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“Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Shangri-La Hotel Harbin

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Shangri-La Hotel Harbin
Ranked #1 of 1,110 Hotels in Harbin
Certificate of Excellence
Canberra
Level Contributor
131 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
“Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 11, 2012

It is a really good hotel, and most staff do try hard to live up to the Shangri-La brand. But you do have to remember it’s Harbin, and not Hong Kong. Be prepared for an unsophisticated tourist industry and do some planning before you arrive, and you’ll have a fantastic time.

We were originally booked into the Soffotel, but upon reflection after a few TripAdvisor reviews, decided to switch to the Shangri-La closer into town and the main attractions. Central Reservations were typically good, booking us in for two nights in a package deal that included airport transfers, breakfast and laundry service for around $250 per night.

We were met at baggage claim and whisked outside to the waiting car for the half hour or so drive to the hotel. Floor vents just inside the door blasted us with warm air, taking away the -20 degree chill of the outdoors. The literally warm welcome continued as Crystal from Customer Relations led us straight upstairs and checked us in in our room.

The room itself was alright, but a far cry from the Shangri-La in Kuala Lumpur. After we had a chance to catch our breath, we noticed the prominent smell of gas coming from the heater. We tried to settle ourselves with the thought that it was normal and everything would be fine, but the discovery of gas masks in the wardrobe and instructions of what to do in an emergency freaked us right out. We called down to reception for a room change, and Hanson was upstairs in a flash to show us some other options. He spoke excellent English and patiently escorted us to some other rooms. The next standard room also smelt of gas, which only left a smoking Horizon Club suite. Unfortunately Hanson was immovable on the price of the upgrade from a standard room to a suite, even though our original rate included most of the Horizon extras, so the additional $100 a night was a little hard to swallow.

However, the suite was immaculately clean and we couldn’t smell gas or cigarettes, and Hanson made the point of telling the housekeeper we passed in the corridor to take extra effort to deal with the smell. It was nice and big, with separate sitting room, two huge flat panel TVs with a decent selection of English channels, and a much larger bathroom than the standard rooms. My only criticism of the room, beyond the ‘80s Russian chic décor, was that the bathroom was by the front door, making the late night old man shuffles to the toilet a bit of a long journey through the sitting room.

The concierge was the villain of our stay, and had us desperately wishing for the abrupt disinterest of his counterpart at the Shanghai Soffotel. We emailed before we left, asking about tours of the Ice and Snow Festival, and were told to organise it with the concierge when we arrived. With the worst English of any of the staff we encountered, the concierge arrogantly leaned against the counter and chewed his face as he said tours would be impossible to arrange. He instead suggested that if we could find another couple, we could hire a taxi to take us to the major attractions, and have it wait out the front until we were done (because the taxis wouldn’t do it for just one fare). I know my wife and I are far from intrepid, but the fear of being left for dead out the front of some remote park in -18 to -33 degree temperatures didn’t really appeal to us.

We took up Crystal’s offer of “if there’s anything you need…”, and after being politely admonished for not arranging tours before we arrived, she promptly organised a private tour guide and driver for the evening. Peter was just lovely, picking us up from the lobby and taking us through the illuminated ice sculptures at Zhaolin Park, a freezing stroll down Central Street, and an obligatory stop at the Russian market. It was incredible!

Crystal was off the next day, so we did our best with the out of date guide book in the room and found Eric Lau from the Heilongjiang Overseas Tourist Corporation. Unfortunately Crystal’s Customer Relations colleagues made a bit of a scene when Eric picked us up, warning us that they didn’t know him, but I think it was more to do with his company falling out of favour with the hotel rather than any genuine safety concerns. But Eric was brilliant, handling the situation with real grace and class. He escorted us around the Sun Island snow sculptures, which felt like walking through C S Lewis’ Narnia, and then took us to the Winter Wonderland, complete with ice slide and KFC. Eric was invaluable and there’s no way we could have seen, and would have enjoyed what we did without him. He even recommended a great dumpling restaurant about 100 metres down from the hotel to the left.

The tour guides are all cash, but there’s a Bank of China ATM in the lobby, which links in with the international network, so you’ll be covered if you’re credit card reliant and a bit short.

