It turned out that I had forgotten to book a room in Beijing for July 6th. In April I thought I’d just save money and stay at a hostel before returning to my Beijing hotel, Novotel Xinqiao. However, the hostel I usually stay at is no longer part of the Hostels International group.
Browsing Hotels.com I was something about secret hotels, a service where you can specify a locale and take your chances with a mystery hotel at a low price. The website showed The Luxury Collection, x, and y as participants. So I figured
What the hell?
After I complete the no refund purchase, I was disappointed to see that the reservation was at the New Grand Century, a Chinese brand I’d never heard of. Since I’ve had some unsatisfactory experiences with Chinese hotels in the form of poor English ability with the staff, rock hard beds and the staff knocking on the door at 3 am to give you toilet paper, you hadn’t ordered, I was feeling bummed.
However, the New Century turned out to be quite nice. The receptionists spoke English well and were always happy to help. The room was newly decorated and had a modern look drawn from traditional Chinese elements. You knew from the room that you were in China. Avid news fans, can watch the BBC or CNN and ping pong players can make use of the ping pong room. I enjoyed working out in the fitness center that’s full of new machines.
The hotel was easy to get to. I took the airport bus and it was the just across the street and midway down the block. (The driver, ticket seller and guy who helps with the bags at the airport all made sure that the foreigners who dodn’t speak Chinese get to the right spot.) If you’re not interested in the adventure of the bus, which I like because unlike the subway it means no stairs and unlike a taxi, you’re not riding in fear of your life, you can take a taxi or the subway.
The neighborhood is a bit out of the way, three subway stops west of South Qianmen Street subway station, however you’re close to the Cic Metro so while it’s not as convenient as my Novotel, it’s easy to get around.
I wound up paying $88 for a $150 room, which is a good deal. I didn’t opt for breakfast so I can’t speak to the quality of the food. I’d definitely go back if I needed to be on that side of town.