I knew I wouldn’t be staying two nights in Hong Kong when I booked my last minute trip over the Easter long weekend for a few reasons:
- Hong Kong hotel prices are expensive (like, really expensive)
- Points redemptions aren’t very aspirational
- I felt there was more bang for my buck (or points) just across the border in Mainland China
The city of Shenzhen is a bustling metropolis located directly across the border from Hong Kong, and features an impressive collection of luxury hotels including a new Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, and St Regis. Since my stay at The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong was going to be the highlight of this trip, I decided on a much more modest Marriott hotel, and was happy to find the recently built Marriott Hotel Nanshan for only 15,000 Marriott Reward points per night.
This was an awesome points redemption, especially considering I was able to transfer just 5,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points to Marriott for the stay (transfers are instant). With rates approaching $300CAD per night (before taxes), this was a very good use of points. Furthermore, as a Marriott Gold Elite, courtesy of my American Express Platinum Card, I was upgraded in advance to one of their Studio King rooms with Executive Club access!
I checked out of the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong shortly after 2:00pm and requested a taxi to the Shenzhen Bay border crossing. The concierge in the Club Lounge was proactive in offering written directions for the taxi driver in Shenzhen, and even offered a tip to hand him the card upside-down. He warned me that many drivers are illiterate and won’t really know where they’re going, and will just start to drive! If the driver turned it right side up, I was good to go!
The drive from the hotel to the border took around 40 minutes and cost about $300HKD. The taxi dropped me off just outside the port, where I was to clear immigration. On the other side of customs was a short walk to the official taxi line, with many people approaching me for an unlicensed ride. The taxi line was short, and within minutes we were off to the hotel (my driver turned the card around when I gave it to him). The Marriott hotel was about a 15 minute drive from the Shenzhen Bay Port and the taxi fare was roughly $4CAD (part of why I love China). The exterior was beautiful, soaring high into the sky like many towers in Hong Kong.
The hotel occupies floors 43-62 of the tower, with a small coffee shop and bell service on the ground floor. The main lobby is located on the 43rd floor and features a large lounge and dining area.
The check-in area was busy on arrival, and it took about 20 minutes for me to get my room assigned. I was thanked for being a Marriott Gold Rewards member and reminded of my Executive Club access and was offered to have breakfast in the lounge or the main lobby. Most of the staff I encountered had great English, which I had been warned wouldn’t be the case in Mainland China.
The lobby featured a really nice sculpture overlooking the Shenzhen skyline.
After about 20 minutes, the friendly agent gave me my room keys and apologized again for the delay. She showed me to the elevator and said I would be on the 54th floor in a Studio King room. Awesome! The common areas in this hotel are stunning, and right on par with some top luxury hotels. On the hard product alone, this could have easily been branded a St Regis or Ritz Carlton, in my opinion.
At just under 600 square feet, the room was a perfect size for comfort and function. Straight inside the door was some tasteful decor, with the entrance to the bathroom on the left. There was a large closet space between the entrance foyer and bathroom with in-room safe, bathrobes, plenty of storage, and of course, a pair of gas masks.
The bathroom was beautiful, and definitely the nicest I’ve seen in a Marriott. The hardware was ultra luxurious and the construction felt high-quality. On the left side was a large walk-in shower with rainforest head and hand wand, along with a separate water closet with a toilet.
Opposite the shower was a vanity area with double sink and just about every bathroom amenity you could think of. Actually, I found the space a bit cluttered, though the finishes were quite nice.
Bathroom toiletries are by Thann, which I really dislike. While decent enough for a business hotel, I felt they were really out of place in this luxurious bathroom.
At the end of the bathroom, in front of floor to ceiling windows, was one of the nicest soaking tubs I’ve ever seen. The view wasn’t spectacular, though I did appreciate all of the natural light. There was a built-in television in the wall, along with a control panel beside the tub to adjust the lighting and music in the bathroom. For a bath guy, these were all nice touches!
