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Hotels for families in Beijing & Shanghai

Hotels for families in Beijing & Shanghai

Mar 16th, 2004, 08:55 PM
  #1  
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Hotels for families in Beijing & Shanghai

Have just begun planning trip with 2 teens, 15 and 17, for mid-August. We would like to have the hotels reserved for these two major cities, where we'll be spending approximately one week each. We are looking for a "joint venture" type 5 star, like the Grand Hyatt -- but after calling all the 800 numbers and visting web sites, we're finding that their rooms generally accomodate only 3 people. So, even with a good deal on the rate, it's prohibitive because we'd need two rooms. Therefore, a few questions, please:
1) Can someone recommend some good hotels in each city that will accomodate two kids of these ages in the same room? Some hotel chains have told me that they only accept kids under 13. (And, btw: we're used to being cramped in the same hotel room from trips to Europe, but we like being cramped in nice hotels!)
2) In particular, can someone give an update on the Beijing Crowne Plaza? This was the ONE exception we've found, with a room sleeping 4 -- but now I've read a number of messages here suggesting that the rooms may be threadbare if they're not refurbished yet..... And Peter wrote last September that a refurbishment was in the offing. Even with dated rooms, can we safely assume that the Crowne Plaza, if not up to the standards of other 5 stars, would at least pass for a good 4 star?
3) Do the taxis in Chinese cities seat 4 passengers in addition to the driver?
4) Is the weather in China in August going to be as miserable as we expect?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!
EdEdwards is offline  
Mar 17th, 2004, 01:14 AM
  #2  
 
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I'm afraid I don't have much insight for the hotels question, but I will ask around (I live in Shanghai).

About the weather in August, at least in Shanghai, yes, it will be as miserable as you expect.

My mother, brother, and sister-in-law visited me this August. They had planned to come mid-Spring, but had cancelled due to SARS, and only had 3 months during which they could use their tickets.

It was UNBEARABLY hot and humid while we were all out touristing around. Within minutes of going outdoors, we were sweating profusely. We followed all the hot weather tips, drank lots of water, etc., but it was still miserably hot. It was so hot that we would enter a restaurant for lunch, talk about how we couldn't believe how hot it was, then cool down over lunch only to go back outside and all exclaim: "I can't believe how hot it is!"

It doesn't bother me so much living here, because I'm only outside in small doses, but I felt really bad for them having their first introduction to China in that weather.

They assured me, however, that they didn't mind. It was very hot, yes, but they had a great time anyway. (And, now that I think about it, it was a record heat wave - but it's always very, very hot and humid here in the summer).

Beijing, as expected, was cooler.

You can look at historical averages here:

http://www.weather.com/activities/tr...cationplanner/

Go to option 2, type in the city, then choose "best time to go" (on the right).

Re: Taxis - Yes, they will fit 4 people plus driver. The taxis are smaller in Beijing than in Shanghai, but we managed to all squeeze in a taxi to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, over an hour outside of town.

One tip: I'm not sure about Beijing, but in Shanghai, when you land at the airport and get in the taxi line (do NOT go with people who stop you outside the taxi line), you can tell the person at the front of the line that you are 4 people with luggage and that you want to go together. (Gesturing and saying "big taxi" will work if whole English sentences don't). You do NOT have to wait in the long line first. He will motion for you to wait farther down, and will call a big van-like taxi (which costs the same) to take you. It's 150 - 200 RMB ($18 - $25 US) - forgot you might want to ask your hotel how much a transfer will cost, but I assume the taxi will be cheaper.

Good luck!
Andrea_expat is offline  
Mar 17th, 2004, 01:30 PM
  #3  
hla
 
Join Date: May 2003
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Ed: When I looked, I found the Great Wall Sheraton and Marriott in Beijing, and the St. Regis in Shanghai offered two double beds. Hope this helps.
hla is offline  
Mar 17th, 2004, 01:36 PM
  #4  
hla
 
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Sorry, one more addition, the Four Seasons in Shanghai has larger rooms that accommodate four. Look on their website and click on the different rooms types. It will tell you the maximum occupancy. Even the larger rooms were relatively reasonable, at least for a Four Seasons.
hla is offline  
Mar 20th, 2004, 04:01 PM
  #5  
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Thanks for the information so far. When I check with each of the American hotel chains, they say that, in China, even when there are two double beds in a room, children cannot be considered as children and stay in the same room unless they are 12 or under. The Sheraton, St. Regis, Marriott and Four Seasons have all said this. The only exception seems to be the Crowne Plaza, where they say that they'll accept older kids in the same room.

