Hotels, Guangzhou style

Tip #7
For our first three adoption trips, we stayed, no questions asked, at the White Swan. That was where everyone else in our group was staying and that was where we figured we would stay. I did consider staying at The Victory for my second and third adoption trip, but wasn’t confident enough to commit, at that time almost everyone stayed at the White Swan.
But when we traveled for Shepherd, lack of funds and desire for extra space helped us make the decision to stay at The Victory. Since Shepherd is from Guangdong, I knew we’d be staying on the island for at least 12 nights. And 12 nights in a tiny hotel room is quite a few too many. We decided that the almost $400 we’d save on our hotel bill was worth taking a chance on something new. On that trip we stayed in the newer Victory, the one on the main strip, down almost to the Cow and Bridge. On this trip, we are staying in the older Victory, down to the Cow and Bridge, turn right and down a block or so, on the right. Since I have now stayed in all three hotels, I feel, at long last, qualified to give my opinion on each.

Price and value:
1. The older Victory ‘business suite’ is by far the best value. The suites are either ‘Chinese’ style or ‘Japanese’ style. We are stying in a Chinese style, which is about (this will depend a bit on the price your agency can get) $100/night, and this includes 2 breakfasts, and I believe 1 child is free. The suite consists of 2 regular sized rooms, one bedroom and one ‘living’ area, and a bathroom. This is incredibly nice when the little one is sleeping, because you can close the bedroom off from the living area and not have to whisper and tiptoe all during naptime. Both rooms have a TV. Also, there is a computer in the room and internet is free.
2. The newer Victory ‘business suite’ is next in value. The room consist of one large bedroom, with an additional sitting area off one end of the room. The sitting area is approximately 1/2 the size of a normal room, but it allows space for luggage and anything else you’d don’t have room for in your room. The main room does not close off from the sitting area and the TV is in the bedroom area. The business suite is approximately $100/night which includes 2 breakfasts. There is a computer in the room and internet is free.
3. The White Swan is the most expensive at about $135/night, which includes 2 breakfasts. This is for a regular room, which is quite a bit smaller than one might expect. Beyond the bed and a small area on the side where the mini-bar is set up, there is no extra room. A few, but not most, of the rooms have a computer in the room. You are charged for the internet, but can pay by the week for a discounted rate. Suites are available, but for more than double the normal room rate. When we came for Isabelle we brought Tori and one room just wasn’t big enough for the 4 of us. We splurged on adjoining rooms… how I wish we’d known about the Victory.

Location:
1. The White Swan. Groups usually meet at the White Swan to leave for outings and the consulate appointment. The ‘red couch’ is at the White Swan as well.
2. The new Victory is next, it is on the main strip, near many of the shops.
3. The older Victory is the furthest from most shopping and restaurants. But not by much. In fact, in weather like we are having now, it’s downright pleasant to walk around and I have been very content to walk the extra few blocks to this location. Because the grocery next to the newer Victory has now closed, this location is convenient because it is right across the street from a 7-11, which is nice when you or baby gets the munchies.

Breakfast:
1. The White Swan. The buffet is huge and their french toast is famous in the adoption community. Pretty much everything you’ve ever wanted to eat in a buffet for breakfast. And then throw in some pizza.
2. The older Victory. A very large buffet, which offers as much, if not more than a typical Chinese buffet in the provincial city. They have an egg chef as well as an assortment of breads, fruits and salads. Congee and yogurt are always available for the babies.
3. The newer Victory. Similar to the older Victory, but smaller scale. If you stay at the Victory, you can eat at either location. When Chris and I were here in June, we chose to walk over to the older Victory for breakfast on a few occasions, it was nice to have that option.

