Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Four Stars, and So Much More

This is clearly a four star hotel. It says so everywhere. The trappings are well done, the furnishing appropriate. Grand and stately. Looks great all the way around.

Tomorrow morning I will check out of this place, which has been my home for a few days now. I know which of the staff speak English well, how to get enough water for my needs without using the minibar, when they will ask me for a new deposit. I know how to get to and from the place.

I've learned a few things while I am here. I've learned not to push all the buttons to call elevators, but instead to pick the elevator that looks like it's coming towards me, and push one button. It's like sharing only slightly more complicated. When the clerk asks me for money for a deposit, I immediately claim, "That's too much." It is now what I will do anytime any Chinese person quotes me a price for anything.

He asked me if I'd like to pay 1000 Yuan, I said, "That's too much." He said, "How about 800?" Much better. It doesn't matter, when the charges are all settled they will have charged me what they want and I will have paid it. I can't really resist, and I can't really quite get what they are doing, so I just agree and they charge me.

It doesn't really matter, except I suspect that he expects me to try to negotiate the price down. So from now on. "That's too much" is going to be my mantra.

My room was pretty cozy, two double beds with no heat or air and a toilet who's seat would not stay up. I gently tried to adjust it, and it snapped off in my hands. Yes, I broke the toilet seat off the toilet in my room (awesomely, they fixed it immediately). The shower was pretty good, but there was no way to not be pretty much in the stream. They never once filled the mini bar or washed a glass, or vacuumed. In their defense, they did buy my breakfast every day and make the bed, and they did my laundry about four different times. The fan in the room was exceptionally noisy the first few days, and there was a drain in the floor that was venting sewer gases into the room. These two things combined to make me feel like I was in Asia. Once I learned the trick about the fan the stench from the sewer went away.

Leave the fan on all the time. The noise stops, the smell goes away.
One day with not enough to do I looked at the services, which include a bath house and massage … neither of these were actually available. I was pretty disappointed actually, actually, because I was imagining my self James Bond in Hong Kong with the young Asian masseuse coming to my room to attempt to to seduce me to my death. No. No massage, no bath. They did offer to secure someone from the neighborhood for the massage. I declined. No seduction.

I am not complaining. Just pointing out the features of a four star hotel in China. Once I got accustomed to the idiosyncrasies, I was pretty much delighted. The staff are friendly and helpful, one of the elevators comically announces the wrong floor in English. There's plenty to talk about, I can sit it the empty bar and have a coke or a coffee, and write in my notebook. It is much better than many of the places I've stayed. There's a store that sells the same stuff as the mini bar, for about 25% of the price. It feels like home already.

And now I am leaving. Soon, I will be on a sleeper to Beijing. And I will be at a new hotel. With some stars I hope.

No comments: