Saturday, February 12, 2011

Templeside Hutong Guest House in Beijing

The Templeside Hutong Guest House is not your typical hostel. The neighborhood is in an old traditional district of narrow alleyways and courtyard style houses called hutong. Having seen very little in the way of historical lifestyle in Jinan, I couldn't have chosen better for the end of my trip, as the hutong provide a peek into an older China. Here are some photos of the guesthouse.

The Templeside consists of three houses in the neighborhood. House 1 is in the oldest hutong, as you can see from the exterior. I didn't get a look inside.
House 2 and House 3 are about five minutes' walk away, in a hutong that is also old but slightly better kept, as you can see from the exterior of House 2. I got a peek inside and it is in the traditional style; the gate opens into a smaller alley, which the rooms appeared to line the sides of.
The front door of House 3, aka the "deluxe" house, in which I'm staying, gives a hint of how lovely it is inside. House 3 has been recently rebuilt and looks splendid.
Two views of the inner courtyard. The guest rooms surround the courtyard behind the red-framed windows. My room is at the far left in the second photo, behind the tree.

Traditionally, the courtyards didn't have a roof, but this rebuilt siheyuan has a roof; it's still pretty cold inside in winter, but way better than an outdoor courtyard, and easier to keep clean.
Climbing the handmade bamboo staircase seen in the picture above takes one to the small rooftop area, from which there is a view of the surrounding hutong neighborhood. These two photos show how old the buildings are by the rooftops - this hostel is rebuilt, but most are tenanted by the poor and quarters are cramped. One photo shows the Miaoying or White Pagoda Temple, which I will visit on Wednesday because when admission is free for the first 200 people.
The other photo shows what a hutong house looks like without a roof and you can see how they have added shack-like rooms in the central courtyard.
Here is my room. Notice the lower right corner of the picture! :)
The room has beautiful furniture - love these twin beds. The linens are good quality and the pillows and duvets are real down.
There is a magnificent wardrobe decorated with carved lotus flowers.
Even the porcelain is fancy!
There is no pub/restaurant as there was in the other hostels I stayed in, but there is food served to order or brought in if requested, and there is a room downstairs in the added on basement for watching TV, socializing or eating. This is the cleanest building I've seen in China; the bathroom is spotless, and the floors are clean enough for stocking feet, even in the courtyard. Given the all-pervasive clay dust/dirt in Chinese cities, this is extremely impressive. The owner, Bobby, is very friendly and helpful, and speaks good English.

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