The hotel is centrally located between two major locations: the historic center of Xi'an and the Xi'an Railway Station from which buses leave for various tourist attractions, including the Terracotta Warriors. A walk to either took us about 30 minutes with no luggage and about 40 minutes when we were pulling a roll-on bag with us. Of course, alternatively there are numerous taxis and motorized tricycles ready to save you the walk. The hotel complex did not have a shuttle or any other service between Renmin Square and the Bell Tower or the Xi'an Railway Station where you could conveniently get an airport bus.
Renmin Square has a main entrance on Xinjie Street (Dong). When you go in, the Mercure is a walk to your right and then in down a side street to building 3.
The staff at reception we dealt with during our stay were all pleasant, cooperative, helpful and spoke good English. The receptionist on our arrival gave us a room on the fifth floor away from the lifts-elevators. The 4th and 5th floors have only four rooms on either side of the two lifts which are separated by a lounge area with a staircase in front.
The entrance area to the room and the bathroom were tiled; the living area was carpeted. When we entered, we noticed that the management had provided a small bowl of fruit, which was both a pleasant surprise and an appreciated welcome gesture.
The entranceway had a single, narrow closet to one side with a sliding door. (Our sliding closet door would not close because a loose screw projected up from the floor; alas, we did not have anything to screw it back down with.)
The closet contained a high shelf, clothes rack with six hangers, a safe attached to a low shelf and a drawer underneath. The hotel provided two dressing gowns-bathrobes for use during the stay and two pairs of cloth slippers. There was sufficient clear vertical space to hang a shirt or blouse but not enough for any full-length garment, the bottom of which would crumple on the top of the safe. The safe was large enough for a full-size laptop plus other smaller items.
The room was comfortably furnished, clean and well maintained; however, it betrayed the effects of regular use, especially the bathroom (which had a lot of new caulking wherever tiles and counters abutted), and made poor use of available space. We thought that the time had arrived for Accor to refurbish the room and to use a designer who could choose and place furniture for greater convenience and practicality.
Dark furnishings made the room seem cramped and smaller than it actually was. If Accor ever did renovate, the room would be more inviting and seem more spacious if Accor used light colors throughout and space-efficient furniture.
Generally, the room had adequate space for two people to move around and to place two roll-on cabin bags out of the way (between a work desk and a cabinet with a television on top); however, overall there was insufficient storage space. The room was good for the basics of sleeping, showering and keeping one's belongings for a stay of a few days, but less so for a longer stay.
The work desk had a desk lamp, Ethernet cable (Internet worked faster using the cable rather than WiFi) and two drawers; however, there was floor space available for a larger desk providing more work area. The desk chair had soft cushioning, so one tended to sink into it.
The cabinet next to the desk had an older, cathode ray tube television providing around 50 channels, mostly in Chinese but with several in other languages, mainly in English but with one or two in Japanese and Korean. The time had arrived for Accor to replace the television set: sound on it would vary in volume for some inexplicable reason. One could obtain the original volume by changing to another channel and then returning to the original channel; shortly after the variable volume would reappear.
Inside the cabinet was a bar fridge with beverages for purchase at inflated prices. We emptied the fridge and used it for beverages we bought at supermarkets we found in stores and malls on the main shopping street Jiefang Road two blocks away. The other side of the cabinet contained the coffee-tea making facilities. The cabinet could have been bigger to provide additional counter space, which we found insufficient throughout the bedroom and bathroom. We unpacked minimally, as necessary, during our stay and still found the available storage and counter space inadequate. To the left of the cabinet was a luggage stand on which to place a suitcase.
The king size platform bed had a very firm mattress (too hard for the comfort of my partner), four very soft pillows (a bit too soft for me, so I added the extra one stored on the top shelf of the closet), and two bedside tables with reading lamps — one table with a telephone and a clock. The bedside tables each had a drawer and an open space below. You could control the room lighting from several switches on one side of the bed.
In the corner of the room was a floor lamp with an easy chair and ottoman in front of it. The air conditioning worked reliably and efficiently. Housekeeping was regular, thorough, efficient and reliable.
The room window had an outside, openable, single-glazed window. Some light, occasional street traffic noises did enter the room but nothing bothersome, as Shangde Road outside was a one-way street which carried limited traffic, and the room overlooked a vacant lot on the other side.
The room suffered from the usual weakness of hotel rooms almost everywhere in the world of admitting the noise of activities in the corridor outside, in this case mainly slamming doors and cleaners going about their work.
