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“A civilised gem in a sublime location....”

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Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall
Ranked #1 of 1,345 Beijing B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Nice, France
Level Contributor
154 reviews
39 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
“A civilised gem in a sublime location....”
Reviewed July 2, 2011

Ideal if you need a few days break from Beijing or 'everyday’ accommodation as a tourist in China. Located in a neighbouring valley from Mutianyu it is a world-apart from Beijing's number two Great Wall tourist attraction and all the daily hubbub that moniker entails.

Opened just over a year ago, it’s an oasis of calm: understated, Stark-lit and terracotta charm in a verdant ‘model’ village below the wall. It rained one day I was there but this only added to the subdues atmosphere and was an intense relief after the oppressive heat of Beijing.

They publish a very comprehensive FAQ with the booking (which seemed a little strange and ‘collective’ at the time) but now I understand why. The location and set-up of The Brickyard is more upmarket eco- lodge than regular hotel so don't expect regular levels of hotel service or facilities. The staff tries hard but a reliance on interns and local Chinese with limited English and service skills can make for delays and frustration if you are not sufficiently chilled. Information on local restaurant opening times, public travel options and even breakfast hours can be vague, inconsistent or simply wrong but hopefully this will improve as they develop and in some way simply adds to the charm and reflects the challenge of life for foreigners in rural China.

Food options beyond the recommended breakfast are limited and you need to visit the sister-property of The Schoolhouse in Mutianyu (or a few other local eateries) for anything beyond a western snack so plan ahead! Wifi is not brilliant and will never be given their location but they are trying to improve coverage.

Room Tip: Wifi important? Ask for room with best coverage
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Eddie06
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jimatmutianyu, Owner at Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall, responded to this review, July 4, 2011
Dear Eddy06, On behalf of our whole team I'd like to thank you for your thoughtful and fair review. I am so glad that you found the Brickyard to be a nice place to get away but clearly we have to keep working on the quality and consistency of our service. We are expanding our staff of dedicated professionals to support the villagers who have found steady year-round employment with us and also to mentor the interns we draw from around the world. Thank you for recommending the breakfast; more lunch and dinner items are in the works. That you didn't get prompt and accurate information to all of your questions shows me that we have to re-double our training and improve how we deliver information directly to guests when they're with us. Let me finish up by simply thanking you for helping us know so clearly how we can do an even better job for future guests. Kind regards, Jim Spear, a partner in the Brickyard
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  • Sleep Quality
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Knysna, South Africa
Level Contributor
69 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
Reviewed June 15, 2011

The brickyard seems to be a fairly new hotel, only some 20 minutes bus ride from Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. The rooms are very nice (3 rows of about 6 or seven rooms per building), all facing the mountains and a section of the Great Wall in the distance. You can see the Wall from your bed actually (probably depends on the room, they also planted some quick growing shrub in front of the windows which will soon block that view), as the top third of the great window wall of the rooms does not have shades or curtains. (If you cannot sleep at daylight you should consider using the eyeshades provided in the room as at about 4:30 am in summer it is bright daylight...).
The food was ok for breakfast, the sandwiches on the menue were mediocre and a bit boring at lunch, the food (on the special gourmet night which seems to be once a week) at the associated Schoolhouse a few blocks away was excellent.
When we were there the spa was still partially under construction (outdoor shower). The hotel has no pool (yet, I hear they plan to open one in 2012 - beware of the noise until then...!), which is really something they should have if they want to be a spa (and charge the prices they do for it.).

The service was less than price-adequate. Nobody seemed to be the one person in charge for a specific area, be it reception, waiting, breakfast buffet, questions, concierge, tours, whatever else. English was a problem, there were a lot of misunderstandings.

At breakfast the choice was good (no cheese (except some grated cheddar), no cold meats though), if only there had been food refilled when needed! Constantly all trays were empty (ok, when 5-6 people come to the buffet at the same time this might happen, but then a hotel must be prepared and react) and you had to ask for them to be refilled. Nobody seemed in charge of checking and making sure there was always sufficient food there. This applied to all warm breakfast choices as well as and particularly to the bread basket (when there was no baguette and I asked them (several times), each time they brought out about 4-5 small slices, which of course were gone instantly...). It was not until after our 45 minute breakfast (stressful somehow, because you had to constantly ask, wait or almost rush to the buffet to get what was scarcely brought out) that I even saw that there would have been fresh yoghurt too (if only they had brought it out some time...).
This was really a bit disappointing, expecially in light of the prices charged.

Parasols in the courtyard were only brought and installed for breakfast after I asked the staff to bring them as it was quite hot already early in the morning. Makes you wonder why nobody was in charge of that as a routine.

At lunch first nobody came to take our order, then the drinks were forgotten, then the beer was not cold, and then afterwards it took about 30 minutes for the dishes to be removed - also a little bit disappointing in light of all other service deficits accumulated.

