Hotels we stayed at in China - March 2003

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Beijing - Radisson SAS hotel
We stayed at the Radisson SAS Hotel Beijing for 6 nights on our travel to Beijing in March 2003. We stayed there from March 15th until March 22nd.

SAS hotel seen from the streetThe hotel itself doesn’t have a great location. It is located next to ring 3 on the northeast of Beijing. But this was not really a big issue because there were always taxis outside the hotel and it was easy to get into the centre of town. It cost about 20-30 RMB to take the taxi into Tiananmen square. It is also possible to take the subway to get around. First you have to walk for about 15 minutes to get to Liufang station. From here you can get to the loop line and then switch to Line 1.

The lobby of the hotel is standard. On the second floor you will find the breakfast restaurant but there is also another restaurant called ”the grill” if I’m not mistaken. We only tried out the breakfast place and it was nice. You have the standard selection of bread, fruit, cereal, bacon, sausages, eggs in different versions, warm dishes and so on. There was also some hot Chinese dishes if you prefer to start the day with that :-) And we got tea/coffee served at the table and you could also have different sorts of juices and milk.

The view from our roomIn the lobby you will also find the business centre where you can make copies or access the internet. It was not a very good internet connection and it was pretty expensive. If you need to access the internet I would recommend going out of the hotel, turn right into the first street and walk for about 50-100 meter. There is a small shopping mall and on the third floor was a big internet/game café where you could surf for 4 RMB pr hour.

In the lobby you can also book different tours and we used this option to go to the great wall and to go to the acrobatics show. Another great feature that we found in the lobby was the weather forecast. On a little piece of paper we found the forecast for the next two days and that helped us plan our activities.

We were a bit concerned about how to get money where we came to China. But it turns out that there was an ATM at the hotel and an ATM at the store Carrefour near by. The Carrefour shop is only a couple of minutes away and we normally went here to buy water. You can also find Pizza Hut and KFC near by :-)

Our room at the SAS hotelThe room at the hotel was nice. It has tiles when you first walk in and the rest is a carpet. It has a minibar (we didn't use this much...a Coke was 26 RMB in the minibar and 1.60 RMB at the grocery store), a safe, a water boil with a selection of different tea-bags, a thing to iron your pants, a wardrobe with about 10 hangers, TV with cable TV (CNN, BBC, Star, Discovery and so on). There was a big red, comfortable, soft chair and also a chair in connection with the desk in the room. The bed was not all that big and it was really hard. So hard that I didn’t mind getting up early in the morning to start sightseeing :-) It seems like it is possible to use different electrical plugs because I could use the standard Norwegian round plugs. But there was also an option for flat pins. So I had no trouble charging my digital camera.

The bathroom was small but nice. It was tiled, it had a bathtub with the possibility of taking a shower (shower curtain protecting the floor from getting wet). By the sink we found little stuff like soap, body lotion, bath foam, shampoo, shower cap, sewing kit, dental kit (toothbrush and tooth paste) and a hairdryer. There is even a loudspeaker in the bath room so that you can listen to the stuff that is on the TV :-) The tap water is not drinkable so we went out to get water more or less every day. But we also got two ½ litre bottles from the hotel each day. It seems like the water is so ”bad” that it is even recommended that you don’t brush your teeth with it.

I enjoy my squash and I was delighted to find out that there is a workout place in connection with the hotel. There are 2 squash courts (you have to pay to use these - 45 RMB for ½ hour and 75 for 1 hour), an outdoor tennis court, a swimming pool and a gym. So I played squash a couple of times because this is where the Beijing squash ladder plays their matches.

On the day you check out it is possible to keep the room until 3 PM.

Back to the China - Beijing travelogue

Xi'an - Xi’an hotel
We booked the hotel using and the rate was 65 US dollars. We only stayed at Xi’an hotel for one night. We stayed there the night from March 23rd/24th and most of this time was spent on an organized tour. According to the information on the hotel the location of the hotel should be pretty good. But I think that you had to walk for a while to get to the south gate of the city wall. We also had some trouble finding a grocery store near by where we could by water and stuff. In the end we did find a tiny place where we at least could get some small bottles of water. There is a CITS (China International Travel Service) located right next to the hotel and that is where we bought our tour to the terra-cotta warriors. And there is an ATM about 50 meters from the hotel (Bank of China).

Xi'an hotel frontThe room itself was OK. Carpet on the floor, a bed that was pretty hard, to chairs and a small table, water boiler with small tea bags available. The TV was equipped with many channels but the problem was that all of them were Chinese so we didn’t understand much (well, we did understand some because a Swedish movie played on one of the channels). There was a mini bar in the room but again the prices are a bit ridiculous compared to the prices outside of the hotel. I had one bottle of water and that was 8 RMB. The room was not very well lit by the way so I had trouble reading a book at night.

