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In Beijing: Grand Hyatt or Peninsula Palace?

In Beijing: Grand Hyatt or Peninsula Palace?

Jan 27th, 2004, 12:36 PM
  #1  
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In Beijing: Grand Hyatt or Peninsula Palace?

Can anyone let me know what the differences are between the Grand Hyatt and the Peninsula Palace? We're specifically interested in location (what is within walking distance of each or proximity?), ambience, and room size/modern amenities.

Do you recommend one over the other?

Thanks so much!

Lisa
LisaG is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 08:56 PM
  #2  
 
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I stayed at Grant Hyatts on my last visit to Beijing. You really could not ask for a better location! It's next to the Beijing Hotel which is next to the Forbidden City. There is a huge shopping mall with fantastic food court that is accessible via elevator.

It is new and beautiful. They also let me use the Internet connection for free in the business office.

I plan to stay there agin on my next trip.

harman is offline  
Mar 6th, 2004, 11:03 PM
  #3  
 
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Hello!

I am having the same debate between these two hotels. Perhaps someone could shed light on the difference in location/standard. We want to be at a 5 star hotel where English is spoken that is in convenient walking distance of shops, restaurants and attractions. We are both in good shape and don't mind walking.

The rates for the dates we will be in Beijing on the hotels websites are:
Peninsula Palace:
$145 Room Only
$155 Room with American Breakfast
$165 Room with Room upgrade, American buffet breakfast, complimentary newspaper and late check-out until 4:00 pm

Grand Hyatt:
$148 No Breakfast
(I can't find a rate that includes breakfast- ideas?)

I know there have been numerous posts that you can get the hotels cheaper. My questions is, what is the best way to go about doing this before we leave?

Which hotel would you choose?
Punkyl44 is offline  
Mar 7th, 2004, 09:43 AM
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If you want breakfast (plus drinks and canapes every evening), then look for a Regency Club room at the Hyatt. Check theHyatt's website. They have a low price guarantee, so will beat any other internet price.
Kathie is online now  
Mar 7th, 2004, 02:12 PM
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I recently booked the Palace at www.beijing-hotels.net (Hotel Travel Netowrk) for $US150, which includes breakfast AND the taxe and service charges (which are NOT included in the $155 rate on the Palace's website.)

That was the best deal I could find for either hotel. We picked the Palace because you can stay in a Hyatt anywhere, but Peninsula is somewhat of a legend in Asia (although I know this one is probably not up to the standards of the HK or BKK hotels.)
Lindsey is offline  
Mar 7th, 2004, 03:45 PM
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The Peninsula Palace (as it is now known) has a policy, and I have this in writing, that it reserves its best prices for its own Web site. Where prices on other discount Web sites appear to be lower, like is not being compared with like. I, too, came across a Web site which appeared to be offering a better price and directly challenged the hotel on this point. While appearing to be the same, the room on offer on the Web site was on a lower floor, and during a period of refurbishment was amongst those which had not yet been refurbished.

An additional issue with apparent Web site bargains in China is that with the big name hotels, some are rates designed to attract local people to fill otherwise empty rooms, and are only available to those (Chinese or foreign) able to demonstrate residence in China. If a Web site sells you a room at one of those rates, you may face difficulties later.

'Discount' hotel Web sites are never a good idea for hotel booking in China. Almost all of the best hotels have a policy of keeping the best published rates (non tour-group bulk discount or other contract) for their own Web sites. Entirely Chinese owned-and-operated hotels always charge those who book in advance a lot more, whether its via a Web site or not. Whatever you are quoted by a Web site you can beat yourself--they have no allocations, no contracts, and no access to special discounts. They merely compare their prices to rack rates no one actually pays, and you can obtain a deeper discount in person.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Mar 7th, 2004, 04:45 PM
  #7  
 
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Thanks everyone! I will probably just book on the websites. We are a little nervous about arriving and not being having a room reserved even though I know it would probably be fine based on the posts I read.

Peter- do you have an opinion between the two hotels? I know you know alot about location/amenitiesin Beijing so I would love to hear your advice.

Thanks again!


Punkyl44 is offline  
Mar 7th, 2004, 07:40 PM
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I like both of them. The GH's obvious edge is in its location above a metro station, which makes getting around Beijing during the increasingly extended rush hours (about 3.30pm to 7pm in the evening, for instance, when city traffic coagulates) a little more convenient. GH is a little closer to Tian'an Men and of slightly more easy access for cabs (but The Peninsula Palace puts you slightly closer to the Forbidden City's main entrance). Both lie between Wangfujing and Dong Dan shopping, if that's important.

