Room: 15056 (Laura)
Room: 7008 (Sam)
August 13-26, 2016
Room Rate: Between 115 and 150 USD per night
JT: As I mentioned in the first post of this Beijing-bound trip, my colleagues Sam and Laura were off to China while I was in Kuala Lumpur! Their adventure continues as they write about their 2 week stay at the Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall.
Laura: We arrived at the hotel around 11pm. There was only one person at the desk available to help us. Check-in was not super speedy, but took maybe 10 minutes for all three of us.
Laura: I’m a Marriott Silver member, which I don’t believe was recognized when we checked in. No upgrades or benefits were offered, but I don’t believe there were any relevant ones that I was looking for. I did receive an email the day before we checked in from Marriott noting that I could check in using the Marriott app. I downloaded the app to check it out and noted that you could use the app to specify your check-in time and any specific needs. The email had noted that you could pick a specific room, but I didn’t see that functionality in the app.
Sam: I don’t have any status with Marriott and did not choose to use the app mentioned in the email.
LR: The room was adequate, I didn’t have much positive or negative reaction to it. It wasn’t very spacious, but it didn’t feel cramped. The décor had a lot of dark wood, and I didn’t find the carpet appealing. There were several pieces of art on the walls, but not all of them were attractive. The desk was attached to the wall next to the TV and was a good place for working, though the chair did feel a little bulky, and made the area around the corner of the bed a little tight. There was also an armchair with a side table, which was comfortable enough.
SM: Similarly, I felt the room was decent. I usually like some space in the room to do some yoga or stretching, however this room did not have enough space for anything like that. I think the size of the additional furniture (desk and chair with end table) was excessive and was taking up a lot of real estate in the room.
LR: The bathroom was well spaced out. There was a little nook carved out for the toilet, and there was space to maneuver in and out of the shower. There was sufficient counter space for my toiletries, but it did feel a little crowded. Amenities offered included shower caps, a comb, vanity kit, and toothbrushes/toothpaste. I did note that housekeeping would throw any out used amenities and replace them with new ones, which seemed a little unnecessary.
SM: After discussing the bathroom layout with Laura, we discovered that our bathrooms were entirely different. My bathroom was very spacious; my only complaint is that the toilet was unusually close to one of the glass walls of the shower which lead to a few bumps on the head. I did appreciate all of the toiletries provided!
LR: I thought the bed was very comfortable. There were six pillows when we checked in, which is way too many for me. Once I placed a few within the closet, housekeeping kept them there for the remainder of the visit.
SM: I agree, the bed was very comfortable but unlike Laura, I am a huge fan of extra pillows!
LR: There was only one outlet in the stand next to the bed, and I had to unplug the iHome (which did not offer a lightning charger port) to use it. There were also outlets in the desk, along with HDMI plugs. All outlets offered the option of the standard Chinese prongs or two-pronged American style. The TV was as flat-screen and seemed like it had been replaced within the last few years. There were about 35 channels, most of which were in Chinese. Wifi was free, and you didn’t need to log-in every 24 hours, which was nice. I was able to stream using the Wifi, though there were occasional lags (but these could also have been due to the VPN I was using to access unblocked American content). There was also an automated shade in the window between the bedroom area and behind the bathroom sink.
SM: I had outlets on both sides of my bed which was very convenient and luckily American style outlets since I did not remember to bring my adaptor. I found the Wifi to be excellent which was fortunate since theprogramming available on TV was mostly in Chinese.
LR: All of the staff that I interacted with were friendly and helpful. They all seemed eager to help, and everyone I spoke to was able to converse in English. For housekeeping, the hotel had the standard hanger to put on the doorknob. If you chose the privacy option, the housekeeping manager would call the room at night to verify that you had not gotten your room cleaned and inquire if you would like it to be cleaned. While the attention to detail is nice, I was often startled by the phone calls.
SM: I agree the staff was very friendly and hospitable. I did like that there was also an option to silence the doorbell on the room as well as to select a switch indicating that you did not need housekeeping’s services.
