Beijing has a wide range of accommodation ptions, from hostels to two- and three-star idrange options and four- and five-star hotels. Olympic competition in a rapidly modernising sector led to a considerable shake-up across all budgets. Downtown hotels in the centre of town are straightforward to find in all budget groups. Prices quoted here are rack rates. While these are the rates you can expect to pay in the budget bracket, always ask what discounted rates (5T fP; zhekou) are at midrange and top-end hotels, as promotional offers are typically in force, except during the holiday season (see opposite). Although the vast majority of hotels allow Westerners to stay, a hard core of hotels remains that does not take foreigners.
Chongwen & South Chaoyang
Leo Hostel :Popular and ever busy, it's best to phone ahead to book a room at this bargain hostel tucked away down Dazhalan Xijie. It has an attractive interior courtyard decked out with plastic plants, OK dorm rooms (pricier dorms with toilet), simple but passable doubles, a lively bar and a fine location. Employees at reception make solid efforts at Wooing international backpackers.
Beijing City Central Youth Hostel :Across ne road from Beijing train station and right ' the subway, this hostel compensates for of character with a handy location and . ean rooms. Facilities include a notice board, info desk, TV and video room, kitchen, a 'andy internet cafe (Y5 per hour) and a bar pool table on the 2nd floor.
East International Youth Hostel :hostel is in a pretty old courtyard opposite the hotel of the same name. There's bike rental (Y20 per day, Y200 deposit), kitchen, washing facilities, cafe-bar and a tourist desk. Rooms come without TV, phone or shower. Thirty minutes of free internet access is included in the price.
Home Inn :One of the most central branches of the Home Inn chain, aimed at the budget end of mid-range and a mere 10-minute walk south of Tiananmen Sq. Cheaper double rooms are small and wardrobeless, but clean, with modern fittings and bright furnishings; pricier doubles are slightly bigger. Shower water temperature can be unpredictable. There's internet access (Y10 per hour) and a restaurant. Other branches include 20 Baiziwan Lu .
St Regis :First-rate, top-notch elegance complemented by professionalism and a superb location, the St Regis is one of Beijing's very best hotels. The splendid foyer and enticing restaurants compound this hotel's undeniable allure.
Grand Hyatt Beijing : A stunning hotel crowning Oriental Plaza right in the heart of town, the Hyatt matches its top-notch design and splendid interior with exemplary service. Rooms are modern and comfortable and the oasislike swimming pool is way, way overboard. For dining, four impressive restaurants compete for your attention.
China World Hotel : The gorgeous five-star China World delivers an outstanding level of service to its well-dressed complement of largely executive travellers. The sumptuous foyer is a masterpiece of Chinese motifs, glittering chandeliers, robust columns and smooth acres of marble (wi-fi available), while shopping needs are all met at the China World Trade Center.
Raffles Beijing Hotel :Set in a building that dates to 1900 (when it was called the Grand Hotel de Pekin), the Raffles Beijing is one of Beijing's best choices. The service is cordial, the overall presentation highly impressive and the location, near the edge of Wangfujing Dajie and just a 10-minute walk from the Forbidden City, is fabulous.
At the time of writing the Park Hyatt Beijing (www.beijing.park.hyatt.com) opposite the China World Hotel was under construction and yet to open.
Beijing Downtown Backpackers Accommodation
Dongta'ng Kezhan: Closed for redec-oration at the time of research, this hostel's central hutong location on teeming Nanluogu Xiang is hard to beat. Free breakfast and free pick-up from Capital Airport - you pay the toll (Y20) and the parking fee (if the driver has to wait more than half an hour). There's bike rental (Y20 per day, Y300 deposit) and internet access (Y6 per hour).
Beijing Saga International Youth Hostel :Enjoying a top location on historic Shijia Hutong, this popular hostel is a grey block but the inside compensates with some character and staff are friendly. Rooms are well kept, there's a spacious seating area in the main lobby, a refectory, bar and internet access (Y8 per hour) and washing (Y10 per load). The three small courtyard rooms are at the back. Discounts to members; free breakfast with some rooms.
Beijing Lama Temple International Youth Hostel : Congenial and pleasant hostel to the south of the Lama Temple and north of Dongzhimennei Dajie. Internet (Y5 per hour), wi-fi, laundry (Y15) and bicycle rental (Y20 per day).
Peking International Youth Hostel : Owned b charming Qinghai lass Fei Fei and her partn/ Gao Gao, this highly relaxing small court yard maintains just the right vibe - homely lounge area, small and leafy courtyard and great rooms. Zero stress, maximum hutong charm and winning location.
Qingzhuyuan Hotel :Excellent location and reasonable prices, but there's little hutong at-mosphere despite the positioning, and staff could be friendlier and more attentive. Free breakfast with standard room.