Extra conveniences:
1. The older Victory wins this one. In each bathroom, there is a separate spigot for drinking water. Incredibly nice to not have to boil water just to brush your teeth or wash out a baby bottle. Also, each mini-bar has readily available filtered boiling and room temperature water, sort of like a tiny water cooler. Really nice for making bottles and making coffee when you are bleary eyed at 4:30AM.
2. The newer Victory has the drinking water spigot in the bathroom. But no boiling water on the mini bar.
3. The White Swan has a hot pot. The White Swan does offer the ‘Going Home Barbie’ for adoptive families that stay there.

Banking:
1. The White Swan offers to exchange money at the current bank rate.
2 and 3. Both Victories offer to exchange money for slightly less than the current bank rate. For example, we exchanged money for 6.5 instead of the current 6.77. You can go to the Bank of China on the main strip to exchange at the current rate. You must have a room at the White Swan to exchange money there. If you do go to the Bank of China, you expect to wait.

Comfort:
1 and 2. The Victory, both locations. The beds are quite a bit softer, in my opinion. The bedding is white cotton down comfortors, which I prefer by far to the poly blend, dated bed spreads at the White Swan. But that’s just me.
3. The White Swan. Because I don’t like southwestern-style poly blend and hard beds.

Overall, I have preferred staying in the older Victory. Which really surprises me because typically my favorite things are new. And expensive. But for the money, the Victory just offers so much more. Space being a priority for most of us, as well as price. While the White Swan is a 5 star and the Victory a 4 star (I think), the Victory is as nice or nicer (certainly LARGER) than any provincial hotel I’ve stayed at. I was, honestly, a bit disappinted in the White Swan. The lobby is so lovely, ornately decorated and elaborate. But the rooms are small and dated. And while the lobby of the Victory may be smaller and the buffet not as grand, the rooms are much larger, the decor more modern, if simpler, and the beds and bedding much more comfortable.

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Comments

  1. Nicole A. says:

    Wow! Great info … like having a personal insiders guide! You should archive all these posts somehow at NHBO or someplace, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who will refer back to them when the time comes.

    Have a great day … I bet you’ll be excited to get home soon!

    All the best,
    Nicole A. in OH

  2. Michelle in MN says:

    These tips are great. I stayed at the White Swan but really wished I would have tried the Victory. All the families I know that have stayed at the Victory have been pleasantly surprised.

    I had one other tidbit about banking. The White Swan has 2 ATM’s in the lobby near the elevators that I used with no problem. I had advised my bank in advance that I would be in China so there wouldn’t be any problems with them. Obviously you request your money in Yuan and can only get what your bank allows for a day and they do charge the fee for using a different ATM. In the end I much prefered this for spending money over using the exchange at the hotel. It was faster and the machine was nicer to me than the people at the exchange desk. :)
    Thanks again and safe travels home!

  3. We stayed in the Asian International, it was very nice, but in the business district, a bit far from the island. you could take a cab though for just dollars, but we went twice to the island (once for medicals and once for shopping) with the group and I have to say I liked being away from it. We were in walking distance of a 7-11, and grocery store, pizza hut, mcdonalds, starbucks, and a mall. We had everything we needed in walking distance and could get to the island in minutes by cab if needed. It was much cheaper to stay off the island in a different 5 star hotel and to me this was worth it, our agency does this, you don’t get to choose, but we were in the white swan and I have to say I was not disappointed we didn’t stay there! Just thought I would throw an entirely different option into the mix!

  4. We stayed at the old Victory (I think, might have been the new, it seems so long ago!) out of neccesity (The White Swan was booked, as it was the end of the trade fair) and loved it! Our provincial hotel was a little nicer, and the rooms were bigger in our province (Hubei). I would reccomend the Victory to all travelers.

  5. This is really good information. The only thing I would add, having stayed at the White Swan (1st adoption trip) and the new Victory (2nd one) is that I thought the pool and pool area at the White Swan was much nicer (Victory pool is rooftop at the older building); if you are traveling with older kids who like to swim this may matter. My 8 year old son traveled with me on the second trip and loves to swim and I remember wishing we could be at the White Swan’s pool. But still, if I were to return, I would likely stay at the Victory again for the space!

