This is a new hotel (it opened early in 2011) situated close to the Higher Education Town on the edge of Dushu Lake, Suzhou. Indeed, it's so new that most of the taxi drivers have never heard of it so be sure to carry a map showing its location. The Jinling Guanyuan International Hotel clearly has ambitions to be a leading establishment in Suzhou and the quality of the 'fixtures and fittings' is very high. However, the staff are still settling in and will need some further training before they are all up to the standards found in major western internation hotels. Curiously, the lack of slickness was quite endearing - instead of the usual anodyne service there was a real sense of enthusiasm in most of the staff that more than compensated for any gaucheness. According to its website, the hotel is an 'European styled 5-star Hotel'. However, it is very much a Chinese take on European hotels. For example, the restaurant only serves chinese delicacies ('Braised ox dick and turtle skirt soup', anyone?) and taking them up on their claim to serve western snacks in the lobby bar caused a bit of a panic. The random tunes played on the automated piano are also bizarre to western ears and also, I suspect, to Chinese ones. I'm sure these teething problems will pass as the hotel becomes more established. The website says that the hotel is 'dedicated to creating a cozy and even romantically comfortable atmosphere for all its guests'. I think this is partially achieved in the rooms but the lobby looks a bit spartan to my eyes - a few more chairs and settees would be welcome to break up the vast space and allow more guests to sit down while waiting for their transport. In summary, if you have business in the Higher Education Town, this is worth serious consideration and should get even better with time.
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