October 6, 2022
BEIJING – As stargazing becomes increasingly popular in Beijing, the city’s suburban areas, where there is a better natural environment and clearer skies than downtown, are seeing flocks of visitors, happy to pay big money for the experience of being blanketed by stars at night.
Yang Dong, general manager of Daxishui Xiyuan Homestay in northeastern Pinggu district, has been running such a business for nearly two years.
“I started to realize that stargazing has become a hot trend last summer, when our hotel rooms were booked up for the whole of July and August,” Yang explained.
“Most of our guests came to the homestay for camping and enjoying the astronomy-themed events.”
Yang, who has worked in the commercial real estate industry for 10 years, took up his current management position in early 2021.
The homestay, which was transformed from a previous high-end hotel, opened to the public in 2020, aimed at providing a natural environment with mountains and lakes for guests.
Seeing the soaring demand for stargazing in the capital, the homestay has swiftly seized the opportunity by raising 20 “star tents” in its open outdoor area last year.
“In fact, we already have four loft rooms themed around stargazing, where people can see the night sky through a glass ceiling,” Yang said. “However, they are always booked when the demand is high. So, we added the well-equipped tents to meet the needs of guests.
“Also, the rate of the loft room is around 3,500 yuan ($489) per night on weekends and during holidays, it is a bit high,” he said.
The average price of each tent per night ranges from 600 yuan to 800 yuan.
Despite being called tents, they are similar to hotel rooms, replete with insulating layers, thick rugs, a sofa, a queen-sized bed, clothes hangers and lamps.
Since the tents are near the Jinhai Lake, people can enjoy both the view of the lake and stars at the same time.
“Sometimes, we receive guests carrying professional telescopes and cameras. Such guests make up around one fifth of our clientele. Most of the time, people enjoy the night sky with the naked eye,” Yang added.
“The air quality is perfect in Pinggu, since it’s far from the urban downtown. People can see starry skies most nights.”
“Business is pretty good,” Yang said. “I discovered the other day that several other hotels have also adopted an astronomy theme this year.”
Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism published a list of stargazing tourism destinations and homestays, covering villages in many suburban districts including Huairou, Yanqing, Fangshan and Shunyi.
Yang expects that the stargazing business will be long-lasting, saying that “with the burdens and stresses of daily life, people always have a desire to look up at the beauty of the night sky”.