In 1982, the first joint-venture hotel opened in Beijing. In 2008, there were more than 130 3-star and upper range hotels in Beijing. Now, almost all the world class hotel groups have their projects in leading brands here in Beijing, or they will enter this market in the coming 3 years. When I was thinking about what to write for our Alumni blog, I got an idea to visit those hosts or inns with traditional Beijing characteristic, to see what their difference is from the tremendous change in the industry. Last weekend I visited one of the Beijing Hutong Inn’s courtyards.
“Hutong” are types of narrow streets and tiny lanes, formed by the lines of courtyards. It was the lowest level of administrative geographical divisions in ancient China. From the mid-20th century, the numbers of hutong in Beijing dropped dramatically as they were demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. Fortunately, at the turn of 20th century, some hutong were designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese culture and history. Now the hutong have become one of Beijing’s historic and scenic attractions.
This Hutong Inn Courtyard is located in the very heart of downtown Beijing, but it is quite hidden from the main street. The Tiananmen Square and famous Forbidden Imperial Palace are within walking distance. I have seldom been to any hutong or courtyards over the past 20 years, so I was a little surprised by the authentic oriental ancient architecture, red lanterns, songbirds in cages, old pictures of Beijing, and the graceful surroundings. All of this gave me a refreshing feeling. The manager invited me for coffee, we talked for a while and he told me to feel free to look around and take photos.
They have a total of 12 rooms with double or twin beds, equipped with air-conditioning, TV, private bathrooms, Wifi, and 24-hour hot water. The breakfast and laundry service are offered too. Normally the rooms are fully booked or occupied, except in winter time. Most of their guests are coming from overseas, reserving by e-booking. There are also some from domestic China. Compare with those conventional hotels, airport hotels, and leisure or resort hotels, the Hutong Inn Courtyard, from my point of view, is an ideal place for foreign individual travelers to stay to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the classical Beijing culture through a nice authentic experience. However, if you chose to stay in a courtyard inn, you have to be prepared to give up the 4 or 5 star hotel’s luxuries, the same as in other countries. Finally, according to my opinion for hotel marketing strategy, the Beijing Hutong Inn Courtyard may be positioned as a “Theme Inn”.
Would you stay at a hotel like the Hutong Inn Courtyard if you have an opportunity to visit Beijing? I am not sure whether I should recommend it to you, it really depends on your idea, but I believe your trip to Beijing would be a fantastic one.