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Nestled in a traditional courtyard home just a few blocks away from the picturesque Houhai lakes, each of the just 12 rooms in Michael’s House (1 Nanyuan, Xiao Xitaizhiqiang Beiyuan,小西天志强北园1号南院, map) is full of colorfully traditional flourishes along with modern amenities. But even more than the quiet atmosphere and boutique style, it’s the warm and helpful staff here that makes it a great choice. Double rooms start at 524 RMB and include breakfast, with both Western and local fare available.
The first internationally operated hotel in Beijing, the Jianguo Hotel (5 Jianguomenwai Dajie, 建国门外大街5号, map) played host to countless diplomats, executives and journalists during the heady days of China’s economic opening-up in the 1980s. While the guest rooms (rates start at 668 RMB) have been recently renovated, you can still have a cocktail in the original sunny, glass-walled cafe or take a stroll in the hotel’s lush gardens.
For location, it’s hard to beat Orchid Hotel (from 900 RMB, 65 Baochao Hutong, 宝钞胡同65号, map), nestled in the heart of the historic Gulou neighborhood, on a street that has recently seen an explosion of trendy bars and cafes. The clean, minimalist décor provides a sharp contrast from the hectic, noisy pace of life in the busy hutongoutside, and the restaurant’s fabled brunch is the best way to start a busy day of sightseeing…or else guarantee a late start!
A convenient budget-travelers’ choice, Sanlitun Youth Hostel (1 Chunxiu Lu, 春秀路1号, map) is situated between two of the city’s main subway lines…as well as just minutes away from the two epicenters of Beijing nightlife: Gongti and Sanlitun Bar Street. The staff, mainly local students or recent graduates, are eager to help or just simply have a chat. Adventurous eaters who have had their fill of local Beijing cuisine will be happy to find two restaurants around the corner serving dishes from Hunan and Sichuan, the two provinces famous for fiery hot spices. Bunks in an eight-person room are 130 RMB; private rooms start at 435 RMB.
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