While in China, we stayed in 3 different places: there was a 4-star hotel, a hostel and a typical hutong. Which one did we like best? What were the pros and cons of each?
Since the little traveler joined our team, our priorities and requirements for accommodations have changed. Hostels with multi-bedded rooms are out, we absolutely must have a bathroom in the room, we need a piece of the floor so that there is room for dancing, hooting and frolicking, location not far from the metro, cleanliness and warmth I don’t think I need to mention? Oh, and, well, we didn’t want to spend a fortune on accommodation ;) Sound like a pipe dream? A little, yes, but sometimes you just have to compromise.
We stayed overnight in three completely different places: two nights in Beijing and one night in Xi’an (there will be another time about the overnight stay on the train) – they differed in standard, price, size, facilities…. almost everything. We spent at least two nights in each, so any shortcomings are not a coincidence ;)
Then what? Shall we get started?
Table of contents
Overnight at a hotel in China
Hotel “Park Plaza Beijing Science Park” in Beijing (you can book here) – a typical hotel moloch, chain, Western-style. Why did we choose to stay in such a place? It was the beginning of our trip, we were a little afraid of jet lag, acclimatization and local food so we decided to spend the night in a place that held some standards.
We had a spacious room, a kettle with coffee/tea, a bathroom with a bathtub, a TV, but it was also important that it was clean, we could get along in English, and we had a subway station right under our noses. The hotel was handicapped-accessible, so we were able to move around with a stroller without any problems (which is not so obvious in other hotels).
However, there is something that makes this hotel above the others: breakfast :) In the others it was not even possible to buy it, and here we had a large restaurant with children’s chairs and a full variety of food. To choose from, to color: European cuisine, Chinese, Indian, sweets, something for children. It really was tasty!
It was a great opportunity to learn about Chinese cuisine (something we won’t eat in a Polish Chinese restaurant), because at least every dish, every ingredient was described in English. Moreover, in addition to the traditional omelets, Chinese noodles and dumplings in soup were made on request. The days were not enough for us to try everything :)
Time for the downside. Exactly it is one, or maybe one and a half. One is certainly the price, which may be too high for some. A half … For lack of atmosphere :) As we wrote, a typical Western hotel and we missed any Chinese touches (aside from breakfast, of course).
+ high standard guaranteed
+ clean and warm
+ large and tasty breakfast
+ good location: close to metro station
– price (from 250 zł)
Overnight stay in a hutong in China
Hutong “Happy Dragon Courtyard Hostel Dongsishitiao” in Beijing(you can book here) – We also wanted to see what other accommodation options in Beijing were like and ended up in a typical Chinese hutong. They were old, single-story buildings with a courtyard in the middle, converted into a hostel.
The stairs (or, more accurately, thresholds) began at the very beginning – believe us, carrying a stroller from 20 times a day over 15-centimeter thresholds can be annoying (such thresholds are also found in temples and palaces). Later it turned out that they can be dismantled, it’s just a shame that no one helped us earlier.
Anyway… Behind the threshold work very nice and smiling people. They provided help, advice, organized excursions, stored a large backpack for us for several days without any problems. They spoke English (!!!). And with this courtesy they make up a little for the shortcomings of the hostel.
Although we highly doubt that we should complain at all. We wanted to spend the night more atmospherically, in traditional buildings, so these were the conditions we got ;) The comments on the booking site were quite good, no one mentioned (or we didn’t read) that it was cold, there were large cracks in the doors, fungus in the bathrooms, and you can forget about the cleaning service.
It was also cramped – after placing two backpacks, there was enough space left to walk to the bathroom. We had hoped for common rooms where we could sit and “socialize,” but they were so strewn that it was scary to go in. Well, we’re just not the kind of people who travel from hostel to hostel just to sleep, regardless of the conditions. We also don’t have a comparison to other facilities of this type (hutong), maybe it’s worse in others? In any case, for us it was the worst night (although it did have some of that vibe).
+ price (from 130 zł)
+ location – the very center, although you have to walk a piece to the subway station
– dirty (no cleaning service)
– old, damaged furniture
– Dirty walls, broken tap in the bathroom, dampness
Overnight in a hostel in China
The “Travelling With Hostel (Xi’an Railway Station) An Yuan Men Metro Station” hostel in Xi’an(you can book here) – ostensibly a “Railway Station Hostel”, but almost 30 minutes away from the station on foot.
The hostel is located in a skyscraper – one floor is dedicated to the hostel (the other floors have offices, other accommodations and apartments). But in spite of this, there is a real family atmosphere here – there is a separate place where breakfast is served, you can have coffee with a view of the city…. and the view we had was of the city walls:
Very interestingly arranged space, modern design is mixed with traditional elements (in the rooms there are vases, paintings etc). It is clean, although there is no cleaning service.
This hostel organizes walking and bus tours. We really liked the small hanging cards with important places in the area, and a description of how to get to them. Very ingenious and useful!
The place is quiet and peaceful – even though there was full occupancy, we did not hear other guests. They offer both private rooms (where we had mega space for Olive’s hooting) and dorm rooms.
+ good value for money (prices starting from zł 87)
+ clean, neat and warm
+ nicely arranged common areas
+ helpful, knowledgeable j. English language staff
– Location (ok, we checked where the hotel was before booking, but according to the information, the road should take less time)
We are not going to choose one best accommodation and write you to go to X and stay away from Y. We know that everyone travels differently and what is important is different.
We were able to see what different options are available. We wanted a night in the hutong, we were very much looking forward to it – we expected a neat, atmospheric place, with a nicely arranged courtyard, lanterns, and in fact it was dirty, cold and not very attractive.
We liked the first hotel – it was a good option to start with. Now we would look for a hostel in Beijing similar to the one we had in Xi’an.
What are your experiences with accommodation in China? Let us know in the comments! :)