Need help selecting a hotel in Beijing

Jun 17th, 2010, 05:40 AM
  #1  
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Need help selecting a hotel in Beijing

I am a single female traveling to Beijing this August. Though I will probably be with a sports group for the minority of the trip, however there are a few days at the beginning and the end of the trip where I will be on my own. I tried looking up hotels for the latter part of my visit, but when I try to get a map location, they all appear around the same place, the forbidden city. I can't imagine that ALL of these hotels would be in the same place.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I am looking for a higher rated hotel (about 4 stars in American standards) that is still affordable (no more than $150 a night) in a location where I can walk or easily obtain a taxi or safe and reliable public transportation to must see sights in the City.

If there's any ideas on things to do or see as well, that would be appreciated. I have already reserved a trip through the China Cultural Center for a guided tour to the Great Wall and the Sacred Walk and some tomb thing. Also, I like to pick up items as gifts that are a little nicer then the typical cheap tourist trap items. So if you have any hidden jem places you can recommended as well, that would be great.

Thanks again,
Jenelle
jello1369 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 06:40 AM
  #2  
 
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The Beijing International is a nice hotel in an excellent location (long walk/short cab ride to Tianeman, Forbidden City), a block from the Ancient Observatory and close to the City Wall museum (Marriott City Wall is also close; silk market about 5 blocks away). It is across the street (pedestrian underpass) from a new shopping mall (with fast food outlets both American and Chinese), and the metro is close (also the train station). The front staff are multilingual (except Russian, but the concierge was doing his best to help), and the sample price on Orbitz for July was $61. (Frankly, $150 seems very very expensive) Non-stop taxi service right out the front door, but of course the public transport will be safe and reliable. http://www.bih.com.cn/enviews/
sylvia3 is online now  
Jun 17th, 2010, 06:55 AM
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BTW, on the south side of Tianamen, just south of the old city gate (look for the fountain), is a new pedestrian shopping street, several blocks long, with lots of high-end international brand shopping (I think legit, from the logos on the stores) and what appears to be nicer Chinese goods (tea shops, porcelain, etc., though I doubt they are any better than the small shops that sell the same stuff for a fraction of the price). However, the best part is that less than a block west, parallel to the main new street, are tons of the little shops and restaurants (even 10 kuai stores!) And, if you head down (south) the main new street, I think it's after a couple of short "blocks," the side street heading west is a treasure trove of Art Nouveau and Deco facades, many with historical markers. The street is very narrow, but look upward on either side to see some beautiful architectural decor!
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Jun 17th, 2010, 10:06 AM
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Sylvia, what is BTW?
MSheinberg is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 10:26 AM
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Any guide book will introduce a wide range of hotels across the city, as well as introduce key sights and shopping. It's just a matter of doing a little reading.

In general, if you are determined to get four-star service (or as close to it as can be obtained in Beijing), then you need to chose a familiar foreign brand or one of the luxury Asia names from Hong Kong or Singapore. The cheapest prices for these properties will almost always be found on their own websites, and most of them guarantee this in writing.

Three you might want to consider would be the Park Plaza, and the Doubletree by Hilton Beijing, and Traders Upper East. The first has the extra merit of being both central and directly next to a metro station, the single most important factor if you hope to get around the city quickly. The Doubletree is sufficiently good to overcome its less ideal location, although reaching sites on the northwest, west, and southwest sides of the city is easy. The Traders is Shangri-La-run, usually very good value for money, and easy to reach from the airport on northeast side, although again off the metro system, but easy ring road access gets you around the perimeter of the city easily and the nearest metro is 20 mins on foot or a short taxi ride away.

More interestingly you might like to look at 'boutique' hotels such as the (Hong Kong-run) Hotel G.

If you are willing to consider Chinese-run hotels then you can pay rather less if you shop wisely, but will be asked for the same amounts as foreign-run hotels (without receiving the same quality) if you don't. You need to avoid the tired and long-established names such as the Beijing Hotel, Beijing International Hotel, or Capital Hotel, and look for newer, recently-opened properties. You can browse the pages of Ctrip and eLong, although you should not believe what is written there, to see what are given as the official rates. The massive discounts they show simply reflect what anyone can pay (or beat) who walks up and bargains, and these prices should be your guide to normality, not treated as special or exceptional.

