1000% Improvement

It's amazing what $30 will buy you in China. Our garment agent set me up in a local Chinese hotel, and said that there were no other hotels available because of the World Expo. I don't think this person is terribly familiar with the hotels in the area, however. It's probably the same for myself - I live in NYC and I'm always receiving Aardvark questions about where to stay. But I don't stay in NYC hotels. I live there. I do get feedback from friends, so I can point to a few, but other than that, I'm pretty clueless. Hotels in big cities are hard to judge based on brands and reputation. A Holiday Inn in Vermont may be just fine for an overnight and $100. But in New York, over $200 will buy you a real crappy room at an unrecommendable hotel in K-Town. Now don't be offended, I'm not knocking little Korea, I happen to work there and it's just fine despite the lingering bbq smells. But the point is that you just don't know how to compare city hotels without word of mouth.

When it comes to Shanghai, I suppose it should be no different. I will say from experience that Chinese people in general have a different set of aesthetics and place value on certain amenities over others. Having traveled all over the world, I must say I have tended to become somewhat of a hotel snob. There are just some things that you can't budge on, and it's staying in a place where you do not feel comfortable or safe, and a tad bit skeeved out. It's not that I thought I would be harmed, or bug-bitten or made sick in the first hotel here in Shanghai, but uncomfortable and totally skeeved I was, for sure. And when I learned that the price of this hotel was around 1,000Y ($150) per night, I knew there must be an alternative. I just flew almost 20 hours in a tiny coach seat, saving the company thousands of dollars (to fix a problem with our factory to try to make them hundreds of thousands of dollars). I wasn't about to give up my sanity for this.

This morning I took a shower that made wierd noises in the pipes, without conditioner. I dried my hair with some sort of hot vaccuum tube from the 1970's. I pondered the 45 Chinese channels, stared at the smoke detector taped over with some previous guest's party decorations, which were also half-peeled off of every wall and door. I avoided the oddly stained living room furniture and out of proportion artwork on peeling wall paper. For the last time. And then I was transported to another world, thanks to my husband's platinum status at Marriott. For a mere 200Y more per night I went from hostel to heaven. From experience, I know the Courtyard hotels to be less nice than regular Marriotts, and usually with less amenities. But like I said, in cities everything is unpredictable. This is the nicest Courtyard hotel I have ever seen - I have electric window shades and a wooden sliding door room divider with modern art built in. There are beautiful details in every corner, very modern and trendy. I have a DVD player and HBO. Free internet, newspaper, breakfast and happy hour. I know there's a lot outside to explore but I kind of just want to hang out here. Talk about a 1000% improvement over the course of one day. Maybe we Americans are spoiled (let me just go ahead and include most Europeans in that too), but if you can afford to spend just $30 more per day for a 1000% upgrade, why wouldn't you?

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