I stayed at the Red Wall Garden Hotel during a recent trip to Beijing.
Would I stay at this hotel again? The answer is an unquestionable yes. To truly experience Beijing you must do so by staying in the Hutongs where people still live, work, and play in the streets themselves. Isolating yourself in one of Beijing’s five-star towers like the nearby Park Plaza will not afford you with the rare opportunity to see how daily life in Beijing once was and continues to unfold. HOWEVER this recommendation does come with some caveats. Do not come to the Red Wall expecting a five star hotel, while the cost of this hotel was not an issue for me I have stayed at poorer hotels (especially in North America) for far greater sums of money for the price the Red Wall is a very good hotel but not five star. If 5 Star is what you are expecting you will disappointed. But if you are the kind of traveler who likes to really experience local culture (without compromising the need for comfort) the Red Wall is definitely the place for you.
The pluses are many: the staff are efficient, very friendly and very accommodating (good customer service is something that I have found very rare in China and thus should be cherished and encouraged). My room while small was very comfortable and very well appointed. The location was tranquil and I very much enjoyed sitting in the courtyard drinking a beer while listening to the birds, water and the steady hum of the conversations around me. While others on this post have complained about noise infiltration from late-night activities in the courtyard area I did not find this to be the case (and I had a ground level room facing the courtyard). The heavy curtains were more than adequate to muffle any late night revelry. The hotel’s location is excellent. Line 5 of the Beijing Subway is located no more than a city block away. Subways in Beijing are very easy to use and inexpensive so for 2 yuan you can be at the Forbidden City/Tian’ammin Square or the Wanfujing shopping district in a matter of minutes.
Now to the minuses: firstly the Hutong on which the hotel is located is very difficult to find (and not convenient to the subway) this is especially true if you arrive at night or take the wrong subway exit (take exit C). I would strongly recommend that if you are planning to first arrive via the train/subway system (as I did) or even by taxi (regardless of your facility with Mandarin) that you co-ordinate your first arrival to coincide with the daylight hours. Even taxis get lost at night; late one evening I returned to the hotel in a taxi helped by a friend semi-fluent in Mandarin and we ended up having to give the driver directions to the hotel. The Hutongs in Beijing are maze-like and are generally poorly signed so depending on your direction of travel you may never see a street sign. The numbering system is irregular, not all buildings within a Hutong are numbered and even if numbered the numbers are unlit and quite small (usually red and white in colour) which makes them very hard to see at night. The hotel itself is very difficult to miss being well lit and well signed but to get there you must first ensure that you are one, on the right Hutong and two, heading in the correct direction. Once you are confident with your surroundings the hotel’s location will no longer be an issue. However I can envision that people arriving at night with lots of luggage or kids may find locating the hotel stressful and difficult. My advice to the hotel (and Trip Advisor) is to provide far better directions on their websites than are currently there as not every guest will arrive via the airport (I arrived in Beijing via high speed train).
While noise infiltration from the courtyard was not an issue noise infiltration from the adjacent rooms especially the room above was an issue. The floors and walls are poorly insulated so conversations, footfalls, and the sound of running and draining water can be very clearly heard through the walls and especially the floor. If possible request a room on the second floor then you will only have to deal with noise from the two sides and not from above.
The hotel’s restaurant should be given a miss. While the food is not poor it is at best unremarkable and quite expensive by Beijing standards. There are far better far less expensive options within the Hutongs themselves or on the adjacent thoroughfares (Dongsi in particular) to waste your money on mediocre food.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Red Wall Garden Boutique Hotel Beijing is an oasis of tranquility in the very heart of the vibrant city of Beijing, located in one of the old Beijing historic neighborhoods: Shijia Hutong, a lovely tree-lined, low-rise lane. The hotel is within walking distance to the Forbidden City, the famous shopping streets of Wangfujing & Jinbao in Dong Cheng, the central district of Beijing. The Red Wall Garden Hotel is ideal for either work or pleasure.A traditional Chinese courtyard hotel, invoking the past,yet with modern facilities; a subtle blend of ancient Asian esthetic with a modern spirit; offers 40 individually appointed guest rooms, featuring ultra luxury DUX beds, wooden flooring, en-suite bathrooms and amenities such as large flat screen TV, complimentary WIFI ( throughout the hotel) and mini-bar. All rooms have air-conditioning & heater.Besides The Red Wall Garden Restaurant serving mainly classic Chinese cuisine the hotel also features a popular cozy lounge/bar overlooking the beautiful courtyard, which is the centerpiece of the hotel. Here guests can try Beijing street food creatively interpreted by the executive chef, enjoy a drink or simply relax. The Red Wall Garden Hotel often features live cultural, music and art performances.Guests can also take advantage of the hotel’s in-house car service, to explore the city, the Great Wall , or hop on to one of our bicycles or rickshaw to stroll through the hutongs and perhaps enjoy a Chinese massage in the treatment room after a long day of sightseeing or a hard day’s work. Our warm friendly english speaking staff awaits you."The Red Wall Garden Hotel Boutique Experience" : emotionally connects our guests with the intense desire for all things historical, cultural and artistic to experience the true lifestyle of authentic and historic Beijing. ... more less
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