alley in Tianshui

alley in Tianshui

The workings of a modern Chinese three-star hotel explained.

We arrived in Tianshui after dark, so we did not see much of the place that evening. As it turned out, there was not much to see, either, at least not in Beidao, the district where we had selected our hotel. Within minutes of us arriving in the hotel the English-speaking chamber maid was mobilised, who, within even fewer minutes, ran out of English vocabulary. Yet, before long we were comfortably installed in our double room with private bath. The Chinese hotel system, I hate to say, is a little bureaucratic. One checks in, and pays in advance. Subsequently, one is asked for a deposit, sometimes negotiable, sometimes not. It does not matter, really, you actually do get the deposit back the next day. Then, with the deposit slip and the receipt, one goes to the floor where one has been allocated a room. As lifts are either absent or broken down, it is a policy decision at what floor you wish to stay, a balance between the expected street noise and the weight of your luggage. As it turned out, our hotel had a Karaoke bar, which we had not taken into account at floor selection. Once you have reached the correct floor, one needs to find the floor attendant, invariably female, who will only open the door against you handing over the deposit slip and the receipt. So now you have no proof of payment, whatsoever, anymore, and also no key. In order to keep people employed, the floor attendant will open the door, but will not give you the key. So every time you want to get into your room, you will have to find the floor attendant again. Yet, it works. She is almost always there, and even if the next shift, that you have never seen before, is on duty, the next shift, who has never seen you either, will still open the right door for you. Amazing! The only other task of the floor attendant that we have been able to identify, is to bring you hot water, substitute for tea, as soon as you have established yourself in your room, and that means somewhere between 30 and 120 seconds, no more.


Continue: In Tianshui (2)

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