Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Beijing Friendship Hotel

The hotel according to their website:

The Friendship Hotel was built in 1954 to house foreigners; refurbished in 2002, and these days it relies more on tour groups.  Many of its rooms, done in a traditional Chinese style, are in need of renovation and more up-to-date furnishings.

The Beijing Friendship Hotel Grand Building is located in China's Silicon Valley-Zhongguancun Science and Technology Park, close to the major universities and research institutions in Beijing. Jinyuan Lufthansa Shopping Center, Contemporary Shopping Center, Shuangan Shopping Center are within easy reach, and the transportation is convenient.  

Each room is equipped with an LCD TV, broadband Internet access, a minibar, and more. The Deluxe Executive Room is equipped with a personal multifunction fax machine.

We did not get a Deluxe Executive Room.

And, unfortunately, there were no photographs on their site that matched the room we were given.  They were only of deluxe and business rooms only.

 The Friendship Hotel of Beijing is one of the largest garden-style hotels in Asia. The Friendship Hotel neighbors many world-famous tourist sites and universities such as Tsinghua and Peking University, the Summer Palace.   

It covers a total area of 335,000 square meters of land in the capital city, of which 200,000 square meters are landscaped gardening in the traditional Chinese garden style. The Friendship Hotel of Beijing represents classic Chinese architectural elegance and presents the most pleasurable views.  

There are more than 1,757 guestrooms, apartments, and office rooms, 28 restaurants, and banquet halls of different styles and capable of catering for 2,600 guests at the same time.
This is a plan of the location:

In another post, I'll show some photos of the buildings and gardens.

I don't think by the end of the stay the hotel finished up with any friends.  But it was probably good that we started with the oldest and most quirky of hotels, setting the tone of what we can expect, and hoping it could only get better.
The whole setting for the hotel is amazing, with buildings set in beautiful gardens.  The foyer was polished marble, cavernous, and implied a luxury we expected.

By the time we got to our rooms, all those expectations were shattered.  All show and no substance, it is an omen.  Even the passageways belied what was behind the doors.

 Perhaps it would be better to label it as an army barracks because that's what some people said it reminded them of.

And the bed?

A 6 by 3-foot lump of five-ply board would have more give in it.  Don't try jumping up and down on these beds or you'll break a leg.

Our guide tells us that these sorts of beds are good for us.  Maybe if we had been using them since birth, but not when you're pushing 70.  So much for that Feng Shiu north-south thing which I find somewhat hard to understand. 

Breakfast is in the Friendship Palace a room set aside that is rather like a barn with all the breakfast food arranged down the middle and tables scattered either side. 

One small observation which I thankfully noticed at the end of the stay was the carpet stains that emanated from under the food and spreading out towards the tables, no doubt made by food sliding off serving utensils and plates, and not being adequately cleaned after the hoards of 'trip a deal' visitors were finished.

Perhaps whoever organizes the accommodation might consider a better introduction to China that to have everyone starting with the impression Chinese hotels are small, cramped, and suffer from a basic lack of cleanliness.

After breakfast we assemble in the foyer ready to be taken on our first adventure, to negotiate Beijing traffic. 

Here is where we first learn about scooters, and the fact anyone can buy one, no license needed, and for anyone else on the road, beware.  We soon learn why we are being cautioned to look in every direction before stepping onto a road.

And we get to see the infamous Building No 4 in daylight:

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