Where did we stay in Beijing?
The Forbidden City
When you spend a lot of money to visit a city you want to make as few mistakes in your planning as possible.
When my friend and I planned out visit to Beijing (weekend April 2 - 5th, 2010) we scoured the Internet looking for information, read the Lonely Planet and other guides and got more and more confused.
We had so little time in Beijing we did not want to "waste" it travelling in the city, and we had already decided that we would do two day tours - one to the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace and a few other places in between. We did however neglect to book until we arrived in Beijing. My advise is to book before hand. It is sometimes too late to book when you arrive at your hotel at 8 pm! And book with a registered tour organisation, although that does not necessarily guarantee a perfect tour!
We had wanted to be "near" the centre of the city - near the Forbidden City, near Tiananmen Square, and we did not want to pay a high price for a bed. By this I mean, we did not expect to be IN the hotel very much, so a good comfortable room and bed with bathroom facilities was all we wanted.
We booked one, had second thoughts and booked another. When we arrived at the hotel, my friend wished we'd not changed, but in the end we were happy with most things in the chosen hotel.
We stayed at the Redwall Hotel. The rooms we had were good. No complaint about them except we both had trouble with the televisions, and a staff member came and fiddled with the remote and got it working. He did not show me "how" he did it, but I watched and next time I was able to do it myself.
The Bellmen/Concierge were awesome. Very helpful. Amazing.
The reception people were OK - though better English language skills might have made life a little easier.
The hotel situation was awesome. We could not believe that less than 5 minutes walk away was the Forbidden Palace, and while it did not take our tour bus long to take us there the bonus was we could walk there on our own at night and see it as few tourists would see it.
We were able to walk to Tiananmen Square too, and if we had more time we would have found it easy to walk to some other local places.
It was a short distance from the Bar Street, so the cab to that area, which is beautiful during the day and especially at night (it is near the Bell Tower), was quick and inexpensive.
Getting to the hotel from the airport was less than RMB 100. There were many nice restaurants nearby and we even found a great place (no English spoken) for Beijing Duck which was great!
The Hutong life was close by and we managed to see quite a bit of it in the short time we had.
Challenges? Taxi's were a challenge unless you wanted to go to a familiar place. (Visiting a friend was impossible - you need to know major landmarks I think)
Would I stay in the Redwall Hotel again? Yes, I would, though I might explore some of the other Hutong Guest Houses first, but I would not rule out Redwall. It was clean, inexpensive, had a good bar, and was so convenient.
But for Westerners, the breakfast was not to our liking, It was awful.