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Holiday Inn Central Plaza
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Reviews (827)
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Reviewed 19 April 2012

My father and myself decided to have a holiday in China a few weeks ago.(Late March 2012) I looked up the trip adviser and saw a recommendation about a particular concierge named “Storm Li” who works at the Holiday Inn Central Plaza in Beijing. My father had visited China the year beforehand and seen the Great Wall together with 50,000 other tourists. We wanted a more intimate experience on this trip!
We met Storm and told him we wanted to see the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors but not by a bus with thousands of other tourists. Storm came up with an itinerary that was simply fantastic.
1. He arranged for us to travel to a part of the Great Wall that is in original condition. It happens to be located in the back yard of a farmer’s property. What an experience!!! We were the only two people there and spent as much time as we wanted walking and exploring the Wall. The farmer’s wife was our guide. After this the two of us were treated to a lovely lunch at the farmer’s house---the meal was simply delicious!! A 30 minute drive to another part of the wall—again only the two of us there. We walked up unbelievably steep steps and stayed as long as we liked. Afternoon tea at another farmer’s house—wonderful !! I might add these farmer’s houses are very old and basic—the farmer and his wife were so friendly and genuine. They obviously have a hard life but seem very content and happy with it. Meeting the farmers was simply another highlight of our trip !!!
2. Storm arranged for us to get to the Terracotta Warriors at Xian. He recommended that we visit the Longmen Grotto on the way. He arranged all bookings ---trains, accommodation, guides and air fares back to Beijing. We were picked up early in the morning and taken to the train. How anyone could do this themselves is beyond me! Storm had arranged for a lovely lady(no English) to pick us up from the station to take us to our hotel for an overnight stay. The Longmen Grotto is a whole mountain carved by Buddhist priests commencing in the 5th century. According to a souvenir book there are 2345 caves, 2800 inscriptions, 40 Buddhist pagodas and over a hundred thousand Buddhist images----the whole mountain is grottos and is a must see!!!! I might add we did not see another European face there so I don’t think anyone knows about outside of China. We saw something nearby that again is unique to China. Our hotel was in a large city only 10 minutes from the Longman Grotto. Now I counted over 100 high rise apartment buildings, beautiful roads, parks,trees,an unbelievably large just completed railway station but very few people. It was really weird to look down from our hotel window and see no activity in the streets. It was described to us as a “Development City” whereas they are building the city and when completed eventually moving the capital which is approx 20 kilometres away. This is indeed worth seeing ---a whole city with very few people—This is impressive!!!
3. Next morning our friendly guide picked us up from the hotel and delivered us to the railway station and we caught the fast train to Xian. We were travelling at 294 Kilometres per hour and was a thrill. Arrived at Xian and was met at the station by our lovely personal guide and her driver. Helen’s English was perfect. Storm seems to have a network of guides all over China! She showed us the old city walls of Xian (14 Kilometres in circumference) and then took us to the terracotta warriors -- she was our guide throughout ---unbelievable!!! We left the next morning by plane( which was again all arranged by Storm) for Beijing.
China is not the easiest place to get around except for the advertised tours that are in every hotel lobby. If anyone is looking for a holiday in China outside of the normal advertised tours---Storm is your man!!! His English is perfect, his product knowledge is great and his network system( which is essential) is unbelievable. He can tell you places to see that you have probably never heard of. He is so accommodating as well --- when I happen to tell him my new camera had broken (I purchased it in the new development city a few days prior )he took it late one night and gave it back the next morning at 8.30am fixed---how good is that!!! I might add that all these trips and personal guides as arranged by Storm were very reasonably priced.
We could not be any happier.
It felt like a once in a life time trip you will never forget !!!!!!

Bottom Line--------Storm is your Man if you intend visiting Beijing!!!!

