We stayed for four night in early December 2012. Our plane was four hours late from Hong Kong, so we arrived after dark. We had already made arrangements for transportation, but the hotel have it available for the going rate. When we arrived at the hutong, or neighborhood, we knew that it was a five minute walk through the alleyways. I have to say that made me a little nervous, as our driver could not fit his vehicle through the alleyway. He was nice enough to see us to the hotel. Otherwise, you'll need to arrive during the day, or see that you get a vehicle that can get through the alleyway, or understand it's a bit of a walk through dark alleys.
Regardless, once we arrived, it was like opening up into a secret garden. Just a lovely courtyard with lanterns lit, and even though it was very cold, it had a cozy feeling. They took us to our room, which was fabulous mixture of Chinese and Western touches. The shower head was great as it was on the ceiling with lots of hot water. There was endless amounts of shampoo and liquid soap in pumps. They both smelled amazing. I took a shower in the evening as well as the morning, to enjoy the whole experience. The bed was typical Chinese hard, which we experienced all over China, but big, and the lovely pillows made up for it. Super-snuggley. Coffee and tea available in the room, with a safe, as well.
The gal took us to show us where breakfast was to be in the morning. We stayed for a glass of wine and an evening snack. There were about six choices on the menu, and we were happy with what we had. I had dim sum, and my husband had noodles with vegetables. Very good. We ate there for small evening meals a few times, as the breakfasts were so filling, we didn't eat lunch until late in the afternoon, and then only wanted something small for dinner. The kitchen staff didn't speak English, but pointing always works.
Breakfast was amazing, and included in the price of the room. First we could help ourselves to a Nespresso-like coffee, and a number of juices. They would bring tea. We then had some wonderful yogurt with granola. They would then bring out a hot breakfast, which was whatever was on for the day. No menu. It did always included two fried eggs, toast and some ham or other meat. On different days we had amazing Chinese pancakes, and veggie dim sum. Again, we didn't eat until very late in the day, or skipped lunch altogether, because it was so filling and fabulous.
We also used their driver a few times to takes us to a show and then dinner. We used the subway system a lot, which was absolutely fine, but occasionally were tired after long days of walking. We couldn't find an available cab on the street anywhere, so on two occasions we booked the car from the hotel. It worked out fine, and was, if I remember correctly, about $15.00 per hour. It took the hassle of trying to figure out the transportation system, so it was fine, and nice to have a door-to-door service.
We only had one "iffy" experience. I was hoping to have the famous Beijing duck while there. I had a few places in mind, but then decided to ask the hotel to send us to the best duck place in town. Why not try the local fair, I thought. Well, I think I should have been a little more specific as to the type of place I was looking for. It was our last night, so I was thinking "top shelf." The driver took us to a back alley place somewhere. I did not feel comfortable, but I thought we should be polite, and we already ordered the duck, which you have to do ahead of time. We went into a very small room with maybe six or eight tables. There were a mixture of Chinese people and college-type westerners. There were some type of awards on the wall for the best duck in Beijing. I felt somewhat encouraged by this, but not the looks of the place. No one spoke English, but the driver saw us in, and made sure they knew who we were, etc. Like I said, pointing is fine. The chef came out and showed us an amazing cooked duck. It arrived with all necessary sides and sauces. Unfortunately, the establishment was just beyond my comfort level of clean. I have worked in kitchens all my life, and this place was beyond filthy. I really tried to do my best to enjoy the duck, but it didn't work. Fortunately, some college kids from Australia came in, and I offered it to them, which they gratefully enjoyed. So, it all worked out, and next time I need to be a bit more specific, as to what I was looking for. The hotel did exactly what I asked, sent me to the best duck place in town. My bad.
Of course we would return in a heartbeat. It would be nice to try it when the weather is a little warmer. So, if you want a little bit of Chinese mixed with Western style, this is the place. You must be a bit of an adventurous spirit. Otherwise, got to a major hotel.
All the rooms face the courtyard, and it was very quiet, probably because it was early December. I...
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