We only spent one night at the Scholars and first impression was of a beautiful and elegant looking hotel. Good location and with great character. The room wasn't ready when we arrived so we had breakfast at their restaurant. There was confusion as to where breakfast was actually being served and after a few staff went backwards and forwards we managed to get to the right restaurant (there are only 2).
We ordered and one persons dish came first but the dim sum ordered didn't arrive. After my wife finished her noodles, and after asking the waitress who smiled and looked clueless, the dim sum arrived much later cold. We didn't eat it and refused to pay. Not a good start.
Friends of ours checked in and managed to get a room. When they got to the room, the door was wide open and there was plaster on the floor fallen from the ceiling. The reception were confused and seemed clueless about the repairs about to start.
When our room was ready we made our way there, and with a suitcase, baby stroller and baby in tow we were offered no assistance. The room was very nice and a baby cot was provided, but when we asked for two more bath towels as there was only one, the housekeeper gave us two small hand towels and didn't understand why that wasn't enough to bathe with. When pressed that we needed bath towels to take a shower they said they had no more. It was obviously wash day (so make sure you don't book this hotel on weekends as they run short of towels).
We also booked a car through the hotel to take us to certain locations we wanted to see. Travelling with an infant, this made it more convenient. We only wanted to visit certain places as we only had a day so told the driver where to go. After a few places he asked us if we wanted to go to a silk factory, but we weren't interested. He asked several times but we graciously declined saying we only had a limited time and wanted to see specific landmarks. But he still went on. My wife became quite annoyed. Then he pulled up at the silk factory after driving to it. We were furious, and he'd wasted time that was precious to us. We refused to go in, and then he went on about how he needed the commission. We told him to take us back to the hotel as we'd then run out of time and needed to put our daughter to bed.
We left the next morning and ordered a taxi to take us to the train station. The car arrived but refused to take us so we asked the hotel to get another one (again after much bafflement). There seemed to be lots of taxi's on the road but the hotel staff said they can't get them to come in, so we walked to the road to flag one down. A taxi came and we left.
The hotel is in a great location and is quite impressive. The rooms were nice but the service was severely lacking and the staff often clueless as if it was their first day at work. Cold food, ignorant drivers and overall poor service made what could have been an enjoyable stay unenjoyable. Towels anyone? We shall return to Suzhou, but not to Scholars.
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