Today we will have a brief look on hotel car services via Limousine and how it can actually make sense to utilize them.
Most if not all international hotels offer you car service to and from the airport with largely unattractive rates. Additional services such as an immigration fast track could make it worthwhile though.
We all have seen or even received offers from hotels advertising expensive airport pick up’s that usually goes well beyond the 100-150 USD mark. Even if this transfer is handled with a Mercedes S Class or BMW 7 I find these prices out of touch for a 20-30km drive that takes 45 min at the maximum.
Most people I talk to agree with this with the prevailing argument being that as long as I drive a nice car at home I don’t need fancy limousines for a brief airport transfer, especially if the money is coming out of the individuals own pocket.
There are some circumstances however when I found it’s worth to take another look at these services. One of these situations are when you land at under developed airports or those that are notorious for their horrible immigration lines and the Limousine Service includes pick up at the arrival gate. Usually that is associated with a Fast Track through immigration.
I have used this service before at the Fairmont Beijing, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and St. Regis Bali. While not cheap (around 110$ for the service per car), this service really makes your arrival experience more bearable especially if you are on vacation.
Another situation is if you are in a very busy city such as Beijing and you need to drive around for a few hours to take care of things, have an appointment and want a car standing by etc.
I’m currently at the Westin Beijing Financial Street and found this flyer on my desk which seems to be a very reasonable offer to me.
It offers an Audi A6 / BMW 5 for 500 CNY for 2 hours, 800 for 4 hours and 1,500 for a full day of 8 hours as well as a single transfer in the inner city for 200 CNY from 5-7pm (a time where traffic in Beijing more or less stands still). A single airport transfer is priced at 750 CNY which seems a bit expensive compared the other services though.
For a car that is well taken care of I find this a very decent offer. Something similar was available at the W Bangkok not too long ago. It gives you the extra bit of flexibility without having to deal with taxis (which are more often than not in a desolate state, especially in cities like Bangkok and Beijing).
A more price sensitive option for simple one way journeys would be UBER where available. I have written about this previously (see here). It’s fast, convenient and available at a moments notice plus you don’t need cash. However it requires a wireless or cellphone (data) connection. In Beijing UBER Black is usually an Audi A6 so not much difference to the hotel car.
If you have not registered for UBER yet and want to try it, feel free to use this promotional link and receive a 20$ welcome credit.
Hotel Car Service is not always the stereotype rip-off but you really have to compare or maybe ask the concierge or duty manager if they can make you a special price off the usually inflated prices. Especially if you are a loyal guest they might be able to do something for you.
Some hotels outsource these services to an external company while others maintain a small fleet of 2-3 luxury cars for these purposes (they also often double as a company car to shuttle the GM around).