Review: Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen

Introduction: Too Low for a Tulou
Cathay Dragon 602 A320 Economy Class Hong Kong to Xiamen
Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen
Fuxinglou Tulou Yunshuiyao
Hakka Capital Hot Springs Resort
Cathay Dragon 603 A320 Economy Class Xiamen to Hong Kong

I always get excited every time we get booked into a real hotel. The hotel I stayed in for the bulk of my time in Myanmar last year, the Hotel Umbra Bagan, was amazing, whereas the hotel I stayed in three years ago, the Toong Mao Evergreen Hotel, was kind of a laughing stock. Maybe that’s just a function of the city’s economy every time, but it does get exciting.

It did seem like the hotel would fit in the latter category when I first saw it from the outside. We weren’t notified of the hotel we’d be staying at in Xiamen, so it didn’t look like a random hole-in-the-wall in mainland China would fit in the “best hotel of the year” category.

img_3146Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Exterior

Two questions popped up in my mind as we entered. Who/what/where was Barkla? And, more importantly, what the hell was a “concept hotel”?

The lobby of the hotel feels more like a warehouse than anything, but that just added to the excitement. ūüėČ After all,¬†CAS weeks aren’t just the hotels – if they were, we’d have been booked into the Westin.

img_3147Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Lobby

We were assigned room 1812, which was on the fourth floor (again, ???). The hotel features one clunky elevator, which fits around seven people. There were front stairs, though, which I definitely found a more convenient means to get to my room, even with my heavy luggage at hand.

When I reached the lift lobby on the fourth floor, though, I was pleasantly surprised. The lift lobby featured an area that was very tastefully decorated, with sofas and chairs (none of which were exceptionally comfortable, but I appreciate them trying). We hung here for the majority of our free time.

img_3166Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Lift Lobby

img_3167Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Lift Lobby

img_3173Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Lift Lobby

img_3174Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Lift Lobby

I’m not sure what to say about the actual hallways. They’re almost impractically snazzy…

img_3165Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Hallways

Our room wasn’t too hard to find, as it was right by the lift lobby. The reception provided us with a code, which we had to use every time we entered the room (it kind of felt like a love hotel with two beds, but I’m not going that far…).

img_3148Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Entrance

Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen
Check-in: Sunday, November 13, 2016
Room Type: Modern Room
Room Number: 1812
Stay duration: 1 night
Check-out: Monday, November 14, 2016

The room featured an entryway. To the right was the bathroom, and the room was right in front.

img_3162 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Entryway

The room was a good size and definitely didn’t look horrific, but some of the decorations were kind of bizarre. For one, the room was completely white, which certainly didn’t help the stains that were evident across the room.

img_3149 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room

I know that they want this to be a “concept hotel”, but I’m not sure how pictures of London contribute to the legitimacy of the hotel. I guess it has something to do with being a “modern room”, but it just felt like a mismatch given that we were in southern China.

img_3150 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room

Moving on from the bizarre decor and focusing on the rest of the room, it actually wasn’t too shabbily furnished. The room featured two decent beds, a flatscreen TV, and a desk/chair. I appreciate that both the power ports by the bed and the power ports by the table worked.

img_3151 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Bed

We didn’t end up watching anything on the TV, but it didn’t seem to be mounted especially safely, in the sense that if you accidentally banged into it while trying to pick something up, the TV would probably fall on you.

img_3152 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Flatscreen TV

The desk featured a rather comfortable chair, but the desk itself wasn’t thin enough for my liking, so there wasn’t enough space for my legs when I was working at the table. I will say, though, that the blackout blinds are excellent.

img_3155 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Desk

In terms of the free amenities, free Lipton’s tea and bottles of water were available, as you’d expect at any hotel.

img_3153 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Amenities

There was also a basket that acted as a minibar, which consisted of other different food and drinks. I find that pretty interesting as well, to say the least, as these weren’t your typical chilled drinks, but rather consisted of a higher quality bottle of water, as well as a few snacks.

img_3154 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Minibar

I was most pleasantly surprised by the bathroom, which was really nicely furnished and went beyond my expectations on how clean and modern it was. The bathroom featured a sink, a toilet and a walk-in shower of a good size.

img_3157 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Bathroom Sink

img_3158 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Bathroom Toilet

The walk-in shower was probably the surprise of the night. Not only was it clean and modern (though I did hear roommate Jenkin scream that there were “stained boogers” on the wall), but the actual shower was big and featured genuinely good water pressure.

img_3156 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Bathroom Walk-in Shower

img_3159 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Bathroom Walk-in Shower

The surprises didn’t extend to the toiletries, though, which were unfortunately trash.

img_3160 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Bathroom Toiletries

It’s worth noting that the door is pretty hard to lock, so we just gave up locking the door eventually and resorted to just keeping each other out.

img_3163 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room Closet Hangers

In terms of views, I guess our room delivered, as we could see how green Xiamen was – so green that trees covered anything that we wanted to see. The actual street views weren’t so great to begin with, so I’m not complaining, but out of all the views I’ve had this year, I wouldn’t have expected a Chinese hotel to offer a tree-blocked view.

img_3164Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Modern Twin Room View

Overall, I do feel like they threw a little bit of money away by offering one of the weirdest rooms I’ve stayed in in a while. The pictures of London were kind of ridiculous and felt like a last-minute attempt to throw some color into the otherwise sterile room, and the room itself was just white as a sheet, which didn’t help with all the stains that were present. It was way¬†more than I expected for the price we got (~HK$170), though it wouldn’t have cost the hotel much more to take the modernity that we saw from the lift lobby and the hallways into the rooms as well.

It’s worth noting that the hotel offers WiFi, but it’s wildly inconsistent, so don’t expect to do any work there. I wasn’t expecting to, but I did end up having to do a little bit of work, as I knew that the WiFi by the countryside would be even worse. There’s also no service at all apart from at the front desk, but I mean, what was I expecting?

The immediate area outside the hotel is quite nice, and the hotel is pretty close to the city center. We were 15 minutes from the ferry terminal at the city center and 20 minutes from the airport, which is pretty impressive.

img_3175 Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Outside View

img_3176Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen Outside View

Bottom Line

Ultimately I feel like the Barkla Concept hotel is a try-hard hotel that tried to be dainty and modern at the same time but¬†completely failed by adding in all the wrong decorations they could. While the actual lift lobby and the hallways were great, the rooms were just confusing. They were comfortable to stay in and the decor certainly didn’t ruin the experience, but it was a little weird given how much potential the hotel could have had (it’s evident they had quite a bit of money to spend on decor, as their “higher level rooms” are¬†much nicer). The lobby and exterior are definitely clunky and made me feel like the experience was a joke, but overall it was interesting to stay at one of these hole-in-the-walls.

While the rate was unbeatable, I have to say that it wasn’t one of the better hotel stays of the year, and I would certainly fork out for a better, more reputable hotel with family. It is one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had in terms of staying at a city hotel, and I know I may be staying at these more in the future, so I guess it was a good “starting point” to what true budget hotels are like.

Any thoughts?

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