I’m a big proponent that anyone who wants to should be able to travel. There are options for almost every budget. But budget doesn’t have to be like this…
On the first night of my trip I spent a night in the infamous Chungking Mansion, Hong Kong’s cheapest accommodation. It was an easy option that would suffice until we formed a plan for our stay. We selected a triple private because dorms were almost entirely booked, and the triple private wasn’t much more.
We paid 400 HKD for the night, that’s roughly $52 USD, which came out to around $17 per person. On January 2, when all the hotels were still boasting New Years holiday prices, that was the cheapest we could find to book online.
I know you’re supposed to book in person so you can haggle the price down, but the one guy running about 5 of the 10 hostels in the mansion was pretty hard to track down at midnight (we found him sleeping on the floor behind the counter on floor 3). I doubt he would have entertained our bargaining. And arriving that late in a city, I like to have my bed guaranteed.
And that is exactly what the Chungking Mansion offered and no more, a bed.
When we arrived at the entrance, we were greeted by a hoard of rough and tumble guys sitting around on the steps. Inside the Chungking Mansion we started looking for block E. The “mansion,” which is more part bazaar, part food court, part hostel than mansion, is divided into blocks with elevators delivering you upwards in each sector.
Or you can take the stairs but they’re wet, filled with garbage, covered in colorful splatter and house the occasional homeless sleeper. We got stuck taking the stairs for all but one or two trips because the elevators were so packed – and once a man had the entire thing filled to the brim with garbage bags. I’m not sure how he fit.
After hunting down the reception desk, we were left to try our keycard on every door until one beeped green. We found it on the 7th floor. Our momentary relief was diminished the second we swung open our door to find two double beds leaving a few feet of floor space. I pulled up the sheets to check for bugs and immediately regret my decision.
There weren’t bugs but there were plenty of stray hairs and a sprawled collection of stains – I’ll spaire you those photos. We recovered the beds quickly, covered them with towels and (I can’t believe I’m admitting this) laid down to sleep. It was around 2 am at this point and after 24 hours of travel we were exhausted. Quite possibly the worst sleep of my life between the jetlag, the creepy room and the fact that I refused to pull on a blanket.
I told myself I would go for the budget option, and I did. I gave it a try and now I can firmly say that in Hong Kong I don’t recommend it. It is not worth it, there are so many better options.
For me better options offer good location, great service, friendly staff, clean spaces and social environments. It requires a lot of searching and sometimes I have to compromise on that. But I draw the line at cleanliness.
First thing in the morning we grabbed our unpacked bags and fled the mansion in hopes of never returning. And the funny part is our new hotel, the Butterfly on Hollywood, cost us 1633.50 HKD for three nights. That’s roughly $25 per night each. Only $8 more per person!
It’s in a great location on Hong Kong Island and we’ve had so much fun exploring this side of the city. And our room is shockingly big! We have a desk and a kitchenette area. A big bathroom, a closet and room to stretch. The local park stretches out beneath our window. Talk about an upgrade. It’s amazing what $8 more will get you in this town.
Where do you draw the line for budget accommodation? Have you had a horrifying experience or are you an expert at finding the amazing places on the cheap?