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Commune at the Great Wall: Commune at the Great Wall
The Commune at the Great Wall is one of Beijing Shi's real secrets. As well as being one of the most expensive 'hotels' it is situated below the Great Wall at Shiguan and features architecture from some of Asia's greatest talents.
Originally, the houses were built for sale. The whole development cost some US$24 million, with 12 rather exclusive houses and one club-house, making it one of the most exclusive addresses in Beijing. However, its remore location - some 50 minutes from he city and more than 90 minutes from the CBD area in rush hour, they couldn't sell them.
The Commune by the Great Wall has now been reinvented as a hotel, presumably until the individual houses get sold.
Each house is now rentable for the night, for between US$888 per night (yes folks, that's just short of nine hundred bucks) and US$1288. Most of the houses have at least four double bedrooms, meaning that for a big group they are not such a bad deal as an alternative to a 5 star downtown hotel.
However, and it is a very very big however, we found the service bordeing on the mediocre.
We got lost on the way and phoning the Commune proved an ordeal, with no-one able to speak English (or able to listen to perfectly acceptably accented Chinese!)
The place is swarming with black-shirted guards who were unhelpful and unfriendly. They wouldn't even let our car approach the house where our friends were holding a party, forcing us to drive a further 500 metres to the clubhouse car-park. These goons then proceeded to follow us about everywhere, including up to the Great Wall. We were distinctly uncomfortable with these slightly sinister looking individuals.
The club house pool was out of action. Errrr. Hello? US$900 for one night and you can't get the damn pool working? I could buy one for that amount of money.
The restaurant was empty, as was the bar, and they served us G&Ts without the G. "So we'll just have a tonice, then, shall we?"
Great architecture, but let down by poor building quality (we looked around four houses in all) and were appaled at how much was cracking and peeling after just a couple of years.
If you like modern Asian architecture, this is some of the best, and you can have a look around for RMB120. Designed, it seems to keep the riff-raff out, but then we considered their security to be the worst riff-raff we have come across in China.
Some good photographs are available at the website http://www.commune.com.cn. This could truly be a fantastic experience, but right now, the service lets it down completely.
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