The food at the Shangri-La was pretty good and diverse, from hamburgers and steak sandwiches to steamed bullfrog. Upon noticing I was vision impaired, the head chef, Lau, gave us a guided tour of the breakfast buffet and put his staff to work on made to order omelettes. The Horizon Club too was good, albeit looking like the bad guys’ lair on Miami Vice. The canapés were limited, but tasty, and the Harbin Beer they served was fantastic. The ice bar is certainly worth a look if you haven’t seen one before, but it was deserted when we went down for a peek.

Harbin is amazing in winter, and well worth a visit. We’ll definitely be back with our kids, and we’ll be happy to stay at the Shangri-La too. But we will be better prepared.

Room Tip: Always upgrade to the Horizon Club with Shangri-La.
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank captain_beetroot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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857 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (65)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
New York
Level Contributor
103 reviews
70 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 7, 2012

Good location between the old Russion downtown section and the Ice and Snow Festivals. The dinner buffet was by far the best meal I had in Harbin. Breakfast was very good, including the service. Rooms are small, but any issue you have is addressed quickly and the staff can help you arrange anything you want to do in Harbin.

Room Tip: Higher floors have a good view fo the river, parks and Ice Festival at night
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank rs88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dalian, China
Level Contributor
17 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 5, 2012 via mobile

The rooms r clean and neatly planned but small. But this is definitely the best hotel in harbin. The food is very cheap if ordered from room. Room service was good, checkin takes some time.
Overall a good experience.

Stayed February 2012
Helpful?
Thank Ckumarshankar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Muskegon, Michigan
Level Contributor
27 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 23, 2012

Enjoyed my stay, but I was in the Horizon Club level. Staff was helpful and spoke English good enough. Room was a bit small but good enough for just myself. Heat was too warm. Couldn't turn down far enough. Then house keeping would turn it up during the day. All in all would definitely stay here again. And it looks as off I might be going back for work soon.

  • Stayed December 2011
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank BrainofJEB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
49 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 1, 2012

I was here in Feb of 2012, kind of in the coldest month of winter. The hotel met all the expectation of a luxury hotel but it is not as new as the Wanda Sofitel hotel, which I also have experience with.

My room was comfortable. The hotel has both a gym and a pool. Both are well-equipment but under utilized when I was there. The hotel is located right next to the SongHua River and from my room I could see the frozen river. It is also not far from the annual Ice and Snow Festival which I think is a 'must-see' during a winter visit, especially at night.

Apart from the Ice and Snow Festival, the Siberian Tiger Park may also be worth a visit. They claimed to have some 200 tigers, and a few lions, at that location. During our visit we easily counted close to 100, in cages and walking around in the open.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Ron2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockport, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
163 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 349 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 26, 2012

We came to Harbin at the start of January 2012, primarily to visit the various snow and ice festival sites. After a check of the various hotels available we decided on the Shangri-La and found it to be a good choice.

Our room was on one of the top floors (18th) and was facing away from the city centre. While the windows were double glazed and kept the cold and draft out, there was a problem with them that meant that the space between the window panes were constantly frozen or fogged up. So unfortunately we weren't able to enjoy what should have been a good view out over the river towards the main ice festival site.

But that was about the only negative thing with our stay. The room wasn't big, but still of a reasonable size. The bed was comfortable and both the room and the bathroom were clean and in good condition.

The service at the hotel was very good. Right from the arrival we were made to feel welcome and all the staff we were in touch with were very helpful.

The hotel location was also quite good. Located near a busy main road it was easy to get taxis to take us to and from all the sites we were interested in visiting (none of the sites are within reasonable walking distance of the hotel). There are a number of restaurants near the hotel so alternative dining options are available if you want to avoid the hotel restaurant.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank TheEagleGuy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
113 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 202 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 20, 2012

