Hotel of the Month: Howard Johnson IFC Plaza Ningbo

Located in the brand new Ningbo International Finance Centre complex, the Howard Johnson IFC Plaza Ningbo in Jiangdong District sits right at the cutting edge of one of Ningbo’s main sites for future development. When making our way to the hotel, our taxi driver wasn’t sure exactly how to get there. However, this is a situation guaranteed to very quickly change: regional Chinese banks and well-known dining establishments like Din Tai Feng have all set up shop here; the Ningbo IFC will soon be one of the places to be in Ningbo.

Walking into the lobby of the hotel, the first thing one notices are the two impressive abstract, glowing blue sculptures made out of a collage of triangles. Representing a dragon and a phoenix, the Chinese symbols of male and female power respectively, these fixtures endow the surroundings with a feeling that is distinctively modern, but also rooted in Chinese tradition. And it’s a feeling that emanates throughout the rest of the hotel; here Chinese sensibilities meet the Western standards of luxury and service.

The hotel’s 223 guest rooms come with all the modern amenities that you’d expect from a five star: free high speed wi-fi internet access, flat screen LED TVs and a bathroom with separate bathtub and rain shower. The bathing areas also feature a glass wall looking into the main room with a shade that can be raised or lowered, de rigueur for five star hotels at the moment. Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the daybeds in the corner of the room, comfortable enough to curl up on after a long day of networking in one of the hotel’s event and function spaces, but not so comfortable as to induce instant entrance into the land of dreams. The plush, super-soft, king-sized beds are made for that.

Getting a bit of exercise and R&R together is also easy at the Howard Johnson IFC Plaza Ningbo’s level 18 fitness centre, complete with gym, spa and swimming pool. The pool in particular is sleekly designed, inviting would-be swimmers to take a dip in its intricately tiled interior. And the pool area isn’t just for taking a dip either; with comfortable loungers offering unobstructed views of the surroundings, unwinding is just as easy as winding up your freestyle.

In terms of food offerings, the hotel, true to its international focus, aims to cater to all tastes. The Tachibana Japanese restaurant brings diners the taste of the traditional Japanese kaiseki banquet, offering sushi and sashimi alongside a wide variety of Japanese specialties. The Charm Bar offers guests a comfortable place to lounge while enjoying a cigar, a glass of wine or even mixed drinks like mojitos. And the Riviera all-day dining restaurant features a wide variety of seafood (Ningbo’s culinary claim to fame) and choice cuts of meat ready to be expertly grilled by the restaurant’s chefs. We couldn’t get enough of the fresh grilled squid and lamb chops – tender, juicy and bursting with flavour.

All in all, the Howard Johnson IFC Plaza Ningbo makes for a comfortable way to spend time in this famed coastal city. We’re looking forward to the next time we come through Ningbo and see the area at its full potential. And we’re sure then our cab driver will find it no problem!

RMB 528 + 15% upwards per night. Howard Johnson IFC Plaza Ningbo. 288 Dingtai Lu, Jiangdong District, Ningbo. Tel: (574) 8187 8888. Web:


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