Xian sits at the eastern end of the former Silk Road, making it an important city for trade. It’s also served as the capital for 13 major Chinese dynasties and was the first city in China introduced to Islam.
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, you may find it hard to decide where to stay in Xian. While you could stay near the cultural landmarks in the city centre, there are plenty of other options.
From the historic origins, the city has expanded, especially in the past two decades. It now has 11 administrative districts.
Some of the best districts border the city centre. Visit the quiet streets of the surrounding neighbourhoods or spend time exploring the museums in the districts north of the old city.
Not sure where to look? Get your accommodations search started with this guide to the best places to stay in Xian…
Where to stay in Xian: A complete guide to the best neighbourhoods & areas for travellers
Xian is known for its history. It’s the cultural centre of inland China and home to some of the most important sites, such as the Terracotta Army and the fortifications of old Xian.
Finding the right neighbourhood for your trip should place you closer to the attractions you want to see. If you’re primarily interested in visiting all the temples and historic destinations as a first-time visitor, you’ll probably choose the city centre.
Of course, if you want to walk the road less travelled, explore the three districts that border the downtown area. From the upscale shopping and luxury hotels in Beilin to the residential streets of Xincheng or Lianhu, you could stay somewhere that generally houses fewer tourists.
While Xian has eight other districts, travelling further from the centre also means fewer hotel options and longer trips to your desired destinations.
A few of the best areas to stay in Xian for travellers include:
- Xian City Center
Xian City Center
✔ Best area to stay for history buffs & culture lovers
Blending old and new, Xian City Center remains a top choice for anyone wanting to see the city in less than a day.
The city centre is where you’ll find the top things to see & do in Xian. Parts of the downtown area are within the boundaries of the surrounding districts.
Getting around downtown Xian is easy, thanks to pedestrian-friendly roads and a simple grid-like layout.
For the most part, the city centre includes the area bordered by the old fortifications of Xian. The ancient walls form a large rectangle spanning several city blocks.
The centrepiece of the city is the Bell Tower of Xian, found in the middle of the historic downtown area. From the tower, four roads run directly north, south, east, and west, dividing the old city.
You could easily spend several days exploring the city centre of Xian. It includes the iconic tower, several important temples and mosques, and many museums.
While the historic attractions draw tourists from all over, the downtown area also has a lot of modern attractions. A trip to New City Plaza or Kaiyuan Shopping Mall provides endless shopping.
Recommended hotels in Xian City Center
The city’s centre offers a wide mixture of accommodations, from hostels to luxury hotels. Some of the best spots are close to the Bell Tower in the middle of the old city. Keep in mind that these locations are technically part of the districts that overlap parts of downtown.
- Merlinhod Hotel Xian: Just two minutes from the Bell Tower, this is one of the closest hotels to the centre of the city. The stylish hotel is also a comfortable place to stay while exploring the nearby cultural landmarks.
- Campanile Xian Bell Tower Hotel: This modern hotel features a bar and lounge, along with convenient access to downtown Xian. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the Muslim Quarter and other popular attractions. You can also enjoy a free breakfast buffet before you hit the streets in the morning.
- Eastern House Boutique Hotel: While it’s marketed as a boutique hotel, this location is more of a luxury four-star hotel. The sleek, modern furnishings are a complete contrast to the ancient sites within walking distance of the hotel.
✔ Best area to stay for families & casual sightseeing
At the eastern end of the city centre, you’ll come across Xincheng district. This area is home to many public parks, restaurants, and bars.
It’s a great destination for families and has more of a residential vibe. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy commercial districts by choosing this area of the city as your home base.
Xincheng is a relaxing place, but still close to the action. In fact, most of Xincheng is within the fortifications of Xian, so you’re never far from the historic sites.
While it’s not the main area of the city for food lovers, Xincheng offers a wide selection of dining establishments. Throughout most of the district, you cannot turn a corner without finding a coffee shop, a family restaurant, or bakery.
Restaurant owners in the area tend to name their establishments after their main dishes, making it easy for foreigners to find specific foods. When you visit Xianzhuyi Hot Pot, Fangshan Shanglao Casserole, or Shenjidong Dumpling, you know what you’re getting.
Xincheng is also home to the Revolution Park. The popular public park includes amusement rides, food vendors, and people performing tai chi. It’s often full of locals and tourists, located near the western edge of the district.
Recommended hotels in Xincheng
Xincheng doesn’t have as many options compared to the other districts near downtown. Luckily, the available choices include three-star and four-star accommodations located just a few blocks from the Bell Tower.
