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“Nice but not a 5-star hotel” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Songtsam Retreat at Shangri la - MGallery Collection

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Songtsam Retreat at Shangri la - MGallery Collection
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Son Zan Lin Ka, Shangri-La County 674400, China (Formerly Songtsam Retreat At Shangri-La)   |  
Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Special Offer
Free breakfast
Ranked #2 of 121 Hotels in Shangri-La County
4.5 of 5 stars 233 Reviews
Paris, France
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
89 helpful votes 89 helpful votes
“Nice but not a 5-star hotel”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2012

We stayed at this hotel for two nights after staying three nights at the Lijiang Crowne Plaza. The Songtsam retreat is nice but considering it's only three years old it is already showing signs of wear and tear (scratch marks on the wooden floors, etc.). It does not compare to the Lijiang Crowne Plaza. Our room was nice but not luxurious and mattresses are on an elevated wooden platform (which could be dangerous for older guests -- especially if they get up at night, etc.). The hotel is located at 3300 meters, so this is probably not an ideal location for senior citizens anyway. Rooms have fireplaces but if you want a fire, it's only free on the first night. Additional nights cost 100 RMB (for conservation purposes). Considering it was very cold at night in November, we were a bit surprised. There is heating in the room but we still felt rather cold at night.The hotel is nicely decorated with Tibetan handicrafts but overall it does not feel very luxurious. For example, in the bathroom, the mirror's wooden frame has large screws that should not be visible to the naked eye. Hotel staff are very nice but the vast majority of them do not speak any English at all and those that do, have a very weak command. You have to speak very slowly and use very simple words. Management needs to invest in some English lessons for its employees -- after all, this is an international chain hotel and it's not cheap. Some of the employees have dirty uniforms as did some of the kitchen staff around the buffet (white coats with lots of food stains, etc.). Most of the hotel windows were very dirty and looked like they had not been cleaned in a long time. There is a nice view of the back of the Songzalin monastery and there is a path from the hotel that leads to this impressive monastery where you can spend several hours watching Tibatan monks and pilgrims going about their activities.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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233 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    166
    53
    8
    5
    1
See reviews for
42
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (38)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Top Contributor
110 reviews 110 reviews
94 hotel reviews
Reviews in 80 cities Reviews in 80 cities
133 helpful votes 133 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 28, 2012

We stayed three nights in Lijiang and two nights in Shangri-La. It would have been better the other way around. The hotel was a pleasant surprise. We did not expect too much after coming from the Banyan Tree, checking in into a MGallery 4 star hotel. But our junior suite (76m2) was very spacious and still quit cozy. Although rooms are new, they look like original old houses with warm wooden floors and furnishing. Beds are very comfortable. There are regular power cuts and your warm water supply goes by boiler. It did not bother us too much, it's a fact in this part of the country. Staff members are really friendly and helpful. Sometimes English is a bit of a problem, but there is always a French manager or hospitality student nearby. Also some guys from Tibet speak English very well. And if you want to learn more about Tibet (the pros and cons) take the time for a good conversation. It will add to your experience. So does the free tour to the monastery by hotel guide. Great and very interesting introduction to Buddhism. But be aware, it takes all morning and the guide demands full attention, so many guests will decide to leave the group in the process. By the way: guests are mainly tourists from China.

After taking some time to move easy on our first day, we did not have problems with the altitude. If you have? Inform the staff. Medicines and oxygen are available. But of course it's better to try without.

The trip from Lijiang to Shangri-La takes about 4 hours. Beautiful landscapes. There are plenty busses at low prices. But we took hotel transport from Lijiang. Expensive (around Euro 200,00), but very comfortable car, great service, safe feeling and a stop at the Tiger Leaping Gorge. It was worth it.

Breakfast is great. Dinner is basic with only a few fixed menus to chose from (but good value for the price asked). At lunch time everybody is out on excursion. The restaurant offers only two dishes (rice with vegetables or noodle soup(plenty/nice)) and you will be the only ones around.

The hotel is located behind a beautiful monastery. Views from the hotel are truly amazing (if it is not clouded/raining - early October often ok). The short walk to the monastery from the hotel is through farming land. Relaxing. Leaving the monastery from the busy front site will bring you down to the little village. Take a drink at the Songtsam Lodge (same owners) for a pleasant rest and very cheap drinks. If you are a Retreat guest, you even are invited to use the high tea facilities in the late afternoon. The Songtsam Lodges are a good option when you travel through Shangri-la. Very inviting and good facilities. The most expensive (double prices at least) and best facilitated one is the Retreat though. Continue your walk up hill to the hotel and experience live in the village.
If you do not turn right to the village, but turn left, you will see bus line 3. Pay 1 RMB each. This is the way to go to Shangri-La city.

The hotel can arrange a taxi to anywhere. But allow some time or reserve in advance. When returning to the hotel, you will need the hotel pass. You will need to pass a control post with an very inflexible and aggressive guy in US Army uniform (!). Sometimes even your hotel pass is not ok. Just confirm and get your free pink waver from the tourist office inside the big building to your left (yes, your name will be on a list). Do not forget to let your taxi driver wait for you. Or take bus 3 (change they will check is far less likely).

Skip old town, enjoy ugly Shangri-La City main street and market (great for people watching), do not forget to see excluded Ringha temple. If you want to shop and have some money the burn, ask the driver to take a short detour to the Banyan Tree Ringha). High quality souvenirs.

