Hotel Wi-Fi Review: Cosmo Hotel and Vela Hotel, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

The Cosmo Hotel sits one minute up the road from the larger Cosmopolitan Hotel, Wan Chai. Cosmo is a boutique hotel and benefits from shuttle transport from the Hong Station MTR (via its sister hotel Cosmopolitan), proximity to Times Square, Wan Chai MRT and Causeway Bay MRT, and stylized but small rooms. Cross the street via the underpass and walk 2 minutes gets you to the less showy but more practical Vela Hotel.


 


As with many hotels in mainland China, booking via Ctrip or a China-based site will get you a better deal than using Western booking sites. If you try to get a room by walking into Cosmo Hotel, the receptionist will offer you a price that is four or five times the Internet rate. My companion reserved a room for the Vela Hotel on the same night I was checking in via a China hotel site and I got it for less than 300RMB (USD$47.00). The Vela Hotel didn't ask for a deposit but just took an image of my credit card. The Cosmo Hotel was somewhat stricter and actually charged my friend's card as a deposit with reimbursement occurring after a period of time.

Note: Cosmo Hotel's deposit policy was extremely unusual and my companion wasn't happy with it. Perhaps cash as a deposit was a better option.

The Cosmo Hotel is fairly new and visitors will notice it immediately. It suffers from the same problem plaguing HK hotels back in the 80s - the room is extremely small. This shouldn't bother you, however, since the rooms are clean and comfortable while providing a power strip, power adapter and the usual toiletries.


 


A "Handy" smartphone is provided for both the Cosmo and Vela. "Handy" is a preconfigured Android device loaded with maps, a locked GPS service and updated information regarding events and locations in Hong Kong. You can bring the device along with you as you travel around Hong Kong. I had a notion that this was one of Hong Kong Tourism Board's attempts to propping up the somewhat crippled tourism industry of the once popular city.


 

The Handy smartphone and the Ethernet port at Vela hotel.


The Wi-Fi service in Cosmo Hotel is limited to one device. If you need Wi-Fi for a second or third device, you'll have to fork over some cash ($30HKD or roughly USD$4 an hour). This method of making a bit more money for the hotel and preventing Internet abuse by tourists is becoming more and more common, but it can still be annoying for Westerners accustomed to unlimited Internet access.


 


Considering the price, Cosmo Hotel has a strangely paranoid practice of issuing only one magnetic key card. If your companion arrives separately from you and asks another card from the front desk, you're going to get locked out and you'll have to visit the receptionist yourself.

Cosmo Hotel's breakfast isn't a huge spread but they do have a pancake machine, strong coffee, salads, pastry and a pretty good selection of dimsum. You can go through the day and skip lunch after feasting on their breakfast buffet. The breakfast area is converted to part of the Cosmo Bar in the evening. The Vela Hotel doesn't provide breakfast although they also have a bar on the first floor.

According to the receptionist during my check-in at the Vela Hotel, my basic room was bumped up one type higher, which was both welcome and unnecessary for me. Still, I was surprised as to how big and well-furnished the room was in comparison to my companion's room at the Cosmo. I had great view of the racecourse and a similar "Handy" smartphone at my desk. The price I paid was several hundred HKD cheaper than the Cosmo but the location and room was similar, if not superior to the Cosmo (though there was no breakfast).


 

Vela Hotel room.


One particular aspect that made me realize that the Vela Hotel was a better choice was due to the Wi-Fi service. Not only was it faster, the network allowed more than one device. In fact, I was able to update and install  Android apps on my Sony Xperia C3, which I knew wouldn't have access to Google Play once I returned to Guangzhou. Normally, I wouldn't abuse a hotel Internet's service, but I was so disappointed with the HP Stream 8 I purchased at Times Square that I upgraded from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 on my second evening at the Vela.


 

I'm ashamed to admit I upgraded the Stream 8 to Windows 10 using the hotel Wi-Fi.


The Vela Hotel also has an Ethernet port with an Ethernet cable in the room. Considering how I made full use of the Wi-Fi, however, I only briefly connected my Toshiba NB520 with Debian 8 Jessie to the port.

All in all, the Wi-Fi service and comfortable room was more than enough to convince me to return to the Vela if I ever visited Hong Kong again. The Cosmo Hotel was fine and the breakfast is advantageous if you like the convenience of an early morning meal, but make sure you get a good deal before booking.

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