Sitting on the City Walls Courtyard House
This was rightfully named the best hostel in Asia by hostelworld.com for 2008. It’s almost more of a boutique hotel. Located in a hutong just north of Jingshan Park and the Forbidden City, it will satisfy your desire for a taste of old Beijing life. The courtyard of this courtyard house has been covered over and is now used as a lobby-cum-restaurant-cum-lounge, which is kept delightfully warm even in Beijing’s frigid winters. Free Internet is available on two public computers and via wireless. The bedrooms — both private rooms and dorms are available — mostly open into this lobby. My only real problem with the place is that the lounge can be a bit to close for comfort if you are making an early night of it. Otherwise, five stars!
A private double room with an ensuite bathroom costs 380 RMB per night. Dorm beds start at 100 RMB. Rooms can be booked at Hostelworld.
The hostel is located at 57 Nianzi Hutong, north of Jingshan Houjie (景山后街, 丁字路口东侧路北, 碾子胡同57号). You will need to direct your cab driver to Jingshan Houjie, which runs along the northern perimeter of Jingshan Park, and then follow signs to the hotel. [November 2008]
Peking Downtown Backpackers Accommodation
This is another solid entry in the Beijing hostel market. It’s not as nice as Sitting on City Walls, and has much more of a traditional hostel feel. But it’s clean, has a helpful staff and runs a great trip to the Jinshanling-Simatai sections of the Great Wall. It’s also a bit cheaper — a dorm bed costs just 70 RMB, including a free hot Western breakfast. (Sadly, the coffee’s not included.) The location on Nanluoguxiang is excellent, especially if you want to be close to nightlife or shopping.
Six- and eight-bed dorms cost 70 RMB per night. The hostel is located at 85 Nanluoguxiang (南锣故巷85号), near the Drum Tower. Dorms and private rooms can be reserved through the Downtown Backpackers website. The site also has information about their trips to the Great Wall, the Ming Tombs and Chinese opera performances.