Still thinking of making a last minute trip to the sailing Olympics? Check out the first in our series of guides from Nicholas Buckland
Nicholas Buckland, a self-confessed sailing fanatic, lives in Qingdao and provides his guide to where to stay during the event. In the first of a series of exclusive guides, Nicholas provides an introduction as to how to get there and where to stay.
Qingdao: An introduction
Located at the southern tip of the Shandong peninsula in North-Eastern China, Qingdao (“green island”) was, until the end of the nineteenth century, a sleepy fishing port. The city awoke with the arrival of German colonizers, with whom came industrialisation and a plan for a modern city. During the twentieth century ownership of the city changed hands no fewer than five times, finally coming under the rule of the Chinese People’s Republic soon after the end of World War II. Now a governmental ‘Special Economic and Technology Investment Zone’, the city has since seen rapid economic growth, resulting in what is now one of China’s fastest-growing financial centres, boosted by its geographical proximity to Japan and Korea. Qingdao has become a truly global city, and is twinned with some of the world’s most beautiful beach resort locations, including Long Beach in California and Acapulco in Mexico, as well as our very own (just as beautiful perhaps) Southampton. Nowadays, the city is best known for its Tsingtao beer, its beaches and, in 2008, its hosting of the Olympic Sailing Regatta for the Beijing Olympics.
Qingdao’s brand-new, multi-million pound airport is roughly 20 km from the city centre, and is approximately 45 minutes in a taxi. Most flights to Qingdao from the UK go via Beijing, and a return ticket from Heathrow is likely to cost around $1500 (750 GBP) due to the inevitable Olympic premium. Alternatively, you could stop over in Beijing, and save around $150 (75 GBP) on airfare by taking the comfortable 5hr train journey to Qingdao instead.
All hotels accept international credit cards
Crowne Plaza Qingdao
76 Hong Kong Middle Road
Tel.: ( 0086) 532 8571-8888
Standard double: 2980 RMB (200 GBP) per night 15% surcharge
Located in the heart of Qingdao’s ultra-modern business district, this 5-star hotel has a real international feel. With a German manager, it prides itself on being able to cater effectively for Western guests, and as such, the hotel boasts a whole host of bars, restaurants and even an indoor bowling alley. It will also truly embrace the sailing spirit of the city, with the lobby featuring a full-size sailing boat and large LCD screens showing coverage from the Olympic Regatta taking place just down the road at the Sailing Centre.
9 Hong Kong Middle Road
Tel.: ( 0086) 532 8388-3838
Deluxe double room: 3400 RMB (230 GBP) 15% surcharge
This hotel offers all of the facilities and attractions of the Crowne Plaza (except, unfortunately, the bowling alley), but has a far more Eastern feel; the decoration, ambience and even the traditional-style staff uniform mean you are constantly immersed in Chinese culture. The new Valley Wing also features the most luxurious and spacious rooms in the city (you even get an LCD TV in your bathroom; now that’s luxury). The hotel is running an attractive Olympic Sailing City Vacation package featuring free entrance to some of Qingdao’s major attractions, but not so attractive for fans of the actual sailing itself is that it’s unavailable in August.
Sea View Garden Hotel
2 Zhanghua Lu
Tel.: ( 0086) 532 8587-5777
Adminstrator’s executive suite: 5037 RMB (345 GBP) per night
If you fancy rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s elite sailors, this is the hotel for you; one of its seven buildings will house competitors from seven nations, including the GB team, and as such at the time of writing 80% of the rooms had already been booked, leaving only the high-end options available. However, once you are inside the complex the attraction to the Olympians becomes clear; this has the most serene and relaxing surroundings of any hotel in the city, and the name doesn’t lie; if you were located any closer to the sea you would be underwater.
48 Xiang Gang Xi Lu
Tel.: ( 0086) 532 8387-1888
Standard double room: 2600 RMB (170 GBP) per night
This massive hotel offers stunning sea views, and is well located near the Central Business District. It also features a whole host of bars and restaurants, as well as a multitude of shops on the lower floors, and has garnered an excellent local reputation for comfort and service.