Courtyard Marriott Beijing and Beijing Review
First, I had bid for a 3 star (highest star level offered) in the Forbidden City district, but did not get a winning bid. Then, I bid for a 4 star in the Chongwen district of Beijing and got the Courtyard Marriott (at a reasonable price for a decent hotel there). It was about 100 RMB by taxi from PEK. I talk about Beijing taxis later. The lobby was nice, as most 3 and 4 star lobbies are, but our initial room was smokey with shabby carpets and wallpaper. I went to front desk and they gave me a much nicer upgraded room. The carpets here were not the newest and had a few stains, but I walk around hotel rooms wearing flip flops anyway. The hotel manager called us a couple of times to make sure we liked the new room better, and this was appreciated. We decided after seeing some of the other available hotels in this city, that actually we may have lucked out in getting the Marriott. As I believe this is a third world country, it seems the standards may be a little different than what we would expect in the US. I would suggest always staying in a "4 star", at least, in Beijing, and assume that it will be more like a 2 1/2 to 3 star by US standards.
The front desk staff was nice overall, but we found that there were a few that understood and spoke English better than others on staff. The concierge desk was efficient about writing down chinese translations, for destinations, on a card for the taxi excursions we took (highly recommended and also circle the destination on a map for the taxi driver).
The location was great! It was nice to go to the 5th floor of the adjoining New World Mall and have a selection of little eateries to go to, also nice to walk to the Pearl Market and to the Tiennamen Square area. We felt very safe walking and often commented on how we feel a little safer than walking thru some large cities of the US. I think that justice is very severe in China, so this probably helps alot.
We read a recent US article that explained how some Americans frown upon the social ettiquette of Chinese visitors to the US. I have to admit that sometimes it got tiresome, in Beijing, to get bumped by the Chinese and their bags but we came to the realization that the customs and practices are different from US standards. Can't expect another country to be like our own, can we? It's all part of the experience of visiting another country, so we enjoyed experiencing things as they are in Beijing.
Bathrooms were a consistent problem as, again, they weren't up to US standards. Honestly, I as a woman, could not force myself to use them: flat on the floor, smelly, and no toilet paper/soap. Bring tissues and hand sanitizer gel for emergencies, otherwise just use the restroom back at the hotel.
Taxis seem to often have their little "games". They will meet you outside the markets, after you have shopped and have significant bags of purchases, and quote "$80 RMB for Rush Hour". If you had taken a taxi to get there from the Marriott, you may have paid 10 to 25 RMB. You ask them to use the taxi meter, and they say it will cost more that way to get back to the hotel during rush hour. So then you are stuck not knowing what to do, so you negotiate before getting into the taxi, like we did. The next taxi will offer to take you back for $70 RMB, so then we negotiated $30 RMB. Then, you get in a taxi to go from the hotel to the airport. This driver says he will use the meter and shows you , only when asked, that the meter is starting at $10 RMB. Then the whole way to the airport, he somehow covers the meter so you cannot see it,and zeros it out at the airport before you can see the final amount. This ride cost $130 RMB. I think it's best to negotiate the total price before getting into the taxi and going to the airport. Let's not forget, too, that the driver will add about 10 to the total for the road toll. Games taxi drivers play! Oh, and how about when you show the driver the chinese translation for your destination, he seems to understand where you want to go, so you get in, and he drives around awhile before pulling over to ask to see the location on your map (meter running the whole time). Good thing the exchange rate makes the bill not too high.
There is a saying: "When in ______ , do as the _______ do." This would apply to China and probably other places in the world. In China, like the natives, hold your place in lines and negotiate the lowest prices.
Overall, we really enjoyed the experience (once we understood the rules) and will be going back.
We enjoyed it; but I can see why others didn't
We stayed here for four nights, two for free (points) and two were paid. Let me first give you the good, but keep in mind my mixed-message title above...
The hotel itself is better than a typical U.S. Courtyard By Marriot (as in, the three story low-rises with minimal service but good rooms and free continental breakfast). The location is also pretty good- about a short taxi ride to Beijing's major tourist sites. Our room was fine and the internet worked without a hitch. The hotel is connected to a New World Center mall, which has some decent shopping and a very good food court with cheap and tasty (if not fancy) food. Yes, speaking Chinese might help with ordering, but the food is all pretty much in front of you- point and pay, if you aren't fluent in Mandarin. We ate dinner here twice. When we had to return to Beijing to catch our flight, we almost came back to this place (price was a bit higher, and we decided to try something different just to compare).
