Because it’s peak travel season I’ll give a few of my thoughts about hotels in HH and travel beyond.
First, my brief review of some of Hohhot’s larger hotels:
Shang-ri-la: This one definitely has the best reputation, but probably also the highest prices. The hotel staff probably have the highest English level. I haven’t personally seem a room but I’ve heard no complaints and the photos I’ve seen were impressive. We like it because the few times we’ve been there, they let us park our trike up front near the door whereas some of the other hotels make anyone not driving a car go park in the far back and use the employee back entrance.
Inner Mongolia: The restaurants are fantastic. Again, I haven’t personally seem a room but I’ve heard no complaints. The service doesn’t rank as high as some of the others in my opinion. (See above comment regarding parking in the back) English level of staff seems fair.
Jin Jiang International: (not to be confused with Jin Jiang Zhi Xing, a chain hotel with many branches in HH) Rooms are very nice. The construction is newer than many of the others in this list and therefore some features seem nicer and cleaner than the others. English level of staff isn’t great.
Phoenix: I can’t offer a fair unbiased view on this one since I was previously employed here. Rooms are great and most have undergone recent renovation and upgrading. Restaurants are great, service is fantastic, and English level is good.
Holiday Inn: My impression (no facts to verify) is that more foreigners stay here than anywhere else. Rooms are great, service is satisfactory, location is in the most crowded area of the city.
Sheraton: I haven’t seen a room. I wish I had something good to say, but my personal experience wasn’t good. Again, we had to park around back and use the employee entrance when we tried to eat, then we were turned away from eating at the restaurant because of a group booking and the cleanliness of the bathroom wasn’t just bad for a fancy hotel, it was bad for China. However, I do know others who have had good experiences.
Travel outside of Hohhot:
The grasslands are the biggest attraction. If you want to see the touristy yurts, ride a horse, and eat an overpriced meal, any travel agency can arrange that for you.
If you just want to see the grasslands (a vast expanse of prairies) my personal recommendation is that you rent a car and driver and drive there yourself.
Most travel agencies have partnerships with specific places to eat, ride horses, see a show, etc and even if they discount the price of the actual travel the cost will more than be made up for in the price of the other attractions. If you hire a car/driver you will need to tell them up front you don’t want to go to the tourist places or they will still try to take you there.
Travelers, if you have questions leave a comment or post in the forum. Locals, what other advice would you give travelers?