I stayed at VERONA THEME HOTEL (VERONA LOVE THEME HOTEL) in Happy Valley, Beijing, for one week. “Weiluona” is merely a Chinese transliteration of “Verona”. The hotel staff are unable to speak any English and I communicated to them in Mandarin Chinese. If you don’t speak Chinese then you probably won’t have the experience that I had.
There are significant merits and shortcomings to this hotel. What do you want me to start off with? My time was divided across two rooms. One was a room to the theme of starlight Rain, a cheaper room. The other was a room to a bird theme, a more expensive room. Starlight Rain has a cool ceiling, thoughtfully installed wall decorations, and good strong furniture. It’s nice and comfortable – good bed, good shower, but being only 5 ft 1 in tall the shower head was right on top of my head, so, you’re probably taller than me and you probably won’t find the shower to be as useful. But then this bedroom is above that restaurant downstairs with loud customers loudly talking beyond 11pm, midnight, beyond 1 am, that’s each day, and after some verbal Chinese complaints to those noisy people downstairs, a telephone call to reception to complain, their loud noises still prevented me from sleeping at 01:35 a.m. and I was so angry that I threw paper down at their tables, which I don’t normally do. The other room, the Bird room, didn’t have this problem but after 1.5 days the bathroom drain was smelling of something unpleasant and yucky. The Bird room is larger, with interesting designs and decorations, but this is an uncivilised hotel all throughout with smoking bans stuck up all across the corridors and customers smoking in the corridors nonetheless. Upon switching the air-conditioner on in my bedroom, there’s this big blast of the smell of cigarette smoke and it is disgusting. It is also unhealthy. Outside China, my travel agent told me this is a non-smoking hotel. That’s just a lie. The main reception is not well-ventilated, with customers smoking intensely and harming the health of people like me who don’t want the smoke. This hotel is ALSO UNCIVILISED when it comes to its toilets. IT WON’T FLUSH AWAY USED TOILET PAPER. They provide a bin that is without a lid and with the bin lined with an extremely thin bin plastic bag, not even wafer thin. They expect you to wipe yourself, then put the used toilet paper into the bin that is without a lid, so that your whole hotel room smells of both liquid and solid human waste. That is so disgusting, I refuse to do that, so I still throw used toilet paper down the toilet. Then I have to buy a bottle of drain blocker for 18 yuan to have the used toilet paper disintegrating so that I can flush it away, otherwise the used toilet paper will be building up further and further and none of the contents of the toilet bowl shall be flushing away. You cannot make or receive external telephone calls from your hotel bedroom, which is annoying given the big sums of money you are paying. There isn’t even a payphone inside the hotel, or on the road that the hotel is in, and I find that ridiculous and stupid.
About the public areas of the hotel, some corridors are well-lit but some corridors are not well-lit. Lighting is half-dim half-useful, so if there is a big pool of water on the floor, you would not identify it without a torch and that is a safety hazard within Verona Theme Hotel Beijing. The strange squeaky music of the corridor is not tastefully selected and sometimes it comes through to my bedroom. But in mainland China, you could do much worse than pathetic squeaky music that lacks structural merit so I am not in a position to complain. This is April with Easter coming and the hotel is wildly out of season, with big Christmas trees at the main door and Merry Christmas decorations in the hotel. I think as they speak no English they actually don’t understand what ‘Merry Christmas’ means. But even the 4-star hotels in Beijing in town are full of Christmas snowmen during Easter.
The hotel receptionists consist of male and female members of staff. They are generally lovely (bear in mind I talked to them in Chinese, as they can’t speak English) and they are good at providing transport directions, pointing to localities of addresses which was good for me as even complete addresses of venues in Chinese are still practically useless to local taxi drivers. They are not as good at check-out administration as they used a pathetic photocopier to copy the hotel bill which is the crucial piece of paperwork that helps me to keep track of how I have spent my money. I had to make them print it out again as I could only see the hotel bill by about a third! That’s not acceptable! It’s also tacky as it’s A4 paper torn in half by the hand and they didn’t even use a pair of scissors or a guillotine to cut the paper for the official hotel bill. That reminds me - in the middle of my stay, when the hotel receptionist got me to sign on the deposit money form, there was snot on that document. I’m not making this up. There really was snot on that document. I’m just glad it was a small piece of snot and not a huge piece of snot. Oh, I don’t want to think about that…
The cleaning ladies are friendly as well, but they seem to miss my room every other day even with that ready-to-clean sign put up on my door so I think the hotel is not that well managed. There is no system to have a security guard patrolling at night, which is not great when one night I had a wild neighbour blasting television noise long after midnight and I was trying to sleep. Some of the cleaning staff are not safety-conscious, not mopping up big pools of water on the floor of the room during their cleaning session which constituted a major safety hazard. Sometimes that water was from their cleaning, once that water was from my hand-washing, I expected them to mop things up but they did not, they just came and went. Oh and they are very very frugal with toilet paper, they give me hardly enough, and this is supposed to be a romance-themed hotel with couples staying here, taller people who poo and pee more than I do. The hotel is full of condoms and erotic oils in the bedrooms, totally useless for me as I was on holiday in Beijing to see friends. I borrowed the condoms then just put them back there. I mean, I borrowed the box of condoms to put my camera on top of it to shoot some photos using those condoms as some kind of a little platform. When noise late at night disturbed me perhaps I should have ripped open the packet of condoms to make the condoms into some kind of earplugs to help my sleep. But instead of ripping out condoms I picked room change as a method to eliminate uncivilised noises late at night.
Verona – City of Love – I think that is very simplistic and ideologically infinitesimal. They don’t do well with those Chinese captions of love to photographs of their guestrooms either as it’s all a wishy-washy waste of time - I know that Chinese poetry as well as prose gets really very much more eloquent and beautiful than that. I really don’t think the hotel manager himself or herself ever even set foot in Verona. They should at least do something with the idea of Juliet’s balcony. So, Verona Theme Hotel Beijing is devoid of literary and musical merits. It doesn’t have a restaurant so culinary merits are next-doors, beware of food poisoning though as they didn’t bother half-cooking my prawns. But Verona Theme Hotel does well with its artistic merits – on its walls, on its ceilings, on its floorboards, on its schemes of designs. Each guest room is designed and different from others. So Verona Theme Hotel doesn’t suffer from the big syndrome of boredom of 5-star hotels and 4-star hotels. It hosts interesting designs to stimulate you and unlike boring 5-star hotels, it does give you interesting chairs, interesting walls and interesting ceilings to look at. Enjoy! Just try not to succumb to its tobacco smoke, uncivilised toilets, drains and try not to slip on the floor to be banging your head up a wall. I don’t think I will stay at Verona Theme Hotel Beijing again, as I don’t want the stinky cigarette smoke or the dodgy safety hazards on the floor.
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