Long story short, I wanted to try a nice hotel in China, and the Westin Tianjin was just a good place for me. Ever since I got my Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, I have been longingly looking using my points. The SPG system has been hailed as one of the best hotel rewards systems in the US. It’s currently in the process of a major merge with Marriott and Ritz-Carlton. So, I wanted to try out a hotel before then!
I had been wanting to go to Tianjin for the longest time. It’s only a half hour’s train ride away from Beijing, where I’m living! A coworker told me that I should stay two days, so I started looking for a place to stay. I am typically a hostel girl so I can spend my money on other things. But I figured, it’s only one day! Why not?
*P.S. This stay was not compted by SPG or the Westin in any way!
Booking the Westin Tianjin
[This section is mostly about using SPG points. Even if you’re not a frequent hotel visitor, it’s good to collect points when you can! If you’re not interested, move to the next section.]
Since I knew I wanted to use my SPG points, I searched for all the SPG properties in Tianjin. I noticed that there are currently 5 SPG hotels in the city. I chose the Westin Tianjin because of its price (category 2, so 4000 points instead of category 3 at 7000) and location (across the street from Five Great Avenues). The St. Regis is right on the riverfront and the Astor Hotel is a historical landmark, but the Westin gave me better point redemption value.
[Recommended Read: Guide to the Train Between Beijing and Tianjin]
Points v. Points + Cash
When using hotel points, you can choose to book with points only or use some cash and cover the rest with points. For the Westin Tianjin, the rate for the night was approximately $110. If I had purchased the room with points only the 4,000 points would have been worth $0.025 each. Not too bad! However, the points + cash option was even better. It was 2,000 points and $35. That means the 2,000 points would have been worth $75, or $0.0375. Almost 4 cents each – aka fantastic value.
The prices didn’t include breakfast, but that was fine with me. More info on SPG booking, especially with points + cash here!
The Westin Tianjin Lobby and Service
The hotel is a really large one, with almost 20 floors. I expected to be able to see it in the skyline on my way, but the signage is sparse. You can only see the “Westin Tianjin” label on one side of the building rather than all sides. Still, it has a very nice building front and lobby!
The service that I received was average. I arrived to the front desk to check in, and there were two staff there. It look a minute to get their attention and start the check in process, even though only one of them was busy. Perhaps it was because I’ve been told I look about 12 and look like a backpacker, but I don’t think that should have mattered. I expect to be treated like any other customer.
The overall check in process was smooth. It took just a couple minutes, and then the staff asked me for a payment method. I pulled out my SPG American Express credit card, which clearly had a chip and a magnetic strip. However, she was confused and asked whether this was a membership card. I would accept something like that from a different hotel chain (if I had tried to use the SPG Amex at a Hilton, for example, but not from the hotel of the same brand. She also seemed to be confused about how I would pay, seeing as I used half points and half cash, even though that shouldn’t be a very confusing situation given she worked at the hotel.
[Recommended Read: Itinerary: A Day Trip to Tianjin]
The Westin Tianjin Room: King Bed
Outside the Room
The elevator and the hallways of the hotel were immaculate. The elevator made me feel really cool because they only stop at the room floors if you set your key card on it! They also had some nice decor.
In the Room
When I walked into the room itself, I absolutely loved it! It was super classy looking and very clean. What stood out to me the most was the bathroom. It had three separate sections – one bath, one toilet, and one shower. The bathroom was separated from the bed by a glass wall. Since I stayed by myself, I just kept the glass wall open, making the room feel bigger than it was. If you are staying with more people, the glass has a sliding metal curtain controlled by buttons on the wall!
The bed itself was super comfortable. It was a little chilly because of the weather outside, but it felt really nice to be lying in it! I was like sleeping on a cloud, I swear. The bed was also great because there were several different lights that I could choose from. The room had a regular lamp next to the bed on both sides, but also a reading light. For people who like to sleep with some light, there was a nightlight option as well. For this, the room had a small light that went behind the drawer, so it would be shining directly on your face.
Like any other hotel room, I also had a small desk. The chair for the desk was very ergonomic, and the side wall had controls for the shades on the windows! The shades left slight slivers of room for light to come into the room in the morning, but they weren’t too bad.
The room also had a nice TV, drawers, and mini fridge. The fridge and some drawers had food and snacks, with a list for all the prices. No confusion about what things would cost, which is very important!
As it should be, everything had both English and Chinese. This is a definite expectation for the rooms.
[Recommended Read: Street Food Guide: Tianjin, China]
The Only Okay
I didn’t have a great view outside. Even though I could see the edge of the Five Great Avenues to the side, there was an office building directly across from me. Because many Chinese people work until 8 pm or later, they stay in there and can see into your room. There is a sheer curtain that can block their view, but it’s always nicer to be able to see unencumbered out onto the city.
