Sansa Village at Mutianyu, Beijing

Today’s post will be about a wonderful boutique hotel that we stayed at on our recent trip to Mutianyu’s section of the Great Wall of China. I don’t usually dedicate a post to a hotel, but I’m doing it in this situation because I love the way the owners have helped revive a small village and brought prosperity to their neighbours, while maintaining the original style of the village. 

Sansa Village; GFX100S 32mm ISO-200 1/150sec f/8
Sansa Village Suite; GFX100S 32mm ISO-1600 1/20sec f/8
Sansa Village; GFX100S 32mm ISO-200 1/200sec f/8

Before we talk about Sansa Village Hotel, we need to share some information about The Brickyard. The below information is based on a discussion with the staff at Sansa Village. The Brickyard was founded by an American teacher who had come to Beijing to work. He eventually married his Chinese Teacher and they decided to take a small village house and renovate it to host guests. This grew to more and more rooms, eventually adding a restaurant, conference rooms, and a large outdoor area. The success of The Brickyard brought competitors to the area in the form of the San Sa Village and various AirBnb type venues.

Sansa Village; GFX100S 32mm ISO-200 1/80sec f/8
Sansa Village Suite; GFX100S 32mm ISO-200 1/30sec f/5.6
Sansa Village; GFX100S 32mm ISO-200 1/30sec f/8
Sansa Village; GFX100S 32mm ISO-2000 8sec f/4
Sansa Village Entrance; GFX100S 45mm ISO-1600 1/34sec f/2.8

When COVID-19 hit, business obviously dropped and I understand that The Brickyard and San Sa Village came to an agreement to combine forces. The new owners of the combined boutique hotel group have invested heavily in improving The Brickyard and also establishing San Sa Village as a more luxury alternative. If you’re staying at San Sa Village, you can use all the facilities at The Brickyard including the hot springs, Jacuzzi, restaurant and conference rooms. I understand that a third boutique hotel is under construction and a pool will be added to San Sa Village as well.

The Brickyard; GFX100S 44mm ISO-200 1/110sec f/8
The Brickyard; GFX100S 32mm ISO-320 1/25sec f/4
The Brickyard; LEICA M10 35mm ISO-200 1/4000sec f/2.8
The Brickyard; LEICA M10 35mm ISO-200 1/250sec f/9.5

We chose to stay at San Sa Village this time and had a wonderful experience. The rooms are meticulously designed by a team of foreign and local architects, with the goal to preserve the external style of the local houses. The hotel itself is walking distance to the main village square (which is surprisingly well appointed with a modern library, corner store, and a San Sa Village Hotel owned Huo Guo (Hot Pot) restaurant. The rooms are sleek, modern, beautiful and well appointed, with plenty of space to entertain guests or friends.

Newly built modern library in the village; GFX100S 45mm ISO-2000 1/34sec f/2.8
Super cute corner store in the village; GFX100S 45mm ISO-2500 1/34sec f/2.8

When staying at San Sa Village, you have the choice of staying in a room, suite or villa. If you choose a villa, you should know that they are somewhat far away from the main hotel and will require walking 15 minutes. The more modern and newer section is where the rooms and suites are. I stayed in a suite and my friend stayed in a room. The suite was excellent with a huge area to entertain friends while celebrating my birthday. 

Amazing hot pot restaurant in the village, owned by the hotel; GFX100S 45mm ISO-1600 1/34sec f/2.8
Amazing hot pot restaurant in the village, owned by the hotel; GFX100S 45mm ISO-1600 1/34sec f/2.8GFX100S 45mm ISO-1600 1/34sec f/2.8
Even with the AC on full blast, some locals find it too hot for shirts… GFX100S 45mm ISO-1250 1/34sec f/2.8

The hotels featured very high levels of service, and for the first time in Mainland China, I experienced unique service due to many of the staff being from the Philippines. This meant that English was perfectly spoken throughout the hotel. It’s common to come across people from the Philippines in Hong Kong, but still very rare in Mainland China. While my Chinese is sufficient for a hotel stay, it was nice to use my native tongue around the hotel.

Great signage everywhere; GFX100S 80mm ISO-100 1/1500sec f/1.7
Some village hiking options; GFX100S 80mm ISO-100 1/640sec f/1.7

As you can tell, we loved San Sa Village and would highly recommend a stay there. Everything from the rooms, the variety of food, the choice of restaurants and the facilities in the two hotels, made for a perfect stay. The Huo Guo (Hot Pot) restaurant the hotel owns in the village was the icing on the cake. Who would expect that kind of restaurant in a tiny village? Having said that, as you’ll see in one of the pictures, don’t assume that a high end restaurant means that you won’t get a taste of the local clothing (or lack thereof!) style.

GFX100S 110mm ISO-200 1/4700sec f/2
GFX100S 45mm ISO-1000 3.5sec f/2.8

A short walk from the hotel is the village with a number of restaurants and a really cool looking wine bar that was under renovation. The village has great signage which enabled us to take some hikes around the area. The hikes can be pretty steep so if you go, please wear proper shoes and ensure you’re prepared in case it rains. There is even one route which will take you right to the Great Wall, however please note that it’s forbidden to enter the wall outside of the designated area (some foreigners have been caught and banned for life, don’t be that foreigner please).

GFX100S 44mm ISO-200 1/100sec f/8
GFX100S 64mm ISO-100 1/60sec f/4

I hope that you get the chance to enjoy this style of hotel in China. While still rare compared to Europe and other parts of Asia, the momentum is building and more and more people are talking about these heritage style boutique hotels. 

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Comments (1)

Christoph Roettger

Thank you for the wonderful photos. In this time of restricted travel for most of us, they are even more precious. Keep them coming 🙂

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