The bedroom area featured a large king bed (definitely on the firm side of comfortable) with a small seating area near the window. There was a large free-standing television across from the bed, which felt a little out of place in front of the windows. I quite liked the style of this room compared to the Marriott Hong Kong SkyCity Airport Hotel, and would be overjoyed to see style like this in some North American properties in the near future. The views were panoramic of the Shenzhen skyline, which were nice, but nothing compared to the harbour views at The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong!
The views were good, though the city felt a bit boring compared to the Hong Kong skyline!
The room was completely electronic, with bedside controls for the heat, lighting, and windows. There were universal power plugs where needed and an alarm clock on one of the bedside tables.
Just beside the bed was a single chair overlooking the city.
Being a studio room, there was no wall dividing the bedroom from the living space. I actually prefer this arrangement when alone or with Brad, as I find the open space much more comfortable than closed off suites. The living space consisted of a large lounge near the window with plenty of pillows, a built-in shelf with some tasteful reading material, and a large circular desk which could be used for dining or working.
There was a welcome note on the office desk from the Guest Service Manager on arrival, though unfortunately, it wasn’t for me…
They did, however, get it right on the television!
The minibar in the room was inside a nice wood cabinet, with minimal snacks and a few beverages. For what it’s worth, I’m not sure why they include minibars in rooms anymore, especially those with lounge access…
I was kind of surprised to find an in-room Nespresso maker at a Marriott hotel. While becoming the norm in many luxury brands, it’s still not uncommon to find a lower quality machine at some very nice properties like The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver!
Unfortunately, I was exhausted by this point and didn’t get to check out many of the properties amenities, though I can comment on a few key areas.
Internet was complimentary during my stay and generally had good coverage. I was a bit naive to think this Marriott hotel would have access to many websites blocked by the great firewall of China, and ended up not having access to Google, Instagram, Facebook, etc. The speed was good enough, but for anyone who likes to stay connected, I would highly recommend downloading a VPN (virtual private network) prior to arrival.
Breakfast In The Lobby
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a variety of food served at a breakfast buffet, especially one included for Marriott Gold members (thank you very much American Express Platinum Card). Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people at a breakfast buffet. It was impossible to take pictures of the food, and I was only able to get a few pictures of the seating. All that said, the food was very good quality and the service was fantastic, despite the crowds!
Does every hotel in China have an indoor infinity pool overlooking the skyline from the top floor? Maybe not, but it sure seems to be trending in newly built hotels. Located on the 62nd floor, the pool was very nice, though crowded for most of my stay. While these indoor pools always seem beautiful in pictures, I’m actually a little turned off by indoor swimming areas. Not sure what it is about them but I rarely go for a dip (outdoor pools are more my thing).
The Executive Club Lounge
Club Lounge access is included at Marriott hotels (resorts excluded) for Gold and Platinum Elites, and the lounges in Asia are generally fantastic! Open between 6am and midnight, this lounge was furnished well with lots of high-quality seating areas, large windows overlooking the city, and generous food and beverage offerings throughout the day. Complimentary cocktails were served in the evening along with ‘snacks’, though it was more like a mediocre buffet with free pour spirits, wine, and beer. The lounge was extremely crowded during meal times but still worth the visit! Staff in the lounge were friendly and attentive without being overbearing, and all of the staff I encountered spoke English well.
As far as mid-range hotels go, this Marriott property really sets the bar high. The quality and design of the rooms and common areas could easily be mistaken for a St Regis or Ritz Carlton, and the staff were all welcoming and engaging. Having Marriott Gold status through my American Express Platinum card really paid off on this stay, with a generous upgrade to a Studio King room with lounge access, and complimentary buffet breakfast in the morning.
Using Marriott Reward points for the stay was a great value, with only 5,000 SPG points needed for a one night stay (15,000 Marriott points) with rates for standard rooms approaching $300 per night. One thing I didn’t love about the property was the location, which was quite sterile and likely better suited for the business traveller. The being said, taxis were always available from the lower lobby and were very cheap compared with western prices.
I doubt my future travels will bring me back to Shenzhen anytime soon, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel for anyone wanting a fantastic points redemption just 45 minutes outside of Hong Kong!