Put this hotel in the “much improved, much appreciated” category.
I stayed here for one night 18 years ago, and didn’t care much for the hotel. I loved the famous and fascinating golden mural in the lobby, a truly unique work of art for a bustling hotel lobby, but behind this historic façade I found the overall product wanting (rooms, service, etc.).
Fast forward almost two decades, and the hotel has aged nicely. The golden mural is still there, resplendent as ever, but the lobby now appears a bit sleeker, better lighted and somehow classier (although still very very busy at certain times). We had to enter by a rather unpretentious side doorway through the shopping arcade because the main driveway and lobby entrance was under renovation, so I can imagine how much more majestic the lobby will be when the work is done. (It may already be done, since I stayed here in July 2013.)
The guest room, however, is almost breathtakingly large. Nobody told me that I was being upgraded, but I suspect that I was given a full suite rather than the superior room my company booked. The room had a big living area with a nifty glass-topped working desk right beside a huge window (with a view of a flat screen TV and the main street fronting the hotel) and a set of living room furniture. There was a separate bedroom with its own TV, and an expansive bed that was positioned near another big picture window. (Very few hotels put their beds really near the window, so maybe guests don’t like the feeling? But I do, I crave such wonderful bedside views.
I recall getting a similar feeling from only one other hotel, the Sheraton in downtown Vancouver ---- but then that was a rather cramped room compared to this one in Guangzhou’s Garden Hotel).
What I did like: truly practical amenities for the businessperson, including a stand-alone rack for hanging up a suit jacket, a full array of electrical outlets from which you could charge various electronic devices (now that’s such a simple, basic thing but so many hotels neglect it) and acting as universal adaptors, and a simple-but-handy set of office supplies and tools (scissors, stapler, paper clips, stationery, etc.). Plus lots of cabinets and drawers, perfect for the nomadic pack rats like me.
Also really likable:
-- The panoramic bathroom window giving you a view of the bedroom (and the TV) from the bathtub and the separate shower stall (with a rain shower, another plus!).
-- The soft Chinese prints on the walls, and even in the bathroom, resembling poetic garden scenes.
-- The space, the space, the space. You could do cartwheels in the living area. (The mirrored wall seems to make it look even larger.)
--- The hi-tech, very updated feel of the room, complementing the Oriental accents nicely. (With two exceptions, see below.) This is partly the result of the modern lighting effects. This room is nice and bright without being harsh or glaring. (But see exception below.)
What I didn’t like:
--- The maroonish red lampshades in the living room (OK, I get it, they were probably striving for a bit of an imperial Chinese accent ---- red and gold and all that --- but the resulting effect seems almost Transylvanian).
--- The slightly lower-end feel of the living room furniture, particularly the round coffee table. Together with the kitschy lampshades, they seemed to cheapen the general plushness of a what is otherwise a very luxurious room.
But those are small quibbles. The bed, too, is not the softest, but it did the job well enough. All in all, this was one of the best hotel rooms I’ve stayed in. I only wonder if the regular superior room can match it, if on a smaller scale.
The breakfast, in a big sunny café overlooking the hotel’s namesake garden, was a slight disappointment, less sumptuous than the setting. It had the usual basics and choices, but wasn’t really above average. I wasn’t too comfortable sitting in small tables positioned rather closely to one another, and the big breakfast crowd didn’t compensate for this feeling.
The garden was delightful enough, and I spent a good half hour soaking in its serenity.
Service seems to have improved, too, except for one snag. As we checked in at around 3 am, not the most ideal check in time, the front desk kept asking us to deposit a large sum of money (I don’t recall how much, but we’re talking about more than 200 or 300 US dollars) to cover incidentals and the room rate, in lieu of a credit card. Several members of our delegations refused to pay or to hand over credit cards (the staff would have blocked a large sum on the cards as guarantee/deposit). Now I realize this is a widespread practice, but I don’t recall any other hotel asking for such large sums to cover a deposit or guarantee. And this is in spite of the fact that our company had made arrangements to cover the entire cost of the room charges for all the members of our delegation. (And our company has offices right inside the Garden Hotel complex, in the commercial office wing adjacent to the hotel. Even more perplexing, our company had booked three function rooms for a dinner, press conference, business forum and related activities the next evening, and thus should have been considered a very good customer of the hotel!) It took almost an hour to resolve the issue by asking our company representative to make further guarantees or promises (not an easy thing to do at almost 4 am, when they finally completed the check in). Head-scratching, if you ask me.
The location isn’t bad, but not ideal for someone like me who wants to feel that he is in the true center of town. In the mid-1990s as today, I find the Garden to be in the fringe of the city of Guangzhou, far from its heart. However, I note that there is now a subway entrance located very near the hotel, making it convenient to travel throughout the central city without having to hail a taxi. (I assume this, but I wasn’t able to try the subway.)
I stayed here for two nights (including the pre-dawn arrival night) and wished that I could spend more time luxuriating in the Garden’s room, uh, suite. I forgive the red lamps, the service lapses (have had similar experiences in other hotels in Beijing and Shanghai), and the noisy hustle and bustle … this is a fine hotel, aging well enough, updated for the 21st century. If not quite love at second sight, it’s a big “like” the second time around.
Ask for a higher floor with a view.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dear Mr. Wing,
Report response as inappropriate
First, I would like to extend my appreciation for posting such an outstanding comment regarding The Garden Hotel on this website.
I understand with a busy schedule like yours, it’s not easy to find time to write such an informative review.
I’m glad to hear that your stay with us was as enjoyable as about 18 years ago.
Things have certainly changed within the property as well as its surroundings.
You have encountered our upgrade at a time where we remodeled our entire front entrance driveway.
For that inconvenience, I’d like to extend my sincere apology.
Even though the exterior has not changed much of its original style, the interior has been gone through major upgrades over the past few years.
As The Garden Hotel is nearing its 30th anniversary next year, it is our responsibility to keep up with the competition and ensure our guests have a relaxing and enjoyable stay.
I’m glad to read that you enjoyed the in-room facilities, the decoration and lighting as well as the view over the city of Guangzhou.
I regret to hear that the lampshades as well as the round coffee table have not met your expectations to resemble this suite at its fullest.
We offer rooms in different categories, but rest assured that these are able to meet our guest’s needs as well.
From the panoramic window views, the lighting, office supplies all the way to the electrical outlets.
I was sorry to hear that your breakfast experience was not matching your expectations.
These comments have been forwarded to our Culinary Team who are currently looking into updates for menus.
We recently launched brand-new menus for all our outlets with new dishes and flavors for all tastes.
I’m glad to hear that you appreciated our serene garden with its two waterfalls.
Upon arrival, there seemed to be an issue upon check-in which caused a delay of settling in to your rooms.
This issue may have been caused due to miscommunication between departments and unfortunately resulted in a wait for you at our reception.
We have forwarded these comments to our Front Office Manager as well as Banquet Sales Team to ensure for valuable guests like yourself, there won’t be such hassle in the future.
In this fast-evolving city of Guangzhou with shifting city centers from time to time, it seems difficult to maintain an ideal location.
However, our positioning in this bustling city remains convenient and offers easy access to its surroundings.
On behalf of the entire team here at The Garden Hotel, I would like to extend my appreciation for your thorough review.
In case you are planning your next visit to Guangzhou, I sincerely hope that we have a chance to meet in person.
For any inquiries or assistance, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org directly.
I’m looking forward to welcoming you back in the near future.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.