Hotel Cote Cour SL, Beijing
Where is it? Halfway down one of Beijing's more picturesque hutongs, the newly opened Hotel Cote Cour SL, is a beautifully restored, four-sided courtyard house, or siheyuan. It is superbly located close to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
What's so special about it? Chic and luxurious, the hotel combines classic style with the modern amenities and comforts expected of international boutique hotels.
Contemporary or historic? Both. A former residence and performance area for dancers and musicians, Cote Cour SL is larger than your average siheyuan. Grey brickwork, brightly painted eaves, a fish pond and a serene courtyard (far right) set a classic tone while the lounge area, with its skylight, sleek concrete table-bar, comfortable furnishings and contemporary Chinese artwork, is achingly hip.
What does SL stand for? They are the initials of proprietor Shauna Liu, whose hands-on management style incorporates everything from design and construction, sourcing and furnishings, to training the ultra-attentive staff and devising the menu. It is Liu's attention to detail that makes the place unique.
What are the rooms like? There are 14 rooms ranging from standard to suite. The high-quality decor employs local materials such as Chinese silks, antique wood and porcelain, as well as contemporary furnishings and bold colour schemes. Each room features luxurious bed linen and goose-down duvets, plush pillows, walk-in rain showers, flat-screen TVs and in-room broadband connections.
What's on the menu? The hotel's resident chef conjures up a range of delicious Chinese and western specialities for lunch and dinner. Don't miss his dump-lings, soups, fresh garden vegetables and pastas.
What else is there to do? Guests are encouraged to treat the lounge area as their own living room. Relax, flick through the art books and listen to music while sipping Chinese tea or enjoying a glass of wine.
Anything else we should know? Customer service is paramount; Liu and her staff can make bookings for you at the latest designer bars and restaurants or advise on hip shopping locales and must-visit spots off the tourist track.
What's the bottom line? Standard rooms cost from 1,295 yuan a night.
Hotel Cote Cour SL is at 70 Yan Yue Hutong, Dong Cheng Qu, Beijing, tel: 86 10 6512 8020; www.hotelcotecoursl.com.