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“Good but service staff at reception could be lots better” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel

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Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   No.24 Songshujie, Xicheng District | Beijing, Beijing 100009, China (Houhai)   |  
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Ranked #34 of 5,422 Hotels in Beijing
Singapore
Top Contributor
110 reviews 110 reviews
53 hotel reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
88 helpful votes 88 helpful votes
“Good but service staff at reception could be lots better”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

The Shadowart hotel is an interesting departure from the typical hutong hotels. It is modern, plush and discreet in its style yet tries to keep close to Chinese cultural roots in the art of shadow puppet play. The rooms were generally small but we were okay because this is a hutong hotel no matter how it is styled, and rooms do tend to be smaller than conventional chain hotels. The rooms we had overlooked the lobby through patterned Chinese window panels. A kang bed acted as a window seat. Very charming. My husband could not believe that this was a hutong hotel. It is understatedly stylish and elegant.

The hotel's theme is on the dying art of shadow puppetry and there are many framed and intricately cut pieces of popular Chinese characters - the God of War, the Monkey King, opera faces etc - on display. These are available for sale. And considering that each translucent piece is delicately hand-cut from carefully processed leather and then brushed with colour, these are works of art. The hotel puts up performances of shadow art too and my children were captivated by this ancient art and entertainment form. They were invited backstage after the show and allowed to play with the puppets which delighted them. So that was a very nice touch from the hotel.

Breakfast was adequate, enough to fuel you up for a good start. Don't expect the egg station, the cold cuts counter etc. Still, it was decent in variety and quantity.

Location-wise, this hotel is nicely placed if you like Houhai action. It's also not far from the Prince Gong mansion complex. Definitely within walking distance of the highly touristy sections of the lakes, including the bars, restaurants and shops etc. Yandai alley, which is full of souvenir shops and cafes, is not far. Also within walking distance to the Drum Tower, Bell Tower, Beihai lake and Nanluoguxiang, another trendy street chock full of shops and eateries.

The subway is 15minutes away on a brisk walk but it takes you through another interesting neighbourhood hutong, with opera star Mei Lanfang's residence, a bustling residential area with market and food stalls and the famous Huguosi small snacks shop, two stories full of Beijing's street food and snacks. The neighbourhood was interesting so the walk didn't feel far.

That was the good and now for the bad: the staff at reception were not perceptive to the needs of their customers, and could be trained better to anticipate and assist their guests. Some examples: when we first arrived, it was late at night and we were hungry. It was also cold. We were travelling with young children. The young man at the counter suggested that we walk all the way out to the Houhai area for food - easily about a 15-min to 20min walk in the cold. We tried this but it was late, the kids were tired and we really just wanted a snack, not a full (and expensive) meal. Halfway round, we turned back. En route, we met a friendly elderly Beijing resident who lived nearby. He directed us to a 24-hour convenience store nearby at the main road where we happily stocked up on some milk, cup noodles and biscuits. While the guy at reception was not wrong in suggesting what he did, he was not perceptive enough to see the situation and make appropriate suggestions. In the hospitality industry, what defines adequate service from great service is this ability, or lack of.

Finally, on our last night, we returned to the hotel at 8pm, having checked out earlier in the day and leaving our bags in their storage area. The intent was to get a taxi at 9pm to get to the airport by 10pm. At 8pm, my husband checked with the hotel reception (unfortunately manned by the same young man). He assured us it was not a problem to get a taxi in when we needed it. We were quite specific that we needed to leave at 9pm and we made sure to ask because this was a hutong and some taxis do not want to get into the lanes here. But at 9pm when we approached him to call a cab, he told us it was not possible, that we needed to call a cab one to two hours in advance! That rattled us because we had luggage and kids and now we needed to walk and haul our bags to the main road to get a cab. We were quite annoyed that he did not say so earlier. It felt a bit risky because we were not sure if we could easily get a cab at that time. Luckily we could and did in spite of that man's poor advice.

