I stayed at the Red Wall Garden Hotel during a recent trip to Beijing.
Would I stay at this hotel again? The answer is an unquestionable yes. To truly experience Beijing you must do so by staying in the Hutongs where people still live, work, and play in the streets themselves. Isolating yourself in one of Beijing’s five-star towers like the nearby Park Plaza will not afford you with the rare opportunity to see how daily life in Beijing once was and continues to unfold. HOWEVER this recommendation does come with some caveats. Do not come to the Red Wall expecting a five star hotel, while the cost of this hotel was not an issue for me I have stayed at poorer hotels (especially in North America) for far greater sums of money for the price the Red Wall is a very good hotel but not five star. If 5 Star is what you are expecting you will disappointed. But if you are the kind of traveler who likes to really experience local culture (without compromising the need for comfort) the Red Wall is definitely the place for you.
The pluses are many: the staff are efficient, very friendly and very accommodating (good customer service is something that I have found very rare in China and thus should be cherished and encouraged). My room while small was very comfortable and very well appointed. The location was tranquil and I very much enjoyed sitting in the courtyard drinking a beer while listening to the birds, water and the steady hum of the conversations around me. While others on this post have complained about noise infiltration from late-night activities in the courtyard area I did not find this to be the case (and I had a ground level room facing the courtyard). The heavy curtains were more than adequate to muffle any late night revelry. The hotel’s location is excellent. Line 5 of the Beijing Subway is located no more than a city block away. Subways in Beijing are very easy to use and inexpensive so for 2 yuan you can be at the Forbidden City/Tian’ammin Square or the Wanfujing shopping district in a matter of minutes.
Now to the minuses: firstly the Hutong on which the hotel is located is very difficult to find (and not convenient to the subway) this is especially true if you arrive at night or take the wrong subway exit (take exit C). I would strongly recommend that if you are planning to first arrive via the train/subway system (as I did) or even by taxi (regardless of your facility with Mandarin) that you co-ordinate your first arrival to coincide with the daylight hours. Even taxis get lost at night; late one evening I returned to the hotel in a taxi helped by a friend semi-fluent in Mandarin and we ended up having to give the driver directions to the hotel. The Hutongs in Beijing are maze-like and are generally poorly signed so depending on your direction of travel you may never see a street sign. The numbering system is irregular, not all buildings within a Hutong are numbered and even if numbered the numbers are unlit and quite small (usually red and white in colour) which makes them very hard to see at night. The hotel itself is very difficult to miss being well lit and well signed but to get there you must first ensure that you are one, on the right Hutong and two, heading in the correct direction. Once you are confident with your surroundings the hotel’s location will no longer be an issue. However I can envision that people arriving at night with lots of luggage or kids may find locating the hotel stressful and difficult. My advice to the hotel (and Trip Advisor) is to provide far better directions on their websites than are currently there as not every guest will arrive via the airport (I arrived in Beijing via high speed train).
While noise infiltration from the courtyard was not an issue noise infiltration from the adjacent rooms especially the room above was an issue. The floors and walls are poorly insulated so conversations, footfalls, and the sound of running and draining water can be very clearly heard through the walls and especially the floor. If possible request a room on the second floor then you will only have to deal with noise from the two sides and not from above.
The hotel’s restaurant should be given a miss. While the food is not poor it is at best unremarkable and quite expensive by Beijing standards. There are far better far less expensive options within the Hutongs themselves or on the adjacent thoroughfares (Dongsi in particular) to waste your money on mediocre food.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Red Wall Garden Hotel is a cultural oasis of tranquillity in the very heart of the vibrant city of Beijing. It is located in Shijia Hutong, one of the city's most historic neighbourhoods and is within walking distance of the Forbidden City and the famous shopping and food streets of Wangfujing and Jinbao in DongCheng. A traditional Chinese courtyard hotel invoking the past, yet replete with modern facilities. All 40 individually appointed guest rooms feature ultra-luxury DUX beds, wooden flooring, en-suite bathrooms and amenities such as large flat screen TV, complimentary WI-FI throughout the hotel and private in-room bar. All rooms have air-conditioning & heaters. Located within the central courtyard of the award-winning Red Wall Garden Hotel, The Courtyard Bistro serves great value dishes that are inspired by the eight main culinary areas in China. The Courtyard Bistro also features open stage cultural entertainment nights as well as indoor and outdoor noodle stations and daily special chalkboards to further enhance the guests' dining experiences. The Lounge Bar invites guests to kick back in an armchair with a drink, a snack and a book. The Courtyard Bistro's full service bar serves up classic and specialty cocktails as well as traditional afternoon tea and features an excellent selection of wines, beers and other alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. Situated just off the west lounge of the hotel, The Courtyard Bistro Tea House offers daily tea ceremonies where the in-house tea master guides patrons through Chinese tea history that looks back on over 4000 years of tea excellence. The private dining and event rooms at The Red Wall Garden Hotel can accommodate up to 200 people for meetings, weddings or events. The tailor-made menus offer an array of traditional Chinese cuisine to suit either a formal or an informal meeting, wedding or event. The "Red Wall Garden Boutique Hotel Experience" emotionally connects our guests with the intense historical, cultural and artistic life of authentic and historic Beijing. ... more less
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