Stayed there for a night due to a mistake when the reservation was done. Absolute "wilderness"/ nothing around, with the entire area being a university. Unless you have business/ things to be done really close to the hotel, otherwise would really even suggest just staying at one of the many hotels near the airport (at least those are closer to the airports)
My first visit to China was in 1987. This hotel is a nostalgia trip for those of us who visited the Middle Kingdom in those long-gone times. The immense entry hall, marble everywhere, and a desk (now unstaffed) on every floor where a receptionist would gruffly refuse you entry to any floor but your own all brought back memories. But the hotels I was at in the 1980s were designed and maintained by people who did not understand comfort or cleanliness. The Southern Club is the epitome of this class of hotel: straining for 5 stars through the use of volume, polished stone, and spotlessness.
There is a gym, but I went for a jog at dawn the one morning I was there, along the nearby branch of the river. The air was clean (I was lucky), and the island is nearly devoid of vehicles early just after dawn so it was peaceful and pleasant. I saw and heard a number of songbirds and, astonishingly, watched mesmerized as four bats hunted acrobatically to snatch a few flying treats before returning to their roosts.
For nostalgia, and the bats, I give it four stars.
The nitty gritty: as others have noted this hotel is astonishingly remote and inaccessible considering its location in a giant megacity. Breakfast is a bit hit or miss, but you can, with a bit of imagination, put together a satisfying repast. My room was gigantic, with a marvelous bathroom, but note the glass wall! There was a blind, but it wasn't particularly solid. Stay alone, with a partner, or with your small children. Don't stay with a business colleague or teenagers: there lies the route to awkwardness.
I had business at one of the nearby universities, was driven to and from the hotel by my local host, and stayed only one night. If you are visiting the University island this is the place to stay, but make sure you arrange transport. If your business is elsewhere stay closer to where you want to be, unless you are desperately poor--you get a lot of square metres for your yuan here.
I stayed at this hotel for 2 nights at a conference organised on the "mega campus" made up of 10 Guandong Universities. There is absolutely nothing around the hotel at all so you are more or less trapped to use the hotel facilities which are not brilliant. Food is pretty mediocre and there are no real bar facilities to speak of (there is a bar of sorts I suppose but not open as far as we could tell). It is well out of Guangzhou centre and unless we had lifts to and from the hotel organised I am not sure how we would have coped transport wise. Rooms were fairly comfortable and bathroom facilities were better than average but still not a great hotel. We were booked for 3 nights and stayed 2 moving to the Westin in Guangzhou centre for the last night - quite the difference and not that much more expensive.
The very glamorous and glitzy lobby gives a very good impression, but if you are visiting Guangzhou city, you should not stay here. The hotel is situated on the mega university island which is too far from the city centre and there are limited transport links to and from the hotel. When the universities are closed, it is like staying in a land time forgot. The rooms themselves are fine providing you don't get the one on the 5th floor by the lift with the mouldy carpet. Bathrooms are well proportioned and well equipped. Fridges in the rooms do not work. Breakfast leaves a lot to be desired, although the reception staff do their best to be helpful with somewhat limited English. The website says there is a pool, I couldn't find it, and it boasts a shopping arcade, again nothing open. The hotel claims it is a 5 star business hotel, don't be tricked into believing such a claim, and no, I wasn't happy when I saw a rat in the downstairs restaurant where I had breakfast.
This is located in University City - finding a taxi to go there is almost impossible and then, once you are in University City, getting to the location is extremely difficult (luckily, my poor Chinese worked enough).
Rooms: Excellent quality. I've stayed in many hotels in Guangzhou and you won't find a better quality of hotel room in this price range. Plus, they are clean and bug-free.
Management Service: Excellent. They will do anything for you and go above and beyond to get you what you need.
Those are the only 2 positives about this hotel.
Regular Staff Service: Atrocious. I don't mind that their English is poor - this is China. But, the service is absolutely atrocious. They would rather watch TV or mess around on their mobile phones than move a finger to do anything - clear dishes, let you order food, help you with a problem, anything.
Food: Wow. I would rather eat at the Chinese Buffet in rural Nebraska than eat here, because they have infinitely better food. Breakfast is decent if you stick to the congee, fruit, or fried eggs. The rest is just bad. Dinner at the "Western" restaurant was downright bad. I won't even go into it...it rated a -5 on a scale of 1-10. The "Chinese" restaurant upstairs was a bit better, only because I could half-way communicate with them.
Internet: They "installed" wifi in my room (aka, gave me a router to plug into the hard line). That was the only positive. Otherwise, I could barely pull up a website. I basically gave up. I would recommend finding a way to get Internet on your phone and then using that as a hotspot.
Canton Fair: I, too, went for the Canton Fair. This is relatively near the fair - about a 15 minute ride - in comparison to other "downtown hotels" I've stayed at (usually a 60+ minute ride on fair days). Luckily, they provide a shuttle to/from.
Overall: If you are going for the fair and don't intend on seeing much of Guangzhou (including eating out), then this is the place for you. Otherwise, be cautious.