So in short, I like the Shadowart hotel, but I think they need to work a lot harder on their staff and their staff's proactiveness, service attitudes and product knowledge. This mars what would otherwise be a great little hotel worth recommending.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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229 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Birmingham, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 19, 2012

This is a small hotel down a narrow alleyway in the Hutongs close by Houhai. It has no more than a dozen or so rooms many of which have no windows. Most rooms seem quite small. The food was rudimentary with little choice for breakfast and there is no restaurant. Good coffee though!
But, and this is a big but, it was the most memorable hotel we stayed in during our holiday in China and, now that I know it, the one I would have been most sorry to have missed. There is a resident puppeteer who creates magical flat puppets from thin sheets of vellum and operates them from behind a screen. Performances seem to be every other night and are a must see. Walking in the dimly lit alleyways around the hotel trying to find a restaurant is fun but not in the least bit intimidating. Near the lake there are restaurants which have English menus but in some of the streets you have to find a restaurant with a menu which shows the dishes in pictures to let you decide what to eat. The Hutongs are informally built small houses without proper sanitation (although the sanitation in the hotel is fine with en suites in all rooms. We felt closer to China here that anywhere else we stayed.

Room Tip: Try and get a room on the first floor with a window
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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oregon
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2012

Staying at the Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel was the most memorable and best experience of our 23-day trip to China. If you want to see a big western hotel, stay in downtown Beijing. But we wanted to experience life in China as the Chinese live it, so we chose to stay in the Hutongs. From the moment we walked into the entry of the Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel, we knew we had chosen a magical place to stay. From the carpet in the entry, to the rooms themselves, to the staff, this hotel is beyond amazing. The goal of management is to provide you a special visit and they definitely accomplish that. Christine, the manager, is beyond accommodating and speaks fluent and flawless English. The rooms are modern, have wonderful beds and special bedding, and are immaculate. The puppet show is very fun. You can choose either Western or Chinese breakfast. The staff treat you like family. We were able to walk to restaurants and many tourist sites and spent a fair amount of time just exploring the Hutongs on foot. Returning to the hotel was quiet and peaceful-a different world from the hubbub of life outside.

I'll say it again . . . A stay in the Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel is magical and very special. We would never stay any where else in Beijing.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Long Beach, California
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2012

I work in Beijing, and when family comes to visit, this is my go-to spot. The location is great, close to Houhai for restaurants, a drink, a stroll by the lake, etc, and it's central, so everything else is a short cab ride or walk away. Hotels vary a lot in Beijing, but you won't find this charm and level of comfort for anywhere near this price elsewhere (we booked online at first for around US$100 a night, with breakfast). While it's got all the modern conveniences, and is in a beautifully remodeled enclosed courtyard (a really relaxing and inviting setting), outside the hotel is a Beijing many don't experience. The hotel is set about a block into a hutong, the old Beijing alleyways lined with courtyard homes. The neighborhood is friendly, you can get some great chun'r or skewers of barbeque at a couple of storefronts, and you can see how Beijing lives, and has lived for a long time. I take my family and friends here, and I love it myself!

The managers are eager to help and the staff wants to make your stay great too. While there's no elevator (it's only a two story building), there was always someone to help with luggage. This hotel is an experience, and I haven't even talked about the shadow art!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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feng y, Guest Relations Manager at Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel, responded to this review, April 30, 2013
Dear PalominoMadera

First of all we would like to thank you for taking the time to write such an amazing comment about The Shadow Art Hotel. It is always a pleasure for us to read about our guest’s wonderful experience.

We appreciate your loyalty and looking forward to welcome you back in the near future.

Looking forward to your feedback,

Kind Regards
Manager Feng
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Christchurch New Zealand
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2012