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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3  Thank Michael K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 April 2012

This hotel had been recommended by our son and daughter in law. We were concerned that it was a little distant from the tourist sites, but these fears were soon dispelled by the hotel's concierge, Storm Li. I contacted Storm via the net prior to our trip and he arranged all of our transport needs to and from the airport as well as the most amazing two days of sightseeing we could ever imagine. If you are considering a stay in Beijing, do not go past this hotel and most definately get in touch with Storm. You will not be disappointed. We did and saw more in two days than we thought possible. What a wonderful asset he is to the hotel. We saw parts of The Great Wall that were way off the tourist path, which meant that we were able to absorb it's beauty free from the crowds. He also arranged for us to have a three hour rickshaw ride through parts of Beijing that we found very interesting as well. Storm tailors your tours to suit. Remarkable.
We found the hotel to be of a high standard and certainly enjoyed the delicious breakfasts.
The front desk staff were also very helpful and always available to answer any questions.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Robert E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 April 2012

I don't know what more to say other than I've hardly slept at all the last 4 nights. Aircon only blows hot air, staff have offered to open windows or to give us a fan. I check out tomorrow and intend on complaining to head office and requesting a full refund.

Stayed: April 2012
Thank David H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 April 2012

We travelled to Beijing in March 2012. The hotel is great - it is clean, comfortable and the breakfast is delicious. The hotel is a little bit far from the main tourist attractions but getting a taxi is not an issue. The hotel staff helped us get one each day. Storm Li, as mentioned in many of the reviews, is the hotel's biggest asset. He gave us cards to give to the taxi drivers indicating where we wanted to go and directions in Chinese to these places. When getting in a taxi, make sure you ask them to run the meter else they may charge you a high price. One of our biggest challenges was the lack of English we encountered. This is totally understandable as English is not their first language. We also struggled with the front desk at the hotel as they often didn't understand what we were trying to say. For hotel that caters for tourists, this needs to be addressed. Storm took us and another family to the Great Wall (Mutianyu is the best part to see) on his off day. He arranged a wonderful day for us that included horse riding up to the wall which was amazing. In general, Storm was always available and offering advice. He sat with us at breakfast and offered advice and often called the room to see if we were enjoying our stay. He didn't once try to sell us something or force us into doing anything. His main goal was to ensure that we had a great time. Storm Li is what makes the hotel great. We will definitely go back to Beijing - great people, great sightseeing and great shopping (bargain, bargain and bargain some more!) however we might stay a little more central next time.

Room Tip: When booking a room, enquire about breakfast as it is not included in all room bookings.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Saucy85
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 April 2012

We travelled to Beijing over spring break (March 22-29) 2012 - a great time of year to visit. I was first attracted to the Holiday Inn due to it's reasonable price. We're a family of five (2 adults, three kids (11, 13 and 14) and squeezing into one room is no longer possible at these ages, so we had to economize. The reviews of Mr. Storm Li seemed too good to believe, but I was convinced to book 2 rooms based on other travelers' glowing recommendations.

I was concerned about the language difference coming from the US and I generally try to pre-arrange as many sight seeing events as possible. Once again, based on the reviews of Sotrom, I decided to wait until we arrived and speak to him directly.

First the hotel facilities: The facilities were impeccable; the lobby always clean and polished, rooms large and clean. We only had 4 days in Beijing, so we opted to have the breakfast buffet each morning for the convenience and to save time. It was pricey at about $20USD per person ($100/day for my family), but Storm Li worked his magic and was able to have the kids eat free. The buffet was a great mix of Chinese and American dishes which appealed to my desire to eat as much local food as possible e and certain of my kids that were reluctant to try the Chinese food.

Hotel Location: I was a bit concerned after reading certain reviews, but taxis are plentiful and cheap and the hotel provides cards so drivers can easily find the way to the hotel on your return trip. We also used the bus and subway systems which were surprisingly user friendly - stops are announced in both Manadarin and English - probably driven by the Olympics and desire to be more appealling to Western visitors. It will take 45 mins to 1 hour to get to the major sites in AM or PM traffic (not too bad), so if this seems long, consider travelling in the off hours. Bottomline: The location was fine, but don't expect to be able to walk to the major sites unless you're OK with a 4-5km stroll.