The bath was OK. It contained a bath tub with the possibility of taking a shower (shower curtain protecting the floor from getting wet) and a sink with a big mirror over it. By the sink we found little stuff like soap, bath foam, shampoo, a comb, toothbrush and tooth paste. As usual there was a hairdryer next to the mirror. The whole bath was layed with tiles.

View from our roomWe had breakfast in the morning and we had to pay extra for this (60 RMB pr. person). The strange thing was they I couldn’t charge this to the room…I had to pay cash or with credit card. The breakfast itself was not worth 60 RMB. We found the usual selection of bread, fruit, cereal, bacon, sausages, eggs in different versions, warm dishes and so on but it was no way near the standard that we found on the SAS hotel in Beijing.

We decided to eat in the room at night and I called room service. It was not easy to place the order because the person on the other end of the phone didn’t speak very good English. Once again I found out that I could not charge this to my room so I had to pay with a credit card. That turned out to be quite a mission because they had to take my card down to the reception. On the first try they charged me 645 RMB and not 65 RMB which was the right amount. When I discovered this I had to come down to the reception and I think 6 of the hotel staff was involved in how to solve this and explain it to me.

According to the information at the hotel there is a fitness centre and a swimming pool. I tried to go to the floor where this was located but everything was locked so I did not get a chance to take a look at it.

We stayed on the 9th floor but the view was not great.

Hong Kong - Kowloon hotel
We booked the hotel using and the rate was 85 US dollars. We stayed at Kowloon hotel during our stay in Hong Kong in the end of March 2003 (24th until the 29th).

Kowloon hotel seen from Nathan roadThe hotel has a pretty good location in my opinion. It is situated in the beginning of Nathan Road so it is in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui. In the basement of the hotel there are restaurants and once you get out of the hotel you are in the ”Golden mile”. It is easy to get around because the subway has a station right on the outside (Tsim Sha Tsui station) and you can also get a cab at the hotel entrance. Or why not just walk down to the star ferry or up Nathan road :-)

Once we got to the hotel we were a bit disappointed because the room was so tiny. We had a room on 13th floor and we did get much view. It is hard to get a real harbour view by the way because the Peninsula hotel is located right in front of it.

Our room at Kowloon hotelBut the room itself was very nice. The bed was soft just the way I like it. We had a Sony Trinitron TV where we had access to quite a lot of channels via cable TV (including CNN, BBC World, Discovery and so on). The TV was also connected to some sort of internet because at the desk we could pull out a keyboard and get access to the net. It wasn’t the best solution because: the resolution on the screen was not good enough, the Netscape version was too old, the mouse was a track-ball thing and the whole solution seemed to crash every now and then. But it was also possible to get access to broadband if I’m not mistaken and there was a fax machine in the room. When we checked in we got a little card with information about the fax number and even our temporary mail address.

Apart from this we had our own little safe, a little mini bar which was pretty well stocked, a water boiler with different tea and coffee options (I enjoyed the idea of having real cream in the mini bar).

The bathroom was small, clean and with tiles. Next to the sink we found the usual shampoo, bath foam, conditioner and soap. The bath had a bath tub but there was also the possibility of taking a shower (a shower curtain kept the water from splashing all over the place). Apart from that the bathroom had a pretty big mirror and one of those makeup mirrors attached to the wall. And there was of course a hair dryer.

We did have some problem with the air-condition during our stay there. It would get pretty cold in the room so we tried to adjusted it but no matter how much we turned the dial towards hot, we still got lots of cool air. So in the end we just turned it off.

I didn’t see that they had any fitness place in the hotel itself but according to their website they have a deal with ”California Fitness Centre” right next to the hotel. I think that the YMCA that is located right next to the place has squash court(s) but I never got a chance to check it out.

Reception at Kowloon hotelIn the lobby we found a cool newspaper machine. On this thing you could press the screen and choose your country. In there you got a list of available newspapers and then it was possible to get it printed. I never did check out the price and I didn’t try it out because they had no newspapers from Norway.

According to our guide book one of the things you have to try out in Hong Kong is Dim Sum. In the basement of the hotel there is a restaurant called Wan Loong Court and we tried it out the first night. It was a nice place but not what we expected. In the Lonely Planet book we found a description of how a dim sum place would be (crowded, noisy and so on) and this restaurant was not really a dim sum place as suggested in the book.

We didn’t have breakfast included in our stay but it was not much of a problem. There is a Starbucks right next to the hotel and we also found other places near by that made great sandwiches.

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