Friday, 17 August 2007

Crappy Beijing Hotel

Travel isn't always about nice luxurious hotels. Sometimes you gotta take the really crappy ones to appreciate the good ones better!

We had an overnight transit in Beijing and decided to do our hotel bookings at the airport when we landed. The girls behind the desk were really quite lifeless when we approached them and for the large part, ignored most of our questions. A colleague previously recommended a better hotel around the airport but we were shocked to be quoted CHY1600 for it which was equivalent to RM800 just for 5-6 hours! The girls at the hotel desk recommended a cheaper one, Guo Men Hotel, which they assured us was a new 3-star hotel about 10 minutes away from the airport. They charged us CHY580 for a room (RM290) and to simply process my payment on my credit card took them ages which got us rather impatient as it was already past midnight.

We hopped into the hotel free shuttle and off it trundled towards the hotel. It passed some factory looking places, some small eating shops and finally it turned off the dark road into a side lane which was not even paved! The van and poor us jangled and jolted on that road until it came to a stop in front of the hotel. The hotel had absolutely no design. It was just a grey, square building with windows and looked just like a converted warehouse. The lobby was darkish and filled with huge rosewood-like Chinese furniture. It took us another long time to sort out the check-in, during which I found out that we had been overcharged by the airport booking desk!

We finally got our keys and when we turned to go down the corridor, we discovered it was in near total darkness, save for two tiny lights at either end of the corridor! It was so dark that I couldn't even see where to insert my card. When I asked the girl if this hotel was new she said it had been around for 6 months but the lights were spoilt! The room was also really strange because the lights didn't come in immediately when the card was inserted into the slot. Instead you had to grope your way into pitch black darkness to manually turn on the light switch!

The door didn't have a latch and we didn't feel too safe as there was a lot of sound and walking around outside the room. I decided to take a shower and was shocked to see that there was no shower stall. All there was was a shower head on the wall which meant that the entire bathroom will get wet when you showered! There was some funnily elaborate sink basin with Chinesey pictures but it totally couldn't be used. When I turned on the tap to brush my teeth, the water that came out of it stank of sewage and sulfur! What a terrible experience! We hardly slept that night when we needed it most and my TV was on all night on some Chinese channel!

My colleague and I couldn't wait to leave the next morning and luckily our flight was at 9am so we caught the 6am shuttle to the airport which felt tonnes better than the dinghy hotel. What an experience!

So if anyone were to ask me if I thought Beijing was ready for the 2008 Olympics, my answer would be No...not with hotels and airport desk personnel such as those.

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