LR: This hotel is located in the Chaoyang district, which is close to cultural tourist spots (Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Jingshan Part, Qiongdao Island) as well as shopping areas like Wangfujing and Silk Street Market. Additionally, visitors can take the high-speed train from the airport to the Dongzhimen Station and then switch to Subway Line 2. The hotel is in-between the Jianguomen and Beijing Railway subway stations. Personally, I found it easier to walk back from the Beijing Railway station to the hotel.
Make sure to also check out the Ming Dynasty City Wall park (the same City Wall that the hotel is named after) and the actual City Wall (which is a little southwest of the Ming Dynasty City Wall park). Both areas provide a nice walk and an opportunity to observe Chinese citizens in their element (especially in the mornings).
If you’re coming to Beijing for tourism, this hotel was in a pretty good location. There are not a lot of good restaurants in close proximity to the hotel because of the railway station, but the hotel is a quick taxi ride away from restaurants in areas like Dongcheng and Tiananmen Square (without traffic). Unfortunately, we were here for work, and our office was further east. To cross from the western to eastern side of the 2nd Ring Road often took about 10 minutes in the morning!
SM: I think that due to the close proximity to the train station, there were limited restaurant options within the area. There was plenty of fast food but as far as having some authentic Chinese cuisine, the options were sparse.
LR: The hotel had four dining areas:
- City Wall Bistro – Buffet restaurant. We ate here occasionally for breakfast, and once for dinner. They had a variety of Eastern and Western options. We didn’t discover until check-out that breakfast was included as part of our rate! For breakfast, there were stations that offered noodles and eggs à la minute. At dinner, pasta and teppanyaki was offered à la minute, and seafood, sushi, and a chocolate fountain were brought out.
- The Lounge – I actually wasn’t sure on where or what this was, so I never visited it.
- Chuanjiao – Seafood buffet restaurant on the ground floor, which I did not visit.
- There was also an executive dining area on the ground floor, which I did not visit.
Room service was also available. The menu featured eastern and western options, as well as breakfast. I ordered food from room service once (Beijing noodles) and found that the noodles had gotten a bit cold by the time that they got to my room. For the price, the City Wall Bistro offered fresher food.
We discovered that the building that housed the Marriott also had offices within it. Therefore, there was a side area in the lobby that held several restaurants. Additionally, if you walked along the outside of the building, there were half a dozen additional restaurants. Among these, there were a few that I visited:
- Lifewood Restaurant – Offered pizzas, pastas, and steaks. Food was tasty, but they seemed to be running low on a lot of supplies (we had to substitute potato, cheese, and wine options)
- Porridge House – Specializes in congee, but also offered very delicious dumplings at a very good price.
- Full-time CVS – A basic convenience store, but I liked to visit in the mornings for fresh savory baked goods or onigiri.
- Pacific Coffee – An Asian coffee chain. Food options weren’t abundant, but it was a pleasant coffee shop. They didn’t offer decaf coffee, and apparently iced drinks weren’t made until 9am.
LR: The hotel had a gym, pool, and a spa. Spa rates were posted in the bathrooms (mostly massages), and seemed pretty reasonable for what was being offered. I didn’t visit the pool or spa, but I went to the gym a few times. It was advertised as being open 24 hours. I did note that when I visited the gym at 6 am (thanks jet-lag!), there were employees who were just coming in to clean machines and replenish the towels. There were a number of stationary bikes and treadmills, and a variety of weight machines and free weights. The gym wasn’t in a huge room, but there was enough space for all machines, and there was an open room in the back that looked like it could be used for yoga or pilates. The room did have a high number of mirrors and gold accents, which gave the room a very gilded look, unusual for a gym.
SM: This gym was very impressive for a hotel! There was plenty of equipment which seemed fairly new and a lot of space. The Wifi in here was a bit spotty and for some reason it was really hot in the gym which made early morning workouts a bit challenging. Overall I really enjoyed the set up here!