  6. OOOOOOO….thanks so much for the info. With us being this close to travel the info was invaluable. I think we will choose the old Victory. We love extra room.

  7. I was wondering about the pool area`at the Victory as well. The one at the White Swan was very nice.

    Where did you end up staying in Nanchang?

    Debby

  8. This is a great post! I struggled back and forth what to do this last trip since we stayed at the White Swan the first two times. We loved the Victory and the space. Some do stay off the island but I love staying on the island, shopping, enjoying the scenery and socializing with the shop owners. I’ve made many friendships with the store owners. THanks for taking the time to give all this great advice. You’ve given me an idea for my website. :)

  9. Jen & Rob says:

    Stefanie,
    You rock girl! Thanks for putting these daily tips on your site. We are still waiting on our very first referral and the whole hotel thing has me freaking out when the time comes. I’m like you..I like that for the best value we can get larger rooms at the Victory and I’ve heard a lot of families prefer it, although missing out on the buffet at WS. Oh well. As long as we finally get to meet our baby girl someday, I don’t care where we stay at! Haha. Keep the tips comin’ girlfriend…
    Jenny G. back in GA.

  10. I wish I had known that we could have went to the other Victory for breakfast. We would have loved a change of scenery and food!

  11. Jennifer and Matt says:

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time and thought I’d de-lurk and say thank you for sharing your travel tips. This one especially! We’re still paperchasing for our first child (a boy!!), but I’m already worrying about the hotel. I’ll pass up a mega buffet to have a softer bed and more space any day! thanks again! enjoy the rest of your trip!
    blessings from GA,
    Jennifer

  12. That settles it for me…the old victory is where I am staying. Thanks for this tip, I am getting ready to make travel plans.

  13. The Gang's Momma says:

    Would have loved to know all this before we booked. But then, our agency didn’t really ask our opinion either. Next time, we plan to ask about the Victory.

    Huh. There’s that “next time” again. Must be my filter is disabled by all the cold medicine . . . :)

  14. Great comparisons! There aren’t many families that have tried all hotels thus being able to compare! :)

    I’ll never forget my husband ordering an omlet from the White Swan breakfast buffet.. they cracked the eggs, stirred them up a bit, tossed in a few other ‘fishy’ looking items and “waved” it over a flame for about 10 seconds. Then, it was ‘poured’ onto a plate virtually raw. He tried to communicate that he wanted it cooked more, but got another cracked egg into the omlet as the chef thought he wanted more EGG :)

    Finally, he gave up and went for a bagel..lol.
    ..missing those moments and am so enjoying following you and your sister! Safe travels home!
    ~Susan.

  15. Party of Seven says:

    Our agency did not give us a choice, we had to stay at the White Swan because that is where their office is. I have heard great things about the old Victory, we really could have used the space last time. We had two rooms but they were not connected so my hubby and I were separated with a kid in each room.

  16. Anonymous says:

    We stayed at the Westin in Guangzhou — quite possibly the nicest hotel I will ever stay in… Okay, after all the talk about hard beds in China, I was delighted to sleep on the Heavenly Bed. Need I say more?

    Buffet… Amazing. Service was perfect. All was new and gorgeous! No seperate water but, there was a whole room of marble tile that was the shower! Leigh

  17. Okay, not only am I loving you being there and giving us the 411, but I'm soaking up these tips!!!That's why I keep coming back!!!! you do not disappoint! That and you seem like a really great person ;-) thanx

    Doreen in Montreal single mom to Faith-Jiangxi & Mia-Sichuan

  18. Thanks for the tip. My wife just returned our LSC for our little girl. We are hoping to travel in late Feb and are thinking about hotels now. I think we are placed in the White Swan, but now I won’t be disappointed if we get moved to the Victory. -Andy

  19. Great information. I only stayed at the WS and heard wonderful things about the Victory.
    Hope you are sleeping well {{[hug}} Thinking of you.

