Houses of love boom on Valentine's Day

08:41, February 14, 2011      

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How can you make a loved one happy on Valentine's Day? Going shopping, to restaurants, or to the movies has fallen out of fashion. So an increasing number of couples in China's big cities have adopted an unconventional way of celebrating the annual holiday dedicated to lovers.

Many now choose to spend a night in so-called love hotels, where rooms often decked out with novelty furnishings can be rented cheaply and for a few hours at a time.

Ctrip.com, the leading online travel agency in China, said a large number of love hotels have double the number of rooms reserved for Monday than any other day of the year.

On most days, love hotels usually have an occupancy rate of 30 to 50 percent, according to Ctrip.com.

According to the agency, love hotels have been booked up in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Lijiang in Yunnan province, and other cities for Valentine's Day, leading to a short supply of rooms for couples who dreamed of having a romantic evening but were late to make a reservation.

"All 78 of our rooms were reserved for Valentine's Day by as early as mid-January," said Xu Wen, manager of Shanghai-based We Love Hotel.

According to Xu, the hotel usually charges from 200 yuan ($30) to 400 yuan for the use of a room for three hours.

"We did not do any promotion this year, but the business is roaring," Xu said, adding that on Valentine's Day, each of the hotel's rooms may in the end accommodate at least three different groups of customers.

A staff member with Ai-hotel in Beijing said the hotel's 22 rooms were booked full for both Valentine's Day and the day before, despite room rates having been raised by 200 yuan.

Business insiders believe that love hotels' romantic atmosphere, cheaper prices and novelty are among the attributes that attract so many couples for Valentine's Day.

Borrowing from similar businesses in Japan, most Chinese love hotels try to attract customers by outfitting rooms with novelty furnishings, including rotating beds, ceiling mirrors, karaoke machines and eccentric lighting.

For some, a change from humdrum everyday existence is just the thing needed for a special occasion.

"I'm tired of spending Valentine's Day watching a movie or dining in a crowd of people," a man surnamed Li was quoted by China.com.cn as saying. "The idea of celebrating at a love hotel is novel and not expensive."

Despite concerns that love hotels might do harm to traditional Chinese morality and lead to an increase in prostitution, the industry has enjoyed a rapid development since its introduction in China in 2007.

Hu Shoujun, a sociology professor at Fudan University, said the fad reveals a change in public attitudes. "Today, people are enjoying more individual freedom than ever for their daily activities," Hu said.

In the 1980s and 1990s, a man and a woman who wanted to stay together in a hotel room had to show their marriage certificate, a police officer from Beijing municipal public security bureau, surnamed Li, said.

But during the past 10 years, China has tried to make it easier for couples to reserve hotel rooms.

"There are now no such rules for couples, since a new regulation was issued in 2007," Li said. "They are only required to show their ID cards or other identity documents before checking in."

Li said the police will only come knocking on hotel rooms' doors in response to reports of illegal activity.

Tan Zongyang and Cao Yin contributed to this story.

Source: China Daily(By Bao Daozu)
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