Location: Courtyard houses throughout the Deng Cheng District, Beijing, China 北平小院青年旅舍
Designer: Unknown (Qing Dynasty)
Project Type: Urban, Courtyard
Completed: Hostel opened in 2010. The building is over 150 years old.
Access: By taxi or subway (Zhangzizhonglu Station, Line 5). The Peking Yard Hostel may only be available to paying guests, so please enquire if you wish to visit without a reservation +86-10 – 8404 8787.
The story behind us finding this particular Secret Garden gives weight to the feelings of joy, thankfulness and pure relief as we discovered it by accident after our turbulent arrival to the capitol of China.
Being fairly frequent travelers, we were confident that our ‘off-the-beaten-track’, 35 rmb/£3/$4 a night, shared, bunk bed apartment would give us ‘live-like-the-locals-accommodation’ close to where we needed to be, at rock bottom prices. After a sleepless 10 hour flight, a 5 hour wait for friends and a one and a half hour taxi ride we arrived at our local apartment. Tired, yet smug that we had found such a good deal and ready to put our heavy bags down and crash out on the nearest bed, we met the owner who eagerly showed us towards our bargain accommodation.
This “too good to be true deal” was just that. Although this was the kind of place that young, local people lived and despite being used to “bumming it” throughout Europe, we weren’t prepared for the maze of cramped rooms, low living standards and a worrying lack of security; not to mention negotiating the language barrier. After long deliberation, we accepted that we wouldn’t feel comfortable or safe staying there and decided to look elsewhere for a cheap hotel. Still confident we’d find somewhere nice around the corner for under 100 rmb a night, we went searching. It turns out only a certain standard of hotels are able to accept foreigners in Beijing, and no hotels in the area where able to accept us. By this time we were becoming more and more sleep deprived and desperate for a place to stay.
After spending over 24 hours without sleep and negotiating the Beijing metro system with our heavy luggage, we were finally on route to an International Youth Hostel which we knew would accept international travelers. At this point we were ready to accept anything, as long as we could lay down and go to sleep. Our expectations where more than exceeded when, with relief, we finally reached the hostel and where greeted with this…
…a secret garden! It felt like we had entered an oasis mirage after trekking through the urban desert of Beijing. We couldn’t believe our luck after a day of set backs. This was by far one of the most beautiful hostels we had stayed in so far and we just happened to come across it at a time of desperation. We paid for a private room with clean linen and thick comfy mattresses that boasted a view of the traditional courtyard complete with a roof top terrace and the travel bloggers essential; wifi!
This area of Beijing is the best place to travelers to stay as it is famous for it’s traditional small alleyways called ‘hutongs’ that are lined with traditional, low rise, courtyard houses, abundant in modesty and charm. This district is blessed with many courtyard hostels; each with its own secret garden waiting to be discovered. The Peking Yard Youth Hostel just happened to be the one we stumbled upon, but is by no means the only option for you to consider in the area. So no matter how well traveled you think you are, if it is your first time to Beijing, do your research before you arrive!