My husband and I stayed here for four nights in December 2005. We loved it! Undoubtedly the best aspect is the location. We had a view of Green Lake outside our window. (The lake reminded us of Hanoi.) It's only a short walk from the hotel to Soho-like shopping/eating districts in Wen Hua Xiang. Good restaurants nearby include the Japanese place right across the street, "Heavenly Manna" in Wen Hua Xiang, and other places recommended by others on this website. Plus, there's a Wal-Mart within a 10-minute walk. We wouldn't normally mention such a thing, but it turned out to be the only source of quality beer -- Grolsch, Guinness, Sam Adams -- plus they even had a selection of Chu-Hi's from Japan! Also note-worthy is a CD / DVD store we found nearby (possibly on West-Bound Around-the-city route). (Directions: walk to the end of Wen Hua Xiang and then make a left, walk about two blocks.) They stock all sorts of "alternative" music and movies. For a mere $1 US per disk, we picked up albums by Bauhaus, Chemical Brothers, Miles Davis, and Radiohead.
PS. If you're researching hotels, you'll surely read about the Green Lake Hotel in the same neighborhood. It's said to be very chic. Anyway, we checked it out, and we thought it was sterile, plastic, faux-fancy, all pretense/no character. I was especially put off by the huge scale of the place. Point is, Harbour Plaza is better!
Unique Quality: The staff were extremely helpful (and spoke excellent English). In-room broadband access was speedy and reliable. We used the Business Center to print and fax documents, no problem. The travel agency in the Business Center provided us with tickets to Lijiang at a cheaper rate than any we found on-line. The gym was adequate: only one of the two treadmills was functioning and they had no free weights, just a multi-exercise Universal-type machine. We received an English-language newspaper every day. Housekeeping was excellent. The room was a bit dated, but spacious. We received a good rate (650 RMB) by reserving through the hotel's website.
We have only two complaints. First, we paid $6 US for a single cup of (instant!) coffee in the hotel's top-floor Panorama lounge. Ridiculous! Especially since it sucked. Secondly, the hotel has a FREE shuttle service to and from the airport. That's not something they alerted us to, advising us instead to pay $20 US to have a car pick us up at the airport. Oh, one other minor complaint: there's no bottle-opener in the room. We had to jimmy the caps off using a gap in the window. :-)
Directions: SouthWest "corner" of Green Lake
This is a genuine 4-5 star hotel. These are a few things I remember:
1) The huge bouquet of flowers in the centre of the entrance hall is attractive.
2) Getting a taxi from the hotel is so convenient with the help of the doormen, who are always there to help. Salute to them!
3) Breakfast coffee is terrible. It is actually instant coffee while I was expecting a proper brew because the breakfast buffet will cost like RMB100 per person if one were to pay for it separately. There is always something amiss on the breakfast table, the usual ones are the teaspoons.
4) This is something you need to beware of: I once saw the cook who prepared the omelette at breakfast drop his spoon onto the floor, picked it up, saw me saw him (I look chinese) and continued to use it for his cooking. So if you are ordering an omelette, stand there and watch the whole process is perhaps a good idea.
5) There are ENGLISH channels on the TV !!!
6) The gym is a good one to go (FOC), because so few people use it.
7) The Japanese restaurant has to be the best in town. I told them once that I liked my udon soup saltier, and they remember it after that. Impressive.
8) The Cantonese restaurant's char siew is disappointing. And at that price, i would rather have Japanese.
9) You can use the internet in the business center FOC for 30 min a day. If you bring your own laptop, then you can just hook up to the hotel's braodband in your room, FOC. This is great.
10) The housekeeping service leaves some room for improvement. One of the staff broke my perfume, and told me she would need to pay for it with her own money. I felt sorry for her, and didn't pursue the matter. BUT, a friend of mine stayed there and suspected his cologne was used by the housekeeping people because he was an orderly person and remembered he had replaced the cap, but it was open when he returned to his room. So judge this for yourself.
(...to be continued under UNIQUE QUALITIES)
Unique Quality: 11) The business centre has ENGLISH newspapers. This is something you don't normally find in Kunming, so all the more precious.
12) The housekeeper will ensure there are two bottles of drinking water (FOC) in your room, but if there are two of you, you can always request for more drinking water, FOC.
13) Shoeshie service FOC !! But then again even if you go outside, it costs like RMB1.
14) Ironing board is provided FOC upon request. They are a bit stingy here, with questions like "when do you need it " " when will you finish with it"
The pool is great. Nobody uses it.
The sauna is great. Few people use it.
The gym is extra great with TV.
There are ENGLISH language channels.
The view - the usual city view and if you are on the higher floors, you see countless solar water system installed on the roof, even the green lake view is partially blocked by other buildings.
It is a 5-star establishment in the heart of Kunming, China. It is a mere 5 minute walk from Green Lake Park.
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Address: 20 Hong Hua Qiao, Kunming, Yunnan, 650031, China