Some of the cute and hard working employees at the 1Hai Inn
Once I found the 1Hai Inn, which for me at least, was not easy, because the Yonghegong Metro Station has two exits, and Murphy's Law demanded I come out of the wrong one, I was definitely pleasantly surprised. The staff were kind, helpful, and attentive, and the place was quite resonably clean and because of the range of guests, a fun place to be. All for a fairly reasonable price. The location is excellent, indeed, because of a major sight, the Lama Temple, being virtually next door, but also because of the proximity to the Metro Line 5 and Line 2 station which takes you to nearly any place in Beijing in short order. The 1Hai Inn offers all kinds of tours, but truth be told, I had to complain about the one to the Great Wall. Out of over 10 hours (cheap lunch included), we had one hour at the Great Wall. A tremendous waste of time. The employee I talked to said that she will bring that up to the owner. IMO, a tour of the Great Wall should begin with the Great Wall. After all, that's what it's all about. Then, after two or three hours there, all of the other nonsense can be taken care of. I suspect that most other places use the same tour company with the same schedule. It might be best, although not necessarily cheaper, to go to some section of the Wall on your own, using public transportation and private minibus. On my next visit to Beijing, that is where I will stay again.
To get there from the Beijing airport: Take the Airport Express. Leave Departure Hall (Terminal 1 - it also has a stop at Terminal 2) and once outside, where all of the busses are lined up, look for stairs going down along the wall of the airport. The Airport Express terminates at Dongzemin. Once there, follow the signs leading you to Line 5. Buy your ticket, and go to the track that shows Yonghegong station. It's just one stop. Once you get out of that station, look for exit C and turn left. Walk along the incense shops until you see a small red sign that reads Beixing Hutong. Look into the alley and you will see the 1Hai Inn sign. If, like I did, you come out of the station and see a road bridge and a park, you came out of the other entrance. Simply turn left, walk around the corner, and after a short while you will see the other entrance.
For my local tour I went to the City Center, where the Airport bus stops, and went with the tour offered by the Melody Hotel, following directions from a card from one of the girls who approach you when you arrive.
Highly Recommended, just not exactly backpacker turf
Panba Courtyard Guesthouse
No.63,Wenming Village,Wenming Lane, Wuyi Street, Old Town District, Lijiang, Yunnan, China
From here I arranged the day trips to Tiger Leaping Gorge and to Shangri La
Two capableTwo capable young women, Ba Mei (L), dedicated manager, and her younger relative, assistant (she calls her sister).
Image linked to Panba Online Brochure