I am about to tell you one of Beijing’s best kept tourist secrets. The Central Youth Hostel. This is no ordinary hostel. This is the best located hotel in the whole city and hands down my favourite hotel.
The Beijing central train station is the main transportation hub in Beijing and the whole of China with its own subway station, airport shuttle bus station and major bus stop. The China Youth Hostel or CYH is literally just across the street from the front of the train station. With a fully loaded back pack, I can, with out exaggeration, walk from the exit of the train station to the front of the front door of the hostel in 5 minutes. 4 minutes if I walk fast.
Stop for a few seconds and think just how cool this is. Just arrived in Beijing by train in the middle of the night and desperately need sleep? No problem. 10 minutes (15 if check in is slow) after you step off your train, you can be curled up in your hotel bed. Running late with a plane to catch? No problem. You can be on the subway to the airport 3 minutes after checking out.
Apart from location, the CYH has low prices, is clean, reasonable service and all the basic facilities you need as a traveller. It cops a fairly bad score in most reviews which if my experience is any thing to go by, is a bit harsh.
My last stay at the CYH was a week ago when I was in Beijing for a couple of days. I gave the CYH a call 3-4 days in advance and booked a room over the telephone. Simple and easy. Arrived at the hotel, went through the check in procedure and was in my room in around 10 minutes. Also simple and easy.
I know that dorms are great, cheap and an excellent way to meet people BUT I lived for 8 months in a Hong Kong hostel dorm so I pamper my self with a private room. Dorm prices start at 40-60RMB a night and my room, the cheapest private room with a shared bathroom, was 160RMB a night. Comfortable, clean and more than adequate.
The only real problem I have with the CYH is the roof. In some parts of the hall way the roof so low, you have to duck to avoid hitting it with your head. Have a look at the photo below to understand what I mean. I’m just 6 foot 1 and used to ducking in Chinese buildings and this roof still scares me. Just imagine staggering to the shared toilet in the middle of the night or (god forbid) running enthusiastically down the hall way… I bet the hostel staff are very experienced at dealing with lobotomised guests they find comatose on the hallway floor.
The cloak or luggage room is great. I had a 10:40pm train to catch and had to check out at midday. No problem. I left my back pack into the cloak room at 9am when I checked out and had a great day seeing the sites. Came back around 10pm claimed my back pack and arrived at the train station 30 minutes early.
I’m always interested in a change so if you have a favourite hostel/hotel in Beijing you’d like to recommend, please leave a comment.