A love affair with Beijing, 2015 trip Day 1 – part 1

“Can you book the hotel for our trip Yuye?” If I ever asked Yuye this question or anything to do with travel, the answer will always be “do I HAVE to???”

I’ve always loved planning travel trips. I remember when I first went to Japan, I planned and planned for 3 whole months and plotted every single little detail down to when I will get up and which train to catch to a certain place. Some people find this a chore like Yuye, but some people like myself, find planning is half the fun of actually traveling. I enjoy it so much that I almost decided to take a travel career.

The one thing that I don’t mind someone else planning for me though is where to eat if they are a local and know their stuff. I enjoy finding my own of course since I love eating, but when I can seriously rely on them for good advice, the trip is half set. That one person for traveling in Beijing is Yuye’s dad.

Yuye’s dad used to eat a lot around Beijing due to work and know all sorts of restaurants from casual to the high class. Our recent trip to Beijing and Tianjin in January 2015 was accompanied by him so I was 100% trusting of where I was dining. He was also quite reliable when finding hotels and didn’t need me to worry a bit about them either. What a relaxing trip it was!

Since I had already previously been to the major tourist destinations in and around Beijing and we didn’t have that much time this time round, this trip was more of a relaxing and eating one.

Our day one started with checking into Beijing Hejing Hotel (北京和敬府宾馆 Beijing Hejingfu Bingguan). That is their official name on their website, but I have also seen Beijing Hejing Palace Hotel (on Agoda) and Beijing Hejing Fu Hotel (on Google).

For those of you interested in a bit of Chinese history, this hotel is situated behind what was Qian Long Emperor’s third daughter’s previous residence, thus the historical building which makes up the front fence and the front buildings are called Hejing Fu (和敬府) – which is the princess’s name – and the hotel has been named the same. The historical residence was given by the emperor to the daughter as a wedding present when she married her husband from Mongolia (partly for political reasons) and once held a banquet of over 90 tables on her wedding night there. It has over 200 years of history.

Apparently you could have visited the princess’s previous residence but when we went, we were stopped at the gate by security guards, signalling that the historical and very interesting building and courtyard is now occupied by the Chinese government and thus was off limits. What a shame that was!

The hotel itself, although no where near as old, was quite nice and had modern Chinese furnishing and design over a 5 level, new building at the back of the princess’s residence. From the street, you won’t be able to see the actual hotel but will find red lanterns and the hotel’s name. After traveling a number of meters into the laneway, you will reach its grand entrance. I found the hotel quite serene as it didn’t have much noise from the front street.

In the lobby you will find Chinese carvings, paintings and dark wooden furniture, giving you a clean and Chinese feel. You can find a lot more traditional style hotels around Beijing, but this hotel was a comfortable stay mixed with a bit of history and style.

The rooms were well equipped with free wifi access, free water every day and a small but reasonable mini bar. There was simple and elegant dark wood furnishing in the room which sort of gave it a business feel.

The bed was hardish but still very comfortable and pillows were plush.

The bathrooms had marble benchtops and were kept in quite a clean state. The pressure of the shower was good too.

And the view? It wasn’t the best since the building wasn’t tall but you can see the rooftops of the old personal residences next door which was still an interesting sight.

My favourite part of the trip was the slippers though. They were the softest most fluffy slippers I’ve had in a hotel, even those 5 star ones. I was kicking myself for forgetting to take it with me when we checked out!

Apparently many Chinese tour groups will book at this hotel due to its cheap price and close proximity to the popular bar area of Houhai (后海). If you travel there yourself, you can book this hotel on Agoda and other hotel sites for just over $100USD a night.

The hotel is very close to a newly built subway station just up the road. The station is called Zhang Zi Zhong Lu Station (张自忠路站) on Line 5. So you stay here and need a ride around town, it’s just a stone’s throw away.

The area of Hou Hai (后海) where the hotel is situated refers to the same named lake. Along with Qianhai (前海) and Xihai (西海) makes up the popular tourist destination of Shichahai (什刹海). At Shichahai, you will find traditional laneways full of souvenir shops, snack stands and the Houhai bar district. Shichahai is only about 1 mile north of the Forbidden Palace. The shopping street is called Yan Dai Xie Jie or Yan Dai Byway (烟袋斜街).

We spent a good few hours wandering around these laneways, tasting some of the snacks and gawking at the beautiful souvenirs on sale there. The shops aren’t big but most of them are full of wonderful things to look at. Unfortunately because it is a tourist destination, a lot of it is a bit commercial and not as traditional as it can be but will still be a fun experience, even for people like myself who is quite used to the Chinese tradition.

As we arrived here quite late in the day, we didn’t end up eating lunch out so you won’t find our lunch dishes. If you are here during lunch time, there are plenty of options off the main road where there are small cafes and restaurants to serve you a good meal as well as lots of snack places. If you snack on everything that look cool, you’ll probably be full in no time anyway.

I didn’t want to bombard you with too much content at once so watch out for Day 1’s part 2 soon as I continue my love affair with Beijing! I will leave you with a few more photos of the shopping district and hopefully they will inspire your next trip to Beijing.

 

Beijing Hejing Hotel (北京和敬府宾馆)

Phone: (+86) 10-64017744
Address: No.7, Zhangzizhong Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing (北京市东城区张自忠路7号)
Website: http://www.hejingfu.com/En/index.html

Shichahai (什刹海) – Yan Dai Xie Jie or Yan Dai Byway (烟袋斜街)

Address: ShiChaHai, Xicheng Qu, Beijing, China

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