Dave and I stayed in four hotels (in four countries) on our
trip through Asia this summer. Below, find my reviews of the properties.
V-Continent Beijing Parkview Wuzhou Hotel
No.8 North Si Huan Zhong Road
People's Republic of China
This hotel has only two things going on. Location - it is a ten
minute walk to the Bird Nest Stadium and next door to the Convention Center - and
the breakfast buffet (included in our room rate) is simply amazing. Other than
After entering the pretty and spacious lobby, we had to deal with
complete inept counter service. Our reservation was part of a group and was
not made directly by me. When we approached the counter (oh, just imagine
how tired we were), the hotel did not have a room for us. This was going to
be a problem as the hotel was, of course, completely sold-out due to the
track meet being held down the street, and we had tickets for said nine-day
track meet. We explained that we were
with a group and maybe our room was held under the group name? The list! The
girls brought out a list for our group, looked it over and proclaimed our name
was not on the list... when we could clearly see that our name was on the list.
My name, Dave's name, with a request for a King bed. The girls repeatedly
explained to us that our name was not on the list. We pointed to our name on the
list, alphabetically in the "T's" where we should be. There was some discussion
amongst themselves in Mandarin, much of which I could
not understand. Seems we did have a room, but it had two beds. Fine, we said
(assuming it meant two Queen beds, but at this point not being too picky), but we wanted assurance it was a
non-smoking room. Oh, yes, of course, our entire hotel is non-smoking.
Our two beds were twins and someone had been chain-smoking in our non-smoking
room for about 10 years... probably due to the fact that our non-smoking room
came equipped with an ash tray. Everything in the room was so worn. The carpet
and the upholstered chair were disgusting. The shower curtain had mold! Our rate
included wifi and it worked most of the time. The Chinese government watches
every click you make on your computer, so I installed a Virtual Private Network (Express VPN, $12.95 for
a month on two devices) on my laptop and cell phone
before leaving for China. I highly recommend
Express VPN. Using a VPN allowed me to visit websites China feels
"inappropriate", like Facebook, and allowed me to surf, download/send email and
publish my website without being spied upon. (NOTE: Somehow the government
allowed full internet access within the Bird Nest stadium for all the foreign
visitors and dignitaries. How did they do
that?) Worst part is the hotel jacked the room rate up to
twice the usual for the World Track & Field
Championships. We paid $300 per night for this terrible
room. We've stayed in $79 motels off a US interstate that were ten-times better
than this rat hole. The only thing making the situation tolerable was the fact we were with a
group and could commiserate and joke about our miserable situation. I just can't recommend this hotel at all. Do not
2 SongShou Road
Taipei, Taiwan, 11051
Telephone: +886 2 2720 1234
Arriving to the Grand Hyatt Taipei after ten nights in smoky hell was like arriving twenty
years into the future of what China could be (or could have been). I chose this
hotel based on location. It is across the street (and connected via covered
Taipei 101 and close to
several restaurants we wanted to visit. I had no idea the hotel would be so
Grand Hyatt Taipei lobby
Grand Hyatt Taipei
The hotel was like a classy non-smoking Las Vegas. The staff could not have been more professional. Our
room was ready. No one had ever smoked in the room and
it was spotless. Fancy even. Interestingly enough, this
room cost slightly less than the creepy Beijing hotel!
We had a view of Taipei 101 from our window, a King bed,
comfy sofa, a small dining table, desk with super-fast
wifi (included), and a modern tiled bath with separate
shower/tub. The room had in-room coffee service, a
laptop safe, mini-bar and every amenity. The hotel had a
nice cocktail lounge and a good breakfast buffet. There
is a very impressive (super-fancy spa-like) fitness center and a rooftop
swimming pool. We used the hotel car service back/forth
from the airport and one day hired a car/driver from the
hotel and were very pleased with both. The car had wifi!
I highly recommend this hotel.
Grand Hyatt Taipei
One Rizal Park, 0913
Telephone: 632 527 0011
I chose this hotel for sentimental reasons only. There are newer hotels in
Manila. Fancier. More expensive. But this is where we stayed during our
honeymoon - for weeks while awaiting our household shipment when we moved to
Manila in 1980. At that time, the Manila Hotel was one of the nicest hotels in
all of Asia, if not the world. I feel the hotel has slipped a bit, but it was difficult to tell as
they are under-going a massive remodel. The pool (with its infamous swim-up
bar) was drained for repairs. There was some scaffolding.
