We heaved a sigh of relief when we first visited The Orchid. Not just because it took us a while to find the first time around, you understand, but because someone finally succeeded in creating a truly chic and comfortable hutong hotel in our beloved city.
Situated in the maze of lanes surrounding the city’s ancient Drum and Bell towers, The Orchid feels like a hidden gem from the outset.
As you slip down the barely visible alley that constitutes the hotel’s entrance off Baochao Hutong, you might want to avert your eyes as you pass the back door of a grubby local kitchen and focus on the gleaming white oasis of cool up ahead. For once inside, you’ll enter a tranquil little world where traditional Chinese roofs meet modern white balconettes* and the hustle and bustle of the city simply melts away.
Hats off to the hotel’s little-known Hong Kong architect, who has designed a multifaceted space that feels much larger than it actually is. Kudos is also due to the hotel’s Tibetan and Canadian owners, who have created a laid back environment that makes you feel instantly at home.
The Orchid’s ten rooms are decorated extremely simply with big poofy duvets, bamboo lanterns and the odd potted plant. Mercifully, wooden beams have been left exposed and bathrooms are sleek and fully equipped.
Even better, there’s free WiFi; breakfast is included; and guests can even access a central film database from their widescreen TVs.
The Bespoke Verdict
Sound the trumpets, we’ve finally found a hutong hotel that we really like. Whether it’s the English-speaking owners, the soft beds or the soft and airy rooms, The Orchid ticks all the boxes others don’t. And the location couldn’t be better. Situated on one of the prettiest streets in the old town and a stone’s throw from Beijing’s hip boutiques and some of our fave local restaurants, it’s hard to beat. Orchid, we salute you.
*this is our word for little balcony. We’re not sure whether we made it up or not. A glance at Google suggests we have. Or rather muddled the meaning somewhat.