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“Atmospheric, old Beijing...but needs some improvements” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Beijing Apricot Courtyard Inn

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Beijing Apricot Courtyard Inn
No.24 Caochang North Alley, Zhonglouwan Hutong, Gulou Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100009, China (Houhai)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #6 of 812 Beijing B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence 2014
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Atmospheric, old Beijing...but needs some improvements”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 2, 2014

This is a long overdue review, but reading some of the recent reviews the same things still apply. First, the location is fantastic. I'm not a huge fan of Beijing but I do really like this area. The first time I visited Beijing, staying at this gorgeous little guest house deep in the hutong and close to the drum tower was a great first experience of the city.

BUT... it is REALLY hard to find. Sometimes this is charming. but in this case, it's just a bit unnecessary. Hunting for delightful places in the midst of majong-playing locals and traditional street scenes is all lovely but after a 20 hour flight in 30+ degrees with heavy bags and no chinese language skills it's kind of a pain. Even with three versions of its google map location printed out it was impossible.

Alex just needs to write some decent directions. i.e. - which exit to take from the subway. Roughly how far to walk along the main road. Where to turn left into the hutong. The little square you pass and the next turning. and so on... if it was my guest house, i would even take photos to add to the directions. I nearly did this for Alex at the time, but really, it's his job! It's Beijing. A lot of tourists don't speak chinese. I was just lucky i found some expats who spoke chinese and walked me all the way to the door of the guesthouse.

Second, the guesthouse. it is beautiful. Lovely courtyard. Cool rooms. Awesome basement living area. Guitars. Free watermelon on occasion. All good. But yeh, the beds are pretty hit and miss. Some are really hard. It's china, sure, but a lot of hotels/guesthouses have realised that sleeping on a plank of wood isn't really ideal in Beijing.

Alex has converted this old set of hutong buildings well but like some other reviewers have said, with minimal effort it could be better. He speaks excellent English and attracts a lot of foreign visitors, who are after a kind of 'authentic' (bit naff but best word for it!) experience but would appreciate things like slightly more sensible beds and better directions.

thanks alex for a great stay, sorry about the criticisms, i would recommend apricot courtyard all the same... but since the guesthouse is newly reopened maybe it would be cool to address some of these things...

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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48 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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    1
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5
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (11)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Chicago, Illinois
2 reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2014

The location,close to many of the sights of Beijing and everything we wanted to see, near the Drum&Bell Tower.And the cute place is hidden in the end of the hutong behind the Bell Tower.
Hotel is small,there's only a few rooms,people who stayed there were friendly.Room is small but very clean, the bed is a bit hard, but it is as expected in any hotels in China.
The Owner, Alex, who was a very cool guy,guitar player,photographer,and speaks perfect English. He was very helpful with how to get to places and bought us train tickets.We loved his basement as well,we watched movies and drunk the cheap local beer together. We really liked him and he made our stay so pleasant.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lake District
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2014

So then, time for a good honest review. Yes, Alex is a nice guy and this place has a lot of potential, but this has not been realised. The irritating thing is that he knows this and has done nothing about it but still charges an expensive rate for Beijing, so.... here goes...

From the start, this place is VERY difficult to find. Especially in the dark after a days travelling to get there. It wouldn't have to be if there were some simple signage at the main alleys - even a picture of an apricot would do! Despite following other reviewers directions, a local walked us there. Admittedly the location is pretty good.

The room was nice to look at but lacked space for the two of us plus travelling kit. It was cold too. We stayed for six nights in Feb and used the air con to heat the room (traditional) which made it manageable. Other reviewers mentioned smelly shower drains which had been remedied with a bag full of water covering it! For the shower - we were told there's only enough water for one person, the next has to wait 45 mins or so. We turbo showered in one hit but it's far from ideal.

Others have also mentioned the hard bed and they're not joking. It's irritating because there's no real reason for them to be that hard. Internally lower the mattress base a couple of inches so you can pop in a decent mattress at the same height and hey presto, but no - instead it's just the running joke of the owner. Really uncomfortable. Anyone who says otherwise is being polite or has no sensation in their back. You'll feel it by the morning though!

