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Booking hotels in China in advance- is it necessary?

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Hi,
I am planning a 3 week trip to China in May/June. I have read conflicting opinions on this site about booking lodging in advance. Some say that you are losing hundreds of dollars if you pre-book because everything is negotiated on the spot. However, if there is a particular hotel with a limited number of rooms that we are interested in, is it best to book in advance to ensure you have a room there? I am assuming that answer is yes, but leaving it open for opinion...And I don't have one in mind, but I have seen a few while browsing.

As far as the cities we are visiting, I am specifically referencing Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Also, do the larger chains/brand hotels negotiate in China as well, or is the negotiability factor only relevant to mid-size or smaller Chinese-owned hotels?

thanks!
Lauren

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