Over the past weeks I received more and more emails from readers who want advice on finding accommodation during next year’s summer Olympic Games in Beijing. It’s getting too much to answer all of them (which I regret), therefore I decided to do a blog post about this subject.
First of all, as the name of this blog implies, I live in Shanghai and not in Beijing. Therefore I do not have the inside scoop on which hotels you should try, and which are fully booked already. What I understand is that it is impossible to find a room in one of the centrally located 5-star hotels in Beijing, likely because tour operators snapped up all the rooms. If you want a room, try to get one through a tour operator – you will end up paying more, or you might be forced to also book tickets through them. Some hotels close to the Olympic venues, such as Purple Jade, still had rooms a few months ago, but were charging outrageous prices (USD 1700 per night for a standard room).
If you are not able or willing to pay such prices you can try to stay in a smaller hotel. These can be found online, e.g. by using the English version of Ctrip. You might not be able to book online one year in advance for rooms, but at least it gives you an idea about hotel names and facilities, and their usual prices. Then you can then try to find the websites from these hotels in Google (although many may not have a site), and call them or send them an email. If you call be prepared that nobody speaks sufficient English, and if you send an email you might not get an answer. But if you try several hotels one should eventually work. Tip: The Home Inn hotels have decent, clean rooms and are not expensive (less than USD 40/night for a double room).
Another option is to look at serviced apartments. You may need to book them for at least a full month, but you might still end up saving money in the end. A Google search should help yo to find them. If you want to see a lot of events, the best location would be in the north or northeast of Beijing (Haidian, Asian Games Village or Chaoyang district) because of travel times to the Olympic sites.
But there is also the option to live in apartments that people rent out especially for the Olympics. A fellow entrepreneurial Dutchman, Piet Bos, set up a website for this where people can offer accommodation and others can rent it. The site can be found at http://www.homestaybeijing2008.com I think this is a very smart idea, and I hope many people can find decent and not-too-expensive beds during the Games through his site.
In case I find new information about accommodation over the next 12 months, I will post it as an update to this blog post. If you have any information that I should add here, please put it in the comments or send me an email at marc (at) spillgroupasia (dot) com