Tip: Email the hotel before your trip to obtain directions via email in both English and Mandarin. It will help if you need a taxi from the airport.

Mr. Storm Li, the hotel concierge: I can't write enough about how this man made our visit a trip of a lifetime. To start, I emailed Storm before our arrival and he arranged for a minivan to pick us up at the airport. We landed at 11:30PM, so I was concerend about having to take 2 taxis and trying to explain directions to the Holiday Inn to the drivers. Storm arranged a nice sized minivan and the driver knew exactly where to go. Storm even called the driver at 1AM to be sure all was going well. Storm sat with us the first morning of our visit (Saturday at 7AM) to discuss what we wanted to see during our stay. He was not pushy or trying to sell us anything - he just wanted to lend us any assistance we wanted - we could take it or leave it no problem. We scheduled the major site visits for each of the 4 days. Each morning, he presented a detailed itinerary for the next day with a fixed cost for the entire day, usually including lunch and dinner too! I reserched the Great Wall before our trip and wanted to visit a non-touristy part (definitely not Badaling due to the high number of visitors) and also a "Wild Wall" section, that is, the wall that has not been restored.

Storm arranged for us to visit the Mutianyu section, but what made this incredible is that we first went to a local farmer's home for a small meal of freshly roasted chestnuts and tea. The farmer then took one of his horses for the kids to ride (alternately) and we climbed to the backside of the Mutianyu wall on the horse trail. We met several local villagers hiking this trail so they could sell souvenirs and drinks to the visitors on the wall. This section of the Great Wall was fantastic and we climbed for around 2 hours to the various watchtowers - the views were spectacular to say the least. We then drove for about 40 minutes to another farmer's home, this time, she was the village medicine woman, a "protector" of the wall, a masseuse and an incredible cook. After a beautiful and filling meal, she led our family on a 1.5 mile hike to the Wild Wall. We hiked up approx 2,500 feet vertical on a wall that was crumbling, but at least had most of the stones in place. The ascent was steep, challenging and exhausting, but after 2 hours, we hade it to the summit. The view was spectacular and awe-inspiring. We continued on the wall and hiked a different section down; one that was steeper and more deteriorated. I admit that I was nervous and concerend for my kids' safety, but they were cautious and our guide helped protect them. I wanted to climb the Wild Wall to get a sense of the wall from an isolated perspective. We were the only ones that were on the wall and we could see the wall stretching out for miles and miles into the hazy horizon. It took us 3.5 hours to complete the hike, but it is a memory of a lifetime thanks to Storm. Be warned though, you need to be physically fit to make this hike. If you can run 1 mile, you can handle it, but I would not recommend it for kids 7 or younger or if you have trouble climbing stairs (and I mean ALOT of them).

Before we left, I contacted a professional tour company to price a trip to a wild and restored sections of the wall. Without lunch, the price was $600USD for my family of 5. Our adventure coordinated by Storm was less than half that amount and the experience was personally created for my family.

Storm personally assisted us in many ways (rickshaw rides through the Hutong neighborhoods, Peking duck dinner, acrobatic show, dumpling lunch, hotpot soup dinner, and much, much more). When we were running late, he re-arranged the schedule. When the kids fell asleep the first day from jetlag, he cancelled dinner no problem. I cannot thank him enough for his personal attention, care, and kindness. This man is what makes the Holiday Inn THE destination hotel in Beijing, especially for families or those looking for custom-tailored tours. He would not even accept a gratiuity; something difficult for this Westerner to understand. Storm takes great pride in his work and it seems his whole desire is to make your trip a wonderful experience.

Room Tip: We stayed in the regular rooms (non-club/executive) and we found them to be very nice. We were pretty far from the elevators too, but it was not a problem for us contrary to other reviews.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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5  Thank Mike M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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