We stayed 6 nights at Hutongren, after reading glowing reviews in a few guidebooks. We booked through Agoda as we were in the airport waiting to fly to Beijing, and got a good rate for such a long stay. When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted warmly by Tina, who was amazing during our entire stay.
We were initially a little surprised by the rough edges; the furniture and linens are rather faded and worn, and the photos of the rooms online are taken a fair while ago; some of the softer touches (like rugs) are now gone, and the rooms are a bit tired. The lighting in our first room wasn't very good, just a single overhead flourescent bulb, and walls painted blue (with a really strange pencil drawing on one wall, I think done by a previous guest), so it felt a bit sterile. We ended up moving to a bit nicer room, with a lamp, a couple of nights later. The beds were exceptionally hard, basically a quilt folded over on top of a wooden frame (after a month in China we came to realize this is pretty standard, and got used to it).
The rooms have heaters, which is a welcome touch, as it's very cold in Beijing in November. There was also plenty of very hot water for showers every day.
The room was clean enough, although not spotless, and it didn't get made up every day. We had to ask for new towels after a few days (we're not fastidious about having sheets changed every day, but having the floor swept would have been nice). It was a bit unpleasant not having any kind of rug, or even a bathmat, especially with the "wet" bathroom (standard Asian shower without an enclosure).
But the place won us over bit by bit. The courtyard (enclosed a bit like a solarium) was really charming, with a warm stove brewing tea all day, lots of plants all over, and comfy couches to sit on (although without heating it does get cold at night). We enjoyed our daily breakfast; Tina, or one of her colleagues, would head out to get us fresh steamed buns and Chinese porridge, which were delicious. It was easy to meet and chat with the other travellers staying in the guesthouse, which was nice. The staff are fantastic, and speak pretty good English. And it really is a true courtyard house, so quite special to stay in the "real thing" rather than an impersonal hotel.
The location can't be beat; it's in a quiet hutong off Nanluoguxiang, a great little alley with all sorts of interesting shops, cafes and restaurants. It's a 5 minute walk to the Peking Downtown Backpackers Hostel, which does a fantastic Great Wall tour (without stops at the Ming Tombs or any kind of shopping!). It's a 15 minute walk to the closest subway station, and a quick walk to the Drum and Bell Towers, and Houhai Lakes area.
Overall, we had a nice stay, although we did find it overpriced compared to other places we've stayed in China.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled in a very small, easily-overlooked side alley north of storied Xiao Ju’er Hutong, this charming little tea-theme hotel offers a quiet, well-lit retreat from the bustle of the middle of everything. A handful of rooms-double from RMB 600 and single from RMB 480 – surround a stone-floored atrium filled with plants, natural light, books in various languages, wi-fi and a small bar. All rooms are equipped with super comfortable King Koil Mattresses, traditional furniture, air conditioners and under-ground heating. You will be warmly welcomed by the lovely staff and little Blackie. The unique Chinese Tea experience (free Tea classes are given everyday by reservation in advance), relative peace and quiet you’ll find here after a long day is worth it. ... more less
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