The biggest “but” first:
At the end of my 23-night stay, I was given the choice between paying my bill in RMB or in EUR. I chose RMB, yet the hotel charged my credit card in EUR at their own rate, which is significantly more expensive than my bank’s rate would have been. The difference in my case amounted to about 140 EUR in favor of the hotel. It took them several days (and two reminders) to respond to my email in this regard. Then they immediately charged my card again, while my bank had not yet received any indication of a refund. Given that by their own admission they had made a “mistake”, I consider this practice totally unacceptable and feel very strongly that the refund procedure (which may take up to 15 days, as I was rather nonchalantly informed) should have been completed, i.e. the refund credited to my card, before they charged again. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I will choose a different hotel for my upcoming trips to Beijing.
None of this is really terrible, but in sum still inappropriate for a five-star hotel, especially one sailing under the Raffles flag. Basically, none of the Chinese staff you meet in the corridors will greet you or even look at you, with the exception of some housekeepers. The fact that I was there for a stay of 23 nights was acknowledged precisely once, and in connection with an attempt to determine my tour-purchasing potential. I did not perceive anything that might be considered special or personal treatment, apart from being greeted by name by some of the breakfast staff. Even the ubiquitous Ambassador did not venture near me, although he seemed to be talking to everyone else at breakfast. The Western managers who descend on the breakfast room every morning seem to be there on a private mission rather than as hotel representatives – the way they all go straight for the buffet, I initially thought they were a business delegation staying at the hotel. They did not seem to notice the many small details that were off, e.g. incorrect labelling, lack of utensils, Nutella apparently taken out of the freezer 15 minutes before, etc. Lobby staff, including the guy who is supposed to push the revolving door for you, play on their cell phones and are visibly baffled when a guest materializes in front of them. The awful pool has been mentioned in other reviews; if the Raffles chooses to outsource pool management to an external company, it should pick one that can provide adequate services, and monitor service delivery carefully. The showerheads in the ladies’ pool changing facilities looked as if they were about to come off the wall. The lobby toilets come with cheap fake-wood doors and a funny smell. The wifi wasn’t always reliable. Over a period of three days, housekeeping didn’t seem to notice a broken light in the bathroom (was fixed very quickly when reported). Bathtub plug leaked so it wasn’t possible to run a bath (did not ask to fix this and took showers instead – but aren’t there any routine inspections of room facilities?). Key card stopped working three times.
I wanted a comfortable, quiet room for an extended stay, and that’s what I got in a Raffles Inc. Business room; in my case looking out onto the space between the State and Heritage Buildings. I am very sensitive to noise, but the room was super quiet. Other reviews have complained about the room décor; while I didn’t find it particularly amazing (and certainly not terribly “colonial”), I was fine with it and in any case there are photos on the website so anyone can check before making a booking. Comfortable big bed. Room slippers are made of cotton cloth rather than the white synthetic fibre variety. Note that the majority of guests seemed to be tourists, so this is not the best place if you are on business (e.g. there was a small desk in my room but no office supplies, and the chair was not comfortable for work). Very friendly and efficient breakfast staff, good selection at breakfast. Did not try any of the restaurants so cannot comment. Check-in was quick, efficient and friendly, though they must have been out of tea when I arrived for I certainly wasn’t offered any. My main reason for choosing the Raffles was its location, which is obviously fantastic and makes it easy to get out and explore, with many sights within walking distance and the subway station just a few meters away. This makes the hotel a good choice if you are staying for just a few nights and want to be close to certain tourist attractions and public transportation.
In sum, I had a generally pleasant stay even though my overall expectations of the Raffles were not always met. Given the handling of my payment, however, I am definitely not coming back.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Thank you for your detailed feedback following your recent stay with us at Raffles Beijing Hotel. We appreciate and value all the time you have taken to share your experience with us on Tripadvisor, which will help us to continuously improve our service and facilities.
First of all, we would like to thank you for having chosen Raffles Beijing Hotel as your preferred accommodation in Beijing during your 23 days stay in the Middle Kingdom. Whilst I was happy to read the closure of your feedback that overall, you left with a “generally pleasant experience”, I was disappointed to learn about the challenges you experienced with being recognized, the pool facilities and most importantly the handling of your payment. We understand that with a 23 nights stay at a hotel, the least that our guest would expect is being recognized and feel comfortable; on this occasion, we seemed to have failed you for which there is no excuse, only an apology. As mentioned in the review, while we agree with you to be the top hotel destination for leisure travelers, please rest assured that we do provide our business travelers a full access to business amenities such as electronics, tools and office furniture such as Business Desk Chairs which I wish we would have known you needed to make your long business stay with us a more comfortable one. This has been noted on your profile along with other feedback to anticipate your needs in the future.
In regards to the Pool facilities and as you may have already read, it is unfortunate that the pool is operated and managed by a third party operator. This party is hired by the real estate owner of our hotel and regrettably does not report in any way to us. Having said that, we understand our responsibility of offering the service and having pool access for our guests, therefore we are working on a long term solution to regain ownership and supervision of the area in order to offer Raffles service and standards. This is a long term project and we are confident that we will be able to rectify this structural adjustment finally by 2016. In the meantime we will continue with our efforts to maintain the area and quality to the best of our means. Please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience we have caused with this and failing to provide the basic services in this area.
We have also taken note of your comment regarding your negative perception of our Raffles Ambassador and other Western employees. Having read and knowing about the “ubiquitous” Ambassador, you can only imagine his frustration to read your review and not having been able to connect with you while staying with us. Please rest assured that we have internally discussed the sensitivity of this matter. Our executive chef was also very keen on receiving the feedback and your comments on some of the buffet items.
Last but not least, allow me to apologize once again for the mishandling of your payment and elaborate a little bit more for the awareness of other travelers as well. The daily foreign currency conversion rates are set by approved Banks which we are not permitted to amend nor charge any commission on the forex transaction. In addition, all credit card transactions through the hotel’s Point of Sales (POS) machines are directly debited by our bankers in the local currency of the client’s card. This is a system default but there is an available option for the amount to be debited in RMB. In your case, we acknowledge you have given instruction for your room bills to be settled in RMB but unfortunately, this was not followed through by our colleague who attended to you on the day and so the settlement was made in Euro instead of RMB. As for your request to refund the full amount in Euro and recharge the amount in RMB, the transactions were promptly processed. Our records show the refund in Euro was made by our bank on the following day. However, we are not able to confirm with certainty when the refund will actually appears on your credit card statement as such international interbank transactions vary according to the bank, its location, etc. So as a matter of policy, we advise our guests that it may take up to 15 days for refunds to be credited to their credit card account. Please accept my sincere apologies for this unfortunate incident which had caused you much inconvenience. We are currently reviewing our procedures with our bank to avoid this from happening in the future.
At Raffles, we strive to provide every guest with the most comfortable experience, but we seem to have partly failed in meeting your expectations on this occasion. We do hope we have an opportunity to welcoming you again.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.