Review: W Guangzhou Hotel

Introduction
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W Guangzhou Hotel
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In Guangzhou I booked the W Hotel, which I’ve heard great things about. While the W Guangzhou doesn’t belong to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts or Virtuoso, it does belong to the Starwood Luxury Privileges program, which offers similar benefits.

For booking through a travel agent with access to the Starwood Luxury Privileges program I received the following benefits (in addition to my SPG Platinum benefits):

  • Upgrade on arrival if available
  • Daily breakfast for two guests
  • One 600 CNY food and beverage credit per room, per stay
  • Early check-in if available
  • Late check-out if available

While my rate wasn’t cheap at ~$220USD per night, it seemed worthwhile with the above benefits. I managed to use two of my SPG Platinum Suite Night Awards to confirm into a Fantastic Suite, which cleared five days out.

Starwood-Suite-Night-Awards

For reference, The W Guangzhou is a Category 5 Starwood property, meaning a free night redemption costs 12,000-16,000 Starpoints, while a Cash & Points redemption costs 6,000 Starpoints plus $110.

Let me start with my usual disclaimer regarding W Hotels. I’m probably one of the biggest critics of the brand out there when it comes to their US properties. I find they’re overpriced, cheaply decorated, and 110% style over substance. So while I thought I had written off the brand earlier this year, I’ve been nothing short of delighted by my non-US stays at W Hotels the past six months or so, including at the W Taipei and W Sentosa Cove Singapore. So I was hoping the W Guangzhou would similarly delight.

The W Guangzhou is about a 45 minute drive from the airport, and I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of traffic. Admittedly it was early morning on a Saturday which may have played into it. I arrived at the hotel shortly before 8AM, and was immediately impressed by the exterior of the hotel, which is ridiculously futuristic.

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W Guangzhou Hotel exterior

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W Guangzhou Hotel driveway

I was even more impressed when I entered the lobby, which had really high ceilings and was gorgeously decorated. I thought the lit up Chinese New Year horse was pretty cool as well.

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W Guangzhou Hotel lobby

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W Guangzhou Hotel lobby

The lobby featured plenty of seating.

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W Guangzhou Hotel lobby

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W Guangzhou Hotel lobby

To the right of the lobby was Woobar, the signature W bar found at most of their hotels.

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W Guangzhou Hotel lobby

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W Guangzhou Hotel Woobar

Then to the left were the check-in and concierge desks. The travel agent that booked this stay for me emailed the hotel in advance to advise them I would be arriving early, and they said they would do what they could to accommodate it. Sure enough when I arrived my room keys were already waiting, and within minutes I was escorted to my Fantastic Suite on the 23rd floor.

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W Guangzhou Hotel lobby

In a weird way I really liked the elevator art they had. There was a massive circular screen with a mouth that kept moving. Creepy, awesome, or both? You guys tell me.

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W Guangzhou Hotel elevator

The hallways of the hotel felt much more like a St. Regis than a W Hotel.

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W Guangzhou Hotel hallway

I was assigned room 2307, which was located about halfway down the hallway to the right. It featured a double-door entrance, which I find to always be a good sign in terms of what to expect (well, perhaps except at the Westin Chicago Northwest).

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite entrance

Once inside the room there was a small foyer with doors on both the left and right side. The door to the left led to the bedroom, while the door to the right led to the living room.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite entrance

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite entrance

The living room was large and beautifully decorated and furnished. Again, it felt much more like a St. Regis than a W Hotel to me. It featured a couch, two comfortable chairs, and a desk with two chairs.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite living room

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite living room

There was a large flat screen TV, along with a Bose surround sound speaker system.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite living room

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite living room

Right near the desk was the minibar and Nespresso coffee machine.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite coffee maker

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite minibar

Also near the desk by the entrance was a half bath, which featured just a sink and a toilet. I was rather excited to see it was a “full service” Japanese toilet, which even “pops up” as soon as you enter the room — woohoo!