If you're going to stay in a Chinese-run property then why not consider something that has some flavour of the locality, such as a refurbished or rebuilt courtyard house or mansion? There are dozens of these courtyard hotel properties now, offering every comfort while at least if not genuinely Chinese then not leaving you wondering which country you are in when you wake up. Consider the Sihe Courtyard Hotel, Jihouse, etc. Use the search box to find other posts on this subject. Again, published prices should be regarded as up to 70% more than what actually has to be paid for much of the year. Overseas hotel booking sites and usually the hotels' own sites, should be avoided.

In passing, the China Cultural Centre's tours are wildly overpriced, and you could do the same thing by private taxi, often for less, while being spared the guides inaccuracies ('can be seen from the Moon!') You can take a similar bus tour from the southwest corner of Tian'an Men for a fraction of this price. If there's any stop at a cloisonné or silk factory or any other shopping, do NOT shop (unless money's no object).

The 'new pedestrian shopping street' mentioned above is a recent vile reconstruction of what was until very recently an historic shopping area, Qian Men Dajie, still partly under the wreckers' ball. Its historic shops have been pulled down and replaced by utterly ersatz frontages, handily sporting black-and-white images of the originals to show just how little authenticity has been brought to the rebuilds. The buildings now sport principally foreign brand names, the original retailers largely driven away, and this is a sort of Disneyfied Beijing--a big hit with Chinese tour groups, and greatly regretted by the conservationists who campaigned against the destruction, not to mention all those driven out from existing homes and businesses. For more on campaigns to save Beijing's hutong, see www.bjchp.org. The whole Qian Men area south to Zhushikou where a highway has been smashed east-west, is a complete disaster.

On the west side along what was once separate Zhubao Shi Jie one or two century-old originals have survived, as well as round the corner into well-known Dazhalan (Dashilanr) Jie, which at its western end also sports Beijing's oldest cinema just before a road-widening scheme has taken out another clump of historic buildings. A traditional shoe shop and tea shop also survive on Dazhalan Jie. Unfortunately many other frontages and historic stores in linking streets are being torn down at this very moment, so overall the attraction of the area, always one of high tourist traffic, is in decline. It's history as a retail area dates back to the expulsion of Chinese from the northern part of the city by the Manchu Qing in 1646, and its name refers to big gates that once stood at the end of the street. It was a major red-light district right into the 20th century, and latterly one of the few to have two-storey buildings most of which were brothels, and at least three of which are now rather curious hotels. The frontages mentioned (neither deco nor nouveau, however) date to the rapid modern commercialisation of the area during the nationalist era when it took business from Wangfujing, but lost it to (now largely uninteresting) Tian Qiao.

The 'silk market' mentioned is the very definition of 'typical cheap tourist trap', so you'll certainly want to avoid that. The Beijing Silk Store in Zhubao Shi Jie, as mentioned above, should be your choice if you actually want to buy silk, or Ruifuxiang (with one of those few surviving Nationalist-era frontages) just round the corner in Dazhalan Jie.

Peter N-H
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Jun 17th, 2010, 02:08 PM
  #6  
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You two have definitely given me quite a bit to look into. Thanks for the help! I appreciate the advice on the tour. And as far as the $150/night that I quoted, that just a very low cost hotel here in Los Angeles, so it seemed reasonable. I have a feeling I'm going to have a lot to learn as it relates to poorer/less expensive countries. I've only traveled out of country once before to Italy and Greece and obviously it was when the Euro cost more then $1.

Thanks again!
jello1369 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 02:09 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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> I like to pick up items as gifts that are a little nicer then the typical cheap tourist trap items.

For similar purpsoes, I went to a set of shops called Baigongfang that PeterN_H had mentioned in an earlier post. See

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...ocals-shop.cfm

Baigongfang is along Guangming Lu east of the Temple of Heaven to the south (right) side as you are walking away from the Temple of Heaven and just after the street name changes to Guangming Lu. I'm no expert, but I was pleased with the quality of goods I found there. I don't think I was very successful in bargaining, but I did negotiate prices that were ones I was willing to pay. There was almost no one else there when I went, which I did twice.

> Beijing Silk Store in Zhubao Shi Jie... should be your choice if you actually want to buy silk, or Ruifuxiang (with one of those few surviving Nationalist-era frontages) just round the corner in Dazhalan Jie.

