luxe - DuGe Courtyard Boutique Hotel
Written by Paul Mooney
The DuGe Courtyard Hotel is hidden behind bold red-and-blue doors in a traditional courtyard house in the centre of Beijing’s trendy Nan Luogu Xiang, providing an excellent jumping off point to visit the city’s fast-disappearing traditional hutongs, or ancient narrow residential alleyways.
A stay at this small boutique hotel, designed by the Belgian-Chinese husband and wife team Jehanne de Biolley and Harrison Liu, allows visitors to experience life as it was lived in Imperial China. The courtyard dates back to 1860 during the Qing dynasty when it was the garden residence of Ming Shan, a minister of the Imperial household.
Each of the ten rooms follows a different design theme and includes antiques collected by the owner, modern art, and contemporary furniture designed by Mr. Liu, a well-known actor. The most colourful room is the retro-looking Peony Pavilion, in which red-lacquered furniture contrasts with lime-green upholstery and a glass screen bathroom divider covered with bright-painted red peonies and green leaves. Also interesting is the Bamboo Room, with a 150-year-old carved moon gate, and The Imperial, which features gold-painted four-poster beds and a small atrium sitting room.
The lime-lacquered Reflections dining room, with its Baccarat chandeliers, faces the small White Russian bar, where the back-lit liquor shelves are contrasted by dark lacquered Chinese doors. The garden courtyard in between is a great place for a drink or meal during the warmer months.
Nan Luogu Xiang
This long and narrow 700-year-old street lined with interesting Republican-era architecture is fast becoming a new drinking, dining, and premier shopping destination in Beijing. The quaint shops set up in these old buildings with their skylights and large windows are a magnet for Chinese and foreigners seeking an authentic place to hang out. With its long history, Nan Luogu Xiang, or South Gong and Bell Lane, is also a great place for exploring the surrounding alleyways. The Drum and Bell Towers and the Rear Lakes are just a 15-minute walk from here.
A Culture of Lanes
There is probably nothing more symbolic of the city than its idyllic – but rapidly disappearing – courtyard houses and winding hutongs, which one Chinese writer called ‘the soul of Beijing’. It is known that hutongs have been around for more than 700 years, dating back to the Yuan dynasty when Kublai Khan had his capital at Dadu, the site of present-day Beijing. Architectural details whisper secrets about the former owners. Homes with elaborate gates and spreading eaves were the residences of officials or wealthy businessmen, while commoners would have simple square-topped gates. There are either two to four lintels above each doorway. Common families would have two lintels, wealthy ones four.
DuGe Courtyard Boutique Hotel