It will not have escaped the attention of careful readers that there’s a lot going down on and around Wulin Road lately. In January we introduced N89 Bar, Kikawara, and The Old Man. This week we report on Night & Day, Fondant Garden Café, Micway Café, and Helena’s Chocolates. In months past we’ve gushed about the milkshakes and burgers at Triple O’s. The character of Wulin Road is indeed changing, and we think its evolution from “women’s shopping street” to a half-kilometer’s worth of both niche and mass-market food and beverage venues is further advanced by the presence of Queen’s Park Boutique Hotel.
In November 2013 we noted with obvious enthusiasm the shadowy chic of East Hotel (South Hushu Road), which is every inch the “boutique” establishment it bills itself as. Queen’s Park Boutique Hotel (QPBH) is indeed a small, independently owned/operated establishment with a handful of artisanal touches and just enough quirks to ensure the cogency and legitimacy of its “boutique” appellation, but that’s all contingent upon one’s ability to disassociate the concepts of luxury and interesting from the boutique concept of boutique. QPBH is moderately charming and nice, but we think it is unlikely to win either awards for design or accolades for innovation.
The room we very much enjoyed was immaculate; the bed wonderfully comfortable; and both the water pressure and temperature spot-on. The formidable, sexy, tub in our room would have been much more fun had we been sharing our quarters with a worthy companion. Unless you are planning to hold a rave in your room, all rooms save for the single room are spacious enough, and perhaps this is what QPBH does best: a genuine and affordable alternative to chain inns (POD Inn, Seven Days, Hanting Express, etc.) while keeping one lodged dab smack in the middle of downtown, at the center of a thoroughfare that is increasingly fun to be on after sunset.
The joinery, furniture, and furnishings are perhaps more photogenic with a wide-angle lens than they would be with a macro; and truth be told, apart from the gratis tea leaves and Hupao Spring water in the room there’s not much particularly boutiquey about the place (if you catch our meaning). Pricewise, QPBH is a big step up from the economy chains which often leave much to be desired in terms of cleanliness, clientele, and English language service, and the establishment is duly-licensed to host foreign passport holders, which is not always the case. At the other end of the spectrum, the rack-rates here are more than a few notches down from the five-star branded hotels – albeit the amenities are commensurate with the tariffs. There’s no gym/fitness center, no lounge, no restaurant, and the lobby itself would likely be disconcerting for anyone who had not seen the cozy rooms, slumbered beneath their plush duvets, or showered in their Kohler-outfitted bathrooms.
Posted rates put you in a tiny but pleasant room for under 400RMB, a Deluxe King for under 600RMB, and a Business Suite for under 800RMB. Rooms Manager Dave Fan told us that they will meet any price posted by CTRIP, and while there is a 15% service charge we suspect that this is negotiable in advance. Views from the rooms are appreciably less than scenic, but we would definitely have friends or family stay here. Queen’s Park (huanghou gongyuan,皇后公园) is surrounded by a solid range of cafés and good restaurants, and is close to everything (West Lake/Hubin Road is a fifteen minute walk down WulinRd.) without being very far from just about anywhere you might want to go via the Pondville metro.
The rooms are all officially non-smoking, but arrangements can be made for a smoking room. Parking limited to what is nearby on Wuling Road. Earliest check-in is listed as 2pm, latest check-out is at noon. Very private with satisfactory English-language services. The Fengqi Road metro station on Yan’an Road is roughly a ten minute walk from the hotel, which is much closer than the Wulin Square stop. Room security appears to be very good.