LR: The hotel did have a concierge desk located in the entrance. I emailed them once before arrival to ask about recommendations for tours to the Great Wall and Forbidden City areas. Their email address wasn’t listed on the hotel website, so I emailed the Reservations email address and they promptly redirected me to the concierge (firstname.lastname@example.org – for future reference). The concierge account responded within one day and provided information about three tours that were hosted through a travel agency that they worked with. Ultimately the tours seemed a little pricey for what I was looking for, but I appreciated the feedback.
LR: When we checked out, it was about 9:30am. My check-out process ended up taking about 20 minutes. First I had to wait on line, and then they needed to adjust my bill based on taxation changes. They did offer to call a taxi for us upon our departure.
SM: My checkout did not take quite as long but it definitely wasn’t a quick process, however the woman who was helping me was very friendly.
Check In: Average – 8.5/10
LR: 8/10 – Could have been faster, but late at night there weren’t a lot of staff.
SM:9/10- I thought it was fairly speedy but the staff wasn’t very friendly
Elite Recognition: Average – 5/10
LR: 5/10 – Wasn’t expecting much, but nothing was offered.
Room: Average – 7/10
LR: 7/10 – Cramped, but got the job done.
SM: 7/10- Too much furniture but the bed was very comfy!
In-Room Technology & Entertainment: Average – 7.5/10
LR: 8/10 – Technology seemed current
SM: 7/10- I didn’t use the TV because most of the channels were not in English.
Staff: Average – 8.5/10
LR: 9/10 – Friendly and eager to serve
SM: 8/10- I felt as though they weren’t that friendly but the service was good.
Location: Average – 7.5/10
LR: 8/10 – Near tourist spots
SM: 7/10- Close to public transportation, which was helpful but also probably the reason for low quality restaurants close by.
On-Site Dining: Average – 6.5/10
LR: 7/10 – Good variety, though nothing that blew me away.
SM: 6/10- I don’t love buffets so they lost some points with me there. The room service was not great either.
On-Site Amenities: Average – 8.5/10
LR: 8/10 – Had standard amenities
SM: 9/10- The gym was GREAT!
Hospitality Services: Average – 8/10
LR: 8/10 – Though I didn’t partake, they appeared very available and helpful.
SM:8/10- Agreed, everyone seemed eager to help.
Hotel Appearance: Average – 9.5/10
LR: 10/10 – Everything looked clean, common areas were spacious.
SM: 9/10- Everything was clean however there was constantly an unpleasant smell in the lobby.
Overall Rating: Average – 76.5/100 ★★★★★
LR: I think that this hotel is a reasonable deal for the amount that you pay, and offers a lot of convenience (food options, transportation options, proximity to tourist attractions). It didn’t blow me away, but you get what you pay for! I think I would stay here for a short vacation trip, but not if we come back to Beijing for a longer work trip.
SM: The rooms were nice and comfortable with reasonable rates and I really loved the gym. The location was not too convenient for where our office was but for tourist travel, I think it is a good option. There was nothing special about it that would encourage me to strongly recommend it though.
JT: Overall it sounds like this property was a bit underwhelming – though I’ll admit I’m not terribly surprised. China is generally not known for being over the top when it comes to the tourism industry – – at least from a western point of view. Same goes for the Marriott brand hotels, which I generally align to being the equivalent of a Sheraton – just meeting expectations. Marriott International themselves designates the Marriott Hotel brand in the “Upper Upscale” grouping, and I’d have to say, I think this property falls short of that label. Though I wasn’t there, I’d probably shop around for other hotels, though this one was quite reasonable for the area (cheap, even). The W Beijing across the way comes out to about $180 a night. Though this is more than reasonable for a W Hotel, a $50/night difference can be a big deal if you’re staying for more than a few nights. From a quick scan through Google Maps, the Fairmont Hotel (approximately $140/night), the Park Hyatt Beijing (approximately $210/night), and the St. Regis Beijing (approximately $170/night) are not too far away from this property, and though a bit pricier, I’d expect are better choices. Certainly not a bad spot to stay at if you’re trying to earn Marriott nights towards status especially when factoring in the price point!