About this listing
This is the home of a Canadian-Chinese retired historian couple. We enjoy hosting individuals of similar age and/or interests as ourselves.
Please note: Currently we only cater to English-speaking foreign travelers who cannot speak Chinese very well or need assistance getting around Beijing.
We are located in the heart of Beijing. The house is in one of the few remaining Hutong areas (alleyways) of old Beijing, with courtyard houses. Along the nearby lakeshore it is very scenic and there is a lively nightlife. But once inside the alleys, there is no sound of traffic and the tranquility of traditional life still prevails.
Our home is a 7 minute walk to Prince Gong’s Mansion; a 15 minute walk to Beihai Park; a 30 minute walk to Jingshan Park ("Coal Hill"), where the last Ming Emperor ended his life; a 3 km walk to Yonghegong (Lama Temple); and a 4 km walk to the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) and Tiananmen Square. We have excellent access to public transportation including subway lines 8 (station called Shichahai, 450m from us) and 6 (station called Beihai North, 800m), plus bus lines to many parts of the city.
This is a private home of a Canadian + Chinese couple, with backyard garden (in spring/summer), rooftop deck, kitchen, living room, and laundry room. We have modern comforts including decent bathrooms, hot water, purified drinking water, coffee machine, floor heating, air conditioners, and comfortable mattresses.
We are an English-Chinese bilingual and retired couple who can offer assistance in getting around Beijing. We and our son Ian are happy to show you around the neighborhood, the local bank, post office, swimming place, and the like. We can help you figure out what public transport to take to get to places in Beijing or suggest places to go for buying specific things or having items made.
Our ideal guests are mature English-speaking travelers who are interested in sampling life in Beijing but not wanting to give up some basic comforts. We prefer guests closer to our own age. Young travelers: please check out Backpackingchina, it's a youth hostel in our neighborhood, cheaper and more suitable for you.
We have two short-haired house cats. So people with cat allergies please be forewarned.
This is an upstairs bedroom, with shared bathroom (shared with up to two other guests). It is a loft-like bedroom, quite spacious that sleeps two. But the two beds cannot be put together.
This neighborhood is
1.One of the few preserved parts of old Beijing with an interesting history;
2.A tourist destination and scenic spot
3.An original residential area
4.A bar area
Public transport includes subway line 8 (Shichahai station) subway line 6 (Beihai North station), day-time buses 3, 5, 13, 42, 60, 82, 107, 118, 111, 124, 612, 635, 701, night-time buses 2, 3, 10, and 21.
Other Things to Note
The following are tourist destinations we recommend. All these are accessible by public transport (or tours). Places with easier access are put in the front. Peking is huge. Long travel time means above 1 hour.
1. Houhai and hutongs: Old Beijing residential area; common people’s lives, lake. This is not crowded, especially in the mornings. An easy walk of about 4km. Right outside of our door.
2. Drum and Bell Towers: Old Beijing monument; cultural relic. Not crowded; RMB20 entrance ticket; less than 10 minutes walk from Gladys Garden.
3. Beihai Park: Oldest royal garden in Beijing; local people’s recreation spot. Not crowded; easy walk; about 15 minutes walk from Gladys Garden.
4. Jingshan Park: Small hill overlooking Forbidden City; weekend singers and dancers gathering place. If you have no time for the Forbidden City, this park offers a bird’s eye view. About 30 minutes walk from Gladys Garden.
5. Forbidden City: Palace Museum; can rent GPS-guided audio set. Very crowded all the time with Chinese tourists. Exhibitions inside charge extra. Go by bus no. 5 or 82.
6. Lama and Confucius Temples: Tibetan Buddhist temple; Confucius Temple is less crowded; nice little private museum Songtang close-by. Can go by bus or walk 3km.
7. Ancient Observatory: Star-gazing equipment designed by Chinese and Jesuit priests on top of a Chinese tower. Not crowded. Easy to get to by subway.
8. Ming City Wall Park: Remnant of a once magnificent city wall; nice little walk in the city. Not crowded, 10 minutes walk from the Ancient Observatory.
9. Zhihuasi Monastery: Ming dyn. Quiet little Buddhist temple, marvelous sculptures, Buddhist music. Not crowded. Can be reached fairly easily by subway.
10. Temple of Heaven: Sample of Chinese ancient architecture; large green grounds. Not crowded. Can be reached fairly easily by bus or subway. Close to the Pearl Market; the Museum of Ancient Chinese Architecture.
11. Great Wall at Mutianyu: Day trip with English guided tour groups. This is not crowded. Takes 2 hours to drive out there, therefore it makes sense to join an English guided tour, either a hiking one or a sight-seeing one. Pick up close to home.
12. Great Wall at Badaling: Most visited part of the Wall by Chinese tourists. Easier to get to by bus and hence cheaper.
13. Great Wall at Jinshanling: Unrestored part of the Wall, spectacular hiking trail. Best way to get there is to join an English-guided tour.
14. Summer Palace: Qing dyn. Royal garden, very popular with Chinese tourists. Pretty crowded. Fairly easy to reach by subway.
15. Olympic Forest Park: New man-made forest park; good for easy hiking. Not crowded. Very easy to get to by subway line 8.
16. Fragrant Hills: Peking residents’ “mountain climbing” park. Fairly crowded during holidays; takes over one hour to get there by bus.
Botanical Garden: Botanical garden + Monastery of Sleeping Buddha + small mountain valley with a spring; nice picnic spot. Takes over one hour to get there by bus.
798 Art District : Modern art districts with galleries, studios, and shops. Not crowded, can reach by bus but complicated. Best go by taxi.
Telecom and Internet matters:
Getting a Chinese SIM card has become more complicated recently, so if you see a kiosk at the airport selling SIM cards, please get one there.
To access Google, Googlemap, Gmail, Facebook, Youtube .... in China you will need a VPN, please get one before you come. If you don't know what a VPN is, please find out from others before you come.
Please note: Smoking is not allowed in any room except the kitchen or outside of the house.
Please note: Please do not flush personal hygiene items down the toilet. Our sewer system can't cope.
•Common areas are:
the master bathroom downstairs
the bathroom upstairs (shared by two or three residents) - this may be used "in a pinch" by other guests;
the living room/dining room;
the laundry room;
the study downstairs (for borrowing novels or use of hosts' computers and printer on request)
Please feel free to use the living room at any time. We often watch TV in the evening, but except for a very few programs, we generally prefer conversation with our guests.
Breakfast from 8AM to 10:30AM. Basic breakfast supplies (coffee, cereal, eggs, milk, etc.) are supplied by the host. Please speak up if you need anything.
You are welcome to any fruit, cake, chocolates, coffee, tea, and beer when available in the house.
Unless requested otherwise, guest rooms are cleaned after guests leave. Bed linen and towels can be changed whenever necessary or on request.
There is a washing machine in our laundry room. No dryer. Clothes are hung up either outside or in the laundry room to dry. You may operate the washing machine yourself or have your laundry done by us. Laundry detergent is provided.
For the safety of everyone living in the house, at night residents should keep doors locked and all open windows screened. We are not responsible for any burglaries that occur because of doors and windows left open at night.
We normally own one or two cats, so if the resident has a cat allergy, this is a problem. Residents may not keep their own animals on the premises.