Layering Hotel rejuvenates a siheyuan into a ‘deep courtyard’. Inside Beijing’s Qianmen Hutong…

On one narrow street of Qianmen Hutong, a quadrangle courtyard, or siheyuan, has been renovated into a modern 7-room hotel, Layering Hotel, with a nod to Chinese Republican architecture.

Design firm Archstudio has transformed the former brothel and deserted bakery into a private hotel encased within glass panels to balance the original weighted wooden elements. Privacy gradually increases from the entrance to where the guest rooms are located, the key design principle behind the hotel’s ‘layering’ structure.

Courtesy of Layering Hotel by Hutel

The Design

The design of the Layering Hotel is a renewed idea of a typical siheyuan, where pavilions surround all four sides of a central courtyard. The team at Archstudio kept the existing front and rear pavilions, but added a third parallel to the existing ones. They redesigned the space using glass walls and slim rectangular courtyards, to segregate the pavilions, each designed to hold a specific function – dining, event space and accommodation. The space are porous rather than finite, with corridors that interconnect the space in between the glass walls. Guests are enticed by a bamboo-planted light well enveloped in frosted glass, towards the rear pavilion, discretely giving its guests an impression of a ‘deep courtyard.’ A private, hidden living quarter.

Courtesy of Layering Hotel by Hutel

Courtesy of Layering Hotel by Hutel

The Hotel

A red wooden door on an expansive bricked wall marks the entrance to Layering Hotel. Just steps through the door is the reception, and a dining room with a bar adjacent. The central atrium is a temporary gallery, with local art work that depicts neutral colored landscape. Glass-box corridors, intertwined with narrow courtyards are used to border each pavilion. The central pavilion is an atrium, “with steel columns supporting a reflective aluminium lattice ceiling. The floor is covered with a white epoxy gloss. The entire atrium uses either transparent or reflective elements, to contrast the original wooden elements and to confuse spatial boundaries.

The Rooms

Guest accommodations are spread over two floors. Rooms on the ground floor survey semiprivate bamboo courtyards, while rooms upstairs have expansive views of the premise and surrounding its neighbors. Only three rooms are available upstairs, which share the same foyer.

Courtesy of Layering Hotel by Hutel

Our room on the upper level, was strikingly plain and minimal. The door opened to a panoramic floor to ceiling window that gave expansive views of the premise. The oak flooring and an oak bed headboard, matched the beautiful and detailed ceiling above, an original structure Archstudio kept. The bathroom opted for marble floors and a bathtub that faces the front pavilion. The queen-sized bed sat in the center of the room, against a narrow walkway with an in-wall closet and pantry. The combination of plain white walls with the room’s wooden elements was neutral and extremely comfortable to the eye.

There was no TV in the room, but a tea set came in handy, for those who wish to wake early and listen to birds chirping out the window.

Courtesy of Layering Hotel by Hutel

Courtesy of Layering Hotel by Hutel

The Layering Hotel creates a renewed living experience at the heart of Beijing.’ The designers took advantage of the complex’s original structure, added modern elements to the premise and recreated a natural and poetic hideaway in a noisy Hutong neighborhood.

Notes from the writer:

Layering Hotel is a quiet, and serene hospitality experience in the bustling culture of Beijing. Further down the street is the new Muji Hotel, with its own library and shop. The neighborhood is also home to a number of local restaurants and convenient stores and is within walking distance to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square was around a 15-minute walk away and another 10 minutes to the Forbidden City.

The Chinese breakfast came with a large bowl of noodles along with fruits and bread. The American breakfast was a generous portion of yogurt, fruits, bread and eggs. The hotel is staffed 24-hours, and the staff were always courteous, even when we bothered them halfway through the night, due to our late-night outs. Although, some had trouble conversing in English, they were patient.

The simple, and neutral design of Layering Hotel really adds to the value of the stay and even though it was at a central location, the stay was quiet and calm, different to the rest of the city. To book the Layering Hotel by Hutel: here


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