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“real courtyard house experience in a Beijing hutong”

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Beijing Wohkoon Hostel-Nan Luo Gu Xiang Branch
Ranked #14 of 935 Specialty Lodging in Beijing
Vancouver, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“real courtyard house experience in a Beijing hutong”
Reviewed December 29, 2009

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.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank soobee_vancouver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Nashville, Tennessee
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed June 7, 2009

Just 5 months ago, I wrote a review of this same hostel. Having had such an incredible experience, I checked in again for one-half of the 33 days I was in China, and this time I had to bump the rating to 5 stars....it's simply that wonderful.
Again, you WILL live like a local. This isn't a Hilton or a Westin...this is an old home converted into many different rooms. As an American, realize that "roughing it" might come to mind - but - if you want the true feel of Beijing, then you must stay here.
I can't praise the staff enough. Yolanda, who's at the front desk now, will go out of her way for you. Christina, the manager, is as friendly as anyone you'll meet in China. You'll be asked to eat breakfast and/or lunch with them ("Auntie" will cook her incredible dishes), and other guests from many countries will (usually) join with you. There's free wi-fi, and the location (although noisy at times) can't be beat.
It's not often that I'll use the phrase "home away from home" but in this case (and in the case of the Antique Courtyard, under the same ownership), it applies 100%.
I can't recommend Hutongren enough. It's truly THE place to stay, in my opinion.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank my_screen_name_65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Jose, California
Level 5 Contributor
34 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed August 27, 2008

Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷) is Beijing's self-proclaimed "hippest hutong" -- but that refers only to the neighborhood's cool shops and numerous bars. This is also a very old residential area.

Hutongren is a backpacker's kind of B&B -- but it is also a home -- so don't come here if you simply want a cheap cot to land on after a noisy night of drinking.

Come here if you want an opportunity to live in a way that is close to what locals live like. You, unlike the rest of the neighborhood, will have your own toilet en suite (put the paper in the basket, not the toilet). The shower is in the toilet stall, and you will rarely have hot water. Your towels and linens will be changed at request, but not as often as you are probably used to. There will be bugs. There will be power outages.

But you will also meet some of the most wonderful people you can imagine -- who will cook you dumplings -- and help carry your bags down the street to a cab. TV is available in the chaotic main room, but you'll have more fun on the night when the neighbor comes by with his dog that can sing. Or the afternoon the owner's wife brings her two babies over to play and try your exotic home-packed granola bars. Or the many afternoons you walk next door for a cocktail at the comfortable Reef Bar. Or continue two doors down for a plate of the delectable lemon chicken at the expensive Beijing Guxiang20' Club/Hotel.

Don't say I didn't warn you that, if you're a middle class American tourist, you'll be "roughing it." But if you're adventurous, street smart, earthy -- and can deal with a little mold, some smells, a hard bed and little privacy -- don't miss spending time with the lovely people at Hutongren.

  • Liked — Great people, great wifi (fast and always works), LOCATION, price, culture, food, public transit
  • Disliked — Bugs, lack of hot water, mold, power outages, some smells, taxis couldn't find it
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank lipsticktraces
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Beijing Wohkoon Hostel-Nan Luo Gu Xiang Branch

Property: Beijing Wohkoon Hostel-Nan Luo Gu Xiang Branch
Address: No.71 Xiaoju'er Hutong, Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100009, China
Location: China > Beijing > Houhai
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 935 Specialty Lodging in Beijing
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Beijing Wohkoon Hostel-Nan Luo Gu Xiang Branch 2.5*
Number of rooms: 10
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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