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Accommodation New Zealand New Zealand accommodation Photography Travel

Omarama Top 10 Holiday Park – A Review

This post is a review of Top 10 Holiday Park, a camping and caravan grounds with self-catered cabins in Omarama, New Zealand.

Omarama Top 10 Holiday Park – 9/10
Address: 1 Omarama Avenue, Omarama, 9448 New Zealand

Top 10 Holiday Park is a chain company with lots of camp grounds in different cities, providing caravans and campers with camping grounds, electricity, water and cottages.

We rented 2 cottages, each one had a car space in front of it.

The 2 staff members at check in (a man and woman) were not very nice, but the accommodation and facilities are great for a holiday park.

Location:
This place was within a convenient location to the Clay Mountains, although there are other hotels across the road. This location was on the side of the road away from the city, sort of like on the side of a highway. (A lot of the places we drove to in New Zealand on this trip were scattered along long stretches of roads, with the exception of Christchurch where the hotels were in the city).

Facilities:
The facilities here are much better than the previous location, Alpine View and I must say, quite good for a caravan park. The free internet was limited to 3 devices at one time which was a bit inconvenient as that meant 1 person had to log off if another one of us needed internet connection (4 in our group) but I suppose would be sufficient if you had 3 or less people in your group. Internet was fast.

Our cabin had there were 2 bedrooms, one had 2 single beds and one had one double bed. The kitchen was nice, good cookware with clean microwave and fridge. There is a dining table, sofa and television. We had to request milk in little capsules from the check in after seeing there weren’t any in the fridge.

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Plenty of toiletries including soap, shampoo, extra toilet paper, iron, hairdryer and dustpan.

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Towels in the bathroom and on your bed, like in all the other places we stayed at. Bathroom was modern and comfortable.

Bedrooms were comfortable, warm and well equipped with a table lamp for each person and a wardrobe for clothes, however the cabins closest to the road could be a bit noisy at night (only the sounds of occasional cars, nothing like the city, for those of you concerned).

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Bedroom 2IMG_2130Clean and well furnished. Nice clothes hangers too, not the thin wire ones.

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For campers, there are public kitchens which looked quite clean when we came, pay computer/internet rooms (quite small, about 6 or so computers), laundry rooms, kid’s play equipment (including a large enclosed trampoline), a small tv lounge, and being a camp site, pets are allowed.

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Public laundry roomIMG_2136

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There was also a playground with a trampoline, a sturdy, enclosed spring-less one.

Total price for 2 cabins for a total of 7 people for 1 night: $328 New Zealand dollars. At this price and given the facilities, I think this is not bad.

Stay time: January 24-25, 2016

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Accommodation New Zealand accommodation Travel

Alpine View Motel in Te Anau, NZ – A review

This post is a review of Alpine View Motel, a self-catered accommodation in Te Anau, New Zealand.

Alpine View Motel – 6.5/10
Address: 15 Quintin Dr, Te Anau 9600, New Zealand

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Alpine View Motel is a self contained cottage style accommodation. Check in staff were nice and yes you can see the mountains from here but that was about it. The facilities were not great and there were no toiletries except liquid soap.

Us two families each booked one cottage, exactly the same style but ours were not as good as our friend’s (facilities were a little inconsistent).

Location:
Within walking distance (about 15-minute walk) to the small town centre, there are some restaurants, larger hotels and a large souvenir shop there past the lake, and you can go for a walk there after dinner. This was located in a suburb, the streets are lined with other houses or hotels and surprisingly, the area is very quiet.

Facilities:
In our cabin, there were:

Double bed x 1, single bed x 2 (one in the only bedroom, the other in the living room). Television, basic cookware, fridge, and free coffee and tea. Shower and separate toilet which is always good. Car space for horizontal parking available in front of each cabin (as seen in the first picture in this post). Tv was in the living room. Bath towels available on each bed and a hand towel in the bathroom.

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Now, when we booked I specified we had 4 people and they had 3, however in our kitchen, our stove had 2 burners and theirs had 4.

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There was no salt in our salt shaker, and we could not connect to the internet even though our room was directly opposite the reception building where I assume the wifi hotspot should be.

