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How to Choose a Hotel in China

Shangri la hotel, Guilin

Hotels in China range from inexpensive inns that offer simple hostel-like accommodation to lavish 5-star hotels. Some boutique hotels are built in a uniquely Chinese way displaying distinctive Chinese architecture and decor.

Whether on a holiday or on a business trip, our hotel guide should help you understand the hotel situation in China and find a hotel well-suited to your needs.

Selecting a Hotel

From domestically run hotels to international chain hotels, the types and brands of hotels to choose from is quite wide in the big cities.

Not all hotels are permitted to accommodate foreign visitors, but three, four, and five star hotels certainly can. Chain hotels in the one and two star bracket might also accept foreigners. A few things should be taken care of when selecting hotels.

Pricing of Hotels

Prices of hotels vary widely, but price alone is not a guarantee for quality. Prices also vary from city to city with eastern China being far more expensive than western China. The same is true for Tier 1 cities, being much more expensive than Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

Note, even within a major city, a more expensive hotel is not necessarily the best.

The high season, with highest non-holiday rates, is from April to October. The low season (November–March) has the lowest rates, apart from around Chinese New Year.

Holiday Seasons

Hotel room

The busiest times of the year are around these public holidays: Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, the first week of October, and the first week of May. Hotel rates can be much higher during these days. All public transport and public areas are quite crowded during this time, so if you don’t want to be caught in the rush in sight-seeing areas, it is also better to avoid these days.

Minority and Mountain Areas

Minority areas (Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, etc.) and mountain areas (Zhangjiajie, the Yellow Mountains, etc.) have unique characteristics that make these places worth visiting. However, accommodation and meals in these areas are comparatively simple. Tourists should be mentally prepared for this and lower expectations.

We recommend that you opt for the best available hotels and restaurants in these areas to optimize your experience.

Hotel Reservation

China hotels can be easily reserved by phone, fax, or through the Internet for the higher rated hotels. However, hotels of less than three stars may not have staff with good English-speaking skills and this might make phone or e-mail reservations difficult or unreliable.

Many online platforms, travel agencies, tourism, and transportation companies also offer good China hotel reservation services, which may be easier and offer greater insurance/flexibility than booking with a hotel directly.

Facilities in China Hotels

Facilities, China hotel

Facilities in China’s hotels are usually according to the rating of the hotel. China hotel star ratings give us an idea of what to expect. However, star ratings do not always accurately predict the facilities available in China, so additional research should be done to discover the actual situation.

A rough idea of the facilities available in China hotels can be had from the following:

Room Facilities

All (star-rated) rooms are air-conditioned, have free Wi-Fi and a flat screen TV. Three-star and above hotels usually have satellite channels as well.

Bathrooms

Hotels generally have Western toilets, though it might not be so in the far-flung remote areas. One-star hotels usually have shared bathrooms, but two-star and above have private bathrooms with free toiletries, hair dryer, shower and hot and cold water.

Wellness Facilities

Fitness centers, spa and wellness centers, as well as massage and sauna facilities are usually available in the higher-rated hotels (four star and above).

Recreation

Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a playing area for kids, mahjong/snooker/chess rooms are available in many higher rated hotels.

Dining

Restaurants in China hotels

One- and two-star hotels are usually situated in convenient locations close to restaurants. Three-star hotels have a minibar and in-house restaurant, though it may only provide local cuisine. Four star and above have both local and Western cuisine, at least one bar and restaurant, and room service.

Business Facilities

A business center, fax/photocopying, and meeting/banquet facilities are available in many higher rated hotels.

Electricity

Mainland China provides a 220-volt 50-Hz power supply, so electric appliances from countries that use 220/240 volts will operate without any adapter. Appliances requiring 110 volts will need an adapter to operate. Hotels will not always have these.

Also be aware that Mainland China uses two and three flat-pin sockets.

We recommend that you bring an adapter with you, for convenience, though some hotels may be able to lend adapters. See more on China Power Supply and Adapters – How to Prepare Your Electrical Devices.

Services Offered in Hotels

Hotels in China generally provide the following services:

Communication in English

It is not easy to find people who can speak fluent English in China.

  • In four- and five-star hotels, some of the staff members speak reasonable or good English.
  • In three-star hotels, staff at the reception desk can be relied upon to know some basic English.
  • In one- and two-star hotels, the staff might not know English at all, and translators may be needed for communication.

Reception

Hotel check in China Highlights guide Jessica help her customers to check in

Almost all hotels have a 24-hour front desk with luggage storage and wakeup call facility. Higher rated hotels also have currency exchange and ATM service in the foyer.

Hotel Security

Although hotels in China are reasonably secure places, it is advisable not to leave money or valuables around in the room. It is better to take them with you or leave them at the reception or in a safe in the room.

Checking In and Out

One should also keep in mind the check in and check out time, which is after 2 pm and before noon respectively. Extra cost will be charged if you check in before 6 am.

Transportation

Hotels are usually located within reach of public transport. Higher rated hotels offer car rentals, airport pickup, taxi booking and valet parking.

Cleaning Services

Rooms are cleaned daily. Laundry service is available in all hotels. Higher rated hotels also have ironing, shoe polishing, and dry-cleaning services at an extra cost.

Enjoy the Best Hotels with Our Customized Service

hotel by the Yulong river in Guilin Enjoying a cup of beer outside a hotel by the Yulong River in Yangshuo

As leaders in bespoke China tour design, we have been helping our guests to have the best experience on their China trips for the past twenty years. From arranging hotels that suit your personal style and requirements to designing your whole tour, our experts provide a service that gives you the ultimate travel experience.

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