Between the two of us, we’ve travelled in China for a total of a few months by now, and have seen enough Chinese budget/midrange hotel rooms to know that they are, for the most part, almost identical–what we call “China Standard” and a useful way for us to describe the level of lodging quality elsewhere in the world (“well, it’s almost China Standard…”). Available in smaller towns and cities for somewhere around 120 RMB, or USD 18, or in bigger cities for somewhat more, these rooms offer a level of comfort and amenities that would be wildly luxurious in many other countries–but in perhaps the most drab, tattered and boring way possible.
That the rooms are so similar across the entire country is something of a mystery–I think that there must be some sort of standard kit, either very significant suppliers that supply each and every hotel or nationwide standards that require certain items for a hotel to be classified as two- or three-star (the level of hotels of which I am writing). Anyway, some elements of a China Standard hotel room.
Lobby. Chinese hotel lobbies always seem to have world clocks (of course not set properly), and a board showing room rates. Note that you almost never pay the posted rack rates in a Chinese hotel–substantial discounts of sometimes more than 50% are given even without asking.
Inside the room. This room has cleaner carpets than most–the floor is generally the worst part of a Chinese hotel room. Note the headboards bolted to the wall as well as the chairs, with a tea service. On the other side of the room is hot water, which is always available and refilled (for making tea). Except in the largest/most crowded cities, where space is at a premium, there’s always plenty of room for luggage.
The mattress is the second worst thing in a Chinese hotel room–often rock hard. On the other hand, the sheets and plush white duvets–almost always this exact pattern–are almost luxurious. Derek often asks for a second duvet to cushion the rock hard mattress. We’ve often heard stories of Chinese hotel rooms having dirty sheets, but encountered this for the very first and only time just this past week in Tibet (in a hotel owned and managed by Tibetans), and assume that many of the horror stories are from years past, when standards were lower.
That the floor is usually filthy doesn’t matter much because you are usually given some sort of footwear. Here, plastic, but usually paper disposable.
Bedside controls for lights, relatively uncommon in other parts of the world, are another feature of “China Standard.”
Bathrooms are well amenitized. Have you thought it annoying that you have to pack a toothbrush when going for a weekend trip (though almost every other basic toiletry is covered by hotels)? In China, and we predict soon all over the world as Chinese tourists start taking over, disposable toothbrushes and small tubes of toothpaste come standard.
We didn’t picture perhaps the most important parts of a China Standard room. China Standard rooms always have air conditioning and hot water aplenty, even in some of the most remote parts of the country (heating is more of a problem)–items that are often missing at hotels at similar prices in other parts of the world. Nearly all have a television with various flavors of CCTV, Chinese state television, one in English.