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Hotel Côté Cour S.L., Beijing

Editor's Pick
Beijing, China, Asia: A guest room at the Hotel Côté Cour S.L. in Beijing, China
70 Yanyue Lane
China 1000010
Tel: 86 10 651 28020's insider take:

Tucked down an old Beijing lane between the Forbidden City and the nightlife spots of Chaoyang District, this small, friendly hotel occupies a lovingly restored gray-brick hutong home. The district is a throwback to a different era, with tricycle deliverymen, on-street hairdressers, and fresh produce wheeled along the narrow lanes. All 14 nonsmoking rooms were personally designed by owner Shauna Liu and are elegantly dressed in olive greens and light browns, with subtly latticed Chinese woodwork and oil-polished concrete floors. Each one has a rain-forest shower, flat-screen cable TV, and free Wi-Fi. The guest rooms are set around a rectangular private courtyard with tables and chairs for outdoor relaxation. At night, hanging red lanterns around the courtyard add a sense of romance, particularly when viewed from the spacious rooftop terrace bar. A cozy communal lounge with armchairs, magazines, and contemporary artwork doubles as a laid-back breakfast room.

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:

In a reversal of Beijing's tear-down frenzy, former banker Shauna Liu discovered a courtyard house on a small street called Performance and Music Alley (where Ming dynasty actors once rehearsed performances) and transformed it into a magical 14-room hotel that provides modern comforts while sacrificing none of the 500-year-old building's integrity. The rooms, set around a lovely courtyard with a lily pond, are decorated in the best of Chinese chic: chartreuse walls, goose-down duvets, Tibetan rugs, silks from southern China, slate bathroom floors, and surreal, humorous photographs by artist Chi Peng on the walls. Simple, homey meals—yogurt and granola, fresh fruit and muffins at breakfast; homemade dumplings and stir-fried veggies at lunch—are served in the art book-strewn living room. The young, eager-to-please staff will arrange taxi pickups, or bicycles for guests who want to explore the neighborhood the old-fashioned way. Despite the hotel's chic, the very best part of staying at this cozy property is that in the hutong, or lane, outside the hotel's traditional wooden door, folks sit on stools gossiping about the old days, while bicycle-riding goldfish sellers and barbers peddle their wares. This is the place for travelers who want to see—and feel—China as it once was, and could be.

—2008 Hot List

When to go: The weather in Beijing is best in the fall.

Which room to book: A roomy Deluxe is worth the extra cost.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.