Does your trip to China include overnight stays in Chinese hotels? Wondering what Chinese hotels are like? Having stayed at hundreds of Chinese hotels myself, here I share the ins and outs of the Chinese hotel experience and tips on how to make it smooth and easy.
If you’ve never stayed in a Chinese hotel or even visited China before, there are often a lot of questions travelers have.
For this reason, I’d like to help you understand what you’ll find when you arrive in China and help you set expectations as relates to:
You can use the links above to navigate to the appropriate section, or you can scroll down to read through what you can expect when booking and staying at a Chinese hotel in 2024.
Note: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you choose to use one of the services listed. I only recommend what I’ve personally used, and I appreciate your support!
Let’s start by discussing what to expect when booking your hotel.
All Chinese hotels have different pricing based on the different types of rooms they offer. Some Chinese hotels are weird, but the most common rooms you’ll find are:
Apart from the different rooms available, the most important thing to remember when booking a Chinese hotel is not all of them can host foreigners.
Not all Chinese hotels are licensed to accept foreign guests.
Understanding if a foreigner can stay at a Chinese hotel can be tricky. There is no place you can officially look it up.
In the old days, I would always call and ask the receptionist in Chinese if they can host foreigners, but luckily in this day in age you can just work through local booking websites like Trip.com (formerly Ctrip) or Agoda.
I’ve already written extensively about the best ways to find a good China hotel, so I’m not going to copy and paste that here.
Just know that you can contact Trip (Ctrip) or Agoda and ask them to verify if the hotel can host foreigners. The majority of the time, if the hotel is listed in English on these booking sites, foreigners are legally allowed to stay there.
It’s always good to check, though. Trip.com also has live support chat within their app making this a less painful process.
Finally booking on Trip.com not only makes the booking process seamless with no language barriers, but also gives you some good photos that show what the hotel room will look like.
Pro Tip: Book a hotel near public transportation. Use the chat feature in Trip and ask how long it would take to walk to the nearest subway station or bus stop.
Hailing a taxi in China is not always easy and to me, paying a few extra dollars to have immediate access to a subway or bus stop is worth every penny!
It’s also a good idea to see if your hotel offers transportation from the airport or train station. This is a good way to save a decent dime when traveling to your hotel.
Booking a hotel online is thankfully super-easy. The real challenge comes when the language barrier sets-in and you find yourself checking-in to your hotel.
Unlike at hostels where most staff speak decent English, it’s unlikely that your hotel reception staff speak any English (the exception would be at some 5-star hotels). If they do, I guarantee they don’t get too much practice with the few foreigners that stay at their hotel.
When you get to reception, here’s my advice to make check-in effortless and painless:
Once they make a photocopy of your passport, you will receive your room key and you can retire to your hotel room.
The final thing to remember at check-in is to keep the deposit receipt from the receptionist!
If you lose it, you run the possibility of not getting your deposit back (although most of the time they’ll extend you grace if you lose it). Put it in a safe place so you can present the ticket and get your deposit refunded during check-out.
When entering your hotel room, the first thing you will want to do is insert your room key in the card holder by the door. This will turn on the electricity for the entire unit.
Apart from knowing how to turn on the electricity, there are a couple other rules to live by during your stay:
If you stick to these key guidelines, staying in Chinese hotels should overall be reasonably comfortable.
In this traveler’s guide, I shared what you can expect when staying at Chinese hotels from booking, checking-in, and what you can expect to find in the hotel room.
Overall, your experience in a Chinese will be tied to the price you pay for your room.
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