Lo Xiao Yuan Alley Courtyard Hotel is described as a quaint lodging in one of the many Hutongs in Beijing. The Hutongs are the districts of old Beijing, typically low houses with ornate roofs, where the tradition of the true ancient city still survives. The characteristic Xiao Yuan Alley Courtyard Hotel really is, located at the entrance of the Lishi Hutong, near the main road full of restaurants, shops and services. At first glance, it may seem like a dirty and shabby street, but from the first time you exit to walk towards the Dongsi subway (reachable on foot with a 15-minute walk), you will feel inside that that is the true soul of Beijing.
Hairdressers hanging towels in the sun and cutting their hair outdoors, bicycles everywhere, take away kiosks with street food with new and more or less pleasant smells. This is the first selling point of the Xiao Yuan Alley Courtyard Hotel: the position.
In addition to being placed in one of the oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods of Beijing, it is also very close to the subway station of line 5 Dongsi or that of line 6 Chaoyangmen, reachable with a walk of about 15 minutes. On foot you can also reach Wangfujing, the great commercial street of Beijing, with its designer labels, its illuminated buildings and the most curious markets where you can find cheap souvenirs. Given the enormous distances to travel in a city the size of Beijing, these walks are more than acceptable to reach a major hub that will take you almost anywhere.
The interior of the Xiao Yuan Alley Courtyard Hotel is decorated in typically Chinese style. The atrium with its small pond and large goldfish, the stone bridge, the inner courtyard where you can relax after a long day of walking and the upstairs bar where you can sip a cold beer even outdoors, everything makes us seem in a film, one of those in which elegant warriors whirl in the air spinning sharp swords or mimicking with tight muscles moves so graceful as not to seem lethal.
At the reception of the Xiao Yuan Alley Courtyard Hotel, there are some very nice girls who, very important in Beijing, they speak English. They will not speak it at an advanced level, but they make themselves understood and understand what we say, which, I assure you, is a big plus for a structure that wants to be tourist in all respects. The beauty is that in this tourist case it does not rhymes with consumerist or overcrowded. In fact, this hotel looks more like a small refuge and it is pleasant to come back in the evening, when the street lights up and the bar still offers tables on the terrace.
The Hotel allows you to book excursions to the great wall, tickets for performances at the Beijing Opera, rickshaw tours to discover the oldest Hutongs and offers the possibility of calling a taxi for the day of departure, which will take you directly to the airport. In our case they were very punctual and the rate was increased by only 3 euros for the call on time. As for the other tours the prices are also reasonable, hovering around 30 euro per person for a full day excursion that includes guide, lunch and coach transport.
Xian Yuan Alley Courtyard Hotel offers different types of rooms. Traveling with three other people I tried the Deluxe Suite, which said that does not sound low cost at all. And instead it is. We booked a triple room with the addition of a bed and the price per person per night did not exceed 20 €. The en-suite bathroom is spacious, albeit with the unfortunate feature of the Pekingese bathrooms of having the shower and sink in the same compartment, separated by the glass of the shower from the toilet. Surpassable, if you consider that a complete bathroom set was also included, slippers, toothbrushes, comb and even two pairs of colored Chinese chopsticks as a gift, with a cute panda announcing its presence in plain sight on the desk. Also present a set for tea and coffee with kettle and ceramic cups and a flat screen television.
By Beijing standards, have the toilet paper in the room, continuously renewed is a great luxury. This is why this hotel, which for us could be part of the norm - and perhaps our room would not be properly classified as a suite - is certainly of a higher category for them. The beds are not very comfortable, as I believe a little in all of Beijing, being made of wood, without a base and with fairly low mattresses. In this room the good built double bed was an exception canopy, with a red curtain in perfect Chinese style. Regardless of the type of room, I recommend taking one with the bathroom in the room, given the prices it is convenient for cleanliness and personal comfort.
The cleaning of the room was excellent and perhaps due to the excessive tiredness on returning in the evening, I did not hear unpleasant noises coming from the windows, as well as the normal chatter coming from the small street below. There is also a restaurant upstairs and breakfast is served which is not included in the room rate. You will find the complete menu in your room upon your arrival.
Another strong point: the perfectly working free wi-fi connection.
Connecting from Beijing is often difficult, the quality of the line leaves something to be desired even in many places that praise its existence as an additional service. Yet in the room the connection was just fine, leaving us the possibility to communicate for free and efficiently with friends and relatives overseas and to look for information for the itinerary of the following days.
In Beijing, thanks to the favorable exchange rate, they also exist cheaper accommodation than this. These are hostels or hotels where you can sleep with a maximum of 10 euros per night or a little more, but if you don't know the language, the fact that the staff speaks more or less English could be a decisive point for your choice. Not to mention the cleanliness, for us Westerners conceived differently than in China. Xiao Yuan Alley Courtyard Hotel proved to be the perfect balance between the large hotel and the small hostel. If you are looking for a low cost hotel that does not lack the basic comforts we are used to, the Xian Yuan Alley Courtyard Hotel can do it for you. It is not a luxury hotel, as far as that category is concerned just look in the most modern area of Beijing and you will find large hotels of very well-known chains. But apart from the prohibitive prices that go beyond the low cost philosophy, these structures rather give the impression of being anonymous and impersonal apartment blocks compared to this one, which is located in a genuine, very central Hutong, where you can still breathe the air of real Beijing.