Piles of construction debris covered one parking lot. We had to suffer through a
lot of banging and sawing and possibly jack-hammering noise.
Manila Hotel Lobby
The massive lobby is still impressive.
Just lovely. Elegant. Interesting-looking people mingling with
coffees or cocktails. Those massive chandeliers! The
hotel workers dress in traditional Filipino garb and are
so friendly and helpful.
Manila Hotel lobby
The hotel and restaurants are filled
with fragrant fresh flowers. Flowers everywhere. Simply
Our room was in the tower, as requested,
and was smoke-free and had a King bed. We had a view
over the bay (and empty swimming pool), just as we did
on our honeymoon. (We think there was a canopy bed then
though...?) The bath was tiled, with a
separate shower and tub. Laptop safe, mini bar, coffee
bar, turn-down service and those lovely old-fashioned
buttons to push for DO NOT DISTURB or PLEASE MAKE UP
ROOM. This hotel had the fastest wifi of any on our trip
through Asia. We dined in the
Champagne Room and it
hasn't changed - happily. We enjoyed two-for-one happy
hour cocktails in The Tap Room bar, but smoking is still
allowed in the bar. Non-smoking guests can sit outside in a bar area near the
lobby if someone is smoking inside the bar. The main
Cafe Ilang Ilang, now features a buffet
nightly. We went on seafood night and it was pretty
impressive. Hotel guests receive a 40% discount on the
buffet. We paid $200 per night for this trip down
memory lane. I do still recommend this hotel, but only
if your business takes you to the old part of town or
the US embassy area... or you love nostalgia.
The Langham Hong Kong
8 Peking Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Telephone: (852) 2375 1133
We really saved the best for last. The Langham is simply off the charts lovely.
One of the nicest hotels we have ever (ever!) visited. The Langham was also the
most expensive (over $400 per night), but we stayed FREE with American Express
points. Free is a very good price and I am super happy I used my points for this
hotel instead of that crappy one in China.
The Langham Hong Kong lobby
I suppose "quiet elegance" would be a
good description of this Kowloon property. It's like
stepping back in time to a different era. We arrived
well past midnight due to flight problems, but the hotel
driver was waiting for us (in a Mercedes) at the airport, our room was
ready, our bed had been turned-down. We fell into sleep
without really looking around much.
We were so happy to awake in a beautifully-appointed
room, pristine in cleanliness, tastefully decorated and
equipped with an espresso machine to help us wake up.
The Langham - Room 1440
The Langham - Room 1440
Every time we came into the room, the TV
lit-up with a welcome to "Mr. & Mrs. Taylor", hoping we
are having an enjoyable stay. This hotel room had
everything. The mini-bar was fully-stocked: champagne
flutes, high balls, old fashioned and martini glasses -
even a martini shaker - with linen cocktail napkins. We had a bowl of fresh fruit,
espresso maker, high speed wifi (included), laptop safe, and a (odd
in a tropical clime) fake fireplace with real firewood.
(I'm terrified someone someday will try to light the logs?) The bath was marble, with separate shower and bath tub.
This hotel also had the old-school push-button DO NOT
DISTURB/MAKE UP ROOM buttons and the nightly turn-down
service included re-stocking towels, tidying the room,
filling the ice bucket and placing linen floor mats and
slippers on either side of the bed.
The Langham Hotel - lobby bar
The Langham Hong Kong has a tradition of ringing a
gong in the lobby each evening at 7:05p to commemorate
the founding of the Langham Hotel in London in 1865. Kir
Royales are passed around to anyone hanging out in the
lobby at this time. In the lobby Artisan Bar, people dressed for cocktails each
evening and I happily joined them, with pearls around my neck.
It is possible to reach nearly all of the shopping
Kowloon offers without ever having to venture out of
doors via all the linked tunnels under the city. Tons of
restaurants and only a short walk to the Star Ferry
terminal. Stay here.
Dave and I (both) slept through the night on Monday, so assumed we were over jet
lag... only to toss and turn Tuesday night. Goodness. I can't believe we used to
do this three or four times a year. With a baby. Youth is a very good thing!
My trip recap is coming soon, as well as my report on how I packed for a month
in a 20-inch carry-on.
Until my next update, I remain, your hotel reviewing correspondent.
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