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Introduction: 5-Star China On The Cheap
Review: Hainan Airlines LAX Limo, Check-In, And Lounge
Review: Hainan Business Class 787 Los Angeles To Changsha
Review: Sheraton Changsha Hotel
Review: Changsha Airport Lounges
Review: Hainan Business Class 787 Changsha To Los Angeles
I knew nothing about Changsha before I booked my ticket and heard about Hainan’s service, so I was basically going into the planning process for this trip “blind.”
Changsha seems to be a market which is growing quickly, as Starwood has several hotels under construction in the city, including a St. Regis. However, the only SPG property open as of now is the Sheraton Changsha, which I ended up booking for my two night stay
The rate at the Sheraton was ~700CNY per night (~$107), which seemed pretty good to me. It hadn’t occurred to me until after I booked that I was traveling over Chinese New Year, so I’m guessing the hotel was cheaper than usual, given that most people spend this time with their families.
When looking at my reservation online a few days before arrival I noticed I had already been upgraded to a suite; Starwood properties in Asia are generally great about Platinum recognition.
The drive from the airport to the Sheraton took about 40 minutes, which was with virtually no traffic, presumably due to Chinese New Year. The area around Changsha Airport is pretty rural, so it wasn’t until about 25 minutes into the drive before I started seeing a skyline.
Eventually we pulled up to the Sheraton, which is located in a larger complex with two towers (one of which is the Sheraton).
As we pulled up to the hotel, the bellman immediately approached the car and grabbed my luggage, and escorted me to the front desk.
Sheraton Changsha Hotel driveway
The hotel’s lobby was beautiful, both in terms of how airy it felt thanks to the tall ceilings, as well as the general design. There were also New Year’s decorations, which were quite nice.
There was no queue at the reception desk, so I was immediately helped. I got the sense that they don’t see very many Platinum guests at the hotel, as the recognition was excellent. I should also note that I didn’t see another western person the entire time I was in Changsha, so I’m not sure whether it’s rarer to be an SPG Platinum member or westerner at this hotel.
The staff were fantastic, and explained that I had been upgraded to a suite, and explained all the details of the club lounge, gym, spa, etc. The assistant front office manager also immediately wrote down some suggestions for “must see” things, though warned me that it would be pretty quiet due to the new year.
I paid for my stay with the Citi Prestige® Card, as I usually do at SPG properties. Otherwise the best option is the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, which offer two Starpoints per dollar spent. Keep in mind that having the SPG Business Amex will get you access to Sheraton club lounges, which is a fantastic perk. This benefit applies globally, and is a reason in and of itself to pick up the card.
The assistant front office manager escorted me up to my room, located on the 28th floor.
As we walked up to my room I noticed the business center on the left side of the lobby, and then the lobby bar on the opposite side of the lobby, near the elevators.
The elevators at this hotel were really fast, so we were on the 28th floor pretty quickly. Once we exited the elevator we turned left, where we found my room at the end of the hallway.
The hotel is in a triangular shape, making it one of two identical-looking buildings next to one another.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the suite. Upon entering there was a closet on the left and then a half bathroom on the right.
The hallway led into the living room, which featured a seating area with two chairs, along with a couch with three seats.
Waiting on the living room table was a bottle of wine and a fruit plate, which was a nice touch (though I don’t drink red wine, so it was a cost-conscious amenity on their part). 😉
Across from it was a large console with a built-in desk, immediately below the wall mounted flat screen TV.
To the left of the desk was a fax machine, which is a must-have amenity for any decent hotel in 2016. I assume the Sheraton got their inspiration from Aerolineas Argentinas. 😉
The room looked out over sprawling Changsha. The skyline was interesting, in that all of the “average” buildings were well past their prime, while there were also a bunch of high rises being built. It’s clear the city is growing quickly, and I’m curious how the vibe will transform over time.
The living room was separated from the bedroom by a door. The bedroom was also large (probably almost as large as a standard room), and featured a king size bed, along with a desk and flat screen TV. It’s worth noting that this bed was most definitely not a Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed.
I was under the impression all Sheraton properties have them, though the quality seems to vary significantly, which seems to sort of ruin the point of having a “brand standard” bed. The mattress was quite firm, and the pillows seemed fairly flat. Still, as far as beds in China go, it was one of the better ones I’ve experienced.
It was really cute that the hotel left a Chinese New Year monkey on my bed, which I could take home with me. Adorable!
Sitting on the nightstand were some discount vouchers for the hotel’s spa and laundry services.