We saw some of the other comments, and I agree that it is likely that some rooms have smoke- but this is true in many hotels in China. It’s a cultural thing. If anything, I'd expect a foreign hotel to have a LOWER frequency of smoke issues. The pool is huge but COLD (by American standards). Our kids had to do laps instead of the usual lounging around just to stay warm! The pool is actually inside a health club in the attached shopping center complex- we didn't think it was a big deal to "leave the building" for about 50-100 feet. Bring a bathing cap, however- as a regular health club pool in China, they enforce this rule very strictly. We were sent down to the shopping mall to buy caps (which were 20-50 yuan each), but on the last day we saw others who got basic caps from the health club sold for only 10 yuan.
There are some other warts here which also could turn you off. We wanted to change money downstairs and also got rebuffed a couple of times (wait for the business manager to arrive, which is not until 10AM; right now we can only exchange cash not traveler's checks, and so on.) But they did change our money eventually, so it was not all bad. As for the taxis- I agree that the cabs in front are quite routinely "owner-driven" cars - meaning that they work for themselves and consider the meter optional. We took a short ride, and my wife was convinced that the fare was high (she spoke Chinese the whole ride to him, and he only put the meter up because she asked him to do so). If you are worried about it, insist on a cab that you like, or you can flag a cab half a block down the street - that's what we did for our taxi ride back to the airport. I'd also note that we stayed at the HolidayInn Downtown in Beijing, and the hotel staff there also insisted that "all cabs are alike." My point is that many 4 star hotels will tell you the same thing that this Marriot does. Regarding the "seedy neighborhood" comments- ChongWenMen is south of the center, and it is true that the south is not all great. The immediate area is fine. But we walked to the TianTan Park (less than a mile), we saw plenty of "poor Beijing" which doesn't make the tourism brochures. Compared to the poverty areas of the U.S. it actually isn't bad. We were approached by a beggar while walking back to the hotel. And we saw some buildings which were definitely aged and in need of repair.
As far as breakfast- we never paid the big bucks which the hotel wanted. If you are willing to eat local food, I strongly encourage you to try the Yong He Da Wong restaurant just one block to the right of the hotel (ask the bellboy or concierge; on the restaurant sign there’s picture of a guy who looks a little bit like an Asian Colonel Sanders). Food there is good, and at "local prices" (25-32 yuan each day to feed two adults and two children quite well). They also have a bacon & eggs special which might pass for "western food." One warning: the whole menu is in Chinese, but there are a good number of pictures, and plenty of people eating there so you could probably point to some things and have success.
Yes it's long winded, but I wanted to give you the full picture. I'd say the hotel building was 4.5 star quality, neighborhood is 4 stars, staff quality 2.5-3 starts, and amenities 3-4 stars here. Overall, a good place but come with the knowledge that there may be some annoying little things here and there.
Courtyard (Beijing Siheyuan)
Help - Have several questions
First let me say thank you for anyone that replts to me.
1. Does anyone know what district the Beijing Administrative College is located?
2. Has anyone taken the Grey Line Bus from PEK to their hotel?
3. What is the best means of transportation from PEK to Hotel
4. What district is the Pearl Market located in?
5. Anyone ever stay at the New World Courtyard Beijing; 3C Chong Wen Men Wai Street | Chong Wen District, Beijing 100062, China ...
6. Is the hotel in a good location that is central for getting around the city.
Thank you so much
RE: Help - Have several questions
Hi, i'm from beijing. but unfortunately i've never heard of that college before. the place you are staying at is kind of center of beijing. but it's not a very famous hotel in beijing.
what is PEK? and what is grey line bus??? wish to help you.
RE: Help - Have several questions
I cannot answer all your questions, but some of them.
With PEK do you mean Beijing Airport?.Well, ethere are several busses from Airport to the city center. The New World Courtyard in in a business-district. You should ask at the reception how to get around in Beijing. Taxis are comparatively cheap.