Bedding Down in Beijing

By Scott Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 22, 2007

Q. We'd like to find lodging in Beijing during the Olympics next summer. Do you know of any reputable, less-expensive hotels or even hostels?

Robert Coronado, Washington

A. With regard to the Games of the 29th Olympiad, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" appears to be the motto not only of the Olympic movement, but also of Beijing hoteliers, who've swiftly ("Citius") raised their rates strongly ("Fortius") higher ("Altius") in response to the upcoming international stampede. Making matters worse, some hotels are accepting bookings only for the full 17 days of the games, which tends to push rates into the stratosphere.

The easiest route, if not the most cost-effective, is to go through CoSport, an official ticket and hospitality provider for the Beijing Games, which sells packages that include accommodations and tickets to various events (877-457-4647, Hotel-only bookings are also available, but for those you can expect to pay more than $2,000 a night per person, double occupancy.

At press time, Hosteling International ( was accepting bookings for a few dates at a handful of Beijing hostels for August 2008; more may be available through YHA China (011-86-20-8751-3734, as the games approach. Prices range from $6 to $120 per night.

But for a more interesting experience, consider a home-stay with a Chinese family. Jacob Cooke runs China Homestay, an agency that since 2003 has matched locals willing to throw open their doors to foreign tourists. Cooke says he has 556 spaces remaining for next August; the fee is $800 per person for the entire four-week period, with a maximum of two guests per house.

"Each host family is screened by our office, and they must meet a high level of standards," he says, including a "modern apartment or house, spare furnished bedroom, Internet connection, close proximity of event venues and [hosts must speak] a minimum amount of their guests' home language." Info:

Piet Dos, a Dutchman living in Beijing, also is attempting to broker home-stays (

Do you have any resources for finding an apartment to rent for a week in Venice? Would this be the most cost-effective way for a three-person family to stay there?

Mary Ryan, Arlington

Venice has a rich selection of apartments that rent by the week; one well-established company specializing in these flats is Venice Rentals, which has an American booking number (617-472-5392), a 40-apartment inventory and a pithy online guide to Venice ( "Most of our clients . . . are families, often with children, that prefer to have more space and a fully equipped kitchen where they can prepare any kind of meal," says the booking service's Maurizio Ugolini.

The rent for one-bedroom flats with a sofa bed in the living room is roughly equal to what you'd pay for a three-star hotel ($190 to $260 per night), but it's in meal costs that you'll really save money. "Venice is very expensive to dine out in. . . . A big part of your vacation could be spent on that," adds Denise Corsile, Ugolini's wife and co-owner of Venice Rentals.

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