One day free stay, 3 level house with underfloor heating, Wifi, Fully equipped kitchen including dishwasher oven etc !!! When I and my wife travelled to the Yellow Mountain area near Shanghai, China, we found a village called Xidi Ancient Village, which is a magnificently preserved example of 900 years of ancient China and was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. Xidi is also a short 30 minute drive from Yellow Mountain (Huangshan Mountain), which is the most popular tourist destination in the Shanghai region and is where “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” was filmed and was the inspiration for much of the scenery in the film “Avatar”. Just two hour's drive south of Xidi is the world famous porcelain town of Jingdezhen, which is where porcelain was invented and then copied by the West. Jingdezhen was originally called Changnan which is where we get the name China.
We found a house we liked which is a 5 minute walk from the entrance to Xidi Village and bought it. At first it did not look very attractive at all. We both spent several days walking through the house, looking at where the light fell at different times of the day, where the breeze came from, what views there were.
Finally, we were ready for what turned out to be a very interesting renovation project. To begin with, we both wanted to keep an emphasis on the local Hui architectural elements of stone, white, grey, simplicity. We also began collecting local old artefacts that we could incorporate into the house. We found an old stone basin that was being used as a pig feed trough, old wooden doors, old farm tools, wooden power poles, carvings and pieces of timber.
While this collection continued, we began work on the house with a team of builders. To begin with, it needed more natural light as it was one of a row of units with no side windows. We did this by knocking large holes in the front and rear of the building to enlarge existing windows and put in new ones as well as installing skylights on the top floor roof. This took care of the light.
Next, we chose light wall and ceiling colours in order to enhance and reflect the light still further. To keep the walls from looking sterile, we used a rough brush to apply the paint to give it a textured look.
We had visited Xidi before on holiday and had noticed how cold the winters are here, especially with the stone floors. This made us decide to install electric under floor heating under a natural grey slate floor on all three levels. This turned out to be one of the best design decisions we made, as the look was perfect and the warmth coming through the floor means there is no need for bulky heaters scattered throughout the building.
We found a good supply of old doors from our friend Guan which we joined together to make tables and side boards for the kitchen and sink tops for the bathrooms. They are thick, strong and rough and will last for many years of use. It also allows me to wonder who opened the door that I'm eating my dinner from.
I'm from England and Australia, so I like good strong showers, so we installed a shower room and wc on each floor. We also put in a large boiler to provide plenty of hot water.
The summers in Xidi are hot, so we also put an air conditioner on each level, up against the stair well to keep the sound levels down. We found that the stone floor in summer absorbs the coolness from the air conditioners and keeps the place very comfortable. Unless it's very hot, the coolness from the stone floor and walls is enough keep the unit cool without the air cons.
Roughly half of the furniture was made on the spot by the carpenters using local wood and half was bought from local farmers who didn't need the pieces any more. It was great fun meeting them and bargaining for the pieces, often over a cup of green tea from their farm.
Our home was now beginning to take shape, so the last things we did was to select the lights, switches and paintings to hang on the walls. Most of the paintings came from Dafeng near Shenzhen and are copies of originals, but some of them are much loved originals from friends and artists we have met while living here. All of them are like old friends to us now.
During the tourist season we run the ground floor as a coffee shop to cater to the thousands of art students who visit here during term time. With these students in mind, we decided on the name “Van Gogh Coffee Inn” after visiting Arles in Provence, southern France. Arles is where Vincent Van Gogh did some of his best work in 1888/89, such as “Café Terrace at Night” and he is one of my favourite painters. We designed the café awning and chairs modelled on the Arles café, which has been preserved the way it was when Vincent was there. We like it and so do the many art student visitors who come to Xidi to paint.
To finish off the renovation, we installed the best cooking top, dish washer, oven, clothes washer, wi fi, TVs and accessories that we could source. The result is a clean, bright, comfortable home that has given us years of enjoyment, comfort, peace and quiet. We can stroll out the front door into the ancient village of Xidi to buy organic food or into virgin forest and rice paddies whenever we want. The highlight for me is being able to sit quietly on our terrace and watch the green bamboo covered hills in the evening while I unwind. Bliss.
Getting to Xidi is easy, with international flights into Shanghai Beijing or Guangzhou then domestic flights or trains from there to the nearest large city, Huangshan. From Huangshan it is a 40 minute bus or taxi ride to Xidi and our place. Our chauffeur with his executive car is ready for booking with charge of £20.
Since we spend a lot of our time in England, Australia and Europe, in the quiet tourist seasons we rent out our Xidi property to clients who appreciate the history, peace and quiet of the area. I hope our guests are as comfortable and happy in our home as we have been. Our house keeper Mrs Gu will be waiting at house to hand over the key and show you around. The green bikes are available to rent at the entry of Xidi Village. Our chauffeur or taxi is also available if you want to order. We will email you a House Manual with local travel guidance of our owns experience when you settle the booking.
Xidi Village is a magnificently preserved example of ancient China and was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. Construction of Xidi Village began during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and it has a history of over 900 years.
It is famous as being the best “Ming and Qing Dynasty Local Residence Museum” with their distinctive architecture incorporating courtyards and roofs open to the sky. Xidi is also a short 30 minute drive from Yellow Mountain (Huangshan Mountain), which is the most popular tourist destination in the Shanghai region and is so attractive that several famous Chinese and international films have been made in this region. Just two hour's drive south of Xidi is the world famous porcelain town of Jingdezhen, which is where porcelain was invented and then copied by the West. Jingdezhen was originally called Changnan which is where we get the name China.
The clean air and sunny skies in Xidi are very similar to Arles, Provence in southern France. In Xidi village, the nearby farms and surrounding valleys and hills, March to May is a riot of colour beginning with fields of pink peach blossoms which in May give way to carpets of bright yellow rape seed. In June, local people use a special wild herb to bathe new born babies and to hang above the main door to dispel sickness and sin. This herb is a type of wormwood and gives the slight bitter taste to one of Van Gogh's favourite drinks, absinthe, or “The Green Fairy” as Parisian artists called it.
Every year thousands of Chinese art students are sent by their universities to Xidi and its surrounding villages to paint and draw local life and architecture.
This artistic atmosphere combined with the Xidi region's natural beauty and the spectacular architecture of the Xidi residence buildings has made this area China's most popular holiday resort, attracting local and overseas visitors such as the French film star Juliette Binoche and film directors such as James Cameron, who drew much of his inspiration for the floating mountains in his film “Avatar” from the mist and mystery of nearby Huangshan Mountain.
Welcome to our Xidi Van Gogh Inn.
Home to luxury Van Gogh Inn in historic peace and quiet of ancient Village of Xidi in Yellow Mountain region near Shanghai, China. For more than 2 weeks booking, discount price is available. Please contact owner