With a population of over 14 million people, Guangzhou is the third largest city in China and likely one that most Americans have never heard of. It is a major transportation hub and commercial city (Forbes ranked it the top commercial city on mainland China) and home to the Canton Trade Fair.
Despite its proximity to both Hong Kong (90 miles) and Macau (75 miles), Guangzhou is often overlooked by visitors, making it difficult to get first-hand hotel recommendations. I stayed at the Vanburgh Hotel on two occasions, and both times was impressed with its efficiency, comfort, and western standards.
My first arrival at the hotel was after an overnight flight from Los Angeles and although I wasn’t fully prepared to appreciate it, I was a bit surprised to find the lobby decorated for Christmas with a tree, sleigh, Santa, and presents. To my surprise, I found Christmas decorations all around the city – albeit secular ones – a challenge to my preconceived notions about the holiday in communist parts of the world.
The 23-story Vanburgh is an integrated design, with 382 guestrooms, meeting space, business services, restaurants and bars, and 18 floors of office space. Guestrooms were decorated in muted earth tones with dark wood and had a desk with ample working space and plug-ins, flat screen television, free hard line or wi-fi internet access, robe and slippers, tea kettle, and a large bathroom with separate tub and shower. A pillow menu is available offering a choice of Buckwheat, Bamboo Charcoal, Sickle Senna Seed, Baby, Foam, Latex Massage, Magnetic, or Child’s Pillow. Lots of interesting choices there, and I regret that I didn’t sample more.
Smoking is prevalent in China, and I noticed a strong odor when I stepped out of the elevator into the hallway, and then again when I left the room. Once inside the room, though, it seemed to dissipate. The room was non-smoking.
The hotel’s public areas were spacious, and except for the previously noted Christmas decorations, were muted in color as well as design. The large lobby had a small seating area off to the side, but it really could have used more. Meeting up with friends in the lobby meant standing around when it would have been nice to sit and relax. Ripples, the lobby bar, was nearly overlooked walking in, it seemed to blend into the main lobby area.
The buffet was located at the back of the lobby and featured lots of seating and a half dozen food stations. Breakfast is included with most room packages and included a variety of Asian and Western dishes. Juices were tasty, but not quite what we’re used to here in the U.S., and there was a variety of hot and cold sweet and savory menu items. My favorite was a fry bread that tasted nearly like a doughnut – I had some every morning with my coffee.
It was a little too cold for using the pool, it didn’t seem to be heated either, and there is a small fitness facility. Although I didn’t see them, there are seven Mah-jong rooms with tables on the fourth floor (open 1 pm-1 am) and movie stereotypes flitted through my mind.
The Vanburgh is located about a 15-minute walk from the subway station for those preferring to use public transportation, and about 10 minutes from the Happy Valley Mall. I didn’t find the pollution debilitating, and was perfectly find being outdoors, but be aware that there some visitors with sensitivities complain about it.
There is a currency exchange service on site, but it’s just as easy to head around the corner to a bank with ATM machines. Options were available in English, but be sure to pull up a currency app so you know how much you are withdrawing.
Wi-fi at the hotel was strong and reliable. It was also common to have wifi access at restaurants, museums, and other attractions and businesses. Remember, though, that mainland China blocks access to several sites and services including Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Arrange for a VPN to use in conjunction with wi-fi and you can get around the block. I used both Skype and Facebook for calls back home without a problem.
The Vanburgh Hotel is located at 12 Huangpu Dadao West, Guangzhou, Peoples Republic of China. Room rates start at around $100/night. You can also compare rates and book through Travelocity or Hotelopia.com.
I received a complimentary stay at the Vanburgh Hotel.