Booked this hotel via hotels.com and it was the most expensive we had stayed in throughout our 2 weeks travelling through China ($136 NZ p/night including breakfast on a special discount deal) but well worth the money. We had the cheaper and smaller studio room but it was still plenty big enough with a large bathroom wcomplete with complimentary quality toiletries. Slippers and bathrobes were also provided. We were pleased we had asked our previous hotel to write down the address and name of the hotel in Chinese characters as our taxi driver (after waiting 1.5 hours for a taxi at Beijing railway station!) did have some trouble finding it. Location is really quaint down a hutong where next door locals live and carry out their various businesses ( a small demolition yard close by!). There are other very touristy hutongs located closer towards Lake Houhai (where rickshaw drivers constantly pester you for hutong tours) but with this hotel you got to see the real thing. Room was tasefully furnished. Breakfast was a good mixture of Chinese and western food and served in the indoor courtyard area which had comfortable lounge furniture. Staff were very friendly and helpful and spoke good English - always willing to mark on the map suggestions for meals and dircetions to the nearest subway (ping'anli) - about 15 minutes walk away. Plenty of restaurants options a short walk from the hotel. If I was to have two gripes about this hotel, they would be: wifi reception was not great inside our room (not a huge issue as our room opened out to the common lounge area where it was readily available), and the hotel could do with a proper bar where drinks other than beers and soft drinks were availabale as well as snacks. Apart from these minor things really enjoyed this hotel. The owner spoke to us on the day we checked out - very keen for any feedback we had and took our suggestions on board and sent us on our way with a warm hug. Highly recommend a stay here.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blacksburg, Virginia
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2012

I read reviews of this hotel before we went so I was ready to be pleased, but the hotel surpassed my expectations. Completely at odds with most hotels in China, the decor was understated, tasteful and tranquil.

We booked last-minute and they only had a very small room available, but it was very comfortable. The front desk staff was helpful and spoke good English. They gave us walking directions to nearby places we wanted to see, wrote down the Chinese names of landmarks so we could show them to taxi drivers, called taxis, loaned us a converter, and just generally went out of their way to be polite.

The location is stellar. Within about 10 minutes' walk to Houhai Lake, a really funky shopping district (which I can't remember the name of), and one of the few microbreweries in China - Great Leap Brewing. Staying in a hutong is much less hectic than staying in the city and it's far more interesting to walk through small neighborhoods to see how people actually live and work rather than walk down crowded sidewalks next to 12-lane highways breathing in exhaust.

Breakfast is complementary but small, and provides Western and Chinese options - when we were there it was fried eggs, sausages (hot dogs), toast, noodles, and some fruit. There is no restaurant or bar, but the front desk sells sodas, beer, wine, instant noodles, and some snacks at very reasonable prices.

Definitely catch the shadow puppet show in the lobby/theater! It's fascinating and afterwards the staff lets you try your hand at using the puppets. They also have an artist-in-residence who is one of the few young people still practicing the art and trying to keep the art form alive. His puppets are hung throughout the hotel and are all for sale - we got an intricately cut puppet in a lovely frame for a very reasonable price. You can take the art with you or the will ship it for you.

I've stayed at dozens of hotels across China and this is certainly the most comfortable, tasteful, and relaxing hotel I've encountered.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tel Aviv, Israel
1 review
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2012

This hotel is amazing. In the first place I thought that it is in a bad area but it is a great location and area. The rooms designed so beautifully. The hotel is super clean. The service is amazing and the breakfast is good too. I have been to a lot of hotels but this one is the most unique hotel I have ever seen.

  • Stayed September 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel

Address: No.24 Songshujie, Xicheng District | Beijing, Beijing 100009, China
Phone Number:
Location: China > Beijing Region > Beijing > Houhai
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #34 of 5,422 Hotels in Beijing
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 25
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Shichihai Shadow Art Performance Hotel hold a cultural conviction that we believe the true cultural beauty of chinese heritage should be preserved and we found a modern way for the world to appreciate the true beauty again.Bustling lives mask us from the beauty of nature. Through travels, we refresh our senses about culture and nature. We strive to inject life and cultural forces into our tourist sites.This is the first stop of your cultural expedition; the next one is to explore nature and the Beijing old city from Shichahai for new pulses.We are situated in the dragon pulse of Beijing, the most sacred site of Fengshui.Shadow Art Performace Hotel is located in the hutong district of Houhai. Here, its design brings you to a lakeside, over the waterfront, into hutongs, and this dwelling in a city district with waterscape and nature puts us back on the path to nature and reshape our heart to value respect and tranquility that go for natural environment and culture. ... more   less 
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