Red Wall Garden Boutique Hotel - Beijing
Hutongs, traditional old narrow alleys stacked with rickety single story courtyard houses, oozing charm from the yesteryears of mid-20th century China. Once in abundance across the city of Beijing, now sadly in steady decline due to modernization and the need for non-existing space in an ever expanding China.
On my most recent trip to Beijing, I was excited about visiting this fascinating city again. This time I was to stay within one of the few surviving hutongs still so rich in preservation of the Chinese cultural history and traditional life.
Squeezing through the narrow roads of Shijia Hutong, one of the more picturesque and well preserved hutongs, I take in my surrounds. Rusty bicycles lean on stone walls, the smells of freshly cooked dim sum floats on the cool night air. Softly lit lanterns flitter in the alleyways. Creased faces of elders are illuminated by the red glow of their cigarettes.
Small restaurants bustle with locals, tea houses hidden behind creaky wooden doors. Rickshaws squeak down the street. Life looks simple but rich.
Walking through the gates of my hotel, serenity washes over. The horns and engines of a fast paced Beijing fade and tranquillity takes hold as I enter a traditional Chinese courtyard. Oozing with old worldly charm, I feel myself entering a different world far away. Chinese architecture looms overhead, and everything my eyes rest upon fascinates me.
Invoking the past with a gleam of modern facilities, the unique blend of Asian aesthetics and modern take interweave seamlessly. Ancient blue and white intricately hand painted tea pots sit next to large flat screen TV’s without looking out of place. Polished wooden floors support rustic curled ancient dressers. Old school phones are perched elegantly under ornate lampshades.
Everything is beautiful. Traditional. Rich.
Floor to ceiling glass windows overlook a quaint courtyard, the centre piece of the hotel, illuminated with the soft glow of lanterns. A restored rickshaw is parked in the corner and blossom trees sway in the breeze.
Aromas hover in the night air. The restaurant beacons. Creatively interpreted street food makes the taste buds explode as live traditional music chimes away in the background. The collection of restored antique artefacts make the senses run wild and automatically create a wish list in your mind as a Chinese masseuse glides past almost silently, tempting you to take up their offer of an evening massage.
Now that you have eaten in the restaurant and had your taste buds spoiled for choice, it is time to discover your surrounds. This gem is located in the Dongcheng District of Beijing, only minutes walk to the famous shopping streets of Wangfujing & Jinbao and a stones throw to the Forbidden City. If you are a foodie and seek local fare, this is the area to discover specialities such as the famous Donkey meat baked wheat cake.
Sijiminfu Restaurant – Peking Duck: Traditional Chinese style restaurant. Serves an excellent roast duck. Very authentic restaurant and inexpensive.
Temple Restaurant: Classical European cuisine within the walls of a 600-year-old temple complex.
Lost Heaven Restaurant: Tribal-style dishes from Yunnan Province. Exotic and beautiful restaurant decoration.
Da Dong – Peking Duck Restaurant: Highly recommended and close to the hotel and Wangfujing shopping street.
Dali Courtyard Restaurant: “No choice restaurant” - The chef prepares what is available. Not really suitable for kids or picky eaters, but a favourite within locals and adventurous visitors.
The Brick Yard: Organic restaurant close to the entry point to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Casual place great for a bite, massage and a drink after exploring the Wall.
The Red Wall Garden Hotel Boutique Experience emotionally connects guests with the intense historical, cultural and artistic life of authentic and historic Beijing.
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