I am torn with what to rate this hotel. The staff, as previously mentioned, are very helpful and the shining redeemers. The room itself was average. The location, however, was very eye-opening and not very pleasant. I think if you are an adventurous traveler that likes to be with "the local people", then this hotel might be a better fit for you. I found the walk to/from the main roads into the hutong area where the hotel is located to be the worst part of this hotel, as I will discuss below. The hutong area was bad enough that I can't give this hotel more than 2 stars, one of them strictly being for the staff.
First, the hotel can arrange for a taxi pick-up from the airport for 120RMB. Definitely take them up on this offer. They do not provide this rate for the ride back to the airport. We hired a taxi with a meter running and it was over 180RMB, due to the endless traffic in Beijing. It is about a 40 min - 1 hr ride, depending on traffic. When you approach Mao's Memorial Hall and Tiananmen Square, you are about 5-10 minutes away.
The hotel staff, mostly women, will greet you and the front desk girls speak decent English. I found the front desk to be really nice and helpful. When I wanted to go to restaurants, they would write down various dishes for me in Chinese that I could show the restaurants. They recommended the National Grand Theatre nearby as a good place to run, and that was a fabulous recommendation. It is not crowded, about a 5-10 minute walk, and flat/circular path way. I was pleased most with that recommendation, as I would never have figured that out myself.
They provide you with breakfast daily, and you can point and choose from a small selection of Western + Chinese dishes. Boiled eggs, toast, dumplings, fried dough sticks, steamed dumplings, coffee, tea. I ordered the fried dough sticks and it was completely oily, the steamed dumplings "steamed" in the microwave. I stuck to boiled eggs + toast after seeing that. It really is not much and disappointing, but enough to get you through the morning.
The courtyard is small, but I admit it is nice and surprisingly quiet. The room is decorated with Chinese furnishings and details, including a large mask with a very long, hairy beard (I assume to scare away bad spirits). The bed is a large wooden Chinese bed with a thin, hard mattress. I was so exhausted from sightseeing that it didn't bother me too much. There is a table with 2 wooden chairs and a cabinet. The bathroom has a shower stall, sink, western toilet. The room is dim. There is an old tube TV with only Chinese channels. CCTV had 1 English news channel. There is free Internet connection, not wifi. That was a saving grace as well, as it was our only connection out to the world. The front desk does have some adapters if you need it. Overall, the room was adequate but felt really dusty. I wasn't sure how long it had been since someone had stayed in that room, honestly.
The front desk has offers for trips to various places, such as the Great Wall, but the prices are ridiculously expensive and I would not go with them. Research on the internet or go to other travel tours to get your tours in. Perhaps try negotiating with the front desk if you would rather use the services the hotel provides.
Now, the hotel is located within walking distance to Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and 2 metro stations on Line 2 - the Hepingmen station to the west and the Qianmen station to the east. The Qianmen station is much closer. The metro is so convenient and cheap to travel through Beijing (usu about 2RMB per ride for a tourist staying in the main parts of Beijing). The buses are 1RMB, but a bit more difficult to navigate and much slower. It seems like the metro has continuously expanded and improved, as a lot of metro maps online are already outdated.
I'd also like to mention that China in general is very stingy about distributing maps, so good luck finding a free map. Either rely on your guide book or buy maps. The hotel only provides you with a hand-drawn map of the immediate area, mainly to show you how to get in/out of the hutong area.
Now, the hutong area you HAVE to walk past to get to any of the attractions or train stations. It is about a 5-10 minute walk, depending on how quickly you want to walk through the hutong area. I am going to be honest here, and I hope I do not offend anyone. I am simply stating what I saw with my own eyes, and not a slandering observation of Chinese people. Anyway, I don't see the "attraction" in staying in a hutong area. I wanted to stay at an older, traditional setting for a hotel, but I was not expecting it to be in such a dirty hutong area.