Then there was the inconsistent information. Posters on our wall had different office hours listed than the one listed in our friend’s room.

Now here is something that annoyed me. One of the posters on our wall was a warning for people to not cook smelly foods, because if the smell caused the room to be unrentable you will be charged for it. It had a picture of a man with a peg on his nose and an annoyed expression.

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However meanwhile this was the only place we stayed at that seemed to allow smoking, and near a BBQ grill and children’s playground no less. There was someone actually smoking there and cooking at the same time when we visited the back yard.

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Picnic tables in the large back yard.

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Also, our friend’s room a few houses down didn’t have that same warning – so does that mean customers who stay in that room is exempt from this rule, or are they going to be fined anyway if they do cook strong smelling foods?

Breakfast is available for an extra fee.

Total price for 2 ‘cabins’ for total of 7 people for 1 night: $384.80 New Zealand dollars.

Stay time: January 21-22, 2016

Verdict: This place was okay and the location was close to the lake and the town center if you need it. I give this place 6.5/10 because according to the pictures on booking.com the other rooms seemed much nicer (perhaps it has been upgraded). The location was close to the lake if you are going for water activities (but there are closer and nicer hotels too), but this place could do with some slight refurbishment in the playground and kitchen area. There was also the issue of inconsistent information. This was the cheapest place we stayed at on this trip, but the in-room facilities were a little poor especially in the toiletries section. You will need to bring your own shampoo and toothbrushes. This was also the cheapest place we found at the most suitable location (We were driving from one city to another and didn’t want to drive too much each day so each accommodation location had to be approximately in the midpoint between the 2 departure and arrival cities). However I feel it was more expensive for the same standard of accommodation, for example, the bigger apartments in Christchurch, both Southern Comfort and Camelot Motor Lodge (this review coming soon) were cheaper although neither of these 2 provided toiletries apart from soap bars in the former, and shampoo/conditioner/bodywash at both places. The accommodation was clean and tidy, I give them that. This place would suit people who are not picky about their accommodation and would enjoy a laid back atmosphere where everyone hangs out together (although it was very quiet when we stayed) and things are very casual as you can see in the somewhat home made playground. Judging by the photos on Booking.com, the rooms are not furnished very consistently (unless they have been upgraded), with some rooms looking significantly better than (our) rooms.

Next stop, Milford Sound cruise.

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Accommodation New Zealand accommodation Travel

Aria on Bank in Dunedin, NZ – A review

This post is a review of Aria on Bank, a self-catered apartment accommodation in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Aria on Bank in Dunedin – 11/10
Address: 42-46 Bank Street, Dunedin, 9010 New Zealand

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If you are coming to Dunedin from Christchurch’s direction, I strongly recommend you come stay here. Aria on Bank is the first accommodation when you enter Dunedin on Bank Street. It is a self-catered apartment.

At the time of visiting, the rooms are newly renovated and still had a faint smell of fresh paint. Everything was spick and span, all the appliances were new, which must mean they do fantastic maintenance. The staff were very friendly, the office was neat and professional, and upon check in every one of us were given one of their large cinnamon sugar muffins, freshly baked onsite by their staff daily. Those muffins were absolutely delicious!!! (coming from someone who doesn’t even like muffins).

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Facilities:
Free wireless internet (2GB) with unlimited number of devices. Password is the booker’s name.

Each cute double storey apartments each have a car space in front of them.

Newly laid carpets, carpeted living room downstairs, furnished well with sofas, coffee table, writing desk, television, glass table under the staircase, bathroom and a dining table and a very well kept and equipped kitchen, with a beautiful oven and baking trays, with plenty of crockery, cutlery, pots and new induction stove. There were chocolates and snacks hidden in the drawers and fridge which by the way there are 2 of, and the instructions for the induction stove were in the drawer.

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Free bottled milkIMG_1486

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Absolutely spick and span oven. Have not seen a cleaner oven in a self contained apartment.IMG_1501

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The switch for the stove is on the opposite wall on the left hand side.

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Free biscuits in the drawer and chocolate in the fridge, nice! Salt and pepper provided too!IMG_1492

Of course there were free coffee and tea with coffee making facilities, and a beautiful bright red kettle.