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite half bathroom

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite fancy toilet

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite half bathroom

The bedroom was equally beautiful, with a large soft king bed, along with a chair with an ottoman. Both faced a flat screen TV.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite bedroom

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite bedroom

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite bedroom

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite bedroom

Then off the bedroom closer to the entrance was the bathroom area. The toilet was in a separate room, featuring a Japanese toilet and sink.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite bathroom

Then there was a separate room which could be accessed via sliding doors with double sinks and the shower/tub area.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite bathroom

The shower/tub combo was damn impressive, and featured a shower with two “heads” along with a soaking tub facing a TV that’s built into the mirror.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite shower/tub

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite soaking tub

The tub even had a control panel next to it.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite tub controls

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite shower

Then between the bedroom and bathroom was a large closet with a door.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite closet

Admittedly Guangzhou doesn’t have the most picturesque skyline in the world, but my room did have a nice view of the Guangzhou IFC, along with a bunch of construction going on around the hotel.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Fantastic Suite views

I mean, the room was absolutely stunning and perfect, I was just kinda sad to have it all to myself! Internet was really fast throughout the hotel, and complimentary as an SPG Platinum member. Furthermore, I found it interesting that I had no problem accessing Facebook and Twitter. Not sure how that happened…

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, there’s a well equipped gym on the 29th floor. It was staffed throughout the day, and they were super attentive in making sure the equipment was always clean and stocked with towels and bottled water.

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W Guangzhou Hotel gym

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W Guangzhou Hotel gym

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W Guangzhou Hotel gym

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W Guangzhou Hotel gym

Across from the gym was a pool.

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W Guangzhou Hotel walkway to pool

Along with the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong and Park Hyatt Shanghai, this easily ranks as one of my favorite hotel pools in the world.

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W Guangzhou Hotel pool

Down one floor from the pool and gym (though accessible via stairs that lead directly into the gym) were the spa and locker room. The locker room was massive and even had a hot tub and relaxation room.

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W Guangzhou Hotel locker room

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W Guangzhou Hotel locker hot tub

I used the hot tub one afternoon, and there was only one other person in the locker room that decided to sit in the relaxation room, and proceeded to scream into his phone and smoke for the whole time I was in there. So much for the no smoking and no cell phone use in the relaxation room policy…

The hotel’s main restaurant, The Kitchen Table, is located on the second floor and can be accessed directly from the elevator or the lobby. It serves breakfast daily from 6:30AM till 10:30AM. The restaurant was massive, yet both mornings I ate there I was one of only a few guests. It was almost creepy.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant

The spread was amazing. Just freaking amazing. This is basically a video of me at a breakfast buffet in an Asian hotel:

Below are just some pictures of the spread.

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel Kitchen Table Restaurant breakfast spread

I mean, seriously, how the hell am I supposed to decide what to eat? I’m not usually a huge breakfast person, except when I’m traveling, oddly. It’s probably because I tend to get up at around 3-4AM in Asia, and by the time breakfast is served I’m really hungry and it’s dinner time back in the US. But Asian breakfast buffets just kill me. They always have ridiculously good pastries, and when you combine that with delicious Chinese and Japanese food, I’m basically just done for…

One thing that makes this W Hotel unique is that it’s the only one in the world with a club lounge (which is located on the 26th floor). While breakfast is only served in the restaurant, the club lounge is open throughout the day.

It’s a beautiful physical space, with plenty of seating a nice ambiance.

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge

Throughout the day they serve soft drinks along with some sweets.

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge daytime spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge daytime spread

I love club lounges when in Asia because they help me battle jetlag. The problem is that if I’m in my hotel room in Asia I almost always eventually fall asleep. I’ve learned over the years that working from bed while jetlagged is a horrible idea (well, I suppose unless you do porn for a living, in which case it seems like the best option).