- Sofitel Legend People’s Grand Hotel Xian: Built in 1953, this is one of the older establishments in the city. After recent renovations, it now features an onsite Italian restaurant, along with a cigar lounge, several bars, and a spa. It’s a few minutes walk from Revolution Park and the fortifications.
- Grand Soluxe Hotel Xian: This mid-range hotel sits about two kilometres from the Muslim Quarter and a short walk from several shopping malls. The rooms are relatively small but offer views of the city and soundproofing to block out the noise outside.
- Aurum International Hotel Xian: Towering over the nearby buildings, this hotel stands out for its unique architecture. Inside the hotel, you’ll find spacious rooms and soft linens. Nearby, you’ll get to explore some of the best restaurants in the city.
✔ Best area to stay for shopping & luxury accommodations
Beilin covers part of the southern portion of the Xian City Center and the area just south of the city walls. It’s mostly a residential district but contains a few of the most important temples and museums.
Spend your time examining cultural artifacts at the Shaanxi History Museum. See everything from metal objects and pottery to fossils and murals at the Tang-style museum.
After you finish visiting the cultural and historic landmarks, it’s time to shop. Beilin has several of the best shopping complexes in the city, with designer brands at great prices.
To go along with the upscale shopping, the area also has many fine hotels, restaurants, and lounges.
As with the other recommendations, Beilin is within walking distance of downtown and the surrounding districts. Travel freely between each area without needing to take a taxi or ride the metro.
Beilin is also closest to the Yanta district, home to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. If you don’t feel like making the trip, visit its smaller counterpart in Beilin. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is a few blocks south of the city walls.
Recommended hotels in Beilin
If you get bored with the sites in Beilin, you can always find things to do at your hotel. Beilin has managed to become home to some of the best hotels in Xian. You’ll find a variety of luxury options with pools, game rooms, fitness centres, and spas.
- Xian Left Art Fashion Hotel: Stay in comfort, thanks to complimentary bathrobes, slippers, and the spa bath in your hotel room. This location is also a short walk from downtown attractions and restaurants. Within 10 minutes, you could be exploring the Drum Tower or City Walls.
- Grand Park Xian: A few minutes from Yongning Gate, you’ll find this stylish hotel. It offers everything needed for a comfortable stay, including large rooms, a spa, a grand banquet hall, and two onsite restaurants. Experience local cuisine without leaving your hotel.
- Holiday Inn Express Xian Bell Tower: Located in the heart of the Beilin district, this hotel offers cosy accommodations just four minutes from the Bell Tower. The staff is always friendly and available to arrange your tour if you need help with your Xian itinerary.
✔ Best area to stay for local cuisine & historic sites
If you want to add cultural sites to your Xian itinerary, consider staying in the Lianhu district. It encompasses part of the old city and several of the most significant historic attractions, including the entire Muslim Quarter.
The Xian Muslim Quarter includes four neighbourhoods and the largest Muslim population in the city. The distinct culture and atmosphere of the quarter make Lianhu a little different from the other options.
You’ll find an eclectic assortment of merchants throughout the winding streets and alleys. While many of the merchants sell inexpensive goods and handmade items, you’ll also find many upscale merchants. Shop for fine Muslim rugs and other special souvenirs you won’t find elsewhere in the city.
The only drawbacks to spending time in the Muslim Quarter is the traffic congestion and lack of public bathrooms.
Lianhu also provides the best chance to explore the local cuisine. The Shaanxi cuisine is distinct, with an assortment of traditional foods from all over.
As Xian is one of the oldest melting pots in the region, the cuisine includes many influences. You’ll find a little bit of everything, from sour soup dumplings to fried dough twist or paomo.
Recommended hotels in Lianhu
As with Xincheng, Lianhu has limited options, but the available choices are diverse. You could stay in a hostel, rent an apartment, or choose one of the following three-star hotels. No matter where you decide to sleep in Lianhu, you’re never far from the downtown area.
- Xian Holiday Hotel: This hotel is over two kilometres from the Bell Tower and downtown area. Luckily, the hotel provides a tour, airport shuttle, and car rental services. Many of the rooms also provide views of the city.
- Sheraton Xian North City Hotel: Located on the northern end of Lianhu, this four-star hotel is just a five-minute walk from Daming Palace. Reaching the other attractions may take a little longer, but you can always relax in your spacious room with large LCD TVs and bright décor.
- Metropolo Xian Bell Tower West Gate: This business hotel may not offer spacious rooms, but it’s comfortable. It’s also a little further from the attractions. While you’ll need to walk at least 15 minutes to reach the Muslim Quarter of the Bell Tower, the hotel almost always has vacancies.