Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston
After visiting the local home, we were all ready to get to the hotel that would be our home for the next three nights, the Shangri-La Lhasa. Nothing in the city of Lhasa is very far away from anything else so it didn’t take us long to reach the hotel’s drive. The hotel is on a fairly major street but has a high wall between the sidewalk and the hotel. The end of the hotel that’s closest to the street is actually part of the conference center so there’s no need to worry about any traffic noise – not that I think it would truly be an issue.
The hotel’s drive continues down beside the building all the way past the conference wing to the lobby. The lobby itself was quite large with numerous seating spaces available. To the left was the buffet restaurant, Altitude. A jag left from there and then straight ahead and you were in the conference wing.
To the right of the front door the lobby continued a bit then turned left toward the front desk and the concierge. Jack got us all checked in and handed out our room keys. We passed the desks, turned right and found the elevator lobby on our left.
I loved the Tibetan decor we found throughout the hotel. It’s different from what we Westerners typically think of as Chinese because, of course, Tibet was at one time its own country and the region has its own traditions.
Each floor had its own elevator lobby with seating by large windows. From our lobby window we could see the Potala Palace that we’d be visiting in a couple of days.
The hallways were long and dark with thick carpeting. We weren’t entirely sure if that’s because the carpets weren’t especially clean or if they were just saving electricity. The hallways were U-shaped and we had to first turn left from the elevators and walk across the base of the U and then turn right and pass a few doors to reach our room. I later learned that some of our folks actually got the suites at the end of the hall. On one hand it was nice to have all the extra room; on the other it was a looong walk to get to the elevator!
This was my favorite of the hotels we had visited so far. I loved the local touches that in some ways reminded me of Native American decor we sometimes see out west on our ski trips.
Our room had the typical hotel room setup: bathroom on the right, wardrobe on the left and past that the bed area with the TV, drawers and tables, etc.
The beds were quite comfortable and each bed had a night stand with a plug. While more than one plug is needed, at least we got that much.
The wall had decorations that fit in well with the room’s decor and on one night stand was a humidifier. We didn’t realize it at the time, but the bedside lamps were patterned after the prayer wheels that we’d see later on at the temples.
Since it was daylight outside the photos didn’t come out too well, but next to the window were two chaise longues with a table between them.
And sitting on the table was something I’d never seen before in a hotel room: bottled oxygen. The hotel had a doctor on site and panic buttons both beside the bed and in the bathroom just in case there was an emergency involving altitude sickness (AS). While I’ve had AS on ski trips, it usually lasted just the day we arrived or at most 24 hours. But I’ve never been at this high an altitude for this length of time and my stomach felt fluttery the entire time we were in Lhasa. I didn’t have much of an appetite (which wasn’t all bad) but I just never felt 100%. I did use one of the oxygen bottles but couldn’t really tell that it made much of a difference. It surely didn’t settle my stomach.
Our particular room didn’t have a view of the Potala Palace but we did have the mountains.
Across from the beds was a long counter, under which were a number of drawers as well as the mini-fridge. This hotel had the best storage of anywhere we stayed. At the far left of the counter was a chest with a flip up top and that could be used for storage too. One of the drawers held the supplies for coffee and tea that went with the coffee machine sitting on top of the counter by the bottled water.
The closet was a nice size and came with bathrobes and slippers for each of us.
Beside that was this section of the unit.
The cloth-covered items were drawers but behind the metal panel was the safe. Have I mentioned how much I liked these local touches to the room decor?
The bathroom had just one sink but ample counter space to either side and a shelf below it.
Across from the sink, behind a clear partition was the toilet.
Straight ahead when entering the bathroom was the shower stall with a hand-held unit that could have its height adjusted as needed.
There was also a bench (yay, somewhere to prop my leg when shaving!) and this pot-thing with a scoop that had its own water spigot and a drain in the pot. I assume this would be used to turn the shower into a sauna but we never tried to use it for that purpose so I’m not totally sure.
The toiletries worked well enough and were made for Shangri-La. The packaged items (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.) were all the same brand that we’d seen at the hotel in Xi’an.
We had breakfast in the Altitude buffet restaurant each morning and we ate there a couple of nights as well. Even though my stomach wasn’t 100% I figured I really needed to try local food and decided that yak couldn’t really be all that different from the beef I was used to having, and it wasn’t. One of our group tried the chicken feet and said he liked the ones he’d had in San Francisco better. There was also lotus root and some more local specialties along with plenty of recognizable fare.
On the same level as Altitude but in the conference wing was Shambala, a restaurant serving Nepalese and Tibetan food. Down on the first floor of the conference wing was Shu Garden that served both classic Sichuan dishes as well as hotpot meals along with Cantonese and Tibetan specialties.
One feature unique to this hotel is its oxygen lounge down on the first level beneath the guest rooms. It is basically several small connected rooms with a number of couches and chairs where folks can relax for awhile and replenish their blood’s oxygen content. Entry is via two sets of doors that help insure the extra O2 being pumped in is not escaping. After a day of sightseeing it was a nice quiet place to relax for about 30 minutes and recharge.
Gym and Pool
The hotel also had a small indoor pool with a dedicated lane for lap swimmers.
The weather while we were in Lhasa was just beautiful so we did a little exploring of its courtyard. This pagoda was set in the middle of a lovely landscaped area.
We climbed some stairs and found ourselves outside the lobby bar on a patio that had a couple of different seating arrangements as well as some covered seating.
There wasn’t really much of a business center, just these two computers available as needed.
Lodging is fairly cheap in Lhasa and even these rooms can be found for under $100 per night but you get a LOT for your money. Of course half the trick is being permitted to go to Lhasa. In addition to obtaining a Chinese visa ($200+) you must also get a permit for Tibet and that permit information must reach your tour operator no less than 45 days before your trip begins. One of our group still carries a British passport and Jack told him that tour operators in Great Britain were not allowed to sell the Roof of the World trip because China is still upset with them over offering the Dalai Lama refuge. But since our member purchased his trip through a US agent it was acceptable. Keep in mind that the Dali Lama left Tibet in 1959.
Trip Advisor rates this the number 2 hotel in Lhasa and I can see why. It’s a great value and though I doubt I’ll ever be in Lhasa again, I’d be happy to stay here if I do make it back.