The hutongs of Beijing are where one goes to experience the true soul of this ancient city. These 700-year-old neighbourhoods are known for their narrow alleyways lined by traditional courtyard residences.
(Image credit: Aman at Summer Palace)
Stepping into one of these alleys is like stepping back in time and many of these buildings are still alive with evocative remnants from the past. Afterall, these are architectural masterpieces dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Today, its winding lanes bustle with a variety of trendy cafés, shops, and restaurants, designed to attract locals and tourists alike.
To explore its many hidden delights intimately, check in to one of these hotels. These establishments were once the homes of noblemen and have been refurbished into beautiful hotels that place you right where you need to be — in the heart of the hutongs.
This modest little guesthouse sits in a quiet street. While it may not be grandiose, it more than makes up for it with its charming vibe, attractive pricing and a convenient location. It’s a short walking distance to a metro station –putting the city’s landmarks to just 15-20 minutes away. The inn has seven air-conditioned, comfortable, rooms that cater to single travellers and families alike.
Address: 8 An Ping Alley, Zhaodeng Yu Road, Beijing
The Orchid Hotel
(Image credit: The Orchid Hotel)
This hip retreat is the perfect base for the avid traveller. Expect ten well-appointed rooms around the small cobbled courtyard with narrow wooden stairs leading up to the different levels. The units here sport large windows, tiny private gardens, under-floor heating and luxurious goose-down quilts. The rooftop terrace offers amazing views of the nearby Bell and Drum Towers, as well as a lovely spot to enjoy evening drinks.
There’s no denying of the grandeur of this boutique hotel. Situated within easy distance of the city’s main attractions, this retreat enchants with the richness of its traditional Chinese architecture and art collection –evident in its exquisitely preserved ornate red panelling, wooden beams and an abundance of antiques scattered throughout the premise. It’s also within easy reach of major tourist attractions like the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Beijing Drum Tower.
Address: 20 Qinlao Hutong (North Gate)/ 7 Beibingmasi Hutong (South Gate), Dongcheng District, Beijing