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The bathroom had heated towel racks, hand held hair dryers and a wall mounted one behind the door as well, with free toiletries including shampoo etc as well as toothbrushes.

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There were 2 bedrooms, one with a double bed and the other with two single beds. Both had heaters which the thoughtful staff had turned on before our arrival to warm up the rooms.

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Wardrobe with plenty of hangers and storage area so your  business clothes won’t get wrinkled.

Windows were operable, however I thought it was strange that of all the places we stayed at on this trip, none of the windows or balcony doors had flyscreens to keep out mosquitoes.

Very impressed with the cleanliness and service, highly, highly recommended.

Total price for 2 apartments for total of 7 people for 1 night: $525 New Zealand dollars.

Stay time: January 20-21, 2016

Verdict: 11 out of 10 for the extra effort the friendly staff took to bake the muffins and to preheat our new temporary home!

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Accommodation New Zealand accommodation Travel

Southern Comfort Motel in Christchurch, NZ – A review

This post is a review of 53 Southern Comfort Motel, a self-catered apartment accommodation in Christchurch, New Zealand.

53 Southern Comfort Motel – 8.5/10
Address: 53 Bealey Ave, St Albans, Christchurch, 8013, New Zealand

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Location:
In January 2016, we travelled around New Zealand South Island for 8 days with another family, there was a total of 7 people in our group. We arrived in Christchurch Airport. Because we had 7 people, we would have needed 2 taxis and it would have been very expensive, so I specifically chose this motel for our group because it was located so close to the bus stop. We took bus number 29 from the airport. Christchurch international airport is tiny, the bus bay is right outside the exit when you get out of customs after arriving and is not hard to see. If you don’t know where it is, inside the airport there are Spark and Vodafone sim kiosks, outside the airport is a taxi rank along a patch a grass and standing at the airport doors facing the grass, on your left are the buses.

Facilities:
There is free wireless internet with unlimited number of devices. You are given slips of paper with login information.

The apartment we stayed in had 2 levels.

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There was a small courtyard outside with tables and chairs. Each apartment had a car space in front of it which is convenient for people who are renting cars. The car space is included in the room rental cost.

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Downstairs there was a small living room which was fine but also a small dining table that seated 4 people which made no sense to me since there was enough space to comfortably sleep 9 people, or 7,  if you don’t want to share a bed.

In the small living room there were sofas, couches, a heater, a closet with an iron and ironing board in it, television which we could not work out how the remote works and dvd player.IMG_1458

The kitchen was okay, was a good size, had adequate facilities and free coffee/tea/hot chocolate/sugar, but what was strange was that you had to walk through the kitchen to get to the downstairs combined bathroom/toilet. There were no toiletries like shampoo except an un-labelled empty shampoo/body lotion dispenser on the shower wall, but each sleeping place (ie 2 on a double bed) had a small bar of soap. The good thing was you can open the windows in the bathroom. Hairdryer available.

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Bedrooms:
There was one double bed bedroom downstairs, the rest of the bedrooms were upstairs.

Downstairs Bedroom 1
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There are 3 bedrooms upstairs, Bedroom 1 had a single bed, Bedroom 2 had two single beds and one double bed and Bedroom 3 had two single beds.

Note: Part of the staircase has no handrails(seen above). I am mentioning this in case there are people who travels with a large family (and hence books a family apartment) and there are elderly or otherwise people who need handrails.

Upstairs, Bedroom 1
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Upstairs, Bedroom 2IMG_1449

Upstairs, Bedroom 3
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I was in bedroom 2, it had a quaint little balcony with a great view (the apartments had a great timber cottage style with flowers so great cute photo opportunity) and I slept in the bed right at the door. That’s when I discovered that this room was most likely made for 2 beds because my bed was right in the way of the sliding door wardrobe, one of which doors opened to reveal the hot water heater.

(Just stating the facts, doesn’t mean I didn’t like the place or am recommending against it.)

January is supposed to be summer in New Zealand but it was still quite cold. I’m pretty afraid of the cold, but if you are like me you have nothing to worry about, the blankets and quilts were very sufficient, warm and comfortable, a little too hot even, for the weather. Bed was quite soft and comfortable, pillow too high (don’t know why hotels always have such high pillows). Each bed had bath towels.

