|Clear your head with a mini vacay to the Brickyard near the Mutianyu section of the Great Wal. (GT)|
Checking Beijing's air quality is a sure way to put a damper on most plans. With the "muggy" air outside showing no sign of retreating anytime soon and your lungs taking a direct hit, a getaway never sounded better. And what rings more of an escape than going to a cabin-in-the-woods setting replete with oak wood, fireplaces and cleaner air?
Escaping the smog and traffic doesn't necessarily require a plane ticket and shelling out the dough. Rustic retreats just an hour or two from the city can feel just as much like an exotic getaway, where you'll be able to let out a sigh of relief, or at least breathe fewer toxic particles.
One obstacle is that spring and autumn are typically the high seasons - read: open - for these retreats. Many otherwise popular resorts close for the winter season and don't resume operation until after March, such as Commune by the Great Wall and the countryside Shan Li Retreats. But there are still businesses open for weary visitors. For those who need a break from urban chaos without the high-ticket cost and airplane security check, consider these nearby, scenic options.
1. Sustainable splurge
Feel good about splurging by knowing that the Brickyard is dedicated to sustainability and supporting the local Beigou Village. The Brickyard Inn and Retreat Center at the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is a private, eco-friendly retreat that was renovated from a glazed tile factory.
The Brickyard is open during Spring Festival, from February 8 to 15, and resumes normal operational hours March 1. From March 1 to March 10, the Brickyard is offering guests a 15-percent discount off all rooms. Still, expect to pay a minimum of 1,380 yuan ($222) per night.
The food is all locally sourced; don't expect to find any canned goods lying around! Homemade green touches include handmade grass slippers that guests can take home or leave at the premises to be composted.
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