Shaxi Old Theatre Inn
Award-winning heritage Shaxi guesthouse with modern comforts
Where else in the world can you stay the night in an authentic courtyard complex with its own temple stage building? How many guest houses have you previously visited where the doors of the rooms are locked shut not with digital key cards, but traditional wooden crossbars? In how many hotels can you hear the gentle braying of donkeys and scurrying of squirrels across the roof, rather than your neighbors TV, aggressive car horns and interminable scooter alarms?
The Shaxi Old Theatre Inn is not only a fabulous listed building, but a much needed retreat from China's breakneck 'development', and at mealtimes it becomes a foodies' paradise to boot. The converted schoolhouse building has just five guest rooms, each with a cosy western en suite, slate tile rain shower, and large clerestory windows to soak up that warm winter sun. Alongside this is a main dining area, where guests can sample the very best in Bai cuisine as well as yummy western comfort food, including fresh apple cobbler, quince and fig cheesecake and homemade walnut bread.
The centerpiece is the temple theater building, fully restored as part of the SRP project. The ground floor is storage space for mountain bikes, so that visitors can head off and explore the valley, while there are often calligraphy classes given in English by the current partner, Wu Yunxin, on the first floor. This leads out to the stage area, where the traditions of Bai music are being revived, and local elders perform for visiting dinner guests. Up on the top floor, the blue skinned god of culture and learning poses gymnastically, clutching a fine lettering brush and a Chinese 'yuanbao' gold ingot. Writers and artists of all nationalities return to this spot, claiming that this building is a focus for intellectual pursuits, and provides them with an inspiration that is difficult to find almost anywhere else.
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The historic Shaxi guesthouse for discerning travelers
With its expansive views across the rice fields, this is the ideal location to relax on the front terrace with a Yunnan coffee, and watch the sun sink slowly behind the Hengduan Mountains. Despite the intricately carved construction, the hefty sandstone flagstones and the bucolic rural location, the Old Temple Theater has all the mod cons needed to keep city folk happy. Twenty four hour wireless Internet, a lovely English-speaking local Bai manager, and private car pick ups, all mean that guest comfort is in no way compromised by the tranquil, rural setting. Guests from all over the world repeatedly confirm that a visit the the Old Temple Theater is a once in lifetime experience, and one which many are unsurprisingly reluctant to conclude.
Best of all, this is an excellent base to explore the temples, groves and orchards that favor Duan Village. From a gentle stroll up to the waterfalls, to a strenuous four hour hike to the nearest mountain Yi Village, this area caters to the needs of even the most accomplished hikers.
A favorite of China adventure travelers in the know, the Old Theatre Inn (formally Dragonfly Guesthouse) is a rarity in China these days: a peaceful oasis amidst expertly preserved cultural heritage. The local partner, Mr. Wu is a primary school English teacher who helped restore this 18th Century community theatre, and turned what were originally village school classrooms into five simple guestrooms. Enjoy simple and delicious home cooked meals by his wife, Mrs. Duan, served by their teenage daughter Lucy (when she's not in school).
Just steps to the Hei Hui River and scenic village tours, the Inn is perfectly located above the rice fields of Shaxi Valley and within a 15 minute bike ride to Shaxi old town.
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