Just 2 weeks ago, I looked for both of these shops and could not find either - which does not mean that they do not exist!
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Jun 17th, 2010, 02:24 PM
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BTW = by the way.
"You need to avoid the tired and long-established names such as the Beijing Hotel, Beijing International Hotel, or Capital Hotel"

I can't imagine why you want to avoid the one I mentioned. I have recent personal experience of it, and everything I mentioned is true. Were I traveling alone (or not), it would be a place I would find very convenient, with all the amenities.
Of course, the Silk Market is a multi-storied warren of booths, the very definition of tourist trap; but it's lots of fun to wander through. (Peter just doesn't "get" the shopping thing.) And, alas, lots of old China has certainly been demolished in the name of "progress," to wit, the pedestrian shopping mall I mentioned. But, if you read what I said, it was the older streets off the new that I enjoyed and recommended, and a convenient way to enter the old neighborhood easily, right from an easy-to-find landmark that you will almost certainly be visiting.
sylvia3 is online now  
Jun 17th, 2010, 03:38 PM
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> And as far as the $150/night that I quoted, that just a very low cost hotel here in Los Angeles, so it seemed reasonable.

I can never quite understand this way of thinking. It seems too obvious to point out that Beijing is not Los Angeles (or anywhere else you happen to call home, unless it's Beijing), and China is not the USA. Incomes, standard of living, GDP per capita, etc., are all on average vastly lower.

A metro ride is US$0.30. A standard cab ride is US $1.50. A good meal can be had for under US$2. A vast meal for two in very comfortable surroundings for under US$15 (and many excellent meals for well under this). Western hotels will try to charge Western prices when they can, but competition is vicious, there's an oversupply of rooms for much of the year, and deals to be had. If you stay at Chinese-run hotels, and bargain for real prices (as opposed to published prices) at the counter, then US$50 will give you a vast range of choice.

> I went to a set of shops called Baigongfang that PeterN_H had mentioned in an earlier post.

Glad that worked out, and to see people successfully venture beyond the 'typical cheap tourist traps' (as the OP wishes to do).

> Just 2 weeks ago, I looked for both of these shops and could not find either - which does not mean that they do not exist!

The Beijing Silk Store is at the top end of Qian Men Dajie on the west side behind the first row of buildings. Ruifuxiang (which also has a much newer Wangfujing branch) is on the north side of the east end of Dazhalan Jie just off Qian Men Dajie. It's not unusual for premises to be busy one week and rubble the next, but not these, I think, which closed during the erasure of Qian Men (certainly the Silk Store, to which pedestrian access was cut off for a while), but reopened in the same premises.

Peter N-H
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Jun 17th, 2010, 04:01 PM
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"...bargain for real prices (as opposed to published prices) at the counter..."
This would not be an option for me, especially were I traveling alone; I like a bit more control than that, but prices should certainly be FAR below that $150 you were suggesting.
As Peter says, the dining options are incredible; I would not suggest eating a meal in (your) a western-style hotel, unless you simply couldn't put one foot in front of another from tiredness! I had many varied meals in several cities, 4 to 6 courses, and the bill was often $5 or less for two (including drinks), and much better food than available in tourist areas and hotels. (Just find places with photos, or as suggested frequently here, see what other diners are eating that looks good!)
sylvia3 is online now  
Jun 18th, 2010, 08:33 AM
  #11  
 
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http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...e-Beijing.html

That came to my email this a.m.; for $10, seems like a fun place.
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Jun 18th, 2010, 04:58 PM
  #12  
 
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Loved Park Plaza Beijing. Very comfortable and very convenient.
sdtravels is offline  
Jun 26th, 2010, 08:11 PM
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Tagging for future reference
Iowa_Redhead is offline  
Aug 8th, 2010, 08:50 AM
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Peter: you are hard-core, man. I like your style.
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Aug 10th, 2010, 10:07 AM
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Thanks for all the feedback. I leave in just two weeks. And very unlike myself I have not made a hotel reservation yet. I have accomodations provided for me for the first 5 nights of my trip, so I look forward to spending some time at the counters of various hotels bargaining my 2 nights that I'll need to pay for. My three squares are provided for the first 5-6 days as well, but I'm looking to treat myself to some great meals out since you all say the prices are so cheap. It's just so hard to realize how cheap stuff can be when you're from Los Angeles where a cheap take-out lunch run cost around $8-10 withour anything to drink!

Thanks to all who posted the marketplace advice. I'm starting to take orders from co-workers now who are asking for silk scarves and various items.
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Aug 11th, 2010, 04:12 AM
  #16  
 
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Many hotels near the forbidden city like: Days inn forbidden city, Kapok hotel ect. for shopping, qianmen and dazhalan area is very very cheap for small gifts and garments. wish you have a good time in bj
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Aug 13th, 2010, 12:09 AM
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I recommend Days Inn Forbidden city. Good location and reasonable price. you can find more info here:
http://www.chinahighlights.com/hotel...ty-beijing.htm
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