sojourneys


The Beat Hotel Bangkok is minimal rather than minimalistic, and not in a good way
November 26, 2014, 2:09 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels, reviews | Tags: , , ,

I enjoy most of my hotel experiences in many parts of the world, and usually try to highlight the positive traits of each. But at Beat Hotel, I found this a Herculean task. The hotel management must believe that less is more:

  • No air conditioning in common corridors
  • No hairdryer in rooms
  • Little product knowledge among staff at reception (they could not distinguish a junior suite from a regular room, and had no idea that their website hawked free minibar for junior suite guests)
  • Minibar was literally mini with just a few cans of soda
  • Safe was even more mini; barely enough room for a tablet, much less a laptop
  • Breakfast was abysmal; the most substantive item was a plain white bread (nope, I’m not kidding)
  • No juice at breakfast “buffet” either — just plain water, coffee, or tea
  • No reading lights in room
  • No nightstand
  • Light switches are on the opposite side of the room across from the bed (if you like groping in darkness, this could be fun)
  • No soap dish and no place to place the tiny slice of soap given
  • Terrible, cheap pillows
  • Queen sized bed is really two single sized mattresses pushed together
  • Glacial internet speed
  • Poor drainage in bathroom shower
  • Tiny TV with poor resolution
  • Very few international channels
  • No international news channel
  • If you request for late checkout, the reply is a petty 1-hour, even though the hotel is practically empty

The only plus point of the Beat Hotel Bangkok is that it’s near the Phra Khanong BTS. But, there are numerous properties that can lay claim to BTS propinquity too. Hence, avoid Beat Hotel Bangkok.

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The Ambassador Hotel Wichita
October 10, 2014, 1:49 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels, reviews | Tags: , , ,

The Ambassador Hotel Wichita is located in the city’s Old Town–a section of the central business district that the local government has tried to rejuvenate with new businesses, restaurants, and retail. The hotel is located in a historic building interesting in itself, but the gem is the size of the corner king room that we were upgraded to.

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The large, ample windows let in plenty of natural light serving to further enlarge its capaciousness, while French inspired draperies, furniture, and decor add to the charm.

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The Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, contrary to its name, is an all-day restaurant, and the breakfast was sumptuous. The only crease in the otherwise crisp linen is that the gym is a tad small for a hotel that bills itself as a luxury property and the range of equipment can certainly be expanded. All said, the Ambassador Hotel Wichita is certainly one of the city’s best.

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The Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi
September 15, 2014, 1:25 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels, reviews, vacation | Tags: , , ,

The Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is quite a hike by foot to favored tourist spots such as The Old Quarter or Hoàn_Kiếm_Lake, but what it lacks in propinquity it makes up for in understated elegance, cleanliness, and prompt service.

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Guestrooms are spacious and appointed with all the amenities one would expect in a business class hotel such as work desk, high speed wifi, reading lights, a wide array of cable channels, and more. Housekeeping does a thorough job and is unobtrusive. The bathrooms are gorgeously sized and a pleasure to use.

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The hotel does have Mangosteen,an all-day dinning restaurant, which serves up a good meal at reasonable prices. The fitness center is moderately equipped but could benefit with more weight resistance machines. There is a sauna in the changing room. Swimmers, be aware that there is no pool at the property.

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If you’re a tourist and do not mind trekking to attractions on foot–it’s after all a great way to experience a new city; just be aware traffic signs are not always obeyed–the Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi presents a viable value proposition.

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The Emeraude, Halong Bay, Vietnam
September 14, 2014, 2:42 pm
Filed under: holiday, reviews, vacation | Tags: , , ,

The burgeoning tourist arrivals at the world renown Halong Bay has seen the proliferation of new cruise vessels to bear DSLR-totting visitors eager to witness firsthand the magnificence of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Emeraude is not one of them. The quaint, 37-cabin ship was named after a cruising vessel that plied the bay between 1906 and 1937, and despite its age of 11 years (it was made in 2003), The Emeraude bears the pride of its namesake well.

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The rooms are reasonably spacious and comfortably air conditioned. Each room comes with an en suite bathroom that dispenses hot water at strong pressure. The decks are spacious and open, with plenty of seating so there is never a need to jostle. But the best part of the experience is the warm, ever-smiling service and excellent Vietnamese cuisine that is served buffet style at every meal. The salads are light and refreshing, the Vietnamese rolls are succulent and moist, the meats are sweet and tender, and the desserts are…well, they are the icing on the cake.

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If you are visiting Halong Bay, I would thoroughly recommend The Emeraude as the choice vessel to take in the wondrous sights.

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The Refreshed Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok
February 11, 2014, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Bangkok, Erawan, hotels, Hyatt, reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

The Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok is my favorite hotel in Bangkok. The property boasts an excellent location in the heart of the Ratchaprasong shopping district, direct connection to the skywalk linking two BTS stations, and probably the best facilities among hotels in Bangkok including a Technogym-equipped fitness center on par or even better than high-end commercial gyms.

A stay at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok just became more compelling as the property emerges from a renovation of the guestrooms–which were looking rather dated–with New-York based designer Tony Chi helming the projects.

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The result is guestrooms that look fresh, contemporary, while retaining the comfort and ease of a residence.

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Coupled with a fine array of restaurants and the Erawan Bakery–where delectable creations go at half-price starting 6pm every evening–there is little reason not to make the Grand Hyatt Erawan a home away from home in the City of Angles.

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The Stones Hotel, Legian, Bali
January 19, 2014, 10:01 am
Filed under: Bali, Indonesia, Marriott | Tags: , , , ,

You know it’s going to be a mixed experience when a hotel’s strongest suit is it gym and it’s worst is it’s restaurants. But first, the rooms. Guestrooms at The Stones Hotel, Legian, Bali either face the pool (for an additional fee), a derelict building, or into another adjacent property. The rooms themselves are fine, with a comfortable bed (with less-than-comfortable pillows), adequate work space, shower and changing area partitioned by a thick curtain. During our stay in December, we had to get the room sprayed everyday because it was infested with mozzies. Imagine hearing the buzzing sound of commando mozzies darting around your face as you try to sleep.

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The hotel can be noisy and unconducive for relaxation. What would one expect when there is a convention onsite that aspires to host events for up to 2,000 at a go on a relatively small property (a feature overlooked during booking). The centerpiece of the hotel is a large pool, which is amply surrounded by deck chairs.

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Despite the claims that there are three restaurants, they are all in one dining space demarcated by sometimes nothing more than a sliding door.

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The best feature of the hotel, which we utilized everyday, was the gym. Generously spacious, it has a nice assortment of equipment and a supply of distilled water and fruits