Accommodation in China is generally convenient. Whether you are in China on vacation or on business, it is not difficult to find a hotel.
Hotels range from five-star to one star-rated, inexpensive hostels, local guesthouses and roadside inns. Some hotels offer typical Chinese or local features and architecture, while others are completely modern, and of course those that are simply average.
Not all the hotels can accommodate foreign visitors, but three, four and five star-rated hotels certainly do. There are both domestically-run hotels and international chain hotels, especially in highly developed or tourist cities, where you may find Sheraton, Shangri-la, Hilton, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Four Season and so on.
Price, however, is not a good guide to quality. Eastern China , for instance, is far more expensive than western China. Large cities are more expensive than small cities. Tourist cities are more expensive than non-tourist cities. Most hotels charge much higher rates during major holiday periods, particularly around Chinese New Year, the first week in May and the first week in October. Even within a major city, a more expensive hotel is not necessarily the best.
Quality can also vary considerably between hotels of the same star-rating, so feedback from other travellers can be important. Standards of service and cleanliness vary in the lower star-rated hotels, as does the amount of English that is spoken. Four and five star hotels, particularly those from international chains, have some staff who speak reasonable English, but it is not unusual to find that the majority of the staff do not speak English. In three star hotels the people on the reception desk can usually be relied on to speak some English.
It is not difficult to reserve a hotel by phone, fax or on the Internet. However, hotels of less than three stars may not have staff with good English-speaking skills, which makes phone or even e-mail reservations difficult or unreliable at times. Many travel agencies, tourism or transportation companies offer a reservation service, and there are many on-line reservation centers who offer very fast and nice service.
Pay attention to at least two things when you stay in a hotel. Hotels in China are reasonably secure places, but please don't leave money or valuables lying about in your room. Take them with you or leave them in the security in the room or at the receptionist if it is available. Common check-in and check-out times are respectively after 2pm and before noon. Extra cost will be charged if you check in before 6am.
China National Tourism Administrationissued a standard to rate hotels in China from one to five stars. The basis for ratings is as follows:
hotels: Five-Star hotels are usually palatial with huge lobbies, their standards not quite matching the best of Paris or New Year, but very close. Service should be better than the four-star hotels described above. See Top hotels section below. There are many hotels of five-star international standard, just as good as hotels in Washington or Ottawa except for the standard of English. Some hotels have:
hotels must have
hotels: Two-Star hotels must have at least 20 guest rooms, 95% with private baths, 50% with telephones, and 16 hours of cold and hot running water, Western and Chinese breakfast must be offered.
One-Star hotels: One-Star hotels must have air-conditioning, coffee shop, dining room, and at least 20 guest rooms, cleaned daily. Of course, 75% must have private baths. They must have central heating, a lobby with information and reception desk, postal service, and 12-hour a day cold and hot running water.
Hotels in China range from the luxurious five-star on the eastern seaboard to street guest houses with very basic conditions, in remote part of China. As you travel further west to places along the Silk Road or in Tibet, even 3 and 4 star hotels may no have a hairdryer for example, and complimentary drinking water may not be provided. Mini bars are a moving target, sometimes there and sometimes not, and the level of English spoken will vary.
Laundry: Laundry services are available in most hotels. Outside services are not recommended.
Electric Current: China uses a 220 volt 50 Hz cycle system so electric appliances from countries that use 220/240 will operate without any adopter. Appliances requiring 110 volts will need a transformer to operate. Hotels will not always have these. We recommend that you bring a transformer with you. Chinese hotels cater for most plug types.
Bathroom: Western Toilets are generally available except in the remote countryside. Toilet paper is usually supplied.