The grande dame of the Tsingtao hospitality scene at the turn of the century was the Hotel Prinz Heinrich, built in 1899 by the Germans on a stunning location along the Tsingtao waterfront. It was named after Prince Heinrich of Prussia, a younger brother of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II.
The era of the Grand Tour taking place largely in the late 1910s and 1920s, most Grand Tourists would have remembered the hotel, however, as the Grand Hotel グランド ホテル- which was what the Japanese called it when they took over the colony from 1914.
The former Hotel Prinz Heinrich occupied three buildings along the coast, adjacent to Tsingtao’s famous Zhanqiao Pier. Today’s Zhanqiao Prince Hotel occupies only one and a half of these buildings. The rest of the former hotel is occupied by the offices of the local press.
While the buildings themselves still stand, and the interior decor of the lobby largely maintains its original, charming character – the hotel, managed by a local, Chinese, company, is perhaps 3-stars at most. Though of course by Chinese standards, it is considered a luxury hotel.
Most of the rooms have been generically laid out, except for the suites and balcony rooms facing the front of the main wing – which still retain some old-world charm. The best rooms in the building – which I happened to have the opportunity to stay in at a very reasonable rate – are the two balcony rooms on the top floor of the hotel, which provide a stunning view onto Tsingtao bay, Zhanqiao Pier, and the new city in the distance.
Up there, one can almost forget that time has passed – so palpably does one feel the lingering charm of German Tsingtao.