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Hotel of the Month: Guoman Hotel Shanghai

The British touches – including flags featuring Buckingham Palace guards and red phone boxes and the London black cab parked at the entrance – at this newly-opened hotel are all well and good, but it’s good service, rather than kitschy gimmicks, which is really the focus.

It’s a common complaint about service in China, the old mei banfa routine. As soon as a problem crops up, people throw up their hands and say, “Don’t look at me. There’s nothing I can do about it.” This is why, strange as it sounds, it was such a pleasure to come across a problem at the Guoman Hotel. The reception staff were quick-thinking, flexible and immediately came up with a solution. As we walked away from the desk towards the elevators, an odd, warm and unfamiliar feeling took over. Rather than the embarrassment or frustration which usually follows such an encounter in China, we were bathed in relief to have everything sorted out so painlessly, without delay or fuss.

Later the same day, after a relaxing, no-nonsense shoulder, back and neck massage (RMB 380 +15% for 60 minutes) in the hotel’s Ping Spa, something caught our eye in the customer evaluation form we were filling out. Not one, but four separate questions related to customer service, including one which jumped out as crucial, asking whether the staff were “flexible” in catering to the guests’ needs. Service is obviously more than a hospitality buzz word at this hotel; it’s central to the whole philosophy.

Especially at the hotel’s food and beverage outlets, which, though pretty much deserted on our recent visit, were staffed by a knowledgeable and helpful team. A particular highlight on the F&B front is the Sunday buffet brunch on offer at the lobby level restaurant, The Market. The seafood counter was overflowing with large, succulent morsels and the roast meats alone make it worth coming back for seconds. Considering the variety and quality, the price (RMB 218 +15% including a glass of Champagne) is pretty impressive as well.

Ostensibly this is a business hotel and it features everything a busy executive could need on a trip to Shanghai, including an extensive fitness centre, fitted out with state-of-the-art equipment from Technogym, as well as an indoor pool.


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