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Marco Polo Parkside Hotel - Beijing, China | Hotel Review

Far from a Five-Star Experience


Marco Polo Parkside Hotel - Beijing, China: Marco Polo Parkside is a five-star hotel nestled in the heart of the Yayuncun commercial region. The hotel opened its doors for guests around the time of the 2008 Olympic Games and is easily accessible to both-the Beijing International Conference Centre and the world-class "Bird's Nest" stadium. A division of Marco Polo hotels spread all across Hong Kong, China and the Philippines, the Marco Polo Parkside is popular owing to its value for money five-star accommodation and its proximity to international convention centers.

First Impression/Lobby: The lobby was gorgeous and aesthetically designed, but didn’t really have a five star finesse to it. It felt more like a far-flung conference hotel or an airport hotel. Nevertheless it was well appointed with a neat, pleasant look. Not extraordinarily appealing or eye-catching but attractive in an unpretentious sort of way.

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Reception: Luckily we had a reception agent who spoke English; something we found out later was as much a rarity at Marco Polo Parkside as finding water in a desert. This is a five-star property but hardly anyone spoke English.

The check-in process was quick, efficient and professional and all our formalities were completed in a matter of a few minutes.

The Suite: Our Junior Suite, though well appointed and neat looking, again lacked the five-star touch, much like the reception. It felt as if we were put up in some low-budget economy property tucked away on the outskirts of the city, the exclusive feel of a swanky five-star property was conspicuous by its absence. The bathroom had a terrible moldy smell to it and the robes as well as slippers were downright low quality stuff.

The living room was amply sized, but sparse and unadorned except for a couple of couches, a center table and a huge LCD mounted awkwardly in the corner of a wall.

The bedroom again featured minimalist furnishings and a small, functional work table. The rooms looked orderly and neatly done-up but bare and unfurnished all the same. There was nothing visually compelling or attractive about the suite. The interiors didn’t have a focal point or any eye-catching details or even a single striking accessory which could lend it a stylishly unembellished look.

One thing I’d especially like to mention is that the room was extremely warm and stifling, with the air not working even after multiple calls over the first night. The next day they came up with an ‘ingenious’ solution, the staff brought us a key to open the windows to help cool the room off a bit. Where were we really in a five-star hotel? This just couldn’t be a five-star hotel! Not by any reasonable standards.

Room Service: The first night we arrived late in the evening and decided to take it a little easy by ordering from room service. We ordered a pizza and a burger. Trying to order was a huge hassle and a stressful affair since no one spoke or understands much English here. The food arrived a few minutes later than they said it would but the guy who served us was nice and went out of his way to get some ice organized for us earlier (which was another frustrating task), so we kind of overlooked the delay.

Since we were famished, we made a quick headway for our food only to find that the pizza was wrong and has to be made again. Plain agony! The burger, well, the burger was crafted out of the worst beef that I’ve ever had, in fact we wondered for a moment if it was really beef or something else they had used! Another half hour and we had our pizza and pretty much like the beef it was sordid, repulsive and absolutely squalid. It beats me how anyone can make something like a pizza taste so bad, but they managed to accomplish the impossible.

Housekeeping: The Housekeeping staff did a good job of getting us an additional robe upon our arrival and then again in arranging for a few additional luggage racks and slippers for us. Their daily service was complete and thorough, but the bathroom still had the moldy smell.

Concierge: They did their best to be helpful but that did not cover up for the fact that they were not as professional, knowledgeable and competent as I would expect a five-star concierge to be. We didn’t have much of an opportunity to experience the services of the Concierge since after our first night we decided to check out two days earlier than we had originally planned. All we had them do for us was help with minor requests like specific directions or get them to write the name of a restaurant in Chinese for the taxi driver.

Restaurant: We ate at the Caffe Marco buffet breakfast and wish we hadn’t ever ventured anywhere near it. Everything from the made to order omelets and bread to the fruit juice and pastries were awful. I found it difficult to digest both the food and the fact that a five-star restaurant was serving us such a horrible breakfast.

Caffe Marco is an open kitchen restaurant, which though not very high on the quality of its food, sports an elegant ambiance complete with wooden chairs, dark wood tables and neatly lined up plants. The food is strictly average but the restaurant claims to use authentic home-grown spices and herbs to lend an authentic touch to their menu. Regardless, of what spices they used, the food was horrible.

Pool/Spa/Activities: Though they have a full-fledged spa they were very adamant about doing the treatment in my room. I am not sure why though; it gave me a very strange and suspicious feeling. Once again no one bothered with English and after their relentless and rather pushy attempts to get me to do the treatment in my suite I decided to simply skip it. Marco Polo has amenities like a fully functional gym and an indoor games room along with a swimming pool, which though not very attractive, is nice for a refreshing dip if you have nothing much to do.

Check-Out: After facing several service and communication related issues, luckily for us check out was a smooth and problem free process. This was indeed the best part of our stay. I think it had more to do with the fact that we were finally leaving than the actual competency of the reception staff.

Overall Impression It may be categorized as a five-star hotel but Marco Polo offers absolutely no comparison for the upscale, five-star Peninsula Hotel Beijing. The cost of the former is much less but then you end up getting what you pay for.

The staff tried their best to be nice, warm and helpful, but the language barrier was pretty evident and posed several communication challenges, even for basic requests. The service though earnest and sincere, lacked the refinement and professionalism of a five-star property.

The only time I would come back here again was if I did not plan on eating a single meal at the hotel and just used it to sleep at the end of the day. The best rating that I can give them is between bombastic and not.

Click on the links below to read other five-star and luxury hotel reviews.
Aman at Summer Palace – Beijing, China
Peninsula Hotel - Beijing
Amanfayun Resort – Hangzhou, China
Peninsula Hotel – Shanghai, China

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