The bathroom, when I came in, had two complimentary bottles of water. That was really nice, but I was puzzled to see it was missing shampoo and conditioner bottles. I hadn’t brought any, so that was a bummer.
There was also a nice iPod dock clock that could have worked for charging my phone and/or connecting to the room’s sound system, but it had the iPhone 4/old port! The majority of people no longer have those phones; it’s definitely time for an upgrade there.
I visited Tianjin in early November, when it’s cold enough to turn on the heat. I wanted to get some heat in the room, but the thermostat was weird; and the buttons didn’t have either Chinese or English. Because I couldn’t figure it out, the air blew but it wasn’t the temperature I wanted.
The Power Outlets: The Biggest Problem
The power outlets in the room were a bit of a mystery. I expected them to be more plentiful, but they weren’t. There weren’t any power outlets by the bed except the ones hidden behind the drawer table. To access them, I had to unplug the room phone (the outlets were all full). I could get my phone charged only by leaning to the side of the bed. Likewise, the plugs at the desk were subpar. They had several USB outlets, but none of them worked because my charger cords kept falling out. Instead, I had to use the only regular outlet that was working. It was okay because I found two outlets for my phone and power pack, but if I had been staying with other people and brought my laptop, that would start to get crowded.
[Recommended Read: Itinerary: Hits and Misses of Two Days in Tianjin, China]
The Westin Tianjin Amenities and Food
Overall, the amenities were good. In the room they offered all kinds of room service and packages like massages. In the hotel, you could visit the gym or the pool. They also had several different restaurants, including a Chinese and an Italian restaurant. I walked around the immediate vicinity of the hotel outside and didn’t come across a nice restaurant, so I decided to try out the Italian restaurant, aka Prego.
Prego: The Italian Restaurant
The Westin Tianjin restaurant opened at 6 pm for dinner, and I was hungry already so I went shortly after that. The staff was very friendly and the space was quite nice, but it was a little weird because I was the only diner for a good amount of time. Still, the restaurant overall was pricy but pretty good. The waiter only spoke Chinese, but the menu was in both English and Chinese. There was a list of wines as well.
I had been craving some chicken fettuccine alfredo and haven’t found a good restaurant for it in Beijing, so I ordered that! I got a free appetizer of bread and olive oil while I waited. The waiter was also very attentive, filling my water glass (not water from the sink) constantly. When the pasta arrived, I was pleasantly surprised, for the most part. The noodles and sauce were pretty high quality, and definitely something I would order again. The chicken was not so much, tasting more like ham cubes that you would put in a kid’s macaroni and cheese than chicken that you typically find at a 5-star (or at least 4-star) hotel. The portion was also small, especially considering its ¥91 price tag. But overall, I enjoyed the meal, and only wish they had better dessert options.
[Recommended Read: Guide to Tianjin’s Shi Family Courtyard (In Pictures)]
The Other Amenities at the Westin Tianjin
The gym and pool are on the same level. It was pretty empty when I visited, but they were both pretty nice. The gym had a good variety of equipment. The Westing Tianjin offers an athletic clothes service, where they will bring you a set of workout clothes and shoes for you to use during your stay for just ¥30-40. It doesn’t sound like a half bad service, but I’m just not quite sure about using clothes and shoes that other people have sweated in.
[Recommended Read: Porcelain House: Tianjin’s Gorgeous China Museum in Photos!]
The Final Verdict
Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again. The Westin Tianjin is a nice place if you really want to relax while you see Tianjin. Some of the things you can consider:
The Reasons I Would Visit Again
- Location – walking distance the Five Great Avenues, Garden of Serenity, Porcelain House, and Catholic Church. A bit far from the train station, but it worked for me.
- Comfort – just yes. It was very comfortable. 10/10 would recommend, especially for the felt chair in the corner of the room.
- Service – not perfect, but I had no real problems from the time I checked in to the time I checked out.
The Reasons I Would Stay Somewhere Else
- Location – if you want to make the most of Tianjin, I would recommend a place by the river. The Westin is a bit further south from most things you would probably want to see, in a neighborhood that’s pretty quiet at night.
- Tours – I didn’t see any tour information. If you’re looking to go to the Great Wall from Tianjin, or need to buy train tickets to Beijing, the 5-star hotel is more like to call you a cab rather than book the tickets for you.
- Cost – by international standards the hotel rates are not bad at all, but by Chinese standards they’re definitely high. You can get a nice room at a local, small hotel for about half the price, with breakfast. Sometimes it’s nice and worth it to pay for luxury. If you aren’t looking for that, don’t choose the Westin.
*SPG or the Westin Tianjin did not sponsor this post! I paid for this room in full.
[Recommended Read: Tianjin’s Yangliuqing New Year’s Painting Studio]
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