I stayed in this hotel from 20-27th May 2009 for a meeting and leisure. The check-in seems to take ages eventhough the organisers of the meeting had already asked the hotel management to allocate the rooms in advance. You need to pay the full amount on checking in. Initially I was given a room on the 6th floor. On arrival at the room there was this terrible stench of tobacco smoke. I was assured that the tobacco smell left behind by the previous guest will go away eventually. I asked for a room on a non-smoking floor but was told by the front desk that the hotel does not have a non-smoking floor! I would take nothing for this crap and demanded that I be given a room on the non-smoking floor immediately. Getting the hint that I would not relent the front desk got me one on the 26th floor; I think this is the only non-smoking floor. The chamber maid was very nice and polite and would even change your towels and make up the room twice daily! The room was quite nice but average; the usual bed with attached bathroom of a decent size. There is a fridge and tea making facility. For entertainment there are more than 20 channels to choose from, mainly Chinese stuff. If you want an English speaking channel then switch to CCTV9 for news. There is Cinemax for western movies though movies are not recent. A safe box is available but take note that it is not attached and could be carted off! The lifts are fast but it is very annoying when you have a guest puffing away in the lift. Communication with the hotel staff is a problem. They hardly speak English. I could speak Mandarin and so it was not a problem. Buffet breakfast is a disappointent though plenty of bread and some pastries are available. The menu hardly changes and consists mainly of local Chinese fare. The restaurants are not non-smoking areas and the guests can be extremely rude and elbow their way for foods without bothering to queue up for their turns. They also make all kinds of irritating sounds, slurping at the porridge, clearing their throats, and belching even while carrying their food to the tables. Space could be a constraint. The buffet breakfast starts only at 7.00 am. Those who book local tours will miss their breakfast because the tour agents would normally pick you up at 6.30 am for a day trip. Forget about a dip in the pool for there is no swimming pool. Apart from buffet breakfast I never patronise the restaurants. I prefer the local eateries nearby. West Lake is a must and you can spend the whole day there. Take the 186 bus (Shi Hui Qiao stop) across the road in front of the hotel and stop at the 3rd bus stop. Shopping for silk? Then take the bus K30 and get down (Huang Bei Shang Chang bus stop) at Xinhua Street . Hefang Street (at Wushan cultural square) is a must for the bazaar atmosphere. Take bus Y7, Y8, opposite the hotel. Get off at the bus terminal. When bargaining be prepared to slash to below 50% of the asking price. Usually you can get it for half the asking price; otherwise just walk away. All bus fare cost only 2RMB. Prepare coins before embarking. For light shopping there is Vanguard supermarket nearby about 10-15 min walk from the hotel; but certain things are not cheap. Get out of the hotel, turn right and walk along the pavement till you reach the first traffic light; then turn right again. Vanguard supermarket is just about 150 m ahead but you must cross the street to get to it. When crossing streets be very careful to look out for vehicles from both directions. Motorised bikes which is silent (runs on battery) is a nuisance and they can just whizz past you all of a sudden. The local people still cannot get rid of their indiscriminate spitting habit. So watch out for it when you hear someone clearing his throat.
Despite all its deficiencies and drawbacks I would still say that the only thing good about this hotel is its central location and cleanliness. Forget about the services though it certainly helps a lot if you speak Mandarin.
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