Thursday, February 7, 2013

Our Beijing Hostel: Sitting on the City Walls

When we booked our hostel back in 2011, we relied on no other site but the very trusty, very helpful 

The top hostel that popped up on the Specialty Lodging section of the site was Sitting on the City Walls. The reviews were positively glowing -- great location, clean rooms, very helpful, English-speaking staff -- and best of all, affordable room rates. Clearly, it was the best among the cheap hotels in Beijing, perfect for budget travellers like us.

photo by maltman23 at

So how did our own experience compare to the reviews on TripAdvisor?


As I mentioned in my previous post, we arrived in Beijing in the dead of the night. Even though City Walls is right smack in the middle of the city (near the Forbidden City, in fact), it is located in a hutong. Which means it's not the easiest hostel to locate.

Make sure you have the confirmation booking from the hotel printed out, which contains the hostel's name, contact number and address in both English and Chinese characters. This allowed our cab driver to call City Walls when we got lost.

This blurry photo was taken at past 12 midnight on that cold, cold February evening, when we got lost, but could still afford to smile about it. 

Come day time, finding our way through the narrow lanes of the hutong was not so bad. And this was when we fully appreciated our hostel's location. It served as such a convenient base to explore Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and Houhai Lake --which were all within walking distance. Other sites like Wangfujing district, the Bird's Nest and Water Cube were also but a bus ride away.


There's a central courtyard which serves as the reception, the lobby, and the dining area.

photo by Rahim Packir Saibo at

The rooms surround this courtyard, and you can choose between private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, and a mixed-dorm type of room.We chose the mixed-dorm room.

First we were given these bunk beds.

City Walls hostel, Beijing China
But the next morning we explored the room a bit and saw that there were two single beds, unoccupied upstairs. We requested to be moved there.

City Walls hostel, Beijing China

The rooms are so clean, and the beds are lovely and comfortable. More than once I could not believe that this cheap Beijing hotel was all that it the reviews said it would be.


Rick, the manager was so friendly. And not only that, helpful as well. He gave us a map, explained every single detail about everything we asked, and even arranged for our Great Wall trip at Jinshanling. But the best tip Rick gave was to try out Otto's restaurant, a few blocks away from our hostel.

Otto's was so good, we ate there two times. But, more on that in a coming post.

4. FOOD 

City Walls did serve food, and it was here when we had our first taste of dumpling and noodles in China.

dimsum breakfast, Beijing China

The Chinese eat their dumplings for breakfast, and so we tried it on our first morning there. To be honest, we were disappointed -- the food was rather bland! We've since found out that most Beijing style cuisine leans toward the tasteless side. (Which was why Otto's was such a great find!)


For our room, per night, per person, we paid the equivalent of USD 14 (Php 600). For its great location, friendly, English speaking staff, clean, comfortable rooms, this is not bad. Not bad at all.

Sitting on the City Walls, or as it is now called  -- Beijing City Walls has the following contact details:

Contact Number:  +86 13901004546

Their address, and directions to get there, via every mode of transportation imaginable, can be found on their website.

Next up: our first day itinerary's details.

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