Altogether we loved the experience and the hotel certainly was a big part of it.

Room Tip: Take the junior suite if you can afford it. It really offers a lot of added value. Superb views.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paris
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2012

This is a perfect retreat in a stress free environment, kind local staff, well trained, good food, perfect spa - a beautiful example of any extraordinary accomplishment made possible by a tremendous work by all involved. I cannot wait to go back there.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2012

My stay in Songtsam during Sep 2012 was my best ever experience in my life. My wife and I signed up a package with the Songtsam Retreat which comprises Spa and Meditation. Under the guidance of Dr Buathon, this package is exceptional and it helps to rejuvenate our body.
The view from our Retreat room was phenomenal. This area is rated an AAAA rating attraction, but the servcies provided by the hotel and it's staff can put it to AAAAAA rating.
What we enjoyed most is the walk in the valleys around the Retreat which is not possible without help from the kind, patient and helpful Retreat staff.
Beside having to get use to the 3300m high altitude environment, our only other challenge is the bed, which is too soft, probably due to different living habits rather than service of the Retreat.
I have no second thoughts that I will be back there very soon.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2012

Shangri-La is a bit off the beaten path but if it weren't, it probably wouldn't be called Shangri-La! The site of the Retreat is incredibly serene and we wish we had had time to stay two nights instead of one. (In hindsight, we should have spent one night in Lijiang to acclimatize to the elevation before the 4 hour drive to Shangri-La instead of two.) From the balcony of our room (#1051) we looked over a field with yaks grazing and farmers harvesting vegetables to the back of the monastery. At night, there are no lights from the monastery or village so the star gazing was a treat. There is no air conditioning and there were a few bugs at night so we kept the windows closed and our room got a bit stuffy overnight (but that is the only cautionary comment we can make). Dinner at the hotel's Tibetan restaurant was fantastic and good value. They also had a moderately priced french wine list.

Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Shanghai, China
Top Contributor
84 reviews 84 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2012

Staying in the Songtsam Monestary "closed" area is amazing. This area is rated as a AAAA attraction, and normally you have to pay to get in, but as a hotel guest you have access to the whole area for free.

The hotel is pretty amazing and beats most 5-star hotels worldwide, with a very high dedication to detail. The staff speaks good english, the rooms are really nice, and the view of the backside of the monestary are amazing. From hotel you can directly access the fields in front of it and walk over to the monestary as well as up the hill behind. You can also visit the small village in front of the hotel, if you wish to taste local life.

Every day the hotel offers a range of free services, like classes at the spa, classes about buddhim etc.

Note that hotel offers free bilingual guide tour of the monestary, as well as possibility to rent a car with a driver and go to local attractions at reasonable prices, making it unnecessary to use a tour agency for this (provided that you do not need a guide - which you often don't).

They also offer to drive you around the hotel/resort in the electric golf cart, even if you are only going 1-2 blocks. Great when you have small kids who love cars :-)

In Shangri-La, they do currently experience power outtakes once in a while, but at the hotel a generator kicks in and ensures power for common areas (although not for all rooms), which is great.

A small but nice touch is that the french hotel manager appeared at the breakfast at most days during our stay, making it possible to get tips and give feedback.

We really enjoyed our stay and wish we could go back to this tranquil location. I have stayed at very many hotels worldwide (business and holiday) - this one is likely the best so far.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
39 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 18, 2012

We enjoyed a very authentic and unique experience at the MGallery Songtsan Retreat. The hotel is build in a pure tibetan and local style, in high altitude (around 3000m). Rooms are quite well appointed, designed in the local style, probably the best hospitality can offer in this area. Amazing scenery, very close to the Songzanlin Temple. Great hikes. French GM seems to have adapted quite well to the challenging environment and trained his team well. Travel there in Spring or Summer. Winter can be extremely cold at this altitude.

Room Tip: Great views from all the rooms. Ask to be closer to restaurant and reception areas. Lots of stairs a...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Songtsam Retreat at Shangri la - MGallery Collection

Address: Son Zan Lin Ka, Shangri-La County 674400, China (Formerly Songtsam Retreat At Shangri-La)
Phone Number:
Location: China > Yunnan > Shangri-La County
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 121 Hotels in Shangri-La County
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Songtsam Retreat at Shangri la - MGallery Collection 5*
Number of rooms: 72
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in the Shangri-La Hills, Songtsam Retreat, a member of the Mgallery Collection, offers exceptional boutique accommodation in a distinctly Tibetan Style. Boasting a breathtaking location in this beautifully remote area of China, unique architecture and stunning design, the retreat comprises 72 rooms and suites. Songtsam Retreat is located 25 minutes from Diqing Airport and 5 minutes from Songzanlin Monastery. It offers spectacular views, 2 restaurants offering superb dining, a day spa;Linka Spa by L'Occitane, boutique shop, takeout shop and a meditation/yoga room. The hotel is pleased to provide various activities in and around the hotel for you to have a truly memorable stay and ensure you experience all that Shangri-La, also known as the ‘Eden in Dream’ has to offer. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Songtsam Retreat At Shangri-La Hotel Shangri-La County
Songtsam Retreat At Shangri La - MGallery Collection Shangri-La County, China - Yunnan

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