We stayed at the Sofitel Hangzhou Westlake on the nights of 16th through 18th October 2012.
We really enjoyed our stay, mainly because we had a lovely and truly excellent suite with club facilities and these were greatly appreciated.
We loved the decor and were very pleasantly surprised. We don't know if this was a recently renovated room or not but we wouldn’t change a thing with the decor or furniture.
On another positive note we enjoyed the swimming pool and spa. There are a number of amazing rooms inside the gentleman’s changing room.
I particularly like the outside garden on the restaurant floor (5th floor?). Although if we could have been served drinks outside that would have made it perfect. The club room also had a small outside area but no chairs are outside or available to take outside which is shame.
We did have some interesting moments :
1. The provision of prophylactics in the bedside draw is not something I expect or would ever suggest. This is not a one star hotel selling rooms by the hour, and I am actually shocked that a Sofitel would provide these in this manner. I am all in favour of increasing TREVPAR and very much believe in added value services. But some things are a step too far and with all due respect, I do urge yourselves to reconsider this. When guests complain about used condoms in the draw I trust you are not surprised, certainly I now understand why!
2. The provision of a urinal in the 2nd bathroom off the study was also most unexpected. Ladies who might use that bathroom in their suite would not welcome a urinal even in view. Again in any renovation I urge yourselves to exclude such an item. If you need more furniture then why not consider a bidet.
3. I did call for a fan but actually after the room cooled down, I found the air conditioning quite adequate.
4. The offering in the Club lounge and the breakfast are all fine and really I would have no complaint had I not experienced the outstanding quality of food at the Sofitel Wanda Beijing. The food looks the same but simply does not taste the same. The bananas in the “Sofitel Healthy Corner” did not look appetizing having dark areas of skin. I also understand why some guests complain about bland food. Nevertheless, the breakfast food is acceptable.
5. Some of the fruit in the fruit bowl are unknown to Westerners. For example Dragon Fruit is not commonly found in England. It might be worth asking guests if they would like an explanation of the fruits presented and how best to enjoy them.
6. Without doubt the biggest problem we had is that English was not well spoken in the hotel generally. Perhaps one or two persons spoke sufficient English but generally we had difficulty in restaurants, bar, reception, housekeeping. We were always uncertain after asking any question as to whether we were understood and what action if any was being taken.
7. The breakfast room was small but we never had a problem being seated. Somehow the food was just not quite good enough that I could ever say “I enjoyed my breakfast”. Yes cooking western food, even eggs, is not mastered.
8. One night because a restaurant we wanted to visit was apparently under renovation, we decided to eat in the ground floor (1st) restaurant. The entrances are lined with chefs and attendants, that we felt somewhat intimated as we approached. We opted for the Western food as opposed to Japanese. What a disaster. Firstly, I ordered a well done steak. It arrived cold and uncooked. I tried to complain but nobody was particularly interested and English was simply not spoken (yes even in this ‘Western’ restaurant). The steak went back and when it finally arrived, the sauce was heated up but the steak was still uncooked. You simply cannot serve uncooked meat to someone requesting well done.
I resorted to seeking help from reception. I learnt that there was nothing they could do because firstly the restaurants are franchised and secondly it is expected in China that you pay for food wrongly delivered against the order or badly cooked. Crazy!
Part of the problem is that the food comes out of the kitchen and the staff then check the chit/bill at the end of the table before serving the food. It seems they are never sure if they have the right table. When the food was returned and came back out, it was walked around the area with the waiter checking tables and then returning the food to the kitchen before coming out again and delivering to my table after again checking the chit/bill. So no wonder the food gets cold. How about numbering the tables and the kitchen pass knowing which table the food is for and advising the servers when leaving the pass. Wow I don’t want to think what Gordon Ramsey would say!.
In fairness reception then offered us vouchers as compensation but how crazy is that, since the vouchers required us to return yet again to the same restaurant. OK, we returned another evening for cake and tea. Another mistake. They served Earl Grey tea delivered ready mixed with milk. I tried to explain that they would not serve Dragon Well Tea with milk so why would they assume that Earl Grey is served pre-mixed or otherwise with milk. So they really understand Western food and drink!
Frankly, we hardly can believe that in the Sofitel branded hotels they are franchising the restaurant space and having it managed without control by the hotel. We understand for example if you want to use third parties to manage pool facilities but what does it say about a hotel that has a captive audience/guests that cannot maximise value added services through the provision of restaurants. Seriously this hotel is being brought into disrepute by the lack of control in your restaurants.
So we left the cake and tea and laughed about the ridiculous situation.
9. One of the highlights of this region is “beggars chicken”. We particularly wanted to sample this delight but the concierge could not find one restaurant which served it. We had our own suggestion, Lou Wai Lou, but was told the food was not good and it would be difficult to get a taxi to and from that restaurant.
10. I struggled to order a drink in the bar/cigar room. I went to make a phone call outside and the music was so loud I could not hear myself. How crazy is it to pipe loud music next to the phones?
11. Lastly, the check in and check out was a disaster. When I checked in I was told that you needed money because the room was unpaid. I explained that this was pre paid on the Accor site. I had the printout from Accor. Soon after I received a call from reception to confirm that this was prepaid.
Without any advice however, someone decided that this was not the case and promptly charged my credit card, and in sterling rather than RMB and without telling me.
The hotel has a perfect location, some excellent rooms. But really more staff with English speaking skills are needed. The restaurant is a disaster not just for the reasons already given but because there really is no atmosphere. Even when you had a pianist and cellist providing excellent music the total disinterest amongst the guests made a mockery of the event. I appreciated the music but perhaps I was alone.
Overall experience was good but only because of the excellent room and on the basis of position. We would recommend this hotel to some but with a caution regarding eating-in, so expectations are managed.
[P.S. The last three comments on tripadivosr have been responded to by the GM using the same wording and referring to air conditoning which was not raised by each of the reports. Comments should be relevant to the post.]
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience at the Sofitel Hangzhou Westlake. I am sorry that your experience did not meet your expectations; please allow me to express my sincerest apologies.
At Sofitel, we strive to provide a superior service experience for every customer; therefore your feedback is very important to us. Of course we have noted your Interesting Moments and will take appropriate action where necessary.
We appreciate your sharing your concerns, and it is our hope that you will give us the opportunity to better serve you in the near future.
Sofitel Hangzhou Westlake
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.