Beijing

Feb 9th, 2004, 10:30 AM
  #1  
666
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Beijing

I am going to Beijing in a few days via go-today.com. I am staying at the Best Western. I have hired a guide, Jane Yao, who has had clients with various embassies. I am going to see the expected. She is making the arrangements for a car. What is the cigarette smoking situation? Any advice on where to eat? Any other advice, feel free.
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Feb 9th, 2004, 07:54 PM
  #2  
 
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666:
We're going to Beijing with go-today.com also and staying at the Best Western.
Would you post your review of the hotel when you return.
We leave March 18th.
Thanks
Brendon
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Feb 9th, 2004, 09:28 PM
  #3  
 
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Hi

My wife and I went to Beijing in March last year and we had a great timme. I have posted a long trip report with pictures on my personal homepage www.gardkarlsen.com Maybe you can find some useful information there.

Regards
Gard
Stavanger, Norway
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Feb 10th, 2004, 11:28 AM
  #4  
666
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Brendon - I will be happy to post a review about Best Western. I return Feb. 17th.
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Feb 10th, 2004, 11:30 AM
  #5  
666
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Gard, I'm one step ahead of you and have already checked your site. Thanks. 666
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Feb 13th, 2004, 12:12 AM
  #6  
666
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We expected someone from CITS a company that gotoday.com contracts with to be waiting at the airport with a sign with my husband?s name on it. No one showed. We called CITS and they thought our flight was to arrive later. They told us to take a cab and they would reimburse us. We were first approached by a taxi driver who obviously wanted to take advantage of us. We went outside instead and waited in the taxi line where taxis are regulated and have meters. However, he had no idea where the Best Western was located and spoke no English. The Best Western is a newer hotel and is not yet listed on the information board that the taxi drivers use. Unfortunately, the gotoday.com confirmation packet was only written in English. Another person assisting the cab drivers spoke a little English and nicely called CITS for directions. We arrived at the hotel and Mr. Cuy of CITS gives us a hard time regarding reimbursement because we forgot to get a receipt. I wanted to kick his ***. At this point I have been up almost 24 hours. I was hungry and very tired and he is worried about a stupid receipt.

Our flight was delayed almost an hour because some luggage was not loaded. We had pushed out of the gate on time, but had to go back to load the forgotten luggage. United has the crappiest food and there is very little leg room (British Airways is far superior). The flight service was bad too.

Best Western appears to hire no one older than 18 and their English is fair at best. We arrive at the hotel restaurant at 8:00 p.m. and they only have a limited Chinese menu in the non-smoking section and some western dishes too. You can eat off their hot pot buffet in the smoking section though ($6 for all you can eat and all the beer you can drink). Smoking isn?t allowed in elevators but someone did anyway. There were also no non-smoking rooms left. My husband was approached by a women asking if he wanted a massage and sex. We have been here about five hours. The bed is a brick and a bit too short for my six foot two inches tall husband. It can only get better.

Breakfast was pretty good. It consisted of the basics and included Chinese items too. Remember that hardly any of the waitstaff speaks English. They obviously have memorized certain phrases such as hello, how many and thank you. I asked how long breakfast lasted and that totally threw them. The front desk is more fluent though. Instructing the person making omelets consists of pointing to the items you want in them. The French toast is accompanied with honey instead of syrup. Be sure to look at the back of the sweetener packet. One is white sugar and the other is brown.

We went to take swim and were surprised to learn that it cost 48 rmb ($6) considering we were there yesterday for a tour and no one mentioned it. I didn?t care about the cost (everything is so cheap here that I feel like I am robbing these people). What irritated me was that we had to wear a bathing cap (which you could buy for $3).

Internet access is free but bring your own Ethernet cable. Logically we thought the connection would be by the desk somewhere but found the appropriate outlet in an awkward place in the room. We thought hair dryers would be included but one was not in the room.

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Feb 13th, 2004, 04:00 AM
  #7  
Peep
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So you didn't enjoy your trip?
 
Feb 13th, 2004, 03:43 PM
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My daughter and I stayed at the Best Western Beijing in November. We had a wonderful experience there. The staff was extremely pleasant and helpful, the hotel was new and clean, the food in the downstairs restaurant was very good and reasonably priced. The location is a little bit off the beaten track, but there were always taxis right out the front door to whisk us away to wherever we wanted to go. The hotel provides a business card with the name and address in Chinese to help the taxi drivers on the return trip, but many are not famililiar with this new hotel yet. Instead, we asked them to drop us off at Curio City, which is right at the corner, and all the drivers knew where it was. We had no difficulty anywhere communicating with the people we met in Beijing. Hand signals (and smiles) go pretty far! I learned a few Chinese words and phrases beforehand, and it really helped. I am planning another trip to Beijing this coming spring, and I would not hesitate to stay at the Best Western again. Have fun on your trip!
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Feb 13th, 2004, 04:01 PM
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666: ditto about united food and service. all the stews are old, portly and tired, and want to do as little as possible. i am flying united to singapore next week in bus. class, but still thinking about bringing a snack with me on the flight.
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Feb 13th, 2004, 04:56 PM
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What is it with United? Before flying to the US with them I'd naively thought that being partly employee-owned might make for better service. "Old, portly and tired" is way too cruel, though kuranosuke - our crews were old, thin and tired. After a while I was reluctant to press the call button because I started to worry about their varicose veins. Not that pressing the button had any noticeable effect.

The final insult was to have to sit through a cheery UAL commercial telling us what great service we were enjoying. The power of advertising has its limits, though.

You'd have thought that United recruiters had, in the manner of 18th century Royal Navy press-gangs, broken into a Miami retirement home and abducted the luckless crew members. Not so, I was told - they would have bid for the long overseas routes and, having seniority over their younger colleagues, won. Is duty-free shopping enough for one to jeopardise one's health?

