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“Nice Hotel, subpar service”
Review of Sofitel Harbin

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Sofitel Harbin
Ranked #2 of 1,166 Hotels in Harbin
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 15, 2010

For a Sofitel, this one ranks middle-down. The huge, ornate, high-ceiling lobby speaks class, but once you walk up to check-in that quickly fades. I've stayed here twice, and the most recent time they didn't have a room with a king-size bed, as reserved, available. The proper thing to do, especially since I'm A-Club Platinum, would be to upgrade me, but they offered me an ashtray in a nonsmoking room. I refused it, and asked to see the duty manager. The clerk played ignorant and continued tapping keys on her computer. After about 20 minutes, voila, a room was available. Check-out was just slightly quicker. But a colleague of mine had a heck of a time explaining that her breakfast should've been included according to our company contract, but they said no and made her pay.

The rooms themselves were typical Sofitel, comfortable bed, robe, etc. If you get a room facing the back, you're probably looking into a densely-placed apartment complex.

Location, at the Wanda Plaza about one hour away from the airport. There are Wanda shopping complexes in many cities in China, and this one is a bit more downmarket than some others. There's a pretty big supermarket in the basement of the complex. The department store, Van's, is nothing special. Other than the mall there isn't much. The hotel is set back a bit from the main street so it's fairly quiet.

The best thing about this Sofitel is probably the selection of bars and restaurants. Glam Lounge in the lobby has comfortable seating, low lighting at night, and of course overpriced drinks made by novice bartenders. Above Glam there is a music lounge and cigar bar. Much better service here though the staff disappears for periods of time. There was a trio playing Chinese pop my last stay here, and I guess somehow they found out I was an English-speaking customer and began to churn out some English songs. Appreciate the effort.

Breakfast at the restaurant on the second floor was average for a luxury hotel. Good selection, mediocre service. The Japanese restaurant on the ground floor is excellent, though my server had a wacked sense of humor. After my meal I go the check, and she told me that because I was a guest I was entitled to a discount, but the dishes I ordered (sushi platter, tempura, beer) were not included in the eligible items. Yes, I was told this after I had finished my meal. Since I hadn't known there were any discounts to begin with, I shrugged it off and chuckled.

In Harbin there are only two international five-star hotels, this one and the Shangri-La. If you like your hotel bars, choose the Sofitel, otherwise pick Shangri-La.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled on business
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Thank BB_in_BJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 1, 2010

From the airport, you get there in 45 minutes (13 Euros). Sofitel Wanda is located just near Wanda shopping mall and in front of a golf. Still, it takes 30 minute taxi drive to go to pedestrian streets (touristic area), near the Songhua river. The Shangri-La hotel is definitely better located but also more expensive.

The hotel is in an overall good condition and to our opinion it can be rated as a good 'Chinese 5 star hotel' which means a 3-4 star hotel according to Werstern standards. Yes, there is still a gap of quality...

The front desk and lobby are nice. The receptionist(s) speak an approximative English and quickly needs support from their supervisors (1 French or 1 Chinese) to answer specific questions. They are not familiar with A-Club membership and you have to ensure your A-Club number is proprely registered to be credited later. As the A-Club system is not running well, we were not surprised (we both have an A-Club card and already faced many problems to get our points in Asia Pacific).

The room was nice. Not wonderful, but nice. Actually, the ceiling in the bathroom was already cracked, a plug was not proprely fixed in the bedroom, there was no pen available on the desk, two small drawers with no buttons in the bathroom, etc. Let's say it's simply hard to get quality in China !

The bathroom was well equipped, deep bathroom, large shower, good range of amenities. Hot water at anytime. Shower gel and shampoo, good.

TV was of a good quality, as well as bed, bed sheets, blankets, pillows.... The heating system was good as you could manage it easily through air conditioning system. Thus, no problem with minus 22 outside at night and minus 17 at day time...

Housekeeping was not carried out in the evening... Very weird. Therefore, you don't get any more 'complimentary purified water' which is clearly a "cheap attitude" for a Sofitel.

For dinner, we went to the Japanese restaurant of the hotel. Very good and reasonable price. The formula at 23 Euros is really interesting.

As far as the breakfast is concerned, good. But neither very good or excellent. Nothing to compare with the breakfast you can enjoy in Sofitel Hiland Shanghai, for instance. In Sofitel Harbin the bread is very good, the pastries are good. Other food is average.

The service was the weak point almost everywhere. On the whole, this is not at a 5 star standard.

We paid around 150 Euros for 1 night with 2 breakfasts. We think this is too expensive for what we got. A better rate would have been around 100-110 Euros.

As far as Harbin is concerned, this city is worth visiting, at least during Ice Festival. The Ice world is amazing (to be visited at night). We paid 20 Euros each for the visit, but all the Chineses nationals queuing before us paid 9 Euros after they they showed their ID card... Strange ! At day time, Sun Island is great: we recommend to go there walking on the frozen river, then back with the cable (5 Euros). This gives an interresting view on the city. Sun Island costs you 15 Euros. But when you show the red and yellow star covered ID card this is only 7.5 Euros... Otherwise, Russians restaurant have only the name, not the food and it's a kind of swindle. Be also very careful with taxi drivers who clearly tries to cheat you as soon as they can: this is the first time so far in China we faced such a problem...

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank VOYAGEURShanghai
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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 Frédéric 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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Additional Information about Sofitel Harbin

Address: No.68 Ganshui Road, Xiangfang District, Hei Long Jiang, Harbin 150090, China
Location: China > Heilongjiang > Harbin
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Spa Hotel in Harbin
#2 Luxury Hotel in Harbin
#3 Best Value Hotel in Harbin
Price Range: $114 - $185 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sofitel Harbin 5*
Number of rooms: 321
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ideally located in the heart of the city’s business district, Sofitel Harbin brings the latest trends in hotel design to Harbin and sets a new standard in combining classic French hospitality with Chinese culture. Providing easy access to Taiping airport, the convention and exhibition centre, the hotel is your gateway to the region. Featuring 321 rooms of pure indulgence and Club Sofitel executive floors, 3 inspired restaurants, state of the art conference facilities, spa, fitness centre and indoor heated pool, the hotel has everything you need and more. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sofitel Wanda Harbin Hotel Harbin
Accor Wanda Harbin
Harbin Sofitel

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