Accommodations and Dining

Accommodations

Travelers to Beijing will find a wide range of accommodations to suit all tastes and budgets. They vary in quality and amenities from five star western chains and Chinese brand hotels, to resorts, historic guest houses, bed and breakfasts, and more modest hotels and hostels. Visitors will find a complete range of choices from brand new to centuries old, friendly, clean and comfortable to shabby and less than pristine.

Hotels

For travelers seeking four or five star accommodations, the top choices are the joint-venture (Chinese and Western) brand name hotels of well-known Western chains. These hotels have management and staff with Western training and the standards approach those of their equivalents elsewhere. The Park Hyatt Beijing at the top of the Yintai Office Tower has panoramic views across the city. The Ritz Carlton and the Marriott Hotel are also in the Central Business District on Xi Da Wang Lu. Raffles Beijing Hotel is on East Chang An Avenue. The Mandarin Oriental is in the avant-garde architectural masterpiece of the CCTV Tower.

Next in terms of quality are the wholly Chinese-owned and managed hotels which list themselves at the four and five star level. The best choices are the newest hotels in this group, as standards and amenities are not always maintained at the same level over time. Hotels in this category include: the Yuyang Hotel Beijing next to the Liangma River in downtown Beijing, and the Capital Hotel Beijing in the Wang Fujing shopping area near Tiananmen Square.

Travelers looking for convenience for Beijing International Airport have a choice of several airport hotels with free shuttle services. The Sino-Swiss Hotel (Guodu Dafandian) is a resort-style hotel with a pool. Other options are the budget Air China Hotel (Guohang Binguan) and the three-star Blue Sky Hotel (Lan Tian Dasha).

Chinese star rating system does not coincide with the star ratings that most western tourists are familiar with. Five star ratings are awarded by a central tourist authority with common standards across the country, but hotels with four star ratings or lower are judged by local authorities with varying standards and levels of monitoring by inspectors.

In some hotels visitors may receive unexpected phone calls with a female caller offering “anmo” (massage) and more. Most phones can be unplugged.

In Chinese hotels a biaozhun jian (standard room) has twin beds or a double bed and a private bathroom. Older hotels offer a danren jian (single room) but this often contains a double bed and is cheaper than a standard room. Non-smoking rooms may contain ashtrays.

Most Chinese hotel rooms offer: air-conditioning (central or wall-mounted), a telephone whose line can be used for a laptop, a television (CCTV 9 is the English channel) which sometimes offers a movie channel, bags of green tea and a thermos of boiled water, soap and shampoo.

More and more three star and higher hotels accept foreign credit cards, but travelers should check first. Most hotels that cater to tourists will exchange foreign currency into cash, but some will not accept traveler’s checks. Usually guests need to pay for their stay in advance and pay a yajin (deposit) which is refundable on departure. At time of check out, hotel staff will check the room to make sure everything is there and undamaged before the deposit is returned. A 5% to 15% service charge is added to the room rate by some hotels. Visitors should make sure to keep their receipts as proof of payment to avoid being charged twice. When checking in tourists will need to show their passports and fill in a registration form. It is generally advisable to look at the room before paying and to register for only one night. Visitors can extend their stay the next day if the room meets their requirements. Children 12 and under stay free, and hotels will provide an extra bed for a small charge.

Recently hotel regulations in China have been changed to allow all hotels to accept foreign guests.

Resorts

In the scenic and historic areas surrounding Beijing, with their rolling hills, lakes and forests are a number of resorts and spas offering comfortable accommodations to visitors, together with onsite restaurants, bars, and entertainment facilities. The Yan Oasis Resort and Spa Hotel is on about 15 miles from Beijing Airport, on the outskirts of the city and offers five star accommodations. The three star Yunhu Holiday Resort is located on the Inner Lake Miyun Reservoir 55 miles from the city center. The five star lakeside Nirvana Resort Beijing is in the Dao Xiang Hu Natural Park in the north of Haidian District.

Hostels

Budget travelers wishing to stay near the city center can stay in the Ba Da Hutong, the old Red Lantern District southwest of Qian Men. In this neighborhood of narrow hutongs (alleyways) are many hostels, such as the Far East Youth Hostel, and cheap hotels. One of the best-known of the restored and converted former bordellos is Shanxi Xiang Di’er Binguan at the north end of Shanxi Xiang, which has air conditioning, televisions and private bathrooms. Another grander, but less well-maintained choice near Da Zhalan is Qian Men Changgong Fandian, a 200 year old hotel conversion with a stunningly elaborate interior. The second floor has more comfortable rooms.

Bed and Breakfasts

Bed and Breakfasts and guest houses offer a more personalized form of accommodations. Visitors wishing to stay in a historic courtyard lodging could look at the Bamboo Garden Hotel in Xiaxoshiqiao Hutong and Lu Song Yuan Hotel in Banchang Hutong, both in the picturesque Hou Hai Lake area, north of the Forbidden City. Zhongtang Guesthouse Beijing is a Qing Dynasty-era courtyard guesthouse near Behai Park and the Forbidden City.

During the Olympics families were permitted to open their homes for homestays allowing visitors the rare experience of staying in a Chinese home.