Unless you are planning to visit during a horrendously busy period such as the first weeks of May or October, I'd leave your options open and keep an eye on the hotels' two Web sites, and book nearer the time of your departure, when rates will *usually* drop as the goods look like going bad on the shelves. Those rates quoted are pretty high, but there's an element of luck involved, too.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Mar 8th, 2004, 06:33 AM
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Peter-

Why is early May such a busy time? We will be in Beijing May 8-16 and are trying to decide on hotels. The Marco Polo is offering a rate of $80/night with breakfast included. Is this good or should I haggle/wait some more?
kathyl is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 07:05 AM
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The first week of May is a national holiday, and is peak domestic travel time. The exact dates are fixed each year only shortly before the holiday begins. In theory people work through the first week end and get the Monday to the following Sunday off. However, everything you might want to see or do is still available, as all forms of entertainment do a lot of their business during that week, and the first week of October. The creation of these two nearly-week-long holidays is a recent thing, and is designed to get the canny Chinese to liberate some of their hoarded savings into the general economy. This plan is known as 'holiday economics'.

Already many fail to stay at work for the first weekend, and it's expected that the requirement to work those two days will soon be dropped. Already, too, there's an overspill to either side as those who can try to get away before the rush, or back after it.

Beijing, however, containing more of the people who can afford to travel than do the smaller cities or the countryside, tends to thin out a bit, and the traffic to ease. But there are enough visitors to put pressure on hotels. Very few Chinese have discretionary holiday, so a great deal of travelling is done at this time of year.

The Marco Polo rate sounds pretty good to me. I do remember that in the doldrum period after the October holiday and before Christmas it was as low as $65, but I think it would be very unlikely that such a rate would appear in May.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Mar 8th, 2004, 07:15 AM
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Peter-

Thanks for the in-depth response! It looks like both portions of our trip this year are going to fall on national holiday weeks. We'll be in Japan the first week of May and are already dealing with th extra high costs of travel/lodging during that time. So in comparison, Beijing will probably be so much cheaper...
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Mar 9th, 2004, 02:55 PM
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Lia
 
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I haven't stayed at the Grand Hyatt though I can definitely recommend the Peninsula Palace. We stayed there last October and loved it! Great location only two blocks from Wangfujing (shopping street). You might want to check with Pacific Delight (www.pacificdelighttours.com). They have a city module that includes 3 nights with breakfast, private car/guide, full day Great Wall and City tours including lunch both days priced between $399-$489 depending on when you go. Even at the high end, that works out to $163/nt which seems reasonable since the package includes most meals, tours and transfers.

Pacific Bestours (www.bestour.com) offers a similar package for $490 ($550 during peak season - Mar 30 to Nov 15) though this may be a "join-in" tour rather than private guide.

BTW, I'm planning another trip and shopping for city stays in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong if anyone has additional recommendations. Thanks!
Lia is offline  
Mar 9th, 2004, 03:51 PM
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Thanks for all the great advice! I will def book the Palace through the Peninsula website if we stay there.

I checked out Pacific Delights. It would actually work out to $211 per night(spread out over the 6 nights we are visiting) at the Palace since they charge per person, not per room. Just a room with breakfast on Peninsula?s website is $155 (not including any extra tax/fees). Is it worth the extra money to have the tours included or is this stuff we could just arrange for cheaper once we arrive? Here's what they include:

Day 1 ? ARRIVE BEIJING
Arrive in Beijing, where you are met by your private guide and transferred by private car service to your selected hotel.

Day 2 ? BEIJING
Today's full day tour visits vast Tian An Men Square and the Forbidden City's treasure-filled Imperial Palace, with admission to the living quarters, museum and jewelry sections. Continue on to the exquisite Summer Palace with a boat ride on Lake Kunming. Lunch included at a local restaurant.
MEALS: American Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3 ? BEIJING
Today tour the Great Wall, one of the most amazing feats of mankind. Walk atop the ancient ramparts, admiring the view of the Wall serpentining across the mountains. After lunch at a local restaurant, stroll along the Sacred Way, lined with statues of warriors and mythical beasts, to the Ming Tombs and Chang Ling Exhibition Hall.
MEALS: American Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4 ? DEPART BEIJING
Transfer to the airport, by private car service, for your flight onward.
MEALS: American Breakfast
Punkyl44 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2004, 07:31 AM
  #14  
Lia
 
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Pricewise, the difference seems minimal when you add in the cost of breakfast, tours/lunch and private transfers to the $155/nt room. So it's really a matter of personal preference if you want PD to arrange it all for you or do on your own.

Another option is to book the room directly through the hotel website and book the tours through their concierge though I'd suggest contacting them before you arrive in case the tours don't run every day. If you plan to be there for six days, you might want to space out the tours.

We only stayed three days last time which was really not enough. After arriving late in the afternoon, we walked to Wangfujing in the evening for dinner and shopping. Next day we took the Great Wall tour. The third day we took to City tour and then we left for Shanghai early the next morning, so you're wise to spend a few more days in Beijing!
Lia is offline  
Mar 10th, 2004, 02:42 PM
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A cab from the airport to the hotel will cost only about $10. Meals as part of tours rarely live up to what you can order for yourself, and eating out is far cheaper than tours lead you to believe. Booking local tours through a concierge would be far and away the most expensive way to do it. Tian'an Men and the Forbidden City you can walk to or reach in under ten minutes in a cab. The Summer Palace you'd enjoy more if getting there by boat rather than stuck in traffic in a tour bus. Great Wall tours never allow you as much time at the Wall as you would like, almost always include unwanted (and outrageously overpriced) shopping stops, and include the Ming Tombs which you will probably feel not so impressive after you've already sampled the Forbidden City, whose architecture (originally) is of the same era. You can easily, and very cheaply, get to various Wall sites by public bus. Indeed, you can visit two Wall sites in a day by aircon express bus for under US$3 per person, spending as much time there as you like.

