Pandas will lure you to southwest China. Staying at the Chinese-owned Tibet Hotel Chengdu, 10 North Renmin Road, Chengdu, China, will remind you that you’re not far from Tibet (the taxidermied yak in the lobby is your first clue).
Yes: if pandas are on your itinerary, so is Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, China. About 10 km outside of town you’ll find the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (better known as the Chengdu Panda Base). (Yes: you’ll spend hours here, so plan accordingly.)
This is one of those huge Chinese cities. With a population of more than eight million, Chengdu has every international brand hotel plus some really great Chinese-owned options (there are more than 2,750 hotels in the city).
Don’t be put off by the somewhat ordinary exterior of the Tibet Hotel, as inside it’s marvelous (starting with the scent of incense in the lobby). This hotel is not far from the Chengdu Railway Station, the city’s metro system and Wanda (a huge shopping mall with lots of Western and Japanese restaurants).
A small Tibetan figure (left) greeted me when I entered my room. On the comfy bed I had a menu of seven (!) pillow choices. The free WiFi was fast, there’s a fitness room, beauty salon and all those other accoutrements of big city hotels. The bathroom, with both tub and shower, was especially spacious.
Built in 1988, by the Tibet Autonomous Region People’s Government, the hotel has been through several remodels. One resulted in the creation of a “secret” room behind the headboard of the bed in my room. A door (at left, below) opened into an oddly-shaped and definitely empty space — albeit with its own window. Kids staying in this guest room would find the “hide out” no doubt fascinating.
There are 276 rooms, which start about $80 per night, ranging from singles to “deluxe”. You can make a reservation at the hotel’s website, or through one of the usual booking sites such as Travelocity or Expedia.
Don’t miss Kuanzhai Xiangzi in Chengdu — a definitely touristy must-stop network of alleys in which to shop for local souvenirs (pictured, below).
(Photos courtesy of the Tibet Hotel Chengdu and by Susan McKee)