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Sleep like an emperor as warriors keep watch

Updated: 2019-01-09

Try to picture life-size terracotta sculptures by your side as you eat, sleep and use the bathroom. A hotel in Xi'an that offers this fully immersive experience has become popular with tourists.

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A hotel room is decorated with terracotta sculptures in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province on Nov 27, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Three themed suites, ranging from 80 to 100 square meters, are in downtown Xi'an, home to the Terracotta Warriors.

Discovered in 1974, the army of statues is one of China's biggest tourist attractions, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It was built by Emperor Qinshihuang of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).

The Airbnb-style suites are owned by Guo Zhihua, a 53-year-old Xi'an resident. A taxi driver in the 1990s, Guo spent most of his life driving tourists to see the warriors at the Emperor Qinshihuang 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. Over the years, I have grown to like the warriors very much," he said.

Guo placed more than 200 warrior replicas in the three hotel rooms, which he named Pit 1, Pit 2 and Pit 3.

The figures appear under the beds and wash basins, in front of toilet seats and in the walls. Tiles and pillowcases also carry images of the stern-faced soldiers.

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

Guo's rooms, which cost $100 to $200 a night, have 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 said.

Xi'an is a popular tourist site. During the three-day New Year holiday, the city received 2.45 million tourists, up 17.1 percent year-on-year. Tourists spent 983 million yuan ($143 million), up 24.2 percent.

Despite the hotel's rising popularity, some discount it as a cheesy replica and say it's horrifying to sleep in a tomb. One lodger complained in a viral video that he could not sleep the whole night with warriors staring at him.