There is also a separate toilet and shower room upstairs.

All the bedrooms and bathrooms meant there was plenty of space for all of us.

Breakfast is not included.

Price for 7 people for 1 night: $320 New Zealand dollars.

Stay time: January 19-20, 2016

Verdict:
I give this place 8.5 out of 10 for location, rooms, comfort and facilities. Staff was nice (the reception desk had just one staff member when we were there). Overall the bedrooms were very nice and all had their own heaters. The toiletries could have been a little better and the living/dining room was a bit small.

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Next stop, Moeraki boulders.


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Accommodation China China Accommodation Travel

Home Inn -A review

When I was in Shanghai, I stayed at 2 different hotels, Jin Jiang Inn in Jia Ding District and Home Inn closer to Shanghai CBD, both are chain hotels.

This is is a review of the rooms at Home Inn in Shanghai City, China.

In this post I will review Home Inn hotel at Guang Zhong Road in Shanghai City, located across the road from Shanghai University Yan Chang Campus North Gate in the city. Click here (double room) and here (single room) for the video review, and read the text below for a breakdown of the hotel.

Overall: 6/10
Based on my stay at the 2 hotels, I would not recommend Home Inn. Home Inn is more expensive than Jin Jiang Inn, has poorer facilities and poorer range of food for breakfast. There are other Jin Jiang Inns nearby (within few Kms).

Location
The Home Inn I am reviewing is located in Jin An district near the city CBD, however you can find them all over China.

Address:
English: 809, Guang Zhong Rd, Jing’an District, Shanghai
Chinese: 上海市静安区广中路809号

Locality
The hotel is located along a large street lined with few other businesses, among them, a bank, some small restaurants (Chinese food as well as one cafe with western food), a Family Mart convenience store and a China Mobile store. This street is larger than the street Jin Jiang was on but there are less businesses around the area so if you are staying here for more than a few days like I did, you may quickly get sick of the food around here.

Directly across the road is Shanghai University’s Yan Chang City Campus South Gate and a bus stop.

There is a metro stop 400m away, Circus World exit 2.

There is a large shopping plaza Daning International Commercial Plaza or 大宁国际广场, 1km away towards the east (or on your right when standing in front of the hotel facing the main road/university). There are a variety of restaurants (Chinese and Western) and bars.

The hotelIMG_3441

This particular hotel is located in the “Shanghai University apartment area” and is specifically for visitors to the university. While I was there I met a visiting lecturer. Given this, I expected that they would have at least the same facilities as Jin Jiang Inn, but did not.

You can only access your own floor with your card, by tapping in on the elevator, however there is nothing stopping you from using the fire escape stairs to access other floors.

You get free breakfast vouchers for the duration of your stay. The breakfast room is in the large lobby. There is a small space for a few cars outside.

The lobby is large with bathroom. There is a small couch and coffee table, complimentary computer.

Hotel Facilities
Non-24 hour reception, non-English speaking.
Free wifi in all areas (lobby, room and dining room) although the wifi was very bad on the 8th and 10th floor, pretty much non-existent.

There is no laundry facility, self service or otherwise.
Not sure if there is luggage storage.
Plenty of taxis are available outside the hotel that pass by, you need to hail one or you can ask the desk to call you one.

Breakfast consists of Shanghai style stirfries, steamed buns (meat, vegetarian and custard), congee, soy milk, and seasonal fruit. The selection is quite poor, especially compared to Jin Jiang Inn. You can get breakfast vouchers as part of your booking, might be extra.

The hall ways are large inside the hotel, carpeted but very dark feeling and the area near the elevator smell of cigarette smoke because people often smoke there, despite it being banned.

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The room
I shared a room with a room mate, as well ask stayed in a single room. I will review both.

The rooms don’t seem to be consistent.
The twin room I stayed in first was basic, the furniture was very basic compared to Jin Jiang Inn with basic timber tables, and a single chair. Dark linoleum flooring, has openable windows. The twin bed room that I stayed in had a small enclosed balcony. The single room I had to myself later, had better furniture but no bed side lamp at all.

