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Far Eastern Luxury: Asian Hotel Reviews
Hotel Reviews and Recommendations from Asia and Australia
Here is a selection of hotel reviews and recommendation, travel tips and advice from my many trips to Asia: Borneo, China, India, Malyasia, Hong Kong, Rajasthan, Australia ... etc. from luxury hotels, such as the Intercontinental in Hong Kong and Sofitel Hyland in Shanghai to more basic guesthouses such as the Yide Hotel, in Pingyao, China.
Intercontinental, Hong Kong - Wonderful Harbour Views
A modern luxury hotel with wonderful views across the water from the bedrooms and from the bar. It claims to have the best view of Hong Kong and I agree, perhaps with the exception of the view from Victoria Peak. The view at night, when the lights come on and the fireworks start, is even better. The bar is an excellent, if rather expensive, place to relax and watch life float past outside.
The bedroom was big and comfortable with plenty of space around the beds and with a sofa next to the full width window, looking out on the stunning view. The decoration was pleasant and fairly luxurious and of course clean and well maintained.
The architecture is modern with lots of glass so as not to obstruct the stunning view. The bar and lobby have a good atmosphere, if a little clinical, but still feels relaxing. The service is good.
There is a choice of restaurants depending on budget and food preference and of course the bar with it's view. The range of beverages was very extensive including beers from all over the world at rather high prices.
The location of the hotel is very good, with easy access on foot or by taxi to a wide variety of shopping, cultural and nightlife options, including a shopping mall connected to the hotel which you can walk into without even noticing you have left the hotel and an art gallery almost next door. The location is surprisingly peaceful.
Hong Kong Guidebook
Bravo, Guilin, China
I stayed at the Bravo Hotel, Guilin, for one night as, like most tourists, I was just there for the Li River cruise, which starts from Guilin. The hotel is located right next to the lake a pleasant walk from Guilin centre, with views of the hills in the distance. It is a fairly dull characterless hotel, with a mediocre restaurant, but quite inexpensive and in a very useful location.
Guilin is a fairly large modern city next to a lake and surrounded by the wonderfully weird limestone shapes that have inspired artists for centuries. The centre of Guilin is very modern with a good selection of places to eat and drink from expensive business hotels to small bars and restaurants.
A reasonable, functional bedroom with little character.
Great peaceful location with nice surroundings and an easy peasant walk around the lake to the city centre and a reasonable selection of bars and restaurants nearby.
Sofitel Hyland, Shanghai
The Sofitel Hyland Hotel was a very good, modern hotel in a fairly standard, expensive international style, but in an ideal location in the centre of Shanghai. It is apparently very well run, with a good, if a little pricey, restaurant. But most important of all, it has it's own brewery and it even brews it's own dark beer; not just Chinese style lager, but full-bodied brown beer as well.
The room was comfortable, with a good bed and a nice view down to the busy pedestrianised street below and the high-rise building surrounding. The style of the room was simple, but felt reasonably expensive, if not luxurious. We didn't try room service, but generally the service in the hotel was very good.
This is a very modern hotel that certainly fits in with the architecture in Shanghai. The lobby atmosphere is good, with helpful staff.
The hotel bar was one of the best I have seen in China, with a pleasant style, quite dark and atmospheric and with the small brewery next door to the bar with it's exposed brewing equipment visible and good quality fresh beer straight from its source.
The restaurant, next to the lobby, has a pleasant modern feel about it. At lunch time they were serving an excellent buffet with some items cooked to order by multiple chefs and as much wine as you can drink all for a fixed price (Although this would not be available every day) The standard menu also looked good and varied.
The location is possibly the best if you are interested in the main shopping areas of Shanghai, right in the main pedestrianised area with easy access to most areas on foot. Getting a taxi from the hotel however was terrible, taking a very long time. Despite the location, in the bedrooms of this high-rise building it was very quiet.
Bell Tower Hotel, Xian, China
The Bell Tower is modern hotel in a good location, very near the centre of the city and opposite the bell-tower. It is a fairly ordinary modern hotel, rather lacking in character, but of course the main reason for anyone to go to Xian is to see the Terracotta Army, outside the city. It is comfortable an very conveniently located for exploring this interesting walled city on foot.
For dinner we had the local delicacy, which is referred to as "hotpot", but is actually raw meat & vegetables served with a small cauldron of boiling soup, in which we had to cook the meat. Quite pleasant and certainly a fun meal.
The room was a reasonable size, certainly not cramped, and had the advantage of a pleasant view of the large bell tower opposite, although this is spoilt a little buy the busy road and modern shopping mall, also opposite.
This is quite a new hotel and still clean and in good condition. The front desk was relatively quick and attentive and the staff helpful.
We chose not to eat at the hotel as the selection didn't look very inspiring and there are far more interesting options elsewhere in the city, within walking distance.
The hotel is located near the busy road going round the Bell Tower, opposite and although this wasn't excessively noisy in the room it was not completely silent. The location of the hotel is excellent, so access to any nightlife is good, although the city doesn't seem to have much nightlife, apart from the musical theatre and Chinese opera which is apparently an acquired taste for western tourists. This was obviously a "show" aimed at tourists and certainly not completely authentic, but still worth doing.
Yide Hotel, Pingyao, China - Excellent Budget Hotel
This is a no frills hotel in the centre of Pingyao. A renovated house with a courtyard, built in 1736 by a wealth merchant, so there is plenty of character, but basic rooms and restaurant facilities.
The room was adequate in size, with a door opening onto the courtyard that is also a restaurant/bar. This really is very basic, but sufficient for a short stay in Pingyao. There is no room service.
The service is vague, but things happen eventually and the atmosphere is calm and relaxing, even if the hotel doesn't live up to modern western style efficient service. There is no bar as such, but plenty of chairs and tables inside and in the courtyard when drink can be ordered and consumed.
Food is available here and is not bad, for Pingyao, although that's not really saying much.
This hotel is relaxing and fun, with a great atmosphere and the other guests appear to be keen travelers, rather than people in search of luxury. The train station is nearby, with sleeper trains to Beijing. There did not appear to be much nightlife in Pingyao.