Better reserve your hotel for the Beijing Olympics right now

Because in 2008, there simply aren’t going to be enough beds, unless you want to sleep in a hostel or flophouse dormitory. Or a park bench.

Beijing is not planning to construct new hotels for the 2008 Olympics, even though a quarter million foreign visitors are expected for the world’s largest sports event.

Officials are not losing any sleep over where all the foreigners are going to stay, since there are nearly 490,000 beds throughout the city, the Xinhua news agency reported.

That impressive number is arrived at by counting absolutely everything the city’s hospitality sector has to offer, including one-star hotels and hostels of varying quality, according to the agency.

Even so, there may not be enough beds to go around, as domestic visitors plus the normal tourist inflow will boost demand in 2008 to 550,000, Xinhua said.

Somehow, I can’t imagine the type of tourists who can afford to travel to Beijing for the Olympics being delighted with staying in a 1-start Chinese hotel. (I’ve seen a 2-star hotel in China, and don’t even want to think about what a 1-star would be like. Shudder.)

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 12 Comments

OOOF – I think I’ll crash with friends…

October 30, 2005 @ 12:38 am | Comment

Oh man–it ought to be a real hoot; I hear echoes of “I told you so!”

October 30, 2005 @ 12:45 am | Comment

A Beijing-ren told me that there’s a scheme whereby ordinary people will be allowed to rent out beds in their homes to tourists. This lady (an ex-student of mine) was really excited about the prospect of hosting foreign guests.

October 30, 2005 @ 12:45 am | Comment

Well that would be a great way of promoting internationl understanding indeed. Only obstacle I see is that Beijing ren would have to learn how to make a decent western breakfast. :)

October 30, 2005 @ 1:21 am | Comment

While Chinese and backpackers might be happy to sleep four or more to a room, I can’t see up market US tourists doing it.

October 30, 2005 @ 5:11 am | Comment

I’ve just had a REALLY horrible thought.

Exactly how many of those 490,000 bed will be serviced by a WESTERN TOILET.

Just imagine it, Bob and Wanda Megabucks from Texas being told that they are going to have to squat over something with no seat.

I can just hear the cries now, “#$%@ backwards Commie, no #$% seat. I’m not $%^ going to squat over no $%^$ hole in the %$#%$^ ground”

October 30, 2005 @ 5:17 am | Comment

Hey, it’s all part of the charm. Something to share with the folks back home.

October 30, 2005 @ 6:08 am | Comment

Meh, why pay to go across to the other side of the world, sleep in over-priced hotels, buy over-priced tickets, food, etc when you can watch what you want from the comfort of your own home?

I’ll be going back to China in a few years time, but it won’t be in 2008 to watch the Olympics. There’s much more to do in China than that!

I’m going to save up for London 2012 ;)

October 30, 2005 @ 7:04 am | Comment

I have a feeling that Beijing is going to be an Olympics like no one has ever seen before. It should be quite something. I’m looking forward to watching coverage of it on my TV, although I probably won’t watch any of the sporting events, if you get my meaning.

October 30, 2005 @ 9:36 am | Comment

3 * or above hotels will all have flush toilets. and are as good as a cheap motel in US.

that probably represents half of the total number of rooms in that 550k figure.

so westerner will stay at 3*+
and local ppl in 1/2*.

there is no need to worry and panic. the market will always take care of itself.

October 30, 2005 @ 3:16 pm | Comment

The facilities will probably be ok, Sun Bin, you’re right. However, I still don’t think those numbers add up.

Having said that, does this “no new hotels” take into account ones that are being built right now (such as the oddly-named Versace Hotel on Sanlitun)? If not, there’s probably a good few beds there that haven’t been accounted for yet.

October 31, 2005 @ 12:07 am | Comment

China should take a leaf out of Japan’s book and build pod hotels. Admitidely you don’t get anywhere to sit back and relax in private, but who’s going to do that anyway when you’ve got Beijing at your finger tips.

They sure beat dorms.

I would offer to rent out a spare room, but I don’t live in Beijing right now. Maybe if I did I could pretend that I was mainland and rip some silly tourists off by pretending that I was renting them a room in a traditional Chinese household (cue Mao turning in his class coffin at the thought of me pretending to be a mainland Chinese).

November 1, 2005 @ 6:41 am | Comment

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