Grand Hyatt Beijing – ☆☆☆☆☆
Date of Travel – July 2010
(Yet another review written prior to the emergence of this blog. Sorry for the lack of hotel photos.)
We stayed on the 18th floor of the hotel (top), which was one of the Club Floors. We’ve stayed at numerous Hyatt locations around the world, and just now discovered that most Hyatt establishments offer this “Club Floor” option. Wow. What a difference.. wish we would have known about this offering sooner. The room rate we paid included breakfast and complimentary hors d’oeuvres/drinks in the club lounge. Just the inclusive breakfast alone made the price we paid more than worth while, and the evening buffet of delicious hors d’oeuvres were almost enough to take place of dinner. Also, free wi-fi is included in the club floor rate. So although the price is a tad higher, you will spend much more in the hotel restaurants on breakfast and cocktails alone.. just make sure you book relatively early so you get a decent club floor rate.
The standard club floor rooms are a bit smaller than the normal rooms, however, that didn’t bother us at all. It was very clean, modern, and the turn down service was always appreciated. Free in room water bottles as well.
The indoor pool was magnificent – very clean, modern and luxurious. The ladies locker room has a relaxing spa environment.
Attached to the hotel is an upscale mall. A nice food court on the lower floor of the mall has a vast array of options and is perfect for inexpensive dining.
You need to get a Money Card at the front before you can order from any of the restaurants in the court. Maybe put 100 to 150 yuan for 2 people. If you have money left over, just come back to the front desk and they will give you change. This is a great option if you don’t have time for a fancy sit down restaurant.
While visiting Beijing we hired a tour guide from the same service we had used in Egypt (Viator). When booking, make sure you book transportation as well, otherwise the guide will show up and expect you to hire taxi’s/bus fare etc. This was not an option in Egypt, so it came as a big surprise when the night before our scheduled tour, the agency called and confirmed this odd fact. Luckily we were able to upgrade to a tour including transport. **At time of booking, make sure you specify that the vehicle being used is equipped with air conditioning (if you happen to be traveling during the miserably hot/humid months as we were).
Our 2 day private tour included a visit to Mutianyu Great Wall. This location of the Great Wall was perfect for us. We got there at time of opening, so it wasn’t too hot and miserable climbing the seemingly endless staircases and steep inclines. Later in the morning quite a few tourists started arriving, but it was never crowded like Badaling Great Wall would have been on a Friday. We wish we would have had one extra day to visit JianKou Great Wall (73km north of Beijing), as this site is more of a ruin, and would have made for some outstanding photos. Next time maybe.
We visited the Forbidden City on our own, as it was a leisurely 30 minute walk in the rain from the Grand Hyatt. **Whatever you do, don’t catch a ride from the little enclosed motorcycle taxis! They are illegal and will try to charge you a crazy fare. Just negotiate a price with a legitimate taxi. If you’re not going too far, the taxis will usually not take you. Just tell them you will give them 50 yuan (or whatever seems fair for the distance you’re traveling), and they will probably agree. Also, if a nice young person approaches you claiming to be an art student, politely tell them that you’re in a hurry to meet someone (or something to that effect). They just want to waste your time showing you some gallery, then take your money.
If you’re traveling on business..
This was my first trip to China, so I did a little research on cultural background etc. to make sure none of my western attire/habits would offend anyone. I read that women should wear tops with sleeves no shorter than the elbow, pants/skirts no shorter than the knee, and plain, dull colors at business meetings. This is insane. During this trip I visited Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing, and almost every local was in short shorts and tank tops. When doing business at a factory in Hangzhou, all of the women were sporting the trendiest attire and were accessorizes to the max. I found myself with a suitcase full of hot, boring clothes for no reason at all!
**When handing out your business card, be sure to use both of your hands, and look the receiver in the eye. This is the respectful way to do so in China.
There will be a lot of great shopping opportunities in China, so make sure you leave room in your suitcase for all of your purchases. (Or buy more suitcases while you’re there like we did.. you can get them really cheap.) We visited the “Silk Market” and the “Pearl Market” in Beijing for some great deals. Pay no more than a quarter of the asking price… or less in some cases. If they disagree, walk away, and chances are they’ll grab you and sell at your price. If you’re an experienced haggler you’ll do great. Before making the final purchase, be sure and inspect the item completely. If you are buying shoes, try them both on (often times one is bigger than the other). I loaded up on gifts for at least 2 more Christmases, so reserve at least 8 hours of your trip for shopping if desired.