I took a red-eye flight in Economy to Beijing from Paris yesterday and must admit to being totally exhausted right now. A colleague was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and take me to the Mercure Beijing Downtoan. This hotel is relatively inexpensive and located a few blocks away from the China Central Mall – too far to walk everyday as the sidewalk goes under 3 freeways, four major intersections, and one canal and it is like 20 minutes. Fortunately, the hotel does have a shuttle bus in the morning…that was booked solid after Tuesday. Comments on the Mercure: almost no staff member speaks fluent English and the miscommunication is rather frequent. The rooms are OK – actually, the best thing about this hotel (and hotels in Asia in particular) is the breakfast buffet which features everything Asian and as well as pancakes, orange juice (from concentrate :(, and coffee (typically bad Asian coffee). The rooms were pretty plain. What I found annoying was that the bathroom had wallpaper that was peeling at almost every junction. Now, I am not an interior designer, but wallpaper in a bathroom, there is something wrong with that isn’t there? Was waterproof paint really that expensive? Last rant: I have been traveling for at least two decades in Asia on a semi-frequent basis and stayed at my share of hotels. This is the first one where the room key didn’t have the hotel address in the foreign characters so that I could show it to a taxi and get home from pretty much anywhere. Fortunately, I had the hotel reservation queued on the iPhone because when I ripped out the room key in a taxi, there was an embarrassing pause because he didn’t know how to take me to “free breakfast before 10am” and I couldn’t say “Mercure” in Chinese.
Overall, this hotel was a disappointment. In this neighborhood near “New Town” in Central Eastern Beijing, you’ll be better off at the Sofitel or J.W. Marriott.