I believe everything happens for a reason and there must be a reason why “Commune by the Great Wall” is the first hotel I ever review my staying experience, albeit my numerable visits to hotels worldwide in the past 20 years.
First thing first. The hotel name–Commune by the Great Wall--already stands above the average. Personally, I like the hotels which say no word of “hotel” in their names.
The word "Commune" brought me back to the time when I was in high school as I remembered spelling out this word. Too bad, I rarely use it in my daily life. The word itself is full of meaning [Commune (noun) a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities.] I personally don't think this hotel could have any other better names but "Commune by the Great Wall."
I presume the owner must have a great vision for building a fine hotel by the Great Wall, yet place great effort in maintaining the original surrounding of the wall itself. Pretty much like a common space for a well-traveled person who seeks to get closer to the Wall. How close? It's close enough that this hotel offers you a private path to access a non-restored section of the epic Great Wall of China. More about that later...
I first get to know "Commune by the Great Wall" through my ex-colleague. She visited it on the first snow day of 2016 and she then talked about how fascinating the hotel was and how magnificent the Great Wall was when covered by white snow. I pretended to be indifferent and acted like I don't care but I remembered my heart was skipping the beat; I enjoyed every bit and piece of the story she shared, and I secretly told myself "I must check it out."
The hotel is about one-and-a-half hours drive from Beijing’s CBD. My friend and I--a group of four--arrived at the hotel around 4 pm, and that’s something we regretted. We should have left early so that we would arrive earlier. What to do when life offers us no shortcut?
"Commune by the Great Wall" is managed under SOHO China and the first thing that crossed my mind was the "Design". Some of you might have an idea how beautifully Galaxy SOHO was designed. Pretty much the same case, my first impression of Commune by the Great Wall is indeed its stunning design. This private collection of living contemporary Chinese and Asian architectures raise the bar and set a new benchmark for the hospitality industry in China.
Commune by the Great Wall was designed by 12 Asian architects, and, yes, including Thai architect too! In 2005, Commune by the Great Wall was hailed by Business Week as a "New Architectural Wonder of China".
The hotel now comprises 40 villas with 175 suites and 11 Presidential Suites, and 3 restaurants, Kid’s Club as well as an outdoor pool and tennis court.
The reception area has a good size. I like the property that offers open common space. The overall service is fairly good. Then again, I see the area of improvements for the staff.
MOMENT: THIS IS OUR ROOM
After checking in, the staff escorted us to a buggy and dropped us off at our Villa. My friends and I got 2 separate rooms but in the same villa. The room is exquisitely spacious, sizable and well laid out. My friends and I sort of think the same that we could just get an extra-bed and might as well stay together in one room... (but I secretly don't mind.)
I give it a perfect ten for the high ceiling that the room offers. I feel like there is an extra space to keep it all for myself.
The other thing that caught my attention was the "LIBRATONE" wifi speaker. It blends in with the room very well. Now my favourite songs sound even better with it. Undoubtedly, it's time for me to reconsider my current BOSE Bluetooth speaker at home.
The interior design of the room didn't fail to impress me: its minimalist decor, clean, simple, yet stylish.
And by far, Commune by the Great Wall is the only hotel in mainland China listed on Conde Nast Traveler’s “100 Hot Hotel in the World”
THE LOOK & FEEL
MOMENT: ROAM AROUND
The entire hotel space is boundless. It took us almost 20 minutes to walk from our villa down to the lobby. I look at the bright side that it was a built-in exercise.
We visited the property in July 2017 and it is a summer time so it was all green all around us. Although it was extremely hot. Notwithstanding, it didn't bother me. The sound of those little birds undeniably cooled me down.
As we walked along, we saw different designs of the villas but interesting enough, the art (architecture) direction is united and well concerted. They all look different, yet the similar.
THE PRIVATE PATH
If you were watching a movie, this would probably be the climax of the entire story. This is the best part of my day.
There are some people I keep coming back to. There are also some places that I can't resist not to go back to, just like the Great Wall. I can never get enough of this place. I have visited 6 times earlier, and each time when I learn about this largest man-made structure ever built, it continues to amaze me.
On my very first visit to the Great Wall, I took the cable car up and down. I wanted to see the beautiful view. I wanted to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is actually made up of small little things.
Staying at Commune by the Great Wall offers me no other choice but to hike up. It was the best choice of all though. And as I mentioned in the beginning, the hotel offers private path to access the Wall! Besides, I have never actually realized how much I enjoyed hiking. Especially when you have good company around, hiking was fun, adventurous, and I realize the true meaning of "those little small things."
We started climbing up at about 6 pm. It took us 18 minutes to reach the Wall. (My friends and I walked pretty fast, so you might want to buffer another 10 - 15 minutes to reach the wall). It was summer day so it was still bright by the time we arrived.
There were only 4 people at the time we arrived and this is the first time ever I felt like the Great Wall is exclusively mine. My previous experience wasn't really impressive as there were people everywhere like Chinese always says "People mountain, people sea". As we walk further, there was completely no one but us.
Isn't it amazing how you can view "Commune by the Great Wall" from the Great Wall itself? I would recommend whoever is reading my article to pay a visit to this wonderful hotel. Make sure you arrive early, there are so much to explore. You can also try out a private afternoon tea set up on the Great Wall. Exclusively 2 persons per each afternoon.
My key takeouts after visiting "Commune by the Great Wall" are: enriching, refreshing, and, indeed inspiring.