Serviced apartments are a popular option for travelers who need to spend more than a few days in a city, and for long-term residents who place a premium on convenience. Seen by some people as a compromise between hotel living and having a long-term residence, serviced apartments frequently have advantages over both.
For people who regard a hotel as "just a place to sleep" serviced apartments provide a cost effective option to a hotel, particularly for a longer stay. For people who want "a place of their own" and a greater feeling of privacy than a hotel affords, but are only in town for a short period serviced apartments allow them to achieve these objectives.
The serviced apartments in Shanghai and Nanjing fall into two main categories: apartments that are part of a hotel complex, and those that are purely apartments. While the facilities and levels of service are comparable between the two groups there are some differences to take into consideration. Hotel serviced apartments normally have access to all the facilities of a high class hotel with extensive food and beverage options, while those that are purely serviced apartments may have fewer F&B outlets but are often more family oriented with facilities such as children's play areas and barbeque areas. In addition the hotel serviced apartments generally have a minimum stay of one month, while the pure serviced apartments offer minimum stays of a few days — often just a single day.
For example, the Ascott Shanghai Pudong has 40 floors of serviced residences. Ranging from one bedroom to four bedrooms, the Ascott's rooms can be as big as 377 square meters. Combining a convenience store, reading room, gym, and swimming pool, guests can stay for as little as one night.
In both categories long-term guests (those staying for more than three months) outnumber short term guests by a factor of three or four to one with the majority of guests coming from outside of China.
In general serviced apartments are fully equipped — a guest can move in with just a suitcase and be at home. However the interpretation of "fully equipped" can vary so if you plan to cook for yourself as soon as you arrive it is as well to check if the kitchen is equipped with cooking utensils and as a contingency is there somewhere in the vicinity where essential items can be purchased when you need them.
The Crowne Plaza Nanjing Hotel & Suites exemplifies the top-end of the spectrum for this sector. Located in the heart of central business district of Nanjing and eight kilometers from Nanjing Railway Station. Though it only has three floors of services apartments, those residences are placed on the 52nd -54th floors of the hotel, offering guests a spectacular view of the city. Ranging from 60 square meters to 260 square meters, the hotel requests that guests book a one-month minimum stay.