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This is an installment in my series on my January 2012 trip to China. Posts include: Help Me Plan My Trip To China, Flight Review: American Airlines 777 International Business Class to Beijing, Hotel Review: St. Regis Beijing, Beijing Overview: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Peking Deck, A Great Day at the Great Wall of China, Flight Review: Air China 777 Domestic Business Class, Hotel Review: Andaz Shanghai, Trip Report: Terra Cotta Warriors and a Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian, Hotel Review: Sheraton Xian, and My China Trip Wrap Up: China Eastern, Hainan Airlines and the Westin Beijing.
In addition to the newly opened Andaz Shanghai, I was looking forward to staying in a just-opened hotel in the next city on my China itinerary, the Westin Xian, and reporting my findings back to you. Unfortunately, Starwood had other plans for me.
Staying at the Westin Sheraton
The Westin Xian was scheduled to open January 6, so I made a reservation a few days before my trip. However, 36 hours before my arrival in Xian, I got an email from Starwood saying that the hotel was not yet open and that my reservation would instead be honored at the Sheraton Xian. (There are actually two Sheratons in the city, the Sheraton Xian and the Sheraton Xian North City, just for reference.)
I wasn’t thrilled since the Sheraton wasn’t quite as central as the Westin seemed it would be, but at least Starwood honored the rate of 800 RMB ($126) I had gotten for the Westin even though the Sheraton was showing the cheapest rate of 1,200 RMB (the hotel seemed very busy during my stay). The hotel is a Starwood category 2, which is 4,000 points per night or 1,600 and $30 USD if cash & points is available.
I was booked into a Club Room but I was upgraded to a Club Deluxe Suite because of my SPG Platinum status. I also think Sheratons in Asia lead the pack and are very different from their counterparts in other regions, so I wasn’t too anxious about what I’d find, and as a little bonus, the hotel threw in a ride in one of their Mercedes S Class sedans to pick me up from the airport (getting back from the hotel to the airport by taxi cost 110 RMB for a 45-minute ride). Find me a Sheraton in the US that does that!
I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at the hotel. The staff and level of service was very high, and I was welcomed in the lobby and taken to my suite to be checked in there. I thought this was VIP treatment (that they knew I was a blogger and were apologizing for the Westin mishap), but the front office manager told me they try to do this for all Platinum guests as a courtesy. The hotel had given me a newly redecorated Club Deluxe Suites on one of the two floors dedicated to club rooms and suites.
The suite itself was spacious with a large living room containing a sofa and armchair arranged around a coffee table (where my welcome amenity of fruit was sitting) in front of a wall-mounted flatscreen TV, a small breakfast table and chairs. There was also a small pantry off the main room with a minibar, sink and even a washing machine, which I thought was a pretty convenient amenity.
The separate bedroom was also pretty large and furnished with a king-size bed, dark wooden desk and nightstands.
My suite also came with access to the hotel’s Executive Lounge on the third floor, which was one of the best I’ve ever been in. This was where I had my breakfast, and though the hotel just called it a continental breakfast, the buffet spread was a little more lavish than that, and the food was delicious with both Western and Chinese options. The lounge also offered daily happy hour from 5:30-7:30pm with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, which I took full advantage of, as well as the free WiFi, which would have cost my $8 a day without my SPG Platinum status.
Because my time in Xian was short–basically two nights and a single (very busy!) day–I didn’t have time to test out the hotel’s other amenities like the fitness center, Shine Spa, or four (yes, four) restaurants, but the Sheraton Street Food concept (sort of like Asian hot-pot fast food) seemed fun, and the fancier Tang Yuan Chinese restaurant looked very nice.
Overall, I’m not a huge fan of Sheraton’s, but this one exceeded my expectations on pretty much every front. The only major downside would be location – the new Westin is much more central and actually located right at the Wild Goose Pagoda that I wrote about yesterday.