Facilities:
-Writing desk with pull out tray, and a tea table connected to it
-Desk lamp
-Television with all the local Chinese channels
-Single (shared, for double room) bedside table with one reading light above it
-Enclosed balcony (in twin bed room) and openable windows
-cheap disposable slippers that is replaced everyday if you open them (slip off the paper ribbon that binds them together). I feel this is a waste and so try to keep the ribbon and put the slippers back in them so house keeping doesn’t replace it every day.
-Clothing rack in the bathroom and in the room to hang your wet clothing
-Free boiling water facilities and cup (boil the water before drinking, tap water in China is not directly drinkable), no tea
-Waste baskets
-Wifi internet (included in cost of room but very bad ie non existent apart from the lobby) and ethernet cable internet
-Power plugs located along top of table, easily accessible
-Free bottled water daily (ask for more from room service)
-Air conditioning
-Phone
-Wall mounted Hair dryer

Bathroom
Standing shower. As I mentioned previously, the room styles aren’t consistent, one single room I saw had an actual door and wall shower, with separate toilet. Mine had only a curtain.

Basic toiletries supplied including toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and soap. The toothbrush wasn’t so good, the bristles actually came apart and fell off in my mouth.

Price
The price per night here was ¥271 and breakfast was an extra ¥18 per person per day.

Note:
One thing I encountered at this hotel and Jin Jiang inn was that strangers were distributing unwanted escort ads under the doors of all the guests’ rooms. The front reception staff at Jin Jiang inn told me there is nothing they can do as even if they ban the person, the ad company just sends another person, who books a room and uses the card to access the hotel lift to distribute the cards. You can just bin the cards.

Verdict:
I give this place 6/10 for it’s convenience but lack of better facilities while being more expensive. It is located close to the metro stop and there are some restaurants and cafes, a bank and a convenience store outside next to the hotel. It is located across the road from Shanghai University and the only bus stop nearby is across the road in front of the university (it goes only 1 way). The staff were okay, I deactivated my hotel card by putting it with my phone, and was later fixed however, I mistakenly thought it was still malfunctioning when it won’t take me to my level. Turns out I was pressing the button for the wrong level. Never had a chance to appologise to the staff. Breakfast had a poor variety. Wifi was not good, basically not usable in the rooms and only accessible in the lobby despite that they are supposed to be accessible in the rooms. Lobby had 1 small couch and coffee table, which was quite few for such a large lobby. More could be done about the unwanted ads being distributed.

Now click here for more things to do and see in China!


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Jin Jiang Inn -A review

During my 2 week visit to Shanghai, I stayed at 2 different hotels, Jin Jiang Inn in Jia Ding and Home Inn closer to Shanghai CBD, both are chain hotels.

In this post I will review the Jin Jiang Inn in Jia Ding District, Shanghai opposite Shanghai University. Jin Jiang Inn was cheaper than Home Inn; Jia Ding is a suburb, I am not sure if this affected the prices. Click here for the video review, and read the text below for a breakdown of the hotel.

Overall: 9/10
Based on my stay at the 2 branches of the 2 hotel chains, I would recommend the Jin Jiang Inn chain over Home Inn because it is cheaper with more/better facilities and better breakfast food. The customer service was very nice and friendly, and there was no smoking inside the hotel. The lobby was small but bright, clean and modern. The rooms were also very clean and well kept, and the more I think about it, the more I am pleased at this budget hotel.

Location
The Jin Jiang Inn I am reviewing is located in Jia Ding on ChengZhong Road across the road from Shanghai university Jia Ding campus, however you can find them all over Shanghai.

Address:

English: 197, Cheng Zhong Rd, Jiading District, Shanghai
Chinese: 上海市嘉定区城中路35号

Jia Ding is a suburb in Shanghai, this one is located directly across the road from Shanghai University’s west gate.