Another area of annoyment is the exorbitant transfer fees this hotel charges. For a taxi ride, which the hotel claims on their website to be 1/2 hour, they charge RMB 800 (EUR 80) one-way. I organized a transport coming from Beijing city from my next hotel and back for RMB 400 (which certainly also included some surcharge for the hotel). When I asked the staff why they charged so high prices the reason given was that 1) other hotels charge the same and 2) by the way the gasoline prices have risen so much (I believe they are RMB7 per litre?!?). If I had booked a package incl. massage and transport for 1 night it would have been cheaper I was told, but needless to say that nobody notified me of that better deal when I booked.

Another thing that really puzzled me was that on the one hand this hotel claims to be an "eco"-retreat. On the other hand all rooms are heavily air-conditioned and must be because of huge window fronts (which are the signature of the hotel of course) and due to skylights and metal sheet roofs, which of course contribute to great heat in the rooms in the summer. The breakfast room was also airconditioned all day long no matter if there was anybody in it, and the door was constantly open for the hot outside air to come in.
All not a problem, but it is if you claim to be "eco".
More so, we witnessed 2 staff members cleaning the bricked courtyard floor for at least 45 minutes (which is when we left, not when they stopped) with running water from a hose, instead of just with a broom. Which would have been appropriate as 1) this region of China had been in severe draught for months at that time and 2) how "eco" is that?!?

All in all we got the impression that the hotel aims for wealthy foreign tourists and business people on seminar that are ready to spend money there, but they are not ready to provide the service, although they have a lot of staff which should be able to cope with the task.
By the way the hotel has nothing which would classify it as family friendly - no play area, nothing. Or maybe they only didn't tell us? (my friends were there 3 nights, so it would have made sense to..).

All these points to me clearly are a problem of management and given the nice location and rooms I would sincerely hope for them that they will start to consider these points and do something about them!
These are not very big issues but they become big if they accumulate and especially if you charge prices of higher standard hotels in big cities and then don't deliver the service people rightfully expect with that.

One tip for the Great Wall: When taking the cable car up, go up with the one that brings you to the left side of the wall section and walk towards the cable car / toboggan slide on the right as that way you mostly walk down the wall and not up, which is very very strenuous, expecially in those hot summer days! Taking the tobbogan down is great fun (if you don"t follow all the "Slow down" signs :-)

Room Tip: first row of rooms or furthest away from reception
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank like2travl2004
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jimatmutianyu, Owner at Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall, responded to this review, June 17, 2011
Dear Like2travel, My name is Jim Spear and I am the designer and an owner of the Brickyard. Thank you very much for sharing your extensive comments. It's clear that our team did not provide you with the level of service that you expected and I'm very sorry about this. Your perceptions on the food and service provide our team with important feedback and we will discuss fully at our weekly service review meeting this coming Monday. We get very little negative feedback and many repeat customers so your input is especially helpful to us.

At the same time, I would like to respond to several of your comments with facts to help other members of the TripAdvisor community. I also welcome other readers to scan the many other reviews we have earned to help put your statement in context.

Every room in the hotel has a wonderful view of the Great Wall. The photos on our website show the actual views to the Wall and it certainly isn't "distant." The "quick growing shrubs" you say will soon block the view are actually wild peach trees which we are training specifically not to block the view.

Our website's Directions page says that the Brickyard is 60-90 minutes from downtown Beijing. Nowhere do we claim to be 30 minutes away from Beijing or the airport. Our transfer service is offered only as a convenience to guests through a reliable outside service provider. We believe the pricing is fair and guests are certainly welcome to arrange their own transportation.

Air conditioning is offered for the comfort of guests. All the rooms have sliding glass doors with screens opening to private terraces so there is plenty of natural ventilation. The north-facing window walls are made of thermal-paned safety glass and do not take direct sunlight. The steel roofing is insulated. The design is actually quite efficient.

Our claim to be an "eco" project rests on many factors including re-use of existing buildings, incorporation of salvaged building materials, energy efficient designs and materials, water-saving showers and toilets, bulk toiletries, no plastic bottled water, composting and recycling, growing our own vegetables and fruits, making food homemade from scratch with local ingredients, hiring local employees, and supporting other local businesses. We are far from perfect but we are continuing with incremental improvements in design, retrofits as we earn revenue, and management practices.

I really appreciate your insights and suggestions and wish you safe and happy travels. Kind regards, Jim Spear 6/18
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lewis Center, Ohio
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed May 30, 2011

Excellent hotel at the base of the Great Wall of China. Located in a small village, it has all the amenities needed by westerners, the staff are from around the world, and everyone spoke English. It's a family owned business with the husband from the US and wife from China. No matter what you request the staff were friendly and always willing to accommodate. After hiking for six hours on the Great Wall of China and surrounding mountains, I enjoyed a quality 90 minute spa treatment. The Brickyard is perfect for solo travelers or couples. The rooms are very simple with a single half wall separating the bedroom and the bathroom. Not a lot of privacy if you are shy about showering in front of others. If you enjoy nature, reading a good book on your private patio, and doing a little hiking, then you are going to love it. I was a little hesitant when they didn't provide an internet registration and had to provide my contact information and credit card via fax. However I now realize that it is all about having a personal touch with their customers.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank TRWFND
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Beijing, China
Level Contributor
87 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed May 30, 2011

We went there for a weekend trip. A very nice hotel at a historic location with very good amenities.
The rooms are very nice build in the hotel style, with a view to the great wall.
The wellness and spa area is perfect, just what you need or diserve.
Every "treatment" is associated with a direct view to the wall
We had dinner at the associated Schoolhouse, which was very nice as well. The Brickyard provides free transportation between both location !!
The breakfast is "American" style and very good as well.
All over a very enjoyable stay and we will definetly go back soon.