Now I'm worried, since I've read subsequently read the blanket statement that "in Chinese hotels, kids must be under 12", that the Crowne Plaza 800 line people may have it wrong, and we'd hate to arrive and find that we have to rent a second room for the kids.

Does anyone have firsthand experience with this issue of older kids sharing a room with parents in Chinese hotels, and perhaps some recommendations regarding good hotels in Beijing and Shanghai that will accomodate the 4 of us in one room? Also, any firsthand, recent information on the Crowne Plaza, per my questions above? Thanks again.
EdEdwards is offline  
Mar 20th, 2004, 07:17 PM
  #6  
 
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This should be less of a problem in China than almost anywhere else. It is standard procedure for Chinese hotels to offer to add an extra bed, usually for a not excessive charge in the Y50 to Y100 range, depending on the class of hotel (and which can be bargained down).

It may be that because you are trying to book in advance, and doing so with foreign-managed chains, that you are not getting a clear picture. While I can't say that every foreign chain in China offers the extra bed service, I've certainly seen it offered many times.

It's true that in China children 12 and under stay for free in their parents' room, but it's common for older children to stay in an extra bed for an extra charge. It's common for adults to do so, too, and in fact many Chinese hotels even run to triple and quad rooms, although not usually at the five-star level.

Your alternatives are to email the properties directly, but don't be surprised if there's some delay before you get a reply; or to consider 'five-star' Chinese hotels instead of Sino-foreign joint-venture or foreign-managed hotels with familiar names.

On taxis, there are cars of the same size available in Beijing as in Shanghai (exactly the same makes and models, in fact). But whereas all the taxis in Shanghai are these Volkswagen Santanas (in a variety of models), Beijing has both these and a variety of others, including the Citroen joint-venture Fukang, and Chinese-made Xiali. However, the whole fleet will be replaced with Xiandai (Hyundai) vehicles in the near future. You can get four into any of these vehicles, but I'd go for the Hyundai, Fukang, or Santana.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
PeterN_H is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 01:16 AM
  #7  
 
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Hi Ed:
I hear you loud and clear on the 4 to a room thing, and my kids are only 11 and 7. I think it is outrageous that they want to chrage per person, rahter than per room. That said, I recently started switching from 5 stars to serviced apartments.
You may want to try an alternative to a hotel in Beijing.... what about a serviced apartment? Many of the expat housing complexes also rent out 1 or 2 BR apts by the night or week. The cost would run you the same as a better hotel. (and you'd get a kitchen and laundry room for convenience.). Try East lake Villas, Rosedale (former harbour View hotel) and Somerset apts or do a web search for "apartment hotels Beijing". Some have a week long minimum though.

Or, you can confirm a rate in writing (email or fax confirmation) that shows the number of people and their ages. Then if you have any agita at check in, you have proof of the rate and don't need to budge on your stance. This happened to us in Egypt recently and the Grand Hyatt wanted to charge me extra for my kids (both under 12)and I showed them my email confirmation of rate with all of us listed and they backed down and gave in.

Taxis will be cramped with 4 plus a driver. Hyundai lost the contract to replace the entire fleet b/c the drivers wouldn't pay the monthly fees (more for this car than a xia li) b/c there is no trunk space and it has to be refuelled at special places. (it has the propane whatever gas it runs on taking up all the space in the trunk) but there are still plenty of them out there, especially at hotels. The hotel can probably rent a car for the day for you or you can rent a taxi yourself, figure 350 a day plus any tolls and parking. (more for a trip to the Great wall since it is outside city limits). Many also have GM minivans. 550 per day from first rent a car with driver in city limits.

August will be humid, so make sure wherever you stay has a pool!
Bchen is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 09:07 PM
  #8  
 
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Bchen has a fabulous suggestion - serviced apartments would be a great idea for you. You will essentially have all the amenities of a hotel, except maybe no business center, but they are MUCH roomier and have a full kitchen. I honestly can't think of a single drawback to a serviced apartment, which should be more cost effective for you than a hotel.