The bedroom also faced the city, though in the other direction, which didn’t seem to be expanding as rapidly.
Attached to the bedroom was the master bathroom, which featured a single sink, a walk-in shower with both a rainforest showerhead and a handheld one, a tub, and a toilet with bidet in the corner.
I was delighted to see that the hotel offers L’Occitane amenities in the suites, rather than the brand standard Sheraton toiletries, which we’re not fans of here at OMAAT.
Overall I was very pleased with the room. This isn’t the most updated or luxurious hotel in the world, but given how little I knew about Changsha, it exceeded my expectations.
There are two other things I should note about the room. The wifi was fairly good, at least when you account for the great firewall. With my VPN I was able to access the internet without too much trouble.
My one complaint about the room is that the air conditioning didn’t work too well. Maybe it wasn’t turned on since it was winter, but I could never get the room cold. It wasn’t a major issue since it wasn’t too hot outside, and we’re talking about the difference between the room being maybe 72, and my preferred nighttime temperature of 65-68. So it wasn’t a big deal, but I certainly wouldn’t have minded if it were possible to make the room a few degrees cooler.
As a Platinum member I also had access to the hotel’s club lounge, located on the 31st floor.
There was a reception desk in the lounge which was staffed most hours of the day, and the staff there were super nice.
The club lounge was huge, which I found puzzling. It’s possibly the biggest club lounge I’ve seen at a Sheraton. I realize I was there over Chinese New Year, so it’s probably not indicative of how full it usually is, but I can’t imagine this club ever fills up.
The club lounge was separated into several zones, including a dining area, lounging area, and then there were some booths towards the back. Each section had wall mounted TVs as well.
Breakfast was served in the club lounge starting at 6:30AM. In addition to the buffet, cooked to order eggs were also available upon request.
The buffet was extensive, though some of the options cracked me up. For example, the donuts were garnished with those little fiber cereal things, as well as corn flakes.
They also had a selection of bread, salmon, sushi, and fruit.
There was also an extensive hot spread, including unique items like corn on the cob.
The lounge had an espresso machine, and the associates working in the lounge were great about proactively offering drinks and clearing plates.
In the evening there was a cocktail reception from 5:30PM until 7:30PM, which consisted of salad, sushi, cheese, dim sum, pizza, several types of dessert, etc.
Sheraton Changsha executive lounge evening spread
I believe they had allocated one personal pizza to the club lounge for the night, since it wasn’t replaced once consumed. Which is sort of a shame, since it was tasty.
There was also a good self serve alcohol selection. I quite enjoyed the sauvignon blanc they had on offer.
The Sheraton had a gym and indoor pool, located on the sixth floor. The gym was well stocked and empty both times I visited it, and was also open 24 hours a day, which I appreciate.
Across from the gym is an outdoor terrace of sorts, though it didn’t seem to be utilized much in winter (though it was uncharacteristically warm the two days I was there — it had been below freezing just a few days prior).
Then across from the gym was an indoor pool. I just once took a peek at it, and as I walked in a few adorable young Chinese kids tried to practice their English on me. The second I walked in they screamed “HELLO HOW ARE YOU?” Too cute!
The hotel also had a spa on the seventh floor, though I didn’t have a chance to use it.
As far as my time in Changsha itself goes, I’m not sure I really got an accurate impression. It was more or less dead due to the Chinese New Year celebrations. I walked around near the hotel, but was just about the only person on the streets. I then took a taxi at night to one of the streets which was recommended to me when I checked in, but even it was dead.
So I have to be honest, I didn’t really get much of an impression of Changsha, because after walking around long enough without seeing anyone else I called it a day, and instead got caught up on work.
Maybe I’ll return at some point once Changsha is more developed, but I can’t say I saw anything in the city itself which was especially interesting. I have heard, however, that the landscape around Changsha is beautiful. If you drive several hours outside of Changsha you’ll be in the Pixar mountains, which look cool in theory. But my stay wasn’t long enough to experience that.
The food in Changsha was excellent, though. It’s known to be among the best food cities in China, and for the one meal I had in a restaurant, it didn’t disappoint.
Sheraton Changsha bottom line
All things considered the Sheraton Changsha exceeded my expectations. The staff were friendly, the facilities beautiful, and my suite was spacious and well appointed. Changsha itself was a bit of a bust, though that may in part be because of Chinese New Year. It’ll be interesting to see what the market looks like when all the new Starwood properties open in a few years. But based on what I saw I’m not dying to return.