In the build-up to the Olympics and the Asian games of 2010 the Pearl River Delta has seen an explosion of glitzy five-star hotels (more than 30 in Guangdong province in the last three years alone with another 20 still under construction) aimed at the mega-rich business elite and local nouveau riche. For the rest of us this means that all the other hotels in the everyday price range have had any staff with an iota of experience lured away or poached by the likes of the newly opened Westins and Ritz Carltons. This leaves the inept and the incompetent to look after the rest of us, so anywhere below four-star level anticipate nonexistent English and poor customer service.

Guangzhou can be quite expensive. Don't visit in April or October when the main trade fairs are on, as you may have to pay even above rack rates. Sweltering July and August are popular with tour groups. However, from November to March, rates drop, with a further dip in December and after Chinese New Year.

This is one of the last cities where cavernous hotels with innumerable rooms and endless facilities have survived in any number. These are designed to serve the vast numbers of business people attending the main trade fairs in the last 2 weeks of October and April. These have an effect on room rates as far away as Hong Kong, and the major hotels, despite their cavernous size, are likely to be full in that period and offering no discounts. Otherwise, expect to cut 20% to 50% from the prices quoted, although major hotels also add a 10% service charge and a 5% city tax. Lesser hotels conform to normal Chinese standards by not adding service and including city tax in the quoted price.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.