We stayed with our daughters aged 10 and 11 at the Shangri-la Harbin in mid-February for 3 nights to visit the Ice and Snow Festival. We booked the hotel through the Travelzen website 3 months before our trip (US$307 per night with two adult breakfasts). Prior to arrival we e-mailed the hotel to request a twin room and the hotel responded quickly and efficiently.
The hotel is not new but is (apparently) the best hotel in Harbin. The hotel is a little dated but is relatively clean. The best thing about the hotel is its location on the banks of the Songhua River and next to the Songhua River Bridge. This makes it a good location for visiting the Ice and Snow Festival which is just over the Songhua Bridge. Don’t be fooled though, because this is still a 10-minute cab ride. The hotel is also well located for walks along the river bank and is a short cab ride from Zhongyuan Street with its Russian architecture and Saint Sophia Church.
The room itself was quite small and the twin beds were only just slightly larger than single beds. However, this was adequate for us. There was little room for an extra bed. However, if you did need this you could request the hotel to remove the large arm chair and table from the room.
The bathroom was fine with a small bath and powerful shower, the beds were very comfortable and we all had a good nights sleep. The only problem with the rooms (and with the hotel in general) was that the heating was too warm. There was no control over this with the thermostat although the heating could be turned off (it made only a slight difference). As in most hotels, there was no option to open the window either. Whilst I had read about this in previous reviews, I was not prepared for just how warm the hotel would be. If you are going in winter, I would advise that you take some very light clothing to wear around the hotel, including shorts (we saw one guest like this and we were envious).
The heating also meant that getting out of the hotel was honed to a military style operation as wearing multiple layers within the hotel was unbearable. We eventually concluded that the best option was to dress fully from the waist down and get dressed with coats and jumpers in the lobby (much to the amusement of the staff) just before going outside.
The menu in the Coffee Bar was quite good with an extensive vegetarian section. However, we found the food to be a little hit and miss with the bread being slightly dry and food arriving at the table cold. Some days the breakfast egg station was good, and other days the eggs were not cooked well. However, the restaurant staff whose English was generally very good, were on hand to sort out any problems. The breakfast buffet was also extensive as you’d expect in a five star hotel with Asian and western options, noodle and egg stations.
Our children also made use of the swimming pool which they thoroughly enjoyed. The pool staff were attentive, even bringing drinking water to the swimmers in the pool. The concierge staff were similarly extremely helpful and cheerful in organizing taxis and offering advice.
The Shangri-la builds an Ice Palace restaurant and bar every year. Unfortunately we arrived too late in the year to visit it as it had already been demolished.
All in all, we very much enjoyed our stay at the hotel and would recommend it, especially if you are travelling with children and visiting the Ice Festival. As with many hotels in China, the service is not up to Western five star service, but it is a comfortable hotel in a good location. If we went to Harbin again, we would consider staying at the Shangri-la again.

Room Tip: If you are staying in winter, take very light clothing to wear around the hotel as the heating is in...
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank HKDave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shangri-La Hotel Harbin

Property: Shangri-La Hotel Harbin
Address: No.555 Youyi Road, Daoli District, Harbin 150018, China
Location: China > Heilongjiang > Harbin
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Luxury Hotel in Harbin
#8 Best Value Hotel in Harbin
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Shangri-La Hotel Harbin 4.5*
Number of rooms: 404
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A best business hotel in Harbin. It boasts a picturesque window view of the Songhua River. It is a 15-minute drive from an over-a-century Central Street featuring the Continental architecture, and from the Sun Island rated as a National 5-A Tourist Attraction. It is a 45-munite ride from the city’s international airport and 20 minutes from the railway station.The Hotel has 404 rooms with a spectacular view out of the river-facing windows, especially in icy and snowy winters. The rooms are finely decorated and fully equipped with free broadband internet access. The rooms are extremely clean and well maintained. The Hotel is well-known for its market-leading cuisines in its Chinese and Western restaurants. The Chinese restaurant serves Cantonese and local foods. The Coffee Garden caters international buffets, à la cart foods and beverages. In-room dining runs 24 hours. A vegetarian menu is available in all the outlets. Singing is performed in the Lobby Lounge every night. The hotel is really proud of its unparalleled catering services as well as its excellent banquet and conference facilities in the city. The hotel has a health and fitness centre, a business centre and a sundry shop. It also provides services like massage, air ticketing, laundry and limousine transport and parking. A waterfront park which stretches about 2-km is a few steps from the hotel. There you can enjoy a pleasant walk as well as a morning workout. An internationally acclaimed brand, professional service and hospitality philosophy will be an assurance of a high-end business traveler. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Shangri La Hotel Harbin
Shangri La Harbin

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