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Reviewed January 23, 2010

We spent 2 nights as a family, visiting the Harbin Ice & Snow Festival. We've been living in china for 3 years, and I'm a regular to a number of Sofitels (and Shangri Las) in China. I'm not showing off, just trying to explain that (I hope) I have a balanced view in what-'s coming next.

i) Location: Hotel is FAAAAAR from where the winter festivities take place. Not extremely far, but a good 30 min.

ii) Check-in was a PAINFUL event. We arrived at reception at 1am. Receptionist (only one, normal at that time of the day) was more interested in continuing her phone conversation than in taking care of us. I'm not a fluent Chinese speaker, but I could find out that her talk was not related to business.

On checking in, I asked her if the additional rollaway bed we had asked for was in the room. She said that yes. You guess it...... it was not. On going back to reception (1.15 am), she could not understand or make a decision why the bed was missing. I asked her to call the On-Duty manager, who promptly showed up. He understood, and promised to take care of the situation.

The best of 30 minutes went, and nobody was rolling the bed in. Down to reception (1.45 am), a surprise face from the receptionist and prmises that, this time, it would be taken care of.

Indeed, after an additional 10 - 15' (2am now, and my kids menacing to bring the whole bulding down with their complaints about lack of sleep), the bed came and was set up by a maid, who also brought additional towels.

No additional amenities were brought, which means we had to share a smallish bottle of shower gel, but frankly, I didn't care to ask for more, but no extra ones were provided the following night either.

We went to Shangri La Hotel for our two lunches and one dinner (Lobby Buffet and ice Palace Restaurant) and the service of level was exactly what we have come to expect from Shangri La in Asia and China : SPOTLESS.

I'd say the room was not cheap. I understand it's peak season, but on footing 1,800 RMB per night for a junior suite, you expect way more than the Sofitel Reception Team was able to deliver that particular night.

The rooms, without being old, were definitely showing signs of age, and little maintenance: The table next to the sofa in the sitting room part of the room had several noticeable cigarette burns piercing through the fake leather upholstery, and it made for a poor impression when you arrived in the room.

Bottom line: If in town for the Ice Festival, give a try to Shangri La, and you will not regret it.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled with family
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2  Thank AntonioShanghai
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 5, 2010

I stayed here over New Year with my parents and brother. We did a fair bit of travelling in China for a few weeks and the club rooms I booked here for us were a real treat. The hotel is stunning, one of the nicest I've stayed in. (I live in China and have travelled extensively here for leisure and business and you never know quite what to expect from a hotel!!).

The rooms were lovely and a decent size with great bathrooms. The service and cleanliness were an extremely high standard and staff were helpful and efficient with more than an adequate level of English.

The club for us was definitely worth it. We had a good breakfast with both western and Chinese choices. After a freezing cold day out in Harbin, to come back to a nice, relaxing atmoshere and tea, coffee, a nice glass of wine / beer and some good food was great.

It was New Year and we did have a bit of hassle getting a taxi into town and back from the main attractions- the number of taxis in Harbin with "dodgy meters" seemed extremely high! A shuttle bus to town or to the main attractions would have been a huge added plus for the hotel.

All in- a great hotel and a lovely stay!!!

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled with family
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1  Thank citytoots
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2009

I have been twice to the Sofitel in Harbin, and both times I regretted it.

First, let's get the good stuff out of the way: yes, the premises and rooms are very nice. BUT...

The first time I was there, my room was so hot that even when stripping down to my underwear it was unbearable. I tried to switch off the heating - no luck. I tried to open the window (-25 C outside!) and my room door (to generate a cool draft) - it was still scorching. I called room service and the repair man came twice, but was unable to lower the temperature. I ended up sleeping in my underwear on top of the bed and spent a horrid night. To top it all, there was a lovely smell of sewers emanating from my bathroom...

The second time, nearly a year after the first visit, the temperature had been lowered. A little. But it was still a poor experience and the smell of sewers remained.

I have spoken to a few colleagues, and they have all experienced this problem.

Oh, and food is below average.

I usually like Sofitels, but I cannot recommend this one.

  • Stayed: February 2009, traveled on business
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Thank Frederic B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 8, 2009

This is probably the best hotel in Harbin (along with Shangri-la). I dont know about the past, but in present days, this is a five star hotel with all that it takes. Me and my friend were welcomed at the reception by an english speaking receptionist who was born in Harbin and spoke fluent English. She took care of us and showed us two rooms (one for 950 a night and the other 1300 per night including entrance to the Club) and a swimming pool. I decided to take the Club room with breakfast included and it was well worth it. The staff of the hotel was very kind and helpful and treated me... well yeah, why not say it. Like royalty. I didnt experience any problem with the services at all. There are separate elevators going to the Club room floors (1,2,3, 19-22). The rooms are really nice. With big TV (HBO and other channels), french beds (the softest bed I have ever slept in). Swimming pool and sauna are free of charge, but you have to pay for the SPA (Im not sure how much, I think 700 RMB but not sure really). Quality of the food? I only had breakfast in the hotel, but there was french croissants, bagette and for me, spending a long time in Harbin, this was a real treat. There was also chinese food and sushi. There are other restaurants and clubs (one with live music). The interior of the hotel is really nice. As for the Club... I think its worth it as you can check out at 4 o clock and you can enjoy free drinks in the Club (beer, sprite, coke...), snacks and there is also a private reception for you on the 19 floor. All in all, five star gem.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled solo
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1  Thank Lantis_Esquin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 20, 2009

We visited two nights during the 2009 Harbin Ice Festival. This was a little bit of a splurge for us but we wanted a reliable hotel after exploring the city all day in sub freezing temperatures. The Sofitel met all our expectations. The room itself was nicely sized with a really great king sized bed, flat screen TV, free internet, etc. The bathroom had a deep full sized tub which was good for a soak to restore feeling in the extremities. The staff was very helpful. No one had perfect English but everyone was eager to keep trying until understanding was reached. Every time we called the guest services for anything like an extra pillow or plug adapter they came right away. I really appreciated their efforts. The staff was also helpful in explaining the different sites of the festival and the rest of the city. The hotel had a nice indoor pool and a nicely sized fitness center. If you travel here, I can't imagine getting better treatment somewhere else.

  • Stayed: January 2009, traveled with family
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3  Thank badwaiter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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