. I ordered the cong you mian (noodles done chinese style) which other reviewers had raved about and was slightly disappointed by the taste (nothing amazing) and how stingy it felt (very little sauce, a few cucumbers, noodles, served on a western style plate). The saving grace of breakfast was the tea, which was excellent.
On the whole i am happy with my stay here, and have already and also would recommend this to others. That being said however, personally i might consider other options in Beijing the next time i come as i would want to be in a hotel that's located closer to the subway for easy access to all the sights instead of just limiting myself to a few...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled in a very small, easily-overlooked side alley north of storied Xiao Ju’er Hutong, this charming little tea-theme hotel offers a quiet, well-lit retreat from the bustle of the middle of everything. A handful of rooms-double from RMB 600 and single from RMB 480 – surround a stone-floored atrium filled with plants, natural light, books in various languages, wi-fi and a small bar. All rooms are equipped with super comfortable King Koil Mattresses, traditional furniture, air conditioners and under-ground heating. You will be warmly welcomed by the lovely staff and little Blackie. The unique Chinese Tea experience (free Tea classes are given everyday by reservation in advance), relative peace and quiet you’ll find here after a long day is worth it. ... more less
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