A quick hotel review: We are staying in the Shangri-La hotel, in Qingdao. The rooms are surprisingly expensive (I booked for 95 Euro/night plus taxes; 50 Euro more buys you a feather bed sheet and a view towards the ocean instead of the cityscape), but they are very comfortable. I liked them, including the bathrooms which are often lacking in other hotels. The location also seems to be okay, I think if you wish to stay in Qingdao, you can’t really go wrong by booking a room here.
251And since we’re on the subject of hotels: When I went to [Paris last weekend](/2006/07/16/photos-from-paris/), I stayed in the Novotel Chatelet Les Halles, right in the Centre Pompidou. The location is pretty cool; it’s right in the center of the city and basically all subway lines lead there, or close to it, and a direct RER connects Les Halles to both Parisian airports. This, of course, was also the reason why I chose this hotel for my stay.
Finding the hotel proved a little difficult. I got to Les Halles without problems, I even found one of the exits they had listed on the Accor website. But then I had to walk through about five levels of shopping mall. Insane. In the following evening I took a wrong exit and a wrong turn, and walked in a big circle for about 45 minutes, which wasn’t too fun as I was seriously dehydrated. At least I got a nice [night view of the Hotel de Ville](/v/paris2006/2007-07-15_+Paris+with+Gabrielle+096.jpg.html).
The hotel itself turned out to be quite nice. Very modern, with LCD screens used in the reception hall and in the elevators (the later displaying some information on the breakfast). The room was neat (like really most Novotels’ rooms). I did note that the TV was an LCD TV as well. Maybe this is mainstream for normal people like me (well, except that I do not own a TV due to the [TV licenses](http://gez.pandemonium.de) involved and the low quality of the German TV programs, but I disgress). But in most hotels I visit the TVs are aging CRT’s.
The view from my window was also pretty nice. See photo! There was an Internet connection in the room (CAT5 / ethernet wire ready to plug in), but since I was just in town to meet a friend and would not be online that night, I didn’t bring a notebook and didn’t try the quality of the service.
The prices are quite high, as can be expected by the area. The room was 288 Euros (list price). The coke in the mini bar was 4 Euros a can. But who pays list price, and whoever drinks Mini bar drinks?
I’d definitely sleep there again. And if you’re looking for a business hotel in downtown Paris, the Novotel Les Halles seems like a good place to stay.
After our return from [Bali](/2006/07/22/first-impressions-of-bali/) we had a problem. When we departed we had made a – verbal – agreement with the [Ancol Raddin](/2006/07/04/hotel-ancol-raddin/) that we would get a room for the same conditions as we had originally booked. We called ahead, from the airport in Bali, and they didn’t want to honor this anymore. (No big surprise.) We ended up booking in another hotel.
The Golden Boutique Hotel surely makes an impression when you arrive. Huge lobby. Classical European statues (made to look greek and roman) everywhere. And gold everywhere, too. The staff has neat unifroms, the front desk is dark marble. The whole building is huge. The rooms also make a good first impression. Except for the cockroach that waited for us in the bathroom.
2543A few words about the hotel we stayed in, the [Grand Istana Rama](http://www.grandistanarama.com) at Kuta Beach, Bali. It’s basically a compound with several buildings, lots of green in between them, and just at the beach (with onyl the road in between). The rooms are okay, and a strict pest control program means there’s really no roaches (as far as I can tell). The staff was okay for the most part. However there are also a few negative things.
First of all – no Internet. Okay, maybe not so important for normal people. For a geek, this isn’t quite so trivial. Well, at least their website is okay.
The breakfast was – well – not too great. Okay, I know, Hotel breakfasts are hardly worth their money, and that does include breakfasts you get for free. We tried their kitchen at other times. It can best described as Okay. The lunch buffet was not very appealing. They offered it to us, obviously after the normal lunch time, and there were literally flies all over it. No, thank you, and don’t ask again.
The water in the shower didn’t drain quite right, which I think was a defect in the floor and couldn’t be fixed quite so easily. But it was pretty icky to step in the shower in the morning and have the floor still wet from the night before.
The worst about the hotel, however – the stench of their bed cloth and towels was horrible. I have no idea what exactly they do with it; is it just a horrible chemical cleaning process, is it being dried in the exhaust of some sort of generator, or do they put it out for drying while they fumigate the compound? I couldn’t even identify the smell, but it did not quite smell like Diesel. But that was pretty bad, especially the towels.
Overall, I think I wouldn’t want to go there again. Maybe if they change their management things could improve; the facilities are really okay and the hotel has potential, but like this I have to say … uh, no.
218Iâ€™d like to write a few words about the hotel Iâ€™m staying in, so that future travelers (geek or ordinary) might know what awaits them.
The hotel is part of the Accor chain (it is operated under the Mercure label, which seems to be their â€œbrandâ€ for medium-class hotels that do not fit into any chain). Itâ€™s part of the Ancol complex, which seems to be a resort/amusement part on the coast in the northwestern section of Jakarta.
224The hotel itself is pleasant enough â€“ clean and orderly, for the most part; Iâ€™ve seen much worse. There are some defects in some of the rooms Iâ€™ve seen and the elevator system is somehow messed up (bad programming). The staff is helpful, so far, and I am sure weâ€™re their â€œfavoriteâ€ customers. First they didnâ€™t have the room we had ordered and we got a â€œtower suiteâ€ (pretty nice). After that we got moved to a normal â€œDeluxe kingâ€ room. Itâ€™s much smaller, but comes with a balcony. Unlike our first roomâ€™s bathroom this one didnâ€™t have an individual shower; you have to use the bathtub for that. It was also broken (warm water tap didnâ€™t work properly) and the bathroom was a bit dirty. The balconyâ€™s floor was oily and covered with a film of soot. We discovered in an evening that diesel exhausts were making the balcony unusable â€“ hence the soot.
221We finally got moved to yet another room (same category, no balcony) because the second room didnâ€™t have any Internet access, and that is, somehow quite a necessity. (The WLAN of the theme park is open and unsecured, but you canâ€™t connect; probably has a MAC address filter â€“ I did not experiment much as the reception was very bad.) â€œBroadband Internetâ€ here is handled by Ethernet over the power line. So far, it sounds pretty cool and geeky, right? Well â€“ yes and no. The â€œbroadbandâ€ part is a joke. Either someone is using up all the bandwidth (not an unreasonable thought) or the hotel is connected via ISDN (also not an unreasonable thought; that was considered broadband once upon a time). Second, you canâ€™t login manually to use it â€“ you have to call the hotel staff to unlock the line.