Monday, January 3, 2011

Holiday Inn Shifu, Our home away from home

For many years the White Swan Hotel on Shamian Island was where adoptive parents stayed almost exclusively in Guangzhou (where all US families are required to travel to since the US consulate is located there), and it is still probably the most popular hotel for adoptive families.  Our agency even has an office located at the hotel, so not surprisingly it is the preferred hotel with our agency.  However, it's also very expensive so instead we stayed at the Holiday Inn Shifu located off the island.  It was about a 10-15 minute walk to the White Swan hotel depending upon how fast we walked so we were able to get to all the required meetings at the White Swan without a taxi.

Aside from the much cheaper price we liked the Holiday Inn for several reasons.  First off, the rooms were HUGE!  We had connecting rooms, one with 2 double beds and one with 1 king size bed.  Each room also had a desk, a lounge chair with ottoman, and a sofa.  There was a great deal of empty floor space in each room, and considering how many days we had to stay there with 4 kids this was a great benefit to us as they had room to run around and play.  There was plenty of space for storing luggage in each room with wooden luggage racks and a lot of closet space.  The bathrooms were also very roomy with a separate tub and shower (and the shower was quite large) and a large vanity.  These were standard rooms, not the more expensive executive level ones, nor were they suites.  They were just the basic, cheap rooms, a real bargain considering how nice and roomy they were.
Plenty of floor space.  The door on the right hand side of the window was the one to the connecting room.
It was really even roomier than the picture shows since I couldn't get the whole room in one shot.
There was a nice large window (the upper sections on the sides could open) which provided a great deal of natural light.  There was a lot of room in front of the window where the kids could play.
The sofa was plenty large enough for a kid to sleep on.
There was a very large dressing mirror in the room.  Micaelyn loved to look at herself in it when I would change her clothes or fix her hair.
The hotel had a very nice pool on the rooftop. It was very clean and almost always empty except for us. There was also a gym up there (I didn't look in it so I can't say anything about it), and there was a small cafe as well (we never bought anything so I'm not sure how extensive the menu was). There was a foosball table there as well our kids enjoyed.
We were almost always the only ones at the pool.  One end was just deep enough for me to not be able to walk in it, but there weren't any real deep areas.  I felt very comfortable up there with the kids, even took all 3 of the little ones by myself several times. 

View from the rooftop.  You can see the Pearl River in the background.  The line of colored umbrellas in the center marks the street that leads to Shamian Island.
The streets leading to Shamian Island were fun to walk along. They were mostly all pedestrian streets. The street right outside the hotel was a pet street full of all kinds of animals - kittens, puppies, rabbits, fish, turtles, birds, chipmunks, everything imaginable. It made a great way to entertain the kids for awhile when we had nothing to do but wanted to get out of the hotel.
The workers were all very friendly about letting the kids hold and pet the animals. (...and no, we did NOT buy fish while we were in China!)
An interesting way to sell dog food!
There were so many different kinds of turtles!
There were countless shops with fish outside in shallow containers.  The kids had so much fun looking at all the different kinds of fish swimming around.
Rodents of every kind, even chipmunks.
Caleb desperately wanted to take home a baby kitten.  He didn't get to, but when we got home we had 7 new baby kittens for him anyway (I had been too busy with adoption paperwork and travel arrangements to get it done sooner, so I had planned to get our little cat fixed when we came back from China.  She ended up having kittens first!) .
There were some adorable puppies!
Looking down the pet street right outside of our hotel.
There were also a lot of plants and some beautiful bonsai for sale along the street.
There were some shops with neat Chinese items along the way as well.  This shop had some amazing water fountains.
Looking up at the Holiday Inn Shifu from the street that led to Shamian Island.
Joshua is such a handsome boy - I really wish he would let me take more pictures of him!
Another great benefit of the Holiday Inn is that there is a huge, very popular pedestrian street right outside of it (on the opposite side from the pedestrian streets that led to Shamian Island). There are many restaurants, including popular American ones such as McDonald's, Papa Johns, KFC, and Pizza Hut. I don't know what KFC and Papa John's were like, but the Pizza Hut had an enormous menu with page after page of different items ranging from pizzas, pastas, soups, Chinese dishes, chicken, steak, lamb, potatoes, and a wide variety of fruit drinks (similar to smoothies) and juices. There was also TONS of shopping opportunities. There were endless shops along the street, but there were also many malls located on the street that had hundreds of stores inside them. We went in one mall that was full of nothing but jewelry stores. For someone interested in shopping, the pedestrian street could keep them occupied for a LONG time. Even though we didn't shop, we still enjoyed looking at everything.
There were many statues scattered along the pedestrian street, and you could see this one from our window.  Caleb always wanted to visit the "sweet little birdy."
Looking down the pedestrian street.  This was at an intersection.  There were more shops down the cross street.
Caleb loved the "chicken man."  You could often hear his horn blowing, and if you gave him a tiny amount of money he gave you some kind of treat (we weren't sure what they were, but Micaelyn loved them).
KFC in the foreground with McDonald's in the background.
Just one of many multi-level shopping malls located along the pedestrian street.  We went inside this one to go to McDonald's.  In addition to different restaurants and stores there was also an arcade in there that would make a great place for families with older kids to hang out (we didn't want to try to keep up with all 4 kids in there).  There is also a 7-Eleven convenience store at the bottom (barely visible on the ground level just beyond the blue wall, right hand side).
Another shopping mall with a KFC and Papa Johns on the left, McDonald's on the right.
Pizza Hut where we ate several times.  Their menu was much better than Pizza Hut in the US, better than most popular American restaurants.
Inside one of the shopping malls located along the pedestrian street.
Another picture from inside a shopping mall.  We didn't do any shopping, but it was fascinating to explore all the shopping opportunities available.

For any family yet to travel, I HIGHLY recommend staying at the Holiday Inn Shifu. It is much cheaper than the White Swan. There are many places to eat and shop right outside of the hotel. It is only about a 10 minute walk to Shamian Island (even shorter if you walk fast), and the walk is a nice one passing through pedestrian only streets. The pet street located just outside of the hotel is a great place to entertain the kids. There is a small shop right outside of the hotel entrance that sells bottled water (very cheap, especially if you buy a large jug), juice, ramen noodles, chips, cookies, snacks, etc. There was a pretty good variety of noodles, all packaged inside a bowl for easy heating. The hotel room had a hot pot you could use for making the noodles, and it had a refrigerator as well. The hotel does have a buffet breakfast, but if you opt out of it you can find a bakery within walking distance with a lot of different breads. The rooms are huge with plenty of floor space for playing, plenty of closet space and luggage racks, and extra large bathrooms with separate shower and tub. The pool is nice with a nearby foosball table the kids can play on at no charge along with a cafe and gym. After having been at this hotel and seeing the price of it I can't imagine why anyone would stay anywhere else.


karin said...

I like your spots very much,It's very interesting,you are a humorous man from your blog.I like playing ,travel ,and shopping . the women like to go to jewelry stores and like to buy Jewellery ,the more and the more people like good jewelry ,the young girl or boy like fine Jewelry .In the past time ,Jewelry is wealth ,but now ,every one can have own Jewelry .It's became a trend in life! I know some picture are in china,I sometimes to go there!

Jolene said...

We are definitely will be staying there when we go to China to bring home our son! Thanks for the great tips!

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