The hotel is some way from the centre of Xi'an, but the local area is itself interesting: the Big Goose Pagoda is nearby and behind the hotel is a "food night market" where you can eat outside from all sorts of small stalls. Personally, I found the nearby daily water fountain show thoroughly boring, but other reviewers seem to be impressed. I was going to say that everything looks tame compared with the water fountains of Lima, Peru, but actually I soon got bored with them too. Maybe it's just not my thing.
The hotel itself is fine. A bit tatty, not too clean, but most things work. The children had a room some distance from ours and their phone didn't work (not handy for waking them up in time for our excursion to the terra cotta army). I had to draw pictures and then explain in French to a Chinese-speaking fellow guest what the problem was before it was possible to communicate this to the front desk, but then maintenance came quickly and fixed it. Having laundry done was similarly a mission. With a laundry list on which everything appears in English and Chinese, this really shouldn't be complicated, but it was. In the end though it was all done in time for us to leave to the airport with clean clothes and nothing lost or damaged.
So communication was a problem, but we all seemed happy to laugh about how useless we were at each other's languages, good will prevailed and everything got done.
Breakfast is an effort, beginning with the hot orange juice (that was a first, nowhere have I ever come across heated orange juice before). There is someone who knows how to make (instant) coffee. It takes a while to get four cups, but it is coffee. Apart from that, it would be a good place to get used to Chinese food for breakfast. To my shame (?), this is still a step too far for me, so I was left smearing Swiss-made jam across toast with my chopsticks (or tea spoon). I guess I could have asked for a knife, but you really feel that western breakfast is a strange thing to ask for here.
It's actually quite funny seeing fellow westerners (among the many Chinese guests) conferring quietly among themselves about what to do, how to react, what to ask for or insist on. We are peculiarly vulnerable so early in the day. Really we want cheese (if we're Dutch) or fried egg (if we're English) or croissant etc etc, but we almost daren't ask for any of it because we are there to experience China after all. And it's the new world super power. Our children's children are going to eat steamed dumplings and noodles for breakfast without any sense that this was ever "foreign".
Evenings are already another matter. We are all thoroughly accustomed to eating Chinese later in the day, and right outside the hotel door is First Noodle Under the Sun. A huge noisy noodle house. We ate there twice, and it was delicious. Check the Tripadvisor reviews and try it out.
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- Also Known As:
- Ci'En Hotel China/Shaanxi