The bathroom had a full set of toiletries and a hair dryer. The shower stall had a liquid shampoo-soap dispenser attached to the wall. The shower head was not adjustable and sprayed water directly where the shower door opened. The shower stall leaked water onto the bathroom floor outside, which we absorbed and mopped up using the bathmat (daily, the cleaner left us a dry replacement). The shower stall had a full-height, transparent glass partition common to the bedroom. Privacy was provided by a full-height, wooden-slat Venetian blind on the outside (bedroom side).
The wash basin was a bowl sitting on a counter, which limited the usable space for placing items. The outlet to the tap-faucet was four inches from the top of the drain plug (the type one pushes down to close and pushes down again to open). The outlet of the faucet was angled at 45 degrees and rotated around the horizontal axis. This arrangement was unusual and a bit awkward, if not very practical or convenient. Solid soap was provided but no soap dish on which to place wet soap.
When the "Azur Wine & Dine" restaurant is open between 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., you can walk through to the opposite side and conveniently exit Renmin Square to the corner of Xinjie Street and Shangde Road. This short cut will put you a block away from Jiefang Road which has several malls and a department store, some with a supermarket inside, and restaurants. If you do not want to bother finding a city restaurant, you can eat at one of the several different restaurants in the Renmin Square hotel complex.
At the intersection of Xinjie Street and Jiefang Road there is Ren Ren Le shopping center with a KFC outlet outside, and inside a very basic food court on the ground level and a hypermarket on the upper floor. Farther up Jiefang Road, toward Xi'an Railway Station, is Minsheng Department Store (which has a high-end supermarket in the basement), Wanda Plaza, Happy Mall, and New-Mart Shopping Mall (across the street).
The New-Mart mall has a food court on the top floor where you can choose dishes from the plastic models on display, pay at a central counter with a cashier, return with and give the vendor a card holding credit for your payment, and order your selection. Note that you have to pay a refundable deposit for the card in addition to the price of the food, so return it for your refund. In the basement of New-Mart mall there is another, more-basic food court and a regular supermarket.
Being frugal, we used the airport bus from and to the airport, a trip of around an hour via expressway and then through suburban streets. One bus goes to Xi'an Railway Station, another goes to the Melody Hotel in the middle of town.
When you walk out of the airport terminal, cross over the road into the parking-bus terminal opposite. At the counter to the left of the entrance, buy a bus ticket, and then go to the entrance at the side which leads to the ticket checker and the bays from which the buses leave.
The staff at the ticket counter knew sufficient English to be able to tell us which bus to take. The service to the railway station drops you closer to, and also more conveniently, to Renmin Square and the hotel. From the plaza where the airport bus arrives, it is easier to walk down Shangde Road as it carries less traffic, being one way towards the station, and taking you down the side of Renmin Square to Xinjie Street where you turn right to find the main entrance of the square.
If you arrive at the Melody Hotel, you have to orient yourself in the correct direction, and then walk along West Street past the tourist office across a plaza (drop in for a map if it is open) and the Drum Tower to the Bell Tower, turn left onto North Street and then turn right onto Xinxin Street, which becomes Xinjie Street and takes you past a police station and the Shaanxi People's Government complex to Renmin Square and the Accor hotel and restaurant complex
It is worth learning how to use the bus system as the metro-subway system is limited at present to a north-south and an east-west line; however, the metro map we had showed a complex web of lines under, or planned for, construction. You can find a lot of bus information, such as routes, schedules and fares, on http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/xian/transportation/town-bus.htm
Tourist Line bus 5 (number 306) to the Terracotta Warriors leaves from the plaza in front of the railway station. The trip is supposed to take about 40 minutes. If there is a long queue of people waiting, you can take either bus 914 or 915; however, these take much longer. To avoid a long queue, we took the 914 there and back: the trip out took 70 minutes out and 75 minutes back. For a one-time excursion, we found it interesting because it took us on a tour of urban-suburban Xi'an.
When you arrive at the parking area of the museum complex, do not proceed up the avenue lined with souvenir sellers as this is the exit route from the four major buildings. At the exit gates you will find touts willing to sell you admission tickets for the official price of 150 yuan plus 10 yuan, the minimum "convenience charge" they will accept; otherwise, you will have a long walk back to the parking area to find the ticket office. The ticket office is recessed and partially hidden immediately to the right as you go in from the parking area.
We noticed that the Google street map and the satellite map do not correspond precisely when you switch from one to the other.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Mercure on Renmin Square Xian is a comfortable, elegantly appointed hotel, featuring 113 rooms, as well as dining and meeting facilities. Located in the grounds of Renmin Square, in the heart of the commercial and government district, the hotel is minutes away from the major shopping centres and cultural sites and is ideal for all travellers. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mercure On Renmin Square Xian Hotel Xi`An
- Mercure Xi An
- Mercure Hotel Xi An
- Mercure Xian On Renmin Square China/Shaanxi