The rooms and courtyard are noisy. Thin walls and gaps around the door. A bit of rubber door seal would cut out the draft and help with the noise. A working lock on the door would be handy too. It took a good few minutes each morning between me and the owner to get the door to lock. Inside the room you can hear your neighbours do EVERYTHING though, and I'm sure they can hear you too.

For the whole time we were there, the room wasn't attended to at all and bins only emptied once. I'm not expecting the Ritz but I do expect value for money and a clean towel at least once in a week in smoggy Beijing.

We booked a Great Wall and Ming tombs trip through the owner too, which although was good, turned out to be double the price on a quick Google search afterwards. He also booked us train tickets which was helpful.

From day one though, the owner insisted that we had to register our stay with the local police and that we should meet him in the morning so we could go down together. Every morning he was either still asleep or not answering the door (even past 10am). This continued to the last day when we left. We knocked on his door for 15 minutes to get our deposit back (I forget to mention the "deposit" didn't I - well he did too). I woke his dog okay but despite all the locks being locked from the inside he didn't get outta bed - probably ignoring us whilst counting our money. He knew we were going as he booked our train ticket remember!

Pretty slating review but 100% accurate I'm afraid. Poor value for money and lazily run. The owner is quite charismatic and he did ask us to write a positive review - but I'd be letting other travellers down by being anything other than honest. This place could be SO good but dare I say it - we'd have preferred a JinJiang Inn - at least we'd have our deposit back!

I hope Alex is able to rectify these issues properly to give a quality experience worthy of its currently overrated TripAdvisor rating.

Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mumbai (Bombay), India
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 11, 2014

Nothing much for me to say on this as this deserves much more than whatever I compliment. The way things are organized really makes a difference here. A proper combination of perfection, sincerity, pleasure and co-ordination is what makes this place attractive to the guests. They would like to come back here again and enjoy this lavish style

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 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
    • 4 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.
Shenzhen, China
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2014

I must admit even the beautiful location, char,Inge rooms, pleasant home atmosphere is never enough without friendly and personal relationship with the host.
During my stay manager Neo and lovely Kate made my experience richer for another friendship.
I really had all the help, advices and great time mostly thanx to their great hospitality, but also great education and background, so, I really believe they know to share advices according to personality, and that mean a lot to me... The feeling when your host understands you and your taste.

I warmly recommend this place to everyone.

Room Tip: Totoro room.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled solo
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 3, 2014 via mobile

We initially booked the Chinese traditional style room for five nights. We were contacted by the booking website and told that the Chinese room was only available for four nights and we would have to be moved our last night. We decided that would be fine and kept our booking. When we arrived we were initially very excited about the Chinese bed, but soon discovered the hard truth. It was literally a wooden platform with a blanket on it. Not very fun after a hard day of touring. Needless to say we were very happy when we were moved to the Western-style room on our last night, which had a mattress.
Like much of China, there's a problem with the sewer fumes coming through the shower drain. In the Western-style room there was something to cover the drain, so it was not too much of a problem. Not so in the Chinese room. Realize also that the wall facing the courtyard is mostly glass. While there is a sufficient curtain to cover it, the soundproofing is low.
The traditional Chinese building style and hutong location were amazing. It was fun walking back every evening, and we felt relatively safe in the area, it is quite residential. It is also very close to the Nanluoguxiang hutong, which is fun to visit, especially at night, even if it is very touristy. There are two subway stations within walking distance although neither is very close.
We would definitely stay here again, although we would never choose the Chinese room, only a room with a mattress.

Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Utrecht, The Netherlands
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2014

The owner, Alex, was an excellent host. He made me feel right at home with his friendly demeanor and good taste in music. He was very accommodating. The hotel is right in the old center of Beijing which is incredibly convenient. I think there's nothing better than to sleep in the classic Hutong.

The only downside to my trip was the weather, but that's not the hotel's fault. All in all, I really recommend this guest house.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Beijing Apricot Courtyard Inn

Address: No.24 Caochang North Alley, Zhonglouwan Hutong, Gulou Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100009, China
Location: China > Beijing Region > Beijing > Houhai
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 812 B&Bs / Inns in Beijing
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 5
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