- Free Wifi
Our family (2 adults/2 kids (6&12Yrs) stayed for 4 nights at the Sofitel, recommended by friend, as we had a true wonderful stay. Great hospitality from the airport arrival, throughout our stay, all the way till airport departure! Our arrival flight had 4 hours delay due to snow, and drivers waited for us till we arrived with a smile, despite the cold! We arrived a bit early for the ice festival, but the hotel concierge assisted us with a long list of things to do without obligations or being pushy. Management very visible and approachable, and smooth flow of services just showed that management was well on top of the operations. We used the Executive Lounge, and also here, service was warm and efficient, good for us on leisure, as would be for business guests. Food & drinks at Elements restaurant were great, tasty and well-portioned, very reasonably priced, and staff was friendly. We found that English level of speaking and understanding was good accross the hotel, and had no diffulties at any time. Room decor and facilities were up to excellent 5 star standards, and cleaning was also done very well, including turn-down service in early evening. Of course, the hotel was nice and warm after a cold day out! Really, we cannot find any fault and just were so happy with the hotel. Location is a bit away from the walkinmg street/river, but a taxiride isnt expensive and not a big deal. Anyway, right next to the hotel is the 'VAN Mall' (Wanda Plaza) with a large supermarket, plenty of restaurants and shops. Also, the Dragon viewing Tower is on walking distance. The hotel staff recommended us to try a true local seafood Hot Pot restaurant on walking distance which was a fun experienece for all of us on our last night. Overall, we were able to enjoy Harbin a lot, having fun with the cold weather (bring ski jacket, hat, ski gloves and thick boots and yoiu'll be fine too!), and were glad we stayed at this hotel where we immediately felt safe and comfortable, among well-trained staff to handle any questioins/problems a foreigner usually has when visiting a strange city in China ! Well done Sofitel!
Check in 2 Club Floor rooms. Excellent reception and VIP treatment all the way by Customer Services Manager, Pierre. The meeting facilities were fantastic Club facilities were more than ample. Great value and most enjoyable stay!
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.
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...
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.