When one invokes the Howard Johnson name in the USA, it is more synonymous with motels. The last thing which would come to mind is something grand and palatial. Well, the HJ Plaza hotel in Shanghai is definitely a upscale property very unlike what we are used to in the US. It is very centrally located on Jiujiang Road with close access to shops and malls.
From the time the liveried bell hop grabs your luggage until you are checked in to your room, is a pleasant experience indeed. The marble entrance and the atrium at the reception is very grand. The rooms are well appointed with all the necessary accessories commensurate with a 5 star luxury hotel. Rooms are large in size with a office desk and a coffee table. The bathroom is quite grand with all the complimentary toiletries provided. Wifi is free and pretty good so you can stay connected without worrying about racking up a fat internet bill.
The buffet breakfast is unlike anything one has experienced in the US Howard Johnsons. It is truly grand with over 40-50 varieties of food , fruits and juices. A word of caution – You will pay les than US $10 for this amazing spread if booked in advance along with your room reservation. Else expect to pay $25 per person at the door.
All personnel at the hotel like to be tipped. A 5-10 RMB note will generally suffice. Request a room on the upper floors – above floor 15 if possible. Please note that rooms with single King beds are located on the higher floors while rooms with two beds are on the lower floors. Higher floors are suggested to avoid the noise pollution emanating from the city below. There is a Starbucks conveniently located off the ground floor lobby for all you coffee addicts. There is also a pub on level 3 serving a variety of beers on tap though pricey. I was pleasantly surprised with the tight level of security at the entrance and around the lobby to prevent unscrupulous characters from gaining entry.
The hotel will arrange transportation to and fro from the airport. Price listed for a SUV type vehicle is RMB 650. However, when we stated that we paid RMB 350 on our way in, they were able to get us a large sized vehicle (Mini-van) for RMB 300. So please inquire at the reception. Another point to note is that never exchange money at the airport as they charge a 50 RMB fee which is a rip-off. Exchange foreign currency at the hotel where I found the rates to be much better. Always request them to scan the Chinese currency notes through a scanner to weed out any fake notes. Passing a fake note can get you in a lot of legal hassles.
Overall, this is a great hotel to stay at and for $100 per night for 2 people, it is a steal.