I live in Beijing and recently had a friend come visit me, and as my home is a typical, Westernized apartment complex far away from the "pulse" of the city, I booked her a room at the Citycourt Hotel. This choice could not have been better: Citycourt is a genuine hutong hotel with very clean, traditionally furnished rooms facing a large, well decorated and open courtyard. And as this is January, the weather in Beijing is currently an icebox, but there's an opaque, removable covering over the length of the courtyard, so it was possible to relax on one of the couches and drink coffee outside without feeling discomfort. In regard to the rooms themselves, they have more than enough heat and feel "cozy" very quickly, and there's television and wifi in each room (one of the reviews mentioned the short showers you need to take and this is true, but there's nothing that can be done about this due to the fact the hotel's location is in a hutong, where plumbing can be described - at best - as archaic.) As also mentioned by other reviews, the staff is very helpful and can provide detailed information and book train tickets for you. But most essentially of all, Citycourt is located in a traditional Beijing hutong - an ancient neighborhood village composed of narrow, winding alleyways and teeming with people, pushcarts, animals, and all the sights, sounds, and aromas this wonderful mix will create. So if you want a traditional - yet still thriving and very much alive - Beijing experience, and if you want this experience at good value, then you should consider booking at the Citycourt Hotel.
** Just a quick word of advice for how to find this hotel when arriving from the airport: if you're coming from a domestic flight, go directly to the info kiosk and ask them to write the name and address of the hotel in Chinese and to include the telephone number (if you booked online, the number they list doesn't work inside China so be certain to ask for a telephone number that works inside Beijing.) If you're arriving on an international flight, you'll arrive on the first floor. The info kiosk is on the second floor, so go there to get this info. Once you've got the name and and address in Chinese, go to the taxi stand and simply keep your fingers crossed. Beijing taxi drivers are notorious for not knowing how to get anywhere unless you can tell them the specific directions, and the less they know the more probable it is that they won't want to take foreigners in their car (I've had taxi drivers suddenly need to put oil in their car as soon as they see they've got a Westerner walking over to them). If you have a cell phone that works in Beijing, once you're in the cab you can call the hotel's number and have the driver speak to the hotel, or else you can sit there and smile and hope they'll take you directly there. As the previous reviews have stated, the entrance to the hotel is about 300 - 500 feet from one of the main roads, and if your taxi driver insists on dropping you off at the mouth of the hutong and then points down a narrow street that he wants you to walk, don't worry. Once you go into the hutong, you can show the piece of paper that has the name and address to the people walking around, and they'll be able to point you in the correct direction. Once you get to Citycourt, they have business cards with a very well planned out map on one side and Chinese directions on the other, and it won't be difficult at all getting around after the initial arrival. And if all this sounds like it's not worth it - trust me, it is! This hotel is a true gem, and finding your way around a hutong is all part of the Beijing experience, so enjoy!
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