In short, your savings could be quite substantial if you like to do things for yourself, and the vast overcharging for 'private' airport pick-ups, etc. doesn't actually reflect the real value or real cost.

Of course, a tour is always more convenient. But with relatively limited aims in a short time, there would be much to say for just doing it yourself.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Mar 11th, 2004, 04:27 PM
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Thanks Peter for your always insightful advice!

We were planning to go it alone and just book our hotel at the Peninsula ahead of time, but after reading so many nice things about Pacific Delights had been contemplating just doing it with them since it includes private tours.

Seeing how much our savings would be, I think we will should probably do it alone. I spent 5 weeks in Russia on my own and was able to get around just fine, so I figure China should be ok.

The only question I have is will we get as much out of it by ourselves as we would with a private English-speaking tour guide?
Punkyl44 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2004, 06:38 PM
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We stayed at the Palace and it was lovely. We were really glad we had the hotel pick us up at the airport. I know there are cabs and cabs would be cheaper, but we were tired, new to China, and having them greet us, grab our luggage, bring the car around, and have the hotel staff welcome us on the driveway of the hotel and bring us to our upgraded room without registering in the lobby was lovely and worth the little extra money. Also we got into our room very early in the morning. But the tour to the Wall taken though the hotel included a lunch stop at the government store and another stop at a jewerly shop. Since there was another couple on the tour and they loved to shop we could not complain, but if we had been alone, we would not have wasted the time. Plus, the jewerly store was a big gyp!! I succumbed to a jade braclet and paid many times what it was worth. [email protected]!!!!
Elainee is offline  
Mar 12th, 2004, 05:40 AM
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Re the question of booking a trip through a company such as Pacific Delight or arranging it on your own: My experience has been that booking on your own, you'll have fewer problems getting your money back in the event of problems. We had booked a trip to Beijing through Pacific Delight last September. When SARS hit, we decided to delay going to Asia, and in spite of there being a CDC advisory against going there (and airlines were redepositing frequent flier miles without penalty) and having had travel insurance, the most Pacific Delight would do is let us use the $600 deposit on a future trip within the next year...plus we had to re-purchase travel insurance. When we went to rebook for 2004 they would not even let us use new advertised specials. When you book on your own, most hotels will not charge for cancelling the day or 2 before. Because of this experience I never plan to use Pacific Delight again.
ronnie_s is offline  
Mar 12th, 2004, 06:24 AM
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Responding to the guide query:

Guides are part of China's constant propaganda and myth-making process. The purpose is partly to make China look as grand as possible to foreigners all too willing to believe that a Chinese person must by definition know what he or she is talking about. It's partly to tell the person being guided whatever will please him or her, however distant that may be from the truth, and its partly part of an active myth-making process to wind stories around certain destinations and sites to differentiate them from others. This isn't all the guides' fault (although much of it is)--as they've been short-changed by China's appalling education system, and repeatedly fed the highly politicised official view (and nothing else) of China's history. Anything they can tell you (that the Wall can be seen from the Moon, and other nonsense) you can find written up in English at the sights, on the backs of the tickets, or in leaflets you can buy at each place for around Y3-5. So there's no point in paying a lot of money for something to speak what you can read for yourself.

With guides there's also always the prospect of kick-backs and general deception on the price of things where it favours the guide to do so.

Usually after remarks like this people jump in angrily denoucing them and claiming than Jenny X or Patrick Y was so sweet and honest. But these comments are the result of extensive research based on experiences in dozens of towns across China, observation of guide behaviour, and conversations with many guides themselves. The sweeter your guide, the more cautious you should be.

Having a guide might speed things up slightly and avoid the odd misstep, but might introduce other misteps. In terms of background historical and cultural information, however, you won't get anything accurate there. Better to take some good reading material with you from home.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Mar 12th, 2004, 09:23 AM
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I will definitely take a long a few good guide books and pick up the pamphlets at the sights. The more I read from you all, the more it sounds like Beijing is going to be a lot like my experiences traveling around Russia! While I love to shop, I prefer to do it on my own time and not a commission store!

I also like the flexibility of being able to change our hotel if a better deal becomes available. Peninsula's website lets you cancel up until the day before.

I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience Ronnie- I hope you were able to reschedule eventually?

We are arriving into Beijing at 9pm on Cathay Pacific. I may look into a car from the Peninsula to transport us since we will probably be very tired, but if it is too expensive, will we have any trouble finding a taxi at the airport?
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