Before kids and marriage, we travelled to China for the first time. During our stay we spent a few days out at the Commune by the Great Wall and it was such an amazing, unique experience that I recommend it to anyone planning to spend a night or two out in the Chinese mountains. Staying in the mountains allows tons of extra time to explore the Great Wall without the crowds of tourists, and the Commune has their own private stretch of the Great Wall.
The Commune by the Great Wall is not a typically hotel. It is a collection of different Chinese and Asian architecture designed buildings, scattered through out the mountains. With a private section of the Great Wall sprawling in the backdrop of each house. Each building houses a few individual rooms, and shared main living, kitchen and outdoor space. We stayed in the Cantilever House (Architect: Antonio Ochoa), however during our stay in April 2007 we were the only ones staying in our huge house.
By a zigzagging path behind the Canteliver House, you may climb to the private stretch of the Great Wall in about ten minutes. It is worth the steep walk because this section has been untouched, with overgrowth and hundreds of years of Chinese history surrounding it. The raw beauty of its original landscape intensifies the experience and we were the only people walking along the Great Wall as far as the eye could see in both directions.
We also took a 10 minute walk outside of the Commune’s front gate to a small touristy spot of the Great Wall The Shuiguan (Water Pass). We were the only Westerners there, and my husband was asked to take over a dozen photos with the Asian tourists because he was so tall (instant celebrity). Walking this portion of the wall was steep and 80+ year old Chinese ladies were zooming past us! The Shuiguan section of the Great Wall is part of the military defensive system of the Badaling Great Wall. It is the eastern section of the Badaling Great Wall, and also the strongest and best preserved one.
The Commune by the Great Wall is a little over an hour and a half outside of the hustle and bustle of Beijing, and 15 minutes from Badaling, the most popular Great Wall section. For more information about this hotel and and the architects involved check out their web page here.