For those who can not disconnect, they provide free WiFi and free coffee at the caferia.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank RKBeij
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Quebec
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed May 20, 2011

I had a feeling it might be, starting with my first emails to and from the owner's lovely daughter. The Brickyard is an absolutely delightful place -- a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city, fabulous pampering from attentive, genuinely friendly staff, comfortable, welcoming spaces (including our room, with its incredible view of the Great Wall), delicious food, Sunday morning yoga on the outdoor platform ... I could go on and on. My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay and I dream of going back some day.

Room Tip: The deluxe rooms have amazing views.
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  • Stayed April 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank pamire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Beijing
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed April 29, 2011

It's a rare pleasure to stay in a structure so completely of its setting. Like any really fine building, it seems to belong to its place almost as if it had grown from it in an organic way. During our stay I wandered from place to place on the site, and the view was always inviting. You can look through a succession of openings, each framing the view beyond it. There's nothing like that to give one a feeling of free-flowing spaces. We could lie in our bed gazing up at the Great Wall. The food was good, the service gave us the feeling of being pampered, and every detail was a work of art. My partner said she thought Frank Lloyd Wright would approve, and I agree. It's architecture wedded to an engaged lifestyle and a vibrant community.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Persnickety00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stuttgart, Germany
Level Contributor
99 reviews
58 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed April 5, 2011

First of all, ok the location is great and the foreigners that work there really try their best to bring some service attitude and ambiance to this place. There is a free shuttle to the School House, where you can eat *make sure u book well in advance.

Some questions are still open:

- why is there no window blind? Does everybody have to get up at 6am with the rise of the sun?
- why didn't they tell the construction site to wait till 9am at least to start banging next door? Did they assume I am already awake with the rise of the sun?
- why is there no safe in the room? For the cost of the room I think it can be expected.
- why are soft drinks for free and not water?
-Why does the SPA have three rooms for massage but only one therapist who can give massage?

In total I really don't want to be unfair but somehow I personally felt not comfortable there and I will not go back, especially because of the high price, even though the view is stunning...

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Kelingyun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jimatmutianyu, Owner at Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall, responded to this review, April 9, 2011
As an owner of the Brickyard Eco-Retreat I'd like to thank you for your frank assessment and respond to some specific issues raised. The rooms are indeed open to the sky and the wonderful views and were designed to let in ambient light. We offer complimentary eye shades by the bedside for guests who prefer darkness for sleeping later. We've also explained this (and other practices) in our website but clearly we could do a better job of making sure guests are aware ahead of time of what we mean by "the luxury of simplicity." We do offer complimentary rides and pickups anywhere in our surrounding four villages but only subject to availability, first-come first-served, and what we see as reasonable as explained in the FAQ. I'm very sorry that a nearby short-term construction project disturbed you and we will try harder to coordinate with our village neighbors. Our complimentary beverages are intended to include iced water, Chinese mineral water, and fruit juices as well as those you mentioned (but no alcoholic beverages) and your review alerted our management team that this may not have been clearly communicated to the on-site team. The Brickyard Spa opened on Saturday 2 April 2011 and we are growing our team of professional therapists carefully. I'm truly sorry that we were unable to provide you with a treatment when you wished. Wishing you safe and pleasant journeys...
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Additional Information about Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall

Property: Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall
Address: Yingbeigou Village, Beijing 101405, China
Phone Number:
Location: China > Beijing
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1,345 B&Bs / Inns in Beijing
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 33
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Brickyard is a lush and private eco-retreat that incorporates the kilns and other buildings of a traditional glazed tile factory in a design which is "green" from the ground up. The 16 queen rooms all have private terraces and story-and-a-half window walls with spectacular views of the Great Wall. Wireless internet but no TVs. Complimentary breakfast buffet and coffee, soft drinks, and homemade cookies all day the Lodge, where casual meals and bar service are also offered. The Activity Center is fully-equipped for conferences. The Brickyard Spa is set in our four-season garden with lotus pond and yoga platform. Enjoy complimentary use of the Exercise Room and the Outdoor Jacuzzi (available May). Try a Chinese massage or relax in the Spa's Gold Suite with Great Wall view sauna, private bath, treatment room, and courtyard with outdoor shower and cold plunge. ... more   less 
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Brickyard Eco Retreat At Mutianyu Great Wall Hotel Beijing

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