Due to the mad dash of an itinerary I plotted out for me and NPY over the course of two weeks, we ended up staying in four hotels between Beijing, Hong Kong, and Macau. We got quite a range of experiences!
Oriental Bay International Beijing Hotel
This 5-star hotel on Beijing’s second ring road was not as ill-situated as I originally thought. It was very close to 皷樓 大街 subway station and the immediate area offered some restaurant and shops variety.
The first thing we realized was how a China 5-star hotel is 3-star by our standards and we were surprised by the lack of certain creature comforts, like a shower curtain, wireless Internet, and a working thermostat. I had hoped and hoped before the tour started that the hotel would change as it did for NPY’s parents and we’d also be set up at the Ritz-Carlton, but no such luck. The shower curtain thing was a weird and frustrated fiasco: there were rings and a rod for a shower curtain and the hotel staff feigned not knowing what we were asking for before telling us that all the rooms in the hotel were not equipped with shower curtains. Rather than going out to buy one–and learning that things just aren’t where you thought you would find them–we made do with a showerhead on a cord and I got through it reminding myself of the months I endured showering in a horrid little Hong Kong bathroom. At least the Beijing bathroom conditions were spacious and I felt clean.
It being a Beijing brand hotel, after the tour group of old Canadian folks left, all that remained were Chinese businessmen. The environment of that was palpable when we would have our breakfast in the hotel restaurant, surrounded by them getting their morning grub.
Courtyard Marriott in Hong Kong’s Western District
For months, I Pricelined for a hotel in Hong Kong, tremendously tempted by the winning bids of $84 I saw posted on BetterBidding.com. I didn’t get it for nearly that price–sad–but still saved on having to pay $200 a night as well. And when I started to make our itinerary in earnest after the hotel was booked, I was in dismay that it was actually off the MTR line. Whoops.
It was a beautiful hotel, in keeping with the standards of an international brand like Marriott, and nicer than American ones I’ve stayed in–swank, really professional staff, beautiful rooms. It’s no wonder it has a 4.5 rating on Trip Advisor where I think it lost 0.5 star unfairly for its location.
The location wasn’t so bad, actually. We walked around the first night and NPY could see real Hong Kong, old Hong Kong. As he puts it, it’s Chinatown on every corner, a convenience store and bakery on every block, repeat on the next block. There is a complimentary shuttle in the morning to Central that kind of keeps you on schedule to catch it! We took a tram back to the hotel one rainy, crowded night and NPY was miserable, so after, we only took cabs from the hotel to the nearest MTR (subway) station. The short cab ride only cost us HKD$20 which is just around CAD$3!
Given NPY likes the trappings of Las Vegas, going to Macau is a simple day trip from Hong Kong, and we were in the region for ten days, I booked a Macau getaway and where else would we stay but at the Wynn?? (I haven’t stayed at the Wynn Las Vegas yet but of course I aim for that).
I’m a little I intrigued why Wynn was built in Macau Island and not on the Cotai Strip on Taipa Island that will future rival the Las Vegas Strip, where the Venetian and Hard Rock Hotel stand and many more Vegas-style hotel casinos are under construction. Wynn’s neighbor is the uber-extravagant Grand Lisboa which you can see from any part of the city and correspondingly navigate yourself to the Wynn, I guess.
I loved all the branding (of course) and our room was super luxe–cheapest one at $270/night but laid out like a suite. I loved the half hour I spent by the pool, writing a postcard to my sister–a slice of paradise to top off our stay. It seemed like there was extra attention to detail and nothing was too small to throw the high end products at.
Kowloon Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui
When we went to Hong Kong to summer when I was younger, we lived on the east end in North Point and Fortress Hill. Thus my first choice of hotel was on HK Island and I went for the Courtyard Marriott above. But leaving and checking out of our hotel to go to Macau gave us the opportunity to try a different hotel and in the Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) area that really developed since my last visit.
The Kowloon Hotel is really centrally located and looks fabulous on its website but it’s a serious case of buyer beware: really tiny, kind of smoky, kind of humid, and ridiculously priced for a 3-star hotel by American standards. It is rated 4-star like the Marriott earlier but not an international brand. It’s clean, I’ll give it that, and they “upgraded” me to receive free wireless Internet, a daily HKD$120 (CAD$15) value. I’m just so disappointed after six days in really swank hotels to end up in a dump by comparison. :(
Note: Our friends C2 arrived in Hong Kong the day before we left and their travel agent booked them into the Kowloon Hotel and I warned them as soon as I knew!! However, they were put into a room on the 11th floor, compared to my they-hate-us 3rd floor, a marked difference. Their room was renovated with the requisite 4-star details–carpeting, bathroom stylings, leather headboard, glass work table–such that the same cramped area looked and felt larger. That was an appropriate room fitting of their advertisements!