If I need to get work done I love being able to go somewhere else to sit, where I don’t have the temptation to fall asleep. So I spent a couple of hours in the club lounge both afternoons working, drinking cappuccino and VOSS water. Their cappuccinos were truly phenomenal, and were also beautifully presented.

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge cappuccino and water

Then in the evenings from 5PM till 7PM the hotel had a happy hour with drinks and snacks. The food spread was fairly good, with a couple of hot dishes, sushi, fruit, a bunch of small plates, and some desserts.

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge evening spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge evening spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge evening spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge evening spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge evening spread

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W Guangzhou Hotel club lounge evening spread

So physically it’s a stunning property with great offerings, but what really sets this hotel apart are the employees. Let me be clear — there were huge communication barriers. I’ve spent a lot of time in Beijing and Shanghai and never had anywhere close to as many communication barriers as in Guangzhou. That’s hardly surprising, though, since I don’t think I saw a single other non-Asian guest at the property.

But that didn’t stop them from providing amazing service. There were so many examples of the employees just going above and beyond to delight:

  • When I went to breakfast the second morning I was greeted by the same lovely server that asked if I wanted the same table as the day prior, and confirmed whether I once again wanted an iced coffee to drink.
  • When I went to the club lounge the second afternoon and sat down to work for a bit, the attendant quickly approached me and asked if I once again wanted a cappuccino and water, as I had the previous day.
  • At breakfast both mornings the restaurant manager asked me how everything was, engaged me in conversation, made food recommendations, etc.
  • The concierge couldn’t have been more helpful in making recommendations about what I should do. The second day he had remembered my name and without my prompting written down some more recommendations for things for me to do.
  • And most impressive of all, I checked out of the hotel at 6AM and had to wait about 10 minutes for a taxi. Proactively, without even asking, the associate approached me and said “I realize you have not had breakfast yet, so we packed you some breakfast. Please enjoy.” Amazing!

So I was simply thrilled by this property. It’s brand new and physically stunning. Not only are the rooms amazing, but the public facilities are as well, from the pool to the club lounge. But more than anything else the employees make the hotel what it is. They were all incredibly proactive and friendly, and clearly loved their jobs.

While perhaps not generally my style, I do find this video that they produced about the hiring/”casting” process last year to be pretty interesting:

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Comments

  1. @ Anita — The W Taipei, W Singapore, and W Bali all had amazing spreads as well. W Hotels seem to do an amazing job with breakfasts in Asia.

  2. I stayed at the same hotel on a corp rate for around $80 per night(about 5 months ago) and got the exact same suite. Their breakfast back then was a little better based on what I see now.
    Good hotel, glad that you enjoyed it.

  3. What’s the location like? (The “Local Area Map” on the hotel’s website just links to a useless Bing map that shows no streets or other features in Guangzhou at all.)

  4. Luckey,

    When I was in Beijing I had the same problem with Facebook and Twitter. Apparently some hotels in China can get approved by the goverment for the WIFI network to access it. Although my hotel did not have it.

  5. @ Jeff R — The W is located in the “new” part of town. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because there are lots of nice parks and it’s modern, though a lot of the historic sights you’d want to see are in the “old” part of town. They’re quite a distance apart, about 20-30 minutes by taxi. So I’m not sure which area I prefer, though the Grand Hyatt and W are both in the new part of town, so I’d probably stay in that area again in the future.

  6. Ben, I always enjoy your reports and the mix of humor you bring to many of them. For some reason this one really had me laughing. From the dog video, to your comment on working from bed, I LOLed a few times. Nicely done

  7. Great Review, The comfort is one thing that i like about the western hotels in china. Most chinese hotels beds are SUPER hard, try sleeping on the floor type of hard. The food def is way better in all spgs hotels as well compared to chinese hotels. I also love how in the W and le merdians you cant hear a thing outside your room.

    Lucky, I know someone has already asked you this, but do you find it difficult when you leave the airport in any country to get to your hotel? Some cabbies in china dont speak a word of english, they do have translators but still its dang hard sometimes.