Disclaimer: my wife believes this post could be read as disgracefully ageist. So I should say that it wasn't the stews' age that was the problem but their attitude and motivation - which usually stems from morale problems, which usually means bad management.

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Feb 16th, 2004, 07:33 AM
  #11  
 
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Great posts, a chuckle on the old, tired stewardesses.
We go to Beijing with go-today next month and hoped to hire a private guide with car a day or two, to do the great wall, etc for our family of 5. Is this realistic with vehicle sizes, and perhaps more interesting and money saving than a bus tour?
Anyone have a name and contact info for any honest and reliable candidates?
Thanks in Advance,
Wally
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Feb 17th, 2004, 05:48 AM
  #12  
 
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My husband and I and another couple leave for Beijing via go-today on the 24th of March. I am curious as to the size of the beds. Someone at Best Western informed me the beds were queen size...wonder if that is true or will we get a double?

Just how far is this hotel to any good sites?

Info? Keep it coming!

Thanks,
Jean
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Feb 17th, 2004, 06:57 PM
  #13  
 
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Just got back from Beijing on the go-today.com package. To answer a few questions-

1. The hotel is not in a prime location but Beijing is not a walking city anyway. Taxis are plentiful and dirt cheap. I think the most expensive ride was $4. Make the driver use the meter, they are supposed to. I was quoted 30 yuan for a ride. I told the driver to use the meter and it was a 15 yuan fare.

2. We had a king sized bed. I assume it's a Chinese thing, but they are as hard as a rock. There were two extra comforters provided that we put on top of the mattress to soften things up.

3. I may have had the same guide that 666 is talking about but her name is spelled Yeo, not Yao. The day we went to the Wall, she provided the following: a mini-van with driver, admission, full guided tour of the Mutianyu section of the Wall, lunch in a very nice restaurant where we told her what types of food we liked and she ordered more food than we could eat off the menu. Also there was no jade factory tour or other "shopping stops" although she helped me bargain for some trinkets. This was all for a couple dollars more than a bus toure where you are quoted a low price, but then they try to make it up on kickbacks from the merchants at the force shopping stops.
Jane's email is- [email protected]
Tell her that Don and Cindy sent you. Jane provides a great tour and lots of laughs.
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Apr 26th, 2004, 02:13 PM
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I am going to Beijing on the 24th of May. I booked the trip through Go-Today, and will be staying at the Best Western. Has anyone flown on Asiana Airlines? If so, how was the service/food? Was it worth visiting Beijing overall?
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Apr 27th, 2004, 04:56 AM
  #15  
Airlawgirl
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I just returned from China a few days ago, and stayed for 3 days at the Best Western a week and a half ago. I thought the staff to be extremely helpful and cheerful, and I had a number of problems with the card key to my room, and they were helpful to a fault on that and helping me to find a particular restaurant. Their breakfast bar is only okay in my opinion- it seemed a bit disorganized in the morning with the rush of tourists having breakfast before their tours started- and the beds were, as stated, like an absolute brick-the hardest I've ever slept on. I had to get the comforter from the closet and put that down and sleep on top of it to derive any sort of comfort. My chief problem with this hotel is its location- not good for sightseeing or shopping-you must take a taxi to go anywhere- you can do no walking anywhere around the hotel because it isn't near anything. That said, however, taxis are quite cheap in Beijing, and you can get to the Sanlitun embassy/nightlife area for about $1.50/2.00-which is excellent. I highly recommend the Courtyard restaurant-which is just exquisite and sophisticated,and has an incomparable view of the Forbidden City- it is quite expensive however, on a par with NYC and DC, a glass of Chardonnay was $US11, but well, well worth it in my opinion for the food and ambience- a good mix of Westerners-embassy/businessmen types and Chinese. Your guide or hotel staff should know it, but you can look it up on the Internet to see its location- it is located just on the moat across from the Forbidden City. Happy Travels!
 
Apr 29th, 2004, 08:06 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 281
Hi!

We made our trip to Beijing on the Go-Today package and found our stay at the Best Western to be wonderful. The staff was very accomodating, the room was large, the beds were brick hard, but because someone here had mentioned that, I brought one of those foam waffle things for a double bed.

When we pushed 2 twin beds together we put the waffle across the width and with 2 xtra comforters on top of that I slept wonderfully. When I left, the waffle stayed behind (which gave me the room I needed for all the goodies I bought!

As for convenience to the big events, it never cost us more than $4 US to go anywhere and that was in Rush Hour morning traffic which took us nearly 45 minutes (including a stoop at the ATM at the China bank at the Trade Center). We hired a driver on 2 different days, once for 450 yuan, once for 400 yuan (which was split between 2 couples) and the cars were far larger and more comfortable than any taxi we had.

We could easily walk to Curio City (which has great antiques, chops, etc.) and to the Dirt Market.

We were generally gone all day.

The hotel has a wonderful spa and the first night after going to Forbidden City & Tiannemen Square, we came in at 9:30 PM got a full body massage for 2 and with tip, it came to $52 total. The last night we availed ourselves of a 45 minute foot massage for both of us (husband & wife, not both couples) for a grand total of $24. It was heaven!

The hotel has cards printed with all the major places you might want to visit in Chinese characters to show your taxi driver. (also phrases)

Breakfast was great--omelettes or eggs made to order...just motion to them that you don't want all that oil in the pan + a variety of Western & Asian dishes.

It exceeded our expectations!

Enjoy! Beijing was great!

Jean

PS the hotel changes American cash or American Express Travelers Checks for 8.2 yuan to the dollar with no charges. It was great!
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