The hotel door front is located along a street lined with other shops. The hotel is the one with the red logo just visible, above the man in the scooter in the picture below.IMG_3409.jpg

Locality
Cheng Zhong Road is a long main road. Towards the south there is a bridge, and towards the north, is the busier ‘city center’ with lots of shopping centers, restaurants and buses. The closest bus stop is abut 230m up the road towards the north on the same side as the hotel and will take you there, the buses stop at every stop, be ready to get off, you will see the large shopping centres.
About 650m south past the bridge is Tesco, a large shopping centre and grocery chain. You can either walk to the shops or walk to the bus stop and catch a bus, but the bus stops across the road diagonally from the shopping mall.

There are 2 metro stops nearby, Jiading West located due west, and Jiading North, located north west. Click here for a guide to Shanghai’s metro system. Jiading North is about 2.3 km away and easier to find as it is straight along the main road Cheng Zhong Road. You can also catch a bus up the road and get off at the metro stop.

You can also catch a taxi from the metro stop to the hotel and vice versa.

The hotel
This is the hotel card
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You can only access your own floor with your card, by tapping in on the elevator, however there is nothing stopping you from using the fire escape stairs to access other floors.

You also need the card to get breakfast, which comes free with your room. The breakfast room is in a separate area to the main building but can be easily accessed by a side door from the lobby, or outside via the carpark, neither of which I have a photo of.
The lobby is small however the hotel is larger than it looks from the outside, with about 8 floors and the lower floor is quite large.

Hotel Facilities
24 hour reception, non-english speaking.
Free wifi in all areas (lobby, room and dining room)
Small lobby has a small couch and coffee table and toilet facilities and free drinking water to fill a cup or bottle with.
Luggage storage
There is a self service laundry facility.
Carpark
Plenty of taxis are available outside the hotel that pass by, you need to hail one or you can ask the desk to call you one.
Breakfast consists of Shanghai style light vegetable stirfries, steamed buns (meat, vegetarian and custard), congee, individual tubs of yogurt, milk, soymilk, coffee and seasonal fruit. Take away is possible, they provide disposable plastic bags.

Photos of their lobby can be found here: http://www.jinjianginns.com/4387.html

The room
I shared a room with a room mate so this review is for a double room.IMG_3038

The rooms are actually quite nice for a budget hotel, they are clean and quite homey with timber patterned flooring that is not uncomfortable to walk around on, and easy for suitcase wheels to roll around on.

At this particular hotel, rooms above ground like mine have openable windows. The photo above was taken at night, but during the day there is good day lighting in the room. A friend of mine stayed in an underground room with no windows, but everything else was just as good.

Magazine on the table is provided by the room.

Other room facilities:
-cheap disposable slippers that is replaced everyday if you open them (slip off the paper ribbon that binds them together). I feel this is a waste and so try to keep the ribbon and put the slippers back in them so house keeping doesn’t replace it every day.
-Clothing rack with cloth hangers and a small storage cabinet
-There is a television with all the local Chinese channels
-Writing desk with pull out tray, and a tea table connected to it
-Desk lamp on table (can be unplugged and moved to bed side table)
-One chair
-Free tea and boiling water facilities (boil the water before drinking, tap water in China is not directly drinkable)
-2 Waste baskets (one in bathroom)
-Cable and Wifi internet (included in cost of room)
-Power plugs located along top of table, easily accessible
-Free bottled water daily
-Air conditioning
-Each bed has their own reading light
-Phone
-Wall mounted Hair dryer
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Bathroom
Standing shower with hand rail on wall.
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Toiletries supplied including toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and soap (not pictured). Wall mounted refillable shampoo and body wash.
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Price
Unfortunately I do not recall the price per night, but I do remember that it was cheaper than Home Inn near the city. However, I went as part of a set program, so the host of the program probably did a deal with the hotel.

Note:
One thing I encountered at this hotel and Home inn was that strangers were distributing unwanted escort ads under the doors of all the guests’ rooms. The front reception told me there is nothing they can do as even if they ban the person, the ad company just sends another person, who books a room and uses the card to access the hotel lift to distribute the cards. You can just bin the cards.

Verdict:
I give this place 9/10 for it’s cleanliness and how well maintained it was. Service was good and the staff were friendly. Breakfast had a good variety. Wifi was good. Bit far from the closest metro station although the taxis are cheap. More could be done about the unwanted ads being distributed.

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