  8. @ jonathan — Yep, I’ve had the issue many times, so in most countries I try to now bring the hotel’s name and address in the “local” language.

  9. I was in the hotel room directly across from yours at the same time you at the hotel.

    FYI I was rejected from the breakfast at the Kitchen Table Restaurant due to wearing hotel provided slippers.

  10. Perhaps this W hotel doesn’t have furniture shipped from IKEA US? 😉

    @ Lucky – as SPG Platinum do you get free breakfast in the restaurant because lounge doesn’t serve breakfast?

    P.S. I bet Mark is happy!

  11. @ Ivan Y — Ultimately I got free breakfast I booked through Luxury Privileges, and that’s a benefit. As far as I know I would have otherwise chosen breakfast in place of the 500 Starpoint welcome amenity.

  12. Fun fact, the room in your SNA confirmation e-mail is a cool suite at the W Mexico City (have stayed in that room a couple times) – instantly recognizable by the unique circular bathtub!

  13. >There was a massive circular screen with a mouth that kept moving.

    Must be PRC’s take on [i]1984[/i], Big Breather.

  14. @ stvr — I was jetlagged and ordered dinner at about 2AM the morning before I left. Didn’t spend all the credit, but put a bit of a dent in it at least.

  15. Glad you had a good time, the hotel looks incredible, but $220 for a hotel room in Guangzhou seems a bit much, that is $440 for the 2 nights. Lord knows i have spent more, but usually in places i actually wanted to visit.

    I used to value hotel benefits as well, but came to the conclusion they were not worth the incremental spend and hassle that went along with maintaining status. I guess Seth and Ric got to me.

    I realize the various elite benefits are part of your site’s allure, and you absolutely do the best reviews hands down, your photos and descriptions are incredible. There is a reason China Southern officials took your online review so seriously.

    But I almost wish you would go back to reviewing Holiday Inns and Crown Plazas like you did when you were a teenager because in reality $220 for a hotel room is outside the budget of most travelers spending on their own dime.

  16. With only a few people at the buffet when you went, I wonder if they have a lot of wasted food. Looks decadent!

    The elevator lips are def. creepy.

    If you don’t select the “privacy please” button in the bath, what actually happens? 😉

  17. Have you tried W Hong Kong? Like you I’m not a fan of W in the US, but find them to be of a far higher standard in Europe and Asia. Took a punt on W HK last year and was really pleasantly surprised. Fairly small rooms but not ridiculous by HK standards by any means – service is certainly what sets the Ws in Asia apart from the US. Also the breakfast at Kitchen at the W Hong Kong is like a bigger version of what you’ve pictured above – awesome. Thanks for a great report!

  18. all western branded hotels in China I’ve been to have awesome breakfast, including Holiday Inn. It’s like the story of airlines, much better service in Europe and Asia on average.

  19. you probably got a lot of attention because you were the only white person staying in the hotel. Guangzhou seems to have a lot of international facilities (not so much in service) but there are not that many foreigners. So they are kinda eager to test them out.

  20. The W Hong Kong is also amazing and has an awesome breakfast spread. So much delicious food! Which W hotel do you like the best this far?

  21. W Doha is nice.

    Both “Spice Market” for seafood and thai, and “The Market” are very good.

    I’ve been in one of the suites and, although I prefer the new St. Regis, this one was nice too, like for ‘Dinkies’

  22. Guangzhou is one of my favorite places on this world, but I am Chinese.

    But it is not so nice when you are a foreigner. They don’t encounter much foreigners, so don’t expect them to speak good English. The English speaking employee in Guangzhou airport are actually better speakers, as their worse speakers actually works in the domestic section.

    Guangzhou is not an international city, but it’s people is indeed very international, and people there is rich and loves to travel, that explains why CZ has so many international customers. And one more point why Guangzhou airport has so many traffic is because it connects to most major SE Asian destinations e.g. Delhi, Ho Chi Minh City.

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