Sleep­ing like an em­peror

China’s ter­ra­cotta war­rior ho­tel a big hit with tourists

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - Xin­hua

Try to pic­ture life-sized ter­ra­cotta sculp­tures by your side as you eat, sleep and use the bath­room. A ho­tel in Xi’an, Shaanxi Prov­ince, of­fer­ing this fully im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence has be­come pop­u­lar among both Chi­nese and for­eign guests. The three themed suites, rang­ing from 80 to 100 square me­ters in size, are lo­cated in down­town Xi’an, home to the Ter­ra­cotta Army. Dis­cov­ered in 1974, the army is one of China’s big­gest tourist at­trac­tions, draw­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of vis­i­tors each year. It was built by Qin­shi­huang of the Qin Dy­nasty (221BC-206BC), who uni­fied China for the first time in history and be­came its first em­peror. The Airbnb-style ho­tels are owned by Guo Zhi­hua, a 53-year-old Xi’an lo­cal. A taxi driver in the 1990s, Guo spent most of his life driv­ing tourists to see the war­riors in the Em­peror Qin­shi- huang’s Mau­soleum Site Mu­seum.

“Many of my col­leagues parked their cars, smoked and chat­ted with each other. But I pre­ferred to go to the pits with my pas­sen­gers to tell them sto­ries about the war­riors, like a tour guide,” he ex­plained.

“Over the years, I have grown to like the war­riors very much,” he added.

Guo has placed more than 200 war­rior repli­cas in the three ho­tel rooms, which he calls pit one, two and three.

The sculp­tures are un­der the beds, the wash basins, in front of toi­let seats and in the walls. Tiles and pil­low­cases are also painted with im­ages of the stern-faced sol­diers.

As the bed light shines through a spe­cially-coated cover, the im­ages of the war­rior for­ma­tions mul­ti­ply so that the guests can feel like an em­peror re­view­ing his troops, Guo said.

Guo’s rooms, cost­ing $100 to $200 a

night, has drawn thou­sands of vis­i­tors from 30 coun­tries and re­gions since the ho­tel opened in 2008, when Bei­jing hosted the Sum­mer Olympics.

“I was bank­ing on the grow­ing in­ter­est in Chi­nese history,” Guo said.

The ho­tels are fully booked un­til May.

“One day, I re­ceived 400 reser­va­tions in two hours,” he ex­plained.

Xi’an is a pop­u­lar tourist site. Dur­ing the three-day New Year hol­i­day, the city re­ceived 2.453 mil­lion tourists, up 17.16 per­cent year on year. Tourists spent 983

mil­lion yuan ($143 mil­lion), up 24.24 per­cent.

De­spite the ho­tel’s ris­ing pop­u­lar­ity, some dis­count it as a cheesy replica and say it is hor­ri­fy­ing to sleep in a tomb. One lodger com­plained in a vi­ral video that he could not sleep the whole night with war­riors star­ing him down. Guo re­mains un­fazed. “I’d like to of­fer more his­to­ry­themed ho­tels with Han [206BCAD220] and Tang [618-907] dy­nasty dec­o­ra­tions so over­seas tourists can truly ex­pe­ri­ence Chi­nese history, and when they get back home, tourists can carry on Chi­nese cul­ture,” he said.

Pho­tos: IC

Ter­ra­cotta war­rior dec­o­ra­tions are dis­played in a room of Guo Zhi­hua’s fam­ily ho­tel in Xi’an, North­west China’s Shaanxi Prov­ince on Jan­uary 4.

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