We stayed in this hostel on the 27th January 2009 for 30 kuai per night (YHA card). Part of the Mingtown chain of hostels this place is another good advert for China’s emerging hostel network, modern facilities in a traditional setting with friendly staff.
Located on Pingjiang Lu next to one of Suzhou’s quaint canals, we were able to sit in the bar watching locals and tourist a like amble pass in an out of the way yet appealing area of the city centre. In addition to the atheistic the location is also geographically pleasing being only a 5 minute walk from the main Guan Qian street and Shi Quan Lu (bar street) lies a 15min walk to the south.
Rooms are spacious although each 6 person dorm shares just one shower and toilet. Hot water is supposed to be available from 7am to noon and 5pm till 11pm but we found this to be an over estimate. Sleeping here is comfortable with thick mattresses and bedding along with individual bed lamps. The main light was poor giving the room a dingy atmosphere, there were no English instructions for the air con and some parts had not been dusted in a while.
In the main reception area were located three modern computers for the internet but no Skype facilities. Around the reception were very helpful guides to the local attractions including up to date prices and directions for walking or bus numbers, although no-one had thought to add the opening and closing times. A nice addition to see would be board with local events happening that week.
Regards to food the bar is little expensive especially for Chinese fare, 18 kuai for friend rice or 30 for sweet and sour pork. The breakfast deal does offer good value with an extra 10 kuai on top of the room rate buying you two eggs, tea or juice, two slices of toast and jam. As for drinks, all spirits were 30kuai, beer was 15 kuai and a can of coke was a very steep 10 Kuai. Our advice, stick to the coffee deal and try the Chinese restaurants on the street running west away from the hostel
Unique Quality: On top of its location and architecture Suzhou Mingtown also possesses an outstanding bar, although a pleasant and airy café would offer a more accurate description. The establishment has a very modern continental feel to it with a water feature built into the skylight above the bar, comfortable sofas looking out onto the canal and very professional staff. On every visit we were welcomed, served as though we were regulars and thanked as we left. The Combo deals available between 1-5pm only add your appreciation of the place with a choice of Illy coffees and cake for 20 kuai or Milkshake (with the option of oreos, yougurt and honey) and cake for 25 kuai.
Directions: South east of the city centre, about 10min walk from the main street.
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