There are 3 main paths that you take to leave the hutong. Path #1 leads you west towards the Hepingmen station. This is the longest path, and the one that leads to the famous duck restaurant chain, Quan Jude. I only took this path once and don't remember too much about it, besides it taking the longest. Path #2 is east towards the Qianmen station. This path is down a narrow alley that 2 people cannot cross paths simultaneously. You walk right outside of people's bedroom doors, which was uncomfortable for me. I also didn't take this path more than twice. It was probably the shortest, but also led you through more private areas.
Path #3 is the one I took the most, which also leads you out to Qianmen Station. It is the easiest and the widest walkway. However, this one has you passing 2 public toilets that are very smelly on hot summer days. I was ok with it, but my partner would hold his breath throughout this walk. The people in the hutong do not clean up after their dogs. You will see dog droppings throughout your walk, in addition to random, loose dogs. I am not sure if they are pets or not, but I was weary of them coming near me (and I am a dog owner/lover). There is always numerous piles of garbage, old, rotting food, and various unsightly items. The babies do not wear diapers, but pants with slits in the seat area. They relieve themselves out in the open on the streets, as you walk by. Spitting and nose-picking are common in China, which will also be occurring all around you in the hutong area. You will get stared at by the locals sitting outside of their living quarters, as it is evident by your skin color, clothing, shoes, bag, mannerisms, language, everything - that you are a foreigner. I never felt unsafe by any means; if anything, the exact opposite. Crime feels/seems nonexistent in China. However, just be aware that locals will curiously look on.
So, that's the absolute worst part about this hotel. It made it difficult for me to go in and out leisurely from the hotel, as it was really uncomfortable for me. I would not recommend staying in this hotel to my friends and family, unfortunately. I would only recommend it to a traveler that would like something different and to feel like he/she had a chance to experience local, poor living for him/herself. I think if I knew that this was the only type of accommodations available, then I could adjust my expectations accordingly. However, knowing there were many cleaner, comfortable places in Beijing made it more difficult to accept. Stick with places that give you the ease of being able to leave and come back at your leisure as a tourist. I understand it is not the fault of the hotel for the state of the hutong surrounding it, but it was a huge detractor for me.
Lastly, there are not many places to eat around this hotel. Sure, you are close to Forbidden City + Tian Square, but after you visit once, then what? There is that duck restaurant and a bakery near Hepingmen station, and a KFC and a bad ramen place by Qianmen station, but that is about it. The hole-in-the-walls were intimidating, esp since we didn't speak Chinese. We took the metro to Wangfujing for street food, to Sanlitun for good expat food (pricey for Beijing, but still decent for foreigners), and to Chaoyang for dimsum. These were all very convenient, no longer than a 15-20 minute subway ride.
I still enjoyed Beijing very much and highly recommend a trip to the Mutianye or Simatai sections of the Great Wall. Lei Garden had great dimsum (in Chaoyang area), and Blue Frog is a Western food restaurant chain in The Village in Sanlitun. It's a bar & grill based out of Shanghai, but it's very classy and fun in Sanlitun. It was not so easy finding cheap DVDs, but there is a store across from the Village in Sanlitun.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The autumn garden hotel, at the center of Beijing, boasts its convenient transportation for it is only 5 minutes’ walk to the Tian’anmen Square, the Dazhalan culture street and the street famous for its glaze workshops. Besides the royal fitment, classic furniture, ornaments of various Chinese traditional craftworks and a full set of articles and equipments in the guest rooms, it also provides a dining-room, a bar, a cyber cafe, and a business center. In order to provide its guests with a good chance to better appreciate the different hutong styles at different city zones, our hotel would like to offer the special services as follows: 1. the guests can live both in the south garden in the autumn end and the spring garden in the west end during their stay in our hotel. And we will pick them up free of charge between our two gardens. 2. To facilitate the guests to better experience the traditional cultures of the Beijingers, we offer the following services: 1. free to taste the Chinese dumplings. 2. free to try on the Opera costumes and take photos 3. Chinese Mahjong lesson. 4. Chinese calligraphy lesson. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Courtyard Autumn Garden
- Beijing Courtyard