You might not want to sleep on the Great Wall—at least not every night. Accommodations are available in many different types and styles for those looking for more civilized ways to spend the night.
In bigger towns and more popular areas, you can find hotels. These can range from fancy and expensive to basic and inexpensive. They go by many different names, too. A hotel can have any of the following names:
Hotel – 酒店 – jiǔ diàn
Resort – 度假胜地 – dù jià shēng dì
Inn – 旅馆 – lǚ guǎn
Inn – 旅社 – lǚ shè
Guest house 宾馆 – bīn guǎn
Home – 家 – jiā
Farm house – 私人旅舍 – sī rén lǚ shě
Mountain villa – 山庄 – shān zhuāng
Lodging – 住宿 – zhù sù
Lodging – 入住 – rù zhù
Restaurant – 饭店 – fàn diàn
Sometimes there is confusion between “hotel” and “restaurant”, and a fàn diàn can be either, or both. Often in China, restaurants offer rooms as well, and this can be a source of the confusion. So, if you encounter a fàn diàn, check to see whether they have accommodations available and often you will find that they do.
Where no hotels are available, you may find guest houses of various types. Often, people living in places that might have visitors establish living places that can be rented for a day or more. They often offer food as well as lodging. These guest houses and farm houses are an excellent alternative that allow you to experience more of a normal Chinese way of life than a larger hotel – and usually some delicious food as well. However, they don't offer the kinds of conveniences that hotels might offer. If you like the luxuries of a good hotel, you will need to change your expectations in order to fully enjoy a stay at one of these rural guest houses. You will probably miss many of the aspects of staying in a guest house the next time you stay at a big hotel.
You may also find yourself in places that are rural or remote enough to lack any kind of hotels or guest houses. In these places, you can ask residents if they know of any place that you could pay to stay for the night. Often they will offer their own residence or refer you to another one. It's also common for these people to try to refuse your money. You should make concerted and repeated attempts to pay. Maybe after a while they will accept your money. If not, you could try to assist them or give them a gift or otherwise show your appreciation for their generosity. Whatever you do, be friendly, relaxed, cooperative, and adaptable.
Reservations are rarely needed or expected. Don't be concerned about walking into a hotel or guest house without a reservation. They should be happy to receive you, and if they aren't then you probably wouldn't want to stay there anyway.