We had been living in Ningbo for roughly 4 months and before leaving decided on a luxury stay in a proper hotel before heading off on our travels. The new Howard Johnson IFC Plaza Ningbo came up the rankings in terms of location (being fairly easy to get into town and close to the new high speed Ningbo East Railway Station) as well as value for money. Howard Johnson IFC Plaza has a good name for itself and the hotel itself was less than a year old. The photos showed it to be a very upmarket / modern hotel. I didn't know much about the IFC area of Ningbo, as it's the only major area of the city we had yet visited (it was still being built when we were there).
Once the Metro opens in 2014, I can see this area becoming more built up and busier with shops, cafes and restaurants. But when we visited, it was still very much all being built. The Howard Johnson IFC Plaza Ningbo is one of the first few buildings finished and is directly opposite the conference center, which is why its perfect as a business stay hotel.
On arrival we were greeted with a lemon water to cool off, check-in was fairly straight forward. Just an FYI though, hotels in China ask for a deposit upon arrival, so make sure you carry enough money not just for the hotel if you have not pre-paid, but the deposit as well.
The room itself was clean, spacious and very modern with one of those new style all glass bathrooms. I'm personally not a fan, but as China seems addicted to sticking them in their hotel rooms, it's something we might have to get used to. There is a button on the wall in the bathroom that instantly turns the glass non transparent and it works just as you would expect. The bathroom has a large freestanding bath (although the tap is on one side, not the middle like European style freestanding baths), a rain shower (which was not very powerful) and the toilet / sink area.
The room had a full floor to ceiling window overlooking Costa Coffee and across the road to the conference center, with automatic curtains (very classy). There was also a nice size desk, a day bed and LCD TV with the audio able to be played in the bathroom.
- Excellent value for money for a 5* hotel.
- Service was excellent from all staff (with an exception, see below).
- Included breakfast buffet with great western selection.
- Modern, clean, spacious and bright standard rooms with a great king size bed.
- Free mini bar (albeit limited).
- Excellent WiFi in room.
- English TV channels.
- Breakfast buffet staff were not very attentive (fine normally, but when they are only able to get you a drink it's frustrating!).
- Not very central, but HOJO have another location in town and this is really aimed at business travelers for the nearby conference center.
- Room service food was not very good quality and lacked a drinks menu!
- The shower looked great, but was functionally useless with lack of pressure and the design of the shower cubicle meant flooding of the bathroom was a possibility.
Overall our stay was very pleasant and it was a shame to give up the bed that felt like you were sleeping on clouds. I would recommend it for business travellers, but maybe not for couples or single travellers. At the end of the day, it's a business hotel first and foremost. Also I recommend avoiding the in-room service, as the food was small in portions and the quality was very lacking. Room service is generally very hit and miss with hotels though, but it would be nice to go to a hotel that just gets it right.
Howard Johnson IFC Plaza Ningbo Summary
|SERVICE (Staff Helpfulness)|
|ROOMS (Decor, Equipment)|
|BATHROOMS (Equip., Amenities)|
|CLEANLINESS (Lobby, Rooms)|
|Hotel Name||Howard Johnson IFC Plaza Ningbo|
|Address (English)||No. 288 Dintai Road, Jiangdong Disctict, Ningbo 315040 (FYI Google Maps isn't the greatest in Ningbo for accuracy, see the map image at end of the post for exact location!)|
|Area / Locale||Located in the centre of the new IFC (International Finance Area) in SE of Ningbo. Jiangdong District.|
|Accomodation Type||5* Business Hotel|
|Public Transport Nearby||Bus Stop is located on the main road, a short walk away from the Hotel. (No.17 – Carrefour Supermarket, Raffles City Mall, Wanda Plaza Jiangbei. No. 21 – Century Oriental Mall, East Railway Station, Wanda Plaza Jiangdong. No. 356 – Century Oriental Mall, Tianyi Square. No. 517 – Tianyi Square, Lao Wai Tan, Heyi Avenue, Wanda Plaza Jiangbei. No. 521 – Tianyi Square, Lao Wai Tan, Heyi Avenue, Raffles City Mall.Taxi's are available from concierge and cost 10RMB for first 3km. Beware though, Ningbo Taxi drivers are notorious for picking the best fares. So it may be best to ask front desk for a number to dial for pickup. It took us 8 attempts to get back to the hotel, there are many unlicensed taxi drivers in Ningbo, don't ever get into one of them unless you like being fleeced and dropped somewhere you don't want to be.Metro line 1 will open in 2014 and serve the IFC directly. Until then your choices are bus or taxi.|
|Local Landmark Nearby||The convention centre is opposite the IFC complex, there is also a Costa Coffee opposite the hotel.|
|Room Rate||588RMB Rack Rate per night for a standard room with King Size bed. Many offers available though if you book in advance or book 3 nights or more at 20% discount. Check the HOJO website for the most up to date offers.|
|Room Type||King Bed Superior Room, ensuite (Buffet breakfast was included and was awesome!)|
|Room Amentities||I won't go into the details, as it's a 5* hotel so everything you need is there. Only exception is bubble bath / bath salts. A bit annoying as you have this awesome massive bath, with only shower gel to put in it.|
|WiFi||Complimentary in-room WiFi available. Excellent signal and in terms of Chinese internet speed, it was good.|
|Restaraunt Choices||A couple of choices in the hotel which is good, because there is very little options elsewhere in the IFC area. There is a Japanese, Chinese & Western restaraunt. We didn't try any, because they were out of our price ranges. I have heard very good things about all 3 though, the Western restaraunt does a dinner buffet service which is approx. 250RMB per adult. Because we did the hotel as a special treat, without much money left over my advice would be go into town for more options that are affordable. We are a fan of Tasty's in Lao Wai Tan and you could go out for a bar crawl and finish at Tasty's for dinner with loads of money left over instead of eating at the buffet service.|
|Nearby Convinience Stores||There is a small Quik Mart on the corner, where they are building the Metro station. But it is very small and badly stocked apart from the basics. Costa Coffee is a better option across the road from HOJO.|
|Additional Hotel Facilities||It's a 5* hotel, so the concierge will likely be able to deal with any requirements during your stay. There is also a business centre near the lobby.|