If a google search doesn't help (Somerset also exists in Shanghai, and Hong Kong Plaza is another one I know does short term rentals), you might just want to e-mail one of the relocation companies whose listings will come up - they'd probably be able to give you a list.

Good luck!

Andrea_expat is offline  
Mar 31st, 2004, 07:36 AM
  #9  
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Thank you for your suggestions. What is a serviced apartment situation like? Is there still a front desk staffed 24 hours, and restaurants, and a tour desk and so forth? We haven't been to China in 18 years, so we're expecting to need a lot of assisstance! Do they have serviced apartments within a reasonably short walk to Tiananmen square?

No one has yet replied with updated info on the Beijing Crowne Plaza -- the only Western operated hotel I've found that will take the 4 of us in one room, and conveniently located -- so I'm still hoping someone will write in, who has stayed there recently. The reviews I've been reading range from "wonderful, spacious and clean" to "shabby, dated, worn, smelly, etc." -- but these are all reviews from prior to the last 6 months. The good thing about the Crowne Plaza is they have rooms with 2 Queen beds, @130 (which I know sounds high, but is still much cheaper than having to go with 2 rooms for the 4 of us.) This room situation is really annoying, because second tier hotels could wind up costing us more than true 5 stars, so long as we need the 2 rooms wherever we go. If no one responds further here regarding the Crowne Plaza, I may post separately with that headline to see if it brings any responses.

Thanks again for everyone's advice so far.
EdEdwards is offline  
Mar 31st, 2004, 12:00 PM
  #10  
 
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Check the website for the Ascott Group www.the-ascott.com which operates serviced apartments under the Somerset, Ascott, and other brand names in China. This will give you an idea of the services available. I've never stayed in a serviced apartment but did look into them briefly as an alternative. It looks like the closest location they have in Beijing to Tiananmen Square is their Luxury Serviced Residence which has 1, 2, and 4 bedroom apartments. It's also near a station that serves two subway lines. From what I could gather, this location has 24 hour reception but no restaurant on site. It does say that they offer a continental breakfast (you may want to inquire about that), and you'll have a full kitchen. Good luck in your search!
Patty is offline  
Mar 31st, 2004, 05:35 PM
  #11  
 
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Serviced apartments will have (in general, you'll have to check with each one):

* Full kitchen and usually laundry
* Daily maid service
* 24-hour concierge
* Cable television with international channels
* Often on-site restaurants
* Often gym

I've never seen one with a tour desk per se, although they should be very capable to help you arrange visits to the major attractions independently.

If you want more advice on the Beijing Crowne Plaza, I suggest you re-post your question with a title like "Anyone stayed at the Beijing Crowne Plaza recently?" - people may skip over this current post but you might be able to shake out some others with the hotel name in the title. Also check asia-hotels.com; they're the best site I've found for hotel reviews in Asia.

Good luck!
Andrea_expat is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 07:41 AM
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At this point, I feel like this is one for Miss Manners or Emily Post?. Here are my thoughts based on the facts you have now relayed:

1. Your friends' view is probably the best one, in that they know the family and their financial situation, etc. I would definitely take their opinion if your friends are mainland Chinese, as they would obviously know what would be acceptable better than us foreign devils.

2. Perhaps the family is actually expecting you to pay them, as the father is an out-of-work taxi driver. I don't know how frank a discussion you have had with your friends about what is expected, but perhaps now is the time for that.

3. On the other hand, just because you are poor does not mean you don't have your pride, and offering hospitality is a big thing in Asia generally, so they may not be expecting payment, and a gift and a meal would be a nice gesture.

I don?t know how to say this without sounding crass, but I hope this ends up being a good way for you to actually see Beijing. If he is only available during the day on weekends, you will have to plan carefully. I would not go to the Summer Palace on a weekend in August (when your trip is as I recall), so if he volunteers to take you then, you may need to come up with other suggestions (perhaps one of the farther access points of the Great Wall.) The Forbidden City could be quite crowded on a weekend as well. To the best of my knowledge, none of the major sights in Beijing are open in the evenings, so I am not sure what you will be doing besides driving by them; perhaps he means to take you to an acrobatic show which would certainly be fun, or Chinese opera.
Cicerone is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 07:43 AM
  #13  
 
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Sorry, the above was meant as a reply to Ed's question about a gift for a Chinese host, I will re-post it there.
Cicerone is offline  
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