Where to Stay
Accommodation in China, albeit quit uniform in appearance, come in a variety to suit all budgets. Facilities and standards, reflected in the price, have come a long way over the past two decades.
A major part of the China experience is the nation's cuisine, and you will find a vast number of restaurants with a binging array of flavors and regional dishes.
Accommodations in China range from the cheap, low budget to five-star hotels of international quality. Cheaper hotels are called binguan (guest house): more expensive hotels are called jiudian (wineshop), do fandian (literally "restaurant").
China rates its hotels from one to five stars. Very cheap accommodations (zhaodaisuo) remain off limits to foreigners (waiguoren), but this appears to be changing: Beijing announced in October 2003 that is would open up all hotels within the city to foreigners (presumably in line with WTO rulings) and the rest of the land should follow suit. Otherwise, hotels of two stars and above should accept foreigners. Many of China's historical buildings failed to survive to the modern era, so the vast majority of hotels are of recent, unimaginative construction; this results in a very bland choice. Luxury hotels, while often tedious and dull on the exterior, encase splendid interiors. Outside of Hong Kong, Macau, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, luxury hotels struggle to make the grade, but the Shangri la chain is a dependable and reliably sophisticated choice, especially for the business traveler. You will encounter hotels whose five stars are self awarded, while other four-star hotels seem to deserve five.
In five-star hotels, expect to receive first-rate service, decent English-language skills, newspapers delivery, nightly turndown, free airport shuttle, limousine service, room safe, in-room tea-and coffee-making facilities, mini bar, excellent restaurants and shopping facilities, a swimming pool, and more. Full Western breakfast will include bacon, eggs, sausage, toast, etc.
Four-star hotels may offer some, if not all, of the above, but they may lack the professionalism and excellence that is reserved for five-star status. Virtually all hotels in China have restaurants; four-and five-star hotels should have a Western as well as a Chinese restaurant.
Some three-star hotels provide Internet access and have business centers and ticketing offices (and perhaps in-room mini bars), as standard fare among four-and five ?tar establishments. Three-star hotels are, however, only modestly equipped to deal with foreigners.
Two-star hotels are simple and often unprofessional, so don't expect much more than a roof over your head. Some two-star hotels offer excellent quality within their league, and these have; been listed below.
Some more remote parts of China are without four-or-five-star hotels; in this case, the best alternatives have been listed. On every floor, most budget hotels have a female attendant (xiaojie) who will bring you boiled water (kaishui) and open the door to your room (unless you are given a key); she also acts as a security presence. Hotels from the budget class up sport karaoke lounges.
Single rooms are rate, and you will almost certainly find yourself in a double. When registering at a hotel, you will have to complete a form and hand over your passport for inspection' you may have to pay a deposit. Breakfast is sometimes complimentary, but rarely in cheaper establishments. International credit cards are not widely accepted at cheaper hotels (below three stars) so be prepared to pay cash. If a hotel takes credit cards in the list of recommended hotels following, this is indicated. Checkout (tuifang) is generally noon.
Most four-star hotels and above should have foreign-exchange counters. Many hotels surcharge foreigners (sometimes 100 percent above the Chinese price), either explicitly or secretly. Most hotels also add a 15 percent service charge, and you should be aware that there is often a seasonal fluctuation in room price, with higher prices during the peak season.
The following list is a recommended selection of the most appealing hotel and restaurants within their class.
**This standard is usually the cheapest type of hotel that takes foreign guests, although you may be accepted by those with no star ranking. Standard double rooms (putong shuangren fang) include separate bathroom (weishengjian), television (dianshi), They may have air-conditioning (kongtiao), but there may be a separate charge for using the latter. No English speaking service.
***Three star hotel, Standard double rooms, larger and cleaner. You can expect an improved level of service and restaurant food. English skills are better and the hotel may offer Western movies. There should be a travel desk for procuring air and train tickets and a basic business center (shangye zhongxin). Suites should also be available at the hotel.
****Four-star hotels, replete with facilities including business and travel desks, stores, health clubs, and travel desks, stores, health clubs and efficient amenities. They often appear much more tarnished than five-star hotels. Double rooms will be clean and spacious. Your stay will be comfortable, yet affordable.
*****This category affords an internationally recognized level of luxury and a very high degree of service.
Red stars (*), ranging from two to five, are awarded to hotels recognized for excellence within their own star rating for consistent, superior level of hospitality, service, food, and comfort.