Tian Yuan Kui is not perfect, but I keep bringing guests here. This visit, I made more effort to check out some of the alternatives, and still feel that this is the best option.
This is a small hotel, not a hostel. The big draws are the charm of the courtyards, the comfortable restaurant area, and the location in the heart of the old town. The staff also speak English and can be quite helpful, though I find the service a bit uneven.
I find the courtyards very charming. They have been decorated with baskets, statues, chilies and so on, to nice effect, and the warren of courtyards itself is interesting. I always like to sit in the courtyards and have tea or wine with friends. I also think this is as much a part of the Pingyao experience as visiting the sites or shops.
The rooms have a bit of traditional character, but are quite spartan and a bit dark. This seems to be the norm for Pingyao in this price-range, however. I find the beds soft enough, but they are fairly firm. There is plenty of hot water, and the internet connections work.
The hotel was built early in the development of Pingyao as a tourist destination, and the showers are just in the bathrooms without a separate stall, though shower curtains have been added in some rooms. Fortunately, the bathrooms tend to be large enough that this isn't too much of a problem.
For the most part, the rooms are clean and in good condition, but in my room the sink stand was damaged by water from the shower and some paint was coming off of the walls. Nothing too serious, but I do wish they would add some lighting, and maybe offer some amenities like hair dryers and a free bottle of water.
Of the competition, Yide stands out. It has very nice courtyards in an old mansion--grander than Tian Yuan Kui. The restaurant is decorated a bit more classic and traditional style, while Tian Yuan Kui's is more colorful. The guest rooms are quite similar and the staff at both seem good. Yide looks like a great choice, but it is located more on the edge of the old town. As a result, I prefer Tian Yuan Kuai, because you can step outside and the shops are right there, and also you can head out and explore different directions without adding extra walking time. Pingyao is not huge, but I still like to be based closer to the middle.
Dejude is another top choice in Pingyao. It has a nice courtyard, but doesn't really compare to the others mentioned above. The restaurant has a better menu than Tian Yuan Kuai, and is a pleasant place to eat. I would not want to stay in a guest room that opens into the court with the restaurant, however. It is a bit closer to the center of things than Yide but a bit further than Tian Yuan Kuai. I also think it is less charming than the others.
None of the other places that I explored really stood out. There are higher-end and lower-end choices that may be well worth considering.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Any trip to Pingyao should include a visit to the Ri Shengchang Money Exchange Museum and a stay at the Tian Yuan Kui Guesthouse. The Tian Yuan Kui Guesthouse, which is in the heart of the old city, was built in 1791. During the Jin & Shang Dynasties it was a prominent area enjoying an economic boom, and it is popular again today. On entering the Tian Yuan Kui Guesthouse you will be swept back in time. The classic architecture, courtyards, stone lion carvings, Ming & Qing style furniture, red lanterns and fragrant tea by candlelight, all adding to the memorable experience. At the same time, modern facilities, such as colour TV, air conditioning and clean, tidy washrooms with western-style toilets, are provided. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Tian Yuan Kui Hotel Pingyao County