Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting to Know Hong Kong Guest Houses (Small Hotels)

Guest Houses, like Hotels only smaller

Minxi and I stayed in the Angel Guest House, Chug King Manison, Kowloon for the rest of the trip.  Hong Kong has thousands of guest houses and even Angel seemed to have several different sections spread around the Mansion.

I think that "guest house" and "youth hostel" are used pretty interchangeably in Hong Kong.  The two places we stayed featured individual rooms with or without private bathrooms.  We had our own bath at Angel but not at Cosmic.  We didn't see any dormitory style  housing in Kowloon but I've seen online that it's there.  

In general Kowloon Guest houses seem to be narrow hallways with locks on the outer door and then a separate lock on your individual room.  Security seems to be a big deal.  Although the city is not at all violent, purse snatchers and the like do roam the streets so the caution is probably well advised.  At Angel guest house, Adil slept in the hallway.  This was a bit strange when we were trying to head out in the mornings but certainly made us feel secure.  

There's just a couple of tips I would give to people headed out to a Hong Kong guest house.

1.  Guest houses are a great buy in Kowloon.  We paid around $150 HKD (about $30 USD) per night, this was compared to $250 to $2000 HKD for a regular hotel.  True the view out the window looked something like this:

View from Angel Guest House, tsim sha tsui, Kowloon

And the rooms were the size of rice crispy treats:

Cosmic Guest House, tsim sha tsui, Kowloon

But, for the price of a family meal down at KFC, you got a front door that faced right onto Nathan Ave. shopping downtown Kowloon.  Can't beat that:

Main Entrance, Chung King Mansion, Nathan Ave. Kowloon

(Note how thick the shopping is.  The door into Chung King proper leads to a huge, budget shopping gallery, then "Cke" next to it is a second floor, more mid priced shopping mall with food court, then the big name stores are in the mall behind us.  Also, there's SASA cosmetics and a Canon just on the -right there.  Absolutely amazing shopping!)

Guest houses aren't right for everyone, they are small and some are poorly run but for the budget conscious, they are pretty hard to beat.

2.  Know your guesthouses!  Cosmic and Angel were night and day.  At Cosmic the woman wanted to change the price when she saw I was an American, refused to accept Hong Kong Dollars, and completely failed to fix the broken toilet.  Adil, at Angel guest house on the other hand, could be a little surly if you stepped on him at 7:00 am, but gave us his cell phone number so we could reach him, gave us the weekday rate when we asked if we could stay through the weekend, and kept hot water on and a fridge for us to use.  It's hard to get that quality of service at a full price hotel.  

I think that a traveler looking to book a guest house should do two things before they arrive.  First, I would go to Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor and check out the customer reviews.  If a guest house in Hong Kong has more than one or two "horrible" ratings, I'd stay away.  Everyone gets a grouchy customer every now and then but if they're sending guests home angry enough to spend the time to go online and rant about it, just stay away, you've got thousands of other choices.  

I'd also try and call the guest house if I could.  If you can't get someone to talk to you, or if the customer service is bad on the phone, just move on.  

Personally, I'm going to go back to Angel.  They're right on Nathan Avenue and there's a big MTR interchange where three lines come together right underneath.  They've got several numbers on their card.  Adil said his was 6897-8551.  The main number is 2384-0119.  Tell them the Hong Kong Honky sent you.

3.  Remember that youth hostels and guest houses are adventure travel.  Both of the guesthouses we stayed in were pretty clean, but the hallways of the mansions can be gross and bedbugs are a world wide problem though we didn't see any.  Also, the other guests are probably happy adventurers like you but be safe.  Lock your things up, tell Adil about when you'll be back, and have a great time in Hong Kong!!!


Claire Cooper said...

I've stayed at the YMCA Salisbury. A bit more luxurious than a guest house and reasonably priced. I've also heard good things about the Metropark hotel up past Jordan.

Joel Stottlemire said...

Thanks for the comment Claire. I thought the YMCA was beautiful but we didn't go in. I would think it was a little upscale from the guesthouses we were in.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I had bad luck with the Mirador Mansion in general. The elevators kept breaking down and I had to climb those stairs.