A Palace Retreat by the Great Wall
The Great Wall of China is one of the most impressive sights in the world. Whether it’s in Spring to see the beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom, in summer to see it in all it’s lush green glory, in autumn to count the vivid shades of gold, orange, ochre and scarlet red, or in winter when no one else dares to climb the wall covered in white, this is one of the world’s most breath-taking wonders and I truly believe that one of the biggest perks about living in Beijing is its proximity to so many hike-able sections of the Great Wall.
Not just a great place to impress guests who visit Beijing from out of town, this is also my retreat when I’m looking for a weekend escape away from the city. I’ve done everything from day hikes to camping on the wall, but my preferred weekend experience is to book a room in either a retreat or a courtyard in one of the countryside villages by the wall.
But that was all before I discovered Ban Jie Gou Villa, a mountain house built by a Brit who has been living in Beijing with his family for over 15 years and originally kept this villa privately for his family and friends as their weekend retreat. But this year, the owner of this villa has decided to make his home away from home available for private bookings.
I had the privilege of being invited to spend a weekend at this villa recently and when I first set my eyes on this palace as we drove up its cobblestone road that leads up, up, up to this magnificent piece of architecture, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I know that I have the habit of getting overly excited about things and places that I like, but this is another level of genuine amazement. I have never been so impressed as I was when I started exploring this villa and as you scroll down and see the photos, I’m pretty confident that you will be too.
The Private Road that Leads Up to Ban Jie Gou Villa
Built into the mountain at Ban Jie Gou (hence the name), the property covers a total internal area of 750m2 and occupies an exclusive valley location to the north of the village. The valley itself is covered with native forest including some evergreens but mostly deciduous trees such as walnut, sweet chestnut and oak.
Oh yeah, and there also happens to be a gorgeous waterfall on the way up to the villa (which was still frozen on our visit).
The house is surrounded by rock formations on three sides with spectacular views towards the Great Wall. Drive up the villa’s private driveway that winds and climbs 1km from the mouth of the valley to the villa, which nestles under the top of the mountain at 500 meters elevation.
LDS Snapshots of Ban Jie Gou Villa:
Top of the Driveway
Outside Views of the Spectacular Villa
Front Porch Lounge Seating
Outside the First Floor is a large entertaining area decked with hard wood and includes a swimming pool with adjacent meditation sand beach (available in warmer months). The exterior of the property is terraced in local stone and planted with fruit trees such as apricot, cherry and plum.
Balcony Deck & Swimming Pool
Perfect Summer Retreat
Stairs Leading Up to the Outside Teppanyaki House with a marble Teppanyaki table that seats up to 6
Though it was still much too cold for us to get into the pool, our group of 12 people had a wonderful steak dinner prepared entirely by the full-time chef of the villa (she even took care of all the dishes when we were done!). It was a remarkably luxurious experience, which was topped off with a few glasses of red wine by the recessed fireplace lounge where we listened to music and played a few harmless rounds of Cards Against Humanity (so bad it’s good!).
Communal Living Area with Long Leather Couch
Mountain Views from the Couch onto the Main Pool Deck of the Villa with Open Sliding Doors
Fully Equipped Kitchen with a tall fridge and freezer, full-sized oven & dish washer
Kitchen comes with enough pots and pans, plateware, utensils and glassware for up to 20 people
Recessed Fireplace Lounge
Plush Couch with Pillows Piled High
Wood and Glass Staircases lead downstairs and upstairs for guest bedrooms
Downstairs Lounge Space with an Outside Courtyard
Lounge with full library of books, board games, a TV and DVD along with 60 broadband channels
Master Guest Bedroom with its own huge on-suite bath, rose shower, double washbasins, vanity mirrors and a private balcony
Guest Bedrooms with a view
All rooms face SE and have spectacular views
2nd Floor Bedroom with a Double Bunk
While there are 4 guest bedrooms on the lower level, there is another King size bedroom with a separate bath and shower on the second floor along with 2 family bedrooms.
And below the lower level of guest bedrooms, there is a basement level with a double garage, laundry room, a gym space and a massive storage room.
2 full-time staff including a butler and maid to look after guests, cook and clean (*note: guests will be responsible for bringing up their own food, but chefs can prepare all meals)
Wireless Audio System
Walking up the maple staircase to the third floor accesses the 200 square meter roof terrace.
A great space for entertaining, sunbathing or meditating the roof terrace enjoys views of several kilometres across the national park and close ups of the surrounding mountains including Turtle Rock and Devil’s Finger.
Yes, these are the views you can look forward to enjoying!
Basically, aside from the fact that this is an incredible work of architecture, it is in close proximity to some great nature hikes by the Great Wall and comfortably sleeps about 10-12 people.
Because of the elevation of the villa, The Great Wall is visible from the roof deck and upper floors and the nearest access it is to drive 3km north to the next village of Xi Zha Zi from where you can hike up to the Wall at Jian Kou. Heading south there is also a particularly beautiful valley walk from Jiao Jie He following the river to Sheng Tang Yu from where you can access the Wall at Mutianyu.
Morning Hike on the Jian Kou Section of the Great Wall