Motel 268 : A fantastic central location coupled with dependably clean and well-kept rooms makes this a good choice from the Motel 268 hotel chain. Rooms are unfussy and low on trim, but good value at the lower end of midrange. The hotel can arrange bus and train tickets.
Haoyuan Hotel : The eight standard rooms in the front courtyard have been partially restored and although small, remain attractive. The levelled wasteland opposite robs the hutong of charm, but the red lantern-hung courtyard feng shuns charming and the leafy rear courtyard - where the suites are - is seductively quiet. Reception is on the left as you enter; pursue discounts.
Guxiang 20 : In many ways a fake spin on the now overworked courtyard theme with a matching tariff and tennis court. But the fab location on fun Nanluogu Xiang makes amends.
Hotel Kapok : Sticking out like a sore but fash-ionable thumb next to the Cuiminzhuang Hotel on Donghuamen Dajie, this aspiring top-end hotel is popular with the design set, but already looks rather scuffed and keeping the glass grille exterior clean must be a major chore. A feature of some of the 'fashion rooms' is the overhead atriums for views of the sky.
Novotel Peace Hotel : This efficient, refurbished and centrally located four-star hotel has a fresh and cosmopolitan character. The cheaper rooms -not huge but perfectly serviceable - are in the older West Wing.
Regent Beijing : 1 ne Rolls Royce and Lamborghini showrooms are the first clues to the kind of clientele with whom the newly opened Regent wants to do 'usiness. There's ample use of cream marble, g'ass and stainless steel - uninspiring overall out rooms are slick and modern with large nat-screen TVs, lovely beds, neat shower bathrooms with roll-top baths and elegant sink units (but rather dismal carpets).
Ptnlntula Btljing :This lavish hotel remains one of the best in Beijing. It boasts two excellent restaurants, including the elegant Huang Ting (p!56), and a multi-tiered, hyperexclusive basement shopping mall. Rooms are typically discounted to Y1950 (plus 15%).
Zhaolong International Youth Hostel :This is a six-floor block behind the Zhaolong Hotel off Dongsanhuan Beilu that offers clean rooms, laundry (Y10/20 per small/big load), kitchen, reading room, safe, bike rental (Y30 per day) and internet access (Y10 per hour). Nonmembers pay an extra Y10 for all room types. Breakfast is an additional Y10 (served 7am to 10am). Book rooms in youth hostels nationwide for a Y10 deposit.
Fengtai & Xuanwu
Marco Polo Xidan : This unfussy four-star hotel has eschewed the gaudy top-end route, but it may have lost some crispness. A length in the hotel pool may only take a few strokes, but the basement Clark Hatch Fitness Centre is well equipped, and it's still the best in this part of town with underground stations nearby.
Qianmen Jianguo Hotel :Extremely popular with tour groups lured by its combination of excellent location and value, this place makes considerable efforts to ward off that great leveller: the generic three-star Chinese hotel feel. Rooms are spacious, clean and attractively carpeted and come with satellite TV and phones in bathrooms. The Liyuan Theatre is at the rear of the lobby.
Haidian & Xicheng
Red Lantern House :It offers homely hutong-located courtyard-style lodgings a short stroll from Houhai Lake opening to a fantastic interior hung with red lanterns and run by cheerful staff. Doubles are without shower, but they are comfy, clean, cheap and charming. Book online for cheaper rates. If it's booked out, try nearby sibling branches. Internet (Yl for 10 minutes), washing (Y10 per kiio), restaurant-bar in main lobby area (Tsingtao beer Y3 per bottle).
Red Lantern House West Yard : Hidden discreetly off Xinjiekounan Dajie, this pretty, open courtyard hotel is a relaxing place, but does not quite have the character of its nearby original. Doubles and pricier singles come with shower; book online for cheaper rates. Take the small alley to the green door and hunt for the doorbell. Laundry (Y10 per kilo), bike rental, lockers, internet (Y6 per hour, open Sam to midnight).
Sleepy Inn : With an adorable perch between Houhai and Xihai Lakes, congenial Sleepy Inn has enlisted one of the halls of the former Taoist Zhenwu Temple into its peaceful formula. Rooms are in the three-storey block, with clean pine-bed dorms and well-looked-after doubles, similarly decked out with pine furnishings, but come without phone or TV. Wi-fi.
Shangri-La Hotel : Located in west Beijing, the Shangri-La has a new tower, a top-notch selection of restaurants, bars and shops as well as a fine spread of rooms.
Holiday Inn Lido : This hotel is a bit stranded on the road to the airport, but it's a highly popular and first-rate establishment with excellent amenities and a resourceful shopping mall.
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