  20. The Ferrill's says:

    Stefanie…I keep checking the shelves at our bookstore for your book…but for some reason ITS NOT THERE!!!!!! Where is your book that you know you need to write? HUH?
    ‘Kay. I won’t give you a hard time, since I can’t even find it in myself to even write a blog post since OCTOBER for the love of all that is good!
    I’m catching up BIG TIME…and I’m SO mad at myself for not checking sooner because we were in Nanchang getting sweet Candace and we had Mary as our guide and WE LOVED HER so much and I would have told you to tell her hello from us, but I’m too late. But, will you tell Rebecca hello from the Ferrill’s? Quan especially likes her.
    And please squeeze your sis for me because I am so excited that her son is in her arms and her sister gets to witness another miracle! FIVE times to China. Stefanie. God is so amazing! Can I be jealous? Can I want to be you when I grow up? ;)
    Seriously, I praise God for all that He has accomplished in your life and the life of your family!!!
    To God be the glory, great things He has done!
    I love the tips you give…I’ll remember them on my next trip to China, Lord willing! ;)
    Miss you friend! Praying for safe journey home and lots of rest and MINIMAL jet lag and sweet children! Well, we know you’ve already got the sweet children!
    Love you!

  21. bytheriver says:

    Stephanie – I am wondering if you can comment on the child’s accomodations. For us, we were not pleased at all with the WS as they offered only a foam mat for our child (16mos and mobile). We dared not go to sleep and risk her running around and getting into trouble. This was actually the worst issue we encountered on our trip. Expecially with a grieving toddler who did not know us and would not sleep. We have not stayed in the other locations, but for that one alone – it is not a 5 star hotel for adoptive families. Does the Vicotory provide cribs consistently?

  22. fanTAStic post. Thank you.

    Do you, or any of your readers, have suggestions for housing three adults, three kids? One adult will have her own room, but the rest of us (2A, 3K ages 3, 4 and 8) need to bunk together and want some floor showing through the beds. ;-)

  23. Just so ya’ll know, the Victory is now using “East” and “West” for the two parts of the hotel. The Victory “East” is the one with the suites (the victory website says “Business Suite (Queen)” but it was a King). Request a Japanese style suite, but be prepared to get what they give you. We had prepaid our room through our travel agent and lucky we did, because when we arrived they had oversold the hotel and they put us in the Victory Suite instead! The hotel was PACKED with adopting parents, as we traveled right after the trade fair and all the Guangdong families had stacked up. The Victory suite was VERY posh, with sauna in one bathroom, jacuzzi tub in the other bath, a giant electronic Mahjong table and marble everywhere. Not exactly great for traveling with three smalls (4,3 and 1) but still an experience!

    Kate

    (oh, and our agency tried to tell us that we had to stay at the White Swan and we said uh, NO, it is our money. We offered to meet our guide at the WS for everything but as it turns out we only saw her once when she and the other family stopped at the Victory to get us on the way from the WS to the medical appointment (the route goes right past the Victory). And we hitched a ride with families with our old agency and met our guide and the other family at the Consulate for the swearing in, but we could always have walked the four whole minutes to get to the WS from the Victory if we’d wanted to take the WS shuttle to the Consulate. Our agency wanted to tell us where we could stay, but it was OUR money and we had definite space requirements that simply we could not financially meet if we’d stayed at the WS.)

  24. Hi there!!! I’ve been referred your website, as we are in the planning stages of our trip to Guangdong, to finally meet our daughter, Tari. I loved your post! The China Travel agency, suggested the White Swan, and another “mega buck” hotel (the name escapes me). I’ve read of other families staying in the Victory Hotel, so I’ve been all bold, and emailed our Agency, that we want to stay there!!! I didn’t know there were 2 though!!! Not sure which one we’ll get. I think I was looking at the Guangdong Victory Hotel (I think it’s the old one?)

    Anyway! REALLY appreciate the info!
    Many thanks
    Lee-Anne
    http://www.aust2china.blogspot.com

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