Cashing in: Chinese hotels ‘almost double’ room rates over student demand to stay near gaokao venues

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2016, 2:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2016, 2:04pm

China’s gaokao, the notoriously demanding national exams that determine which university the country’s high school graduates can attend, has sparked a boom in hotel-room rates near exam venues, with some reaching thousands of yuan a night, mainland media reports.

To ensure their children had a good rest during the exams – which started on Tuesday and last two to three days – mainland parents were prepared to pay exorbitant charges for finely positioned hotel rooms that were quiet and had good feng shui, the news outlet China Economic Net reported.

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At a hotel close to the country’s elite High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China, rooms named “Gaokao Zhuangyuan”– essentially referring to the person achieving the highest exam marks – cost up to 2,551 yuan (HK$3,000) a night from June 7 to 8, when the exams were held.

Despite the prohibitive price, the Gaokao Zhuangyuan rooms were snapped up by some parents two months ago as they believed the name sounded “auspicious”.

Yet the cost of the same room was only 1,385 yuan for a night’s stay five days before the start of the gaokao.

As many as 60,000 people participated in the dreaded national exams at 96 venues in Beijing. Once told where their children were to take the tests – normally two weeks before the gaokao – many parents were in a rush to snap up hotel rooms because most of the best ones would become fully booked very quickly.

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Cheaper rooms, in particular those at hotels close to some top high schools in Beijing, were also popular and fully booked, the report said.

In Hefei, the capital of central Anhui province, state television reported that the gaokao rooms within 1km of the city’s 17 exam venues were mostly booked up, with one guesthouse charging 400 yuan a night for tiny 100-square-foot room.

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More parents preferred to book expensive rooms, in the most sought-after places located in quiet areas with favourable feng shui – a Chinese system for deciding the best position of a building and the objects inside it, which Chinese people believe will help to bring them good luck.

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“The person taking an exam who stayed in this room last year was admitted to [Beijing’s renowned] Tsinghua University,” a hotel employee in the city of Qingdao, in the eastern Shandong province, was quoted as saying as she offered a “Zhuangyuan” room that she described as “both quiet and auspicious”.