Firds In the Red Lantern District

Southwest of Qian Men, past the mercantile madness of Da Zhalan in the hutong that never dreamed of pedicab tour salvation, is where you'll find the ShSnxT Xiang Di'er BTnguSn (& 010/6303-4609)—one of BeijTng's most luridly compelling budget hotels. The hotel sits at the north end of ShanxT Xiang (a poorly marked and malodorous lane once at the center of the city's brothel district), and was formerly one of several houses where men of means would go to taste the pleasures of "clouds and rain" prior to 1949. Rooms are arranged on two floors around a central covered courtyard, restored to its original appearance with red columns and walls supporting colorfully painted banisters and roof beams, the latter hung with traditional lanterns. The rooms themselves are tiny and windowless, as befits their original purpose, but they now have air-conditioning, TVs, and bathrooms at a rate of ¥100 ($12) per night. To reach the hotel, walk east from Far East Youth Hostel (see below) and turn left down the second hutong on the right.

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