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“Would be 5* if not for the smoke”

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Shangri-La Hotel Guilin
Ranked #2 of 657 Hotels in Guilin
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 14, 2012

Yep, there's no denying that my wife and I have an aversion to the pungent disgusting smell of cigarette smoke. But everyone to their own hey! Unless of course you are staying at a 5* hotel the likes of the Shangri-la. I certainly understand that in many parts of China that smoking is standard fare, that many retailers fear losing business should they deny people the privilege of smoking in public places (such as restaurants, hotel foyers, bars, waiting areas etcetera), however I have to say that if China is to a) be accepted by westerners in the 21st century, b) make an attempt to slow in some small way the unbelievable pollution encroachment throughout China and c) consider the issues that passive smoking attracts, then ultimately tourism will not be as strong as it could be.

Moving on but please excuse my self indulgence… Guilin city, for all its marvellously manicured medium strips and overtly lit ‘two rivers and four lakes’, it does not have many redeeming features – at least in this westerner’s eyes. (See my reviews on Li River and Crown (Guanyan) Cave tours for outside Guilin).

Before concentrating on the Shangri-La, I have to make comment on some other things. Firstly westerners have to ‘suck it up’ in accepting Chinese custom. Facing facts, many (not all) Chinese snort, spit, slurp, smoke, push and shove. What’s more, in a country of so many it is understandable that it is a bit of a dog eat dog environment where frankly, the only thing on many a mind is MAKING MONEY. My wife is Chinese and I actually thought she understood her own country. To the contrary she proved completely oblivious to what was going on around us.

In Guilin the taxi drivers are very nice indeed, more than accommodating in recommending places to go, where to eat, what tours to book, to the point where in our case we were offered a full day’s taxi for a mere 50 rmb! Wow you think… Until I quickly realised that at our first stop – a so called famous tour operator – we were royally ripped off (once again refer to reviews mentioned earlier). Next day – the 50 RMB ‘free’ day, our fantastic taxi tour guide takes us to the first of our ‘highly recommended’ stops. The Yaoshan Mountain cable car proved terrific, if not for the poor weather and stunted views thanks to the weather and smog.

Just why our taxi driver waited for us though had me baffled… On the way back to town the driver suggested the Guilin Tea Research Institute for some free tea tasting. It proved the case with some lovely teas and a great personalised tour – but come the end and we are coerced into buying ridiculously expensive teas (the taxi driver was finally found talking to the Tea office people – I wonder what for!) – talk about the hard sell! Next we are dropped off for lunch at what proved to be a fly ridden, overly priced disgrace of a restaurant. It all started to fall into place! Never mind, the day went on and the blatant hand greasing between taxi driver and ‘retailers’ continued.

What about the Shangri-La you ask? Its grounds, frontage, foyer and so forth are grandiose as expected and of the absolute highest calibre. Indeed this is Guilin’s best hotel by far. The staff was great, the facilities great, the breakfast great, indeed there was very little for complaint. Having arrived at around 8.30pm on the first night meant that a meal would have to be relatively quick. We considered the main restaurant, however being a buffet it is too easy to over indulge, next there was the U Bar, a western style bar with all the trimmings – well, that was until we walked in and my wife literally started choking on the smell and smoke. We quickly moved to the Shang Chinese restaurant where the meal proved okay (expensive), the tea average and only luke warm and the staff more interested in getting out that assisting. Not a great start.

What’s more, on booking in the attendant pushed like crazy for us to spend an additional 400 RMB per day to upgrade to Horizon status (something we would normally not hesitate, but my wife had unfortunately booked a bunch of all day and into the night tours), however as it was obvious to us that we would not use nor benefit from the upgrade we said no – at least 6 times!

Other than this the room although relatively small, was of a high standard with all the trimmings. The bed though was too hard making for poor sleep the 4 nights we were there. The pillows for fine though!

Overall I have to say that irrespective of the minor issues with the Shangi-La, it is a worthy facility and one I would recommend.

Room Tip: Stay away from taxi drivers offering to assist with tour bookings. If you are not a smoker, make sur...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank cuspub
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 10, 2012

Stayed here for 2 nights on vacation.

This is my first trip to Guilin but every time we stay in Shangri-la, we have the feeling that we are back. Everything is the way it should be. The bed was superb and I think they use the same bedsheet in every hotel because it feels so familiarly comfortable..... Absolutely no complains on the room amenities and cleanliness.

Check-in at the horizon club was smooth and even though they could not find my Golden Circle membership number (totally my fault as I forgot to bring my card), they made every effort to locate my details. Its difficult to imagine this as most of us will normally want to get to our rooms asap but we really enjoy the check-in process and talking to the front desk staff.

We were given the option to upgrade to a river-view room for RMB100/night and we took it up. However, we did not have much time in the room to enjoy the view as we were out most of the time.

We definitely have to pay more for staying at the hotel but after a "tough" day of sightseeing, it feels so good to be back in the room and knowing that everything is up to the highest international standards!!!

Room Tip: River-view rooms, is it worth it? "Yes", if you have no time to go to the scenic places...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank ErWei001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 8, 2012 via mobile

Stayed here one night. Hotel was up to shangri-la standards. Would highly recommend it. The lobby bar was quiet and relaxing - a good place to chill. This was a great way to start our weekend in Guilin and yangshuo

  • Stayed: October 2012
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Thank familyguy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2012 via mobile

Stayed with a friend in April.
Hotel is large but it is well planned with a lovely lounge with huge windows over looking the river and mountains - we drank there and enjoyed the atmosphere!
We drank and ate at the pub it was just like a little pub we sat on the patio overlooking the gardens - very fun!
We also did the Buffett for breakfast and dinner the selection was huge and varies to suit all tastes - well priced but the best was the all you can eat dim sum place with unlimited local beer - it was upscale and the food was awesome - I think it cost 11 usd amazing value.
Pool was great - we had to use the indoor but the outdoor pools looked amazing - still too cold in April.
While we were there they had a spa deal buy a treatment and if you bring a friend they get the treatment free - we got two massages and a facial which was wonderful after all the traveling.
Rooms were great bed big and comfy - bathrooms very clean great showers and huge TV's with a pretty good selection in English channels.
This hotel is perfect for unwinding and just enjoying how lovely it is!!!
After a couple of days we were recharged and ready for the rest of our China vacation.
I encountered a couple of issues but the staff were superb at getting them handled!
If I were in China again I would make detour to Guilin just to stay here.

  • Stayed: April 2012
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Thank TorontoTravelgirl23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 30, 2012

We spent one night here before our trip over to Yangshuo County and had a pleasant and comfortable night. We decided to upgrade to a river view room with a terrace which was lovely to use in the evening as the sun was setting, although you must remember to bring the mosquito repellent!

The staff in the hotel were extremely efficient and very friendly, with nothing being too much trouble and everyone we dealt with had a very good understanding of English - although they were patient with me trying out my Chinese! Check in was quick, and the facilities explained, breakfast had a good choice of both western and Chinese foods, with coffee being served by the waiting staff.

Would definitely stay here again, as it was such an easy start to our holiday. We took a taxi from the hotel which was 110rmb (about £11) and took around 50 minutes, just agree the price first.

Room Tip: River View rooms are worth the upgrade as the sun set over the mountains and river is beautiful
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Rinny_McPhee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2012

Very impressive entrance, vast modern lobby. Personal check-in in own river-view room overlooking beautiful gardens, swimming pool and river. Lobby bar smart and relaxing. Big, clean, comfortable bedroom and bathroom with its separate shower.

V good spa, steam room, sauna and jaccuzi. Small point - there was no spin or dryer for drying bathing trunks as they had in Xian Shangri-la.

All food excellent and wine more reasonably priced than previous hotels.

Staff pleasant, efficient and well trained. Helped generate a relaxing environment.
Helpful concierge who organised Li river trip.

Enjoyed our stay in your excellent hotel.

Room Tip: River room worth extra money
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Barry T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 24, 2012

My wife and I had two rooms at the Shangri-La Hotel because we were traveling with my son and his wife. Perhaps I am being a little tough with the "average" rating but we had just come from the Upper House in Hong Kong and we usually stay at top hotels.
Our rooms at the Shangri-La were clean and somewhat small. They are clearly adequate and I really cannot complain except to say that they lacked any and all character. Guilin is a bustling city (small for China standards) but still about one million people live there. Since this was our first trip to China, we had nothing to compare it to, but my guess is that this is a typical small Chinese tourist city. There were no restaurants in town that we wanted to try, so that left us eating at the hotel (something that we rarely do). The dinners at the Shangri-La were the real reason for my lower than usual rating. The food was cafeteria style and was not very good at best. There is a very cute bar in the hotel and we found ourselves sitting there for dinner munching on bar-food during our stay.
Our boat ride on the Li River was a day I will never forget. It was amazing and it just might be the prettiest spot on our planet. So I am glad that we made the trip to Guilin and perhaps I should have been more accepting of rural China when it came to rating this hotel.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank ase1707
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 Guilin

Address: No.111 Huancheng North Second Road, Guilin 541004, China
Location: China > Guangxi > Guilin
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 657 Hotels in Guilin
Price Range: $109 - $183 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Shangri-La Hotel Guilin 5*
Number of rooms: 439
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