Hotel or Hostel?

On April 26, 2012, in Accomodation, China Travel Gossip, Travel Info, by Jack Li

When you travel to Beijing on a budget and you don’t need the comfort of a hotel, especially younger travelers and people who travel alone might choose a hostel instead. Compared to hotel prices the shared rooms are quite cheap. Sizes vary between four and ten bed rooms, often separated by gender. For a little more privacy many hostels also have single, double, triple or even luxury rooms with private en suite bathrooms and in some places you can even find family rooms. The community areas and restaurants/food areas/kitchens are very often a place where travelers can get in touch easily, so in hostels there is no need to spend time alone. Maybe you’ll even find other nice people to go on some Beijing tours together.

What’s important, no matter if you choose a hotel or a hostel, is the location and there is no perfect place for everybody. It depends on your interests, what your plans are during the day and how you want to spend your evenings. If you like to stay out late to go to some bars or clubs you might want to look for an accommodation near bar areas. The subway only operates until close to midnight so after that you can either walk or take a taxi. For day time activities a close by subway station is in any case a big plus.

It’s only natural that a hostel is louder than in a small hotel, with people arriving and leaving all the time. For people who have a light sleep it’s advisable to bring some ear plugs and, well, common bathrooms and showers are just not the same as your own private bathroom at home. For some people this might need some time getting used to. Another good advice (especially for girls) is to bring enough tissues or to buy toilet paper there because in the common bathrooms it’s usually not provided.

In international hostels the majority of people working at the reception desk speak English and will be prepared to give you information and advice. It’s usually not a problem to pay by credit card but keep in mind that you have to pay a deposit (about twice the room rate). Services most hostels offer are free sheets, towels and wireless internet (although not always a good and fast connection), luggage storage and a safe for valuables. Some also offer bike rentals, airport pickup etc.

Another great point about hostels that many hotels don’t offer are events and activities, such as Chinese language or history classes, Tai Chi classes, barbecue or dumpling evenings are free to join for guests. And you can also book group tours to tourist attraction such as the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs, but even to places further away like Tibet many hostels have special tour offers.

Bigger hostels offer western food, like pizza or pasta usually at reasonable prices but still, local food is most of the time a bit cheaper and while you’re in China why would you not eat some Chinese food? Breakfast is not offered in all hostels and that’s also the case with self-service kitchens. But in the morning there are many food stands all over the city to get you a fresh and most of the time a warm breakfast.

Concerning the interior of many Beijing hostels you can see the Asian influence but most are furnished with a colorful mixture of all kinds of different styles not always with matching colors or design. In Beijing there are well over a hundred hostels but if you still prefer to stay in one of the Beijing Hotels the choice is even greater.

Jack Li
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