One is not spoiled for choice for hotels in Yanji. In fact, there is probably little reason to go to this small border town unless you’re in transit to another city or on your way to see the Changbaishan mountains.
We reserved this hotel though the Chinese online agency, C-Trip. This agency proved to be invaluable during our two weeks of exploring China. Gold Star Hotel appeared to be one of the best on the site and we reserved two double rooms. It was either this hotel or another modern hotel (forgot the name) which appeared to be of a similar category and purported to be of an ‘international standing’. However, Gold Star was slightly less expensive and what really tipped the decision in their favour was the fact it was constructed last year in 2007. Surely this meant that it had to be better.
The hotel is located about 15 minutes from the airport and in the ‘heart’ of the town, which doesn’t say a lot. It is also about 15 minutes by cab from the main bus station. There is not a whole lot in the area except for some banks and some shops, otherwise, there is not a lot going on in Yanji.
The hotel was a disappointment. I never would have believed in my life that it was built in 2007 because it was run down and so poorly constructed. The photos were very different from the website to what was reality. It appeared to me that the hotel had some very grand ambitions but later realized there was not a high yield market to be served and then started to engage in whatever activities it could to make money. For example, the lobby which appears very grand in the photos is now cluttered with a cheap souvenir stand, rented out to a travel agency and has several tacky concessions. The first floors of the hotel cater for tacky Korean-Chinese weddings which seems to be the client base of this hotel.
Lighting and construction are poor in the hotel and one would think they were in a motel constructed in the 1980’s rather than a ‘four star’ establishment constructed just last year. Hallways and rooms are dark, carpets are stained and construction is shoddy throughout. This includes carpet so poorly laid that there are large gaps between the carpet and the wall and a vertically striped carpet is going every which direction.
The rooms are simply furnished and are run down and tired. The shower seems quite elaborate with shower nozzles that squirt water horizontally. However, it just ended up being a cheap joke, so clogged with lime scale to be useless. Perhaps a true reflection of the clientele and quality of the hotel was an array of condoms, lubricants and other devices for ‘adults’ in the washroom – for pay of course.
The breakfast that was included was a joke. Breakfast was held in one of the ballrooms used for weddings. It was clear that there was a wedding the previous night and we were eating their leftovers put into a buffet format. The table clothes had not even been changed and there was a large bowl at the end of the buffet that one was to dump their scraps to clear their plate and get more food.
The best part about the hotel was the staff who were very friendly and helpful, however they spoke no English at all and thankfully one of our friends spoke Mandarin.
Out of curiosity, we ventured across the street to see the other ‘international’ hotel which looked very modern from the outside. Whilst the lobby appeared to be typically Chinese tacky, there were large groups of Korean tourists being bussed there and perhaps it was better.
Another recommendation for Yanji is a Korean bbq restaurant located just on the other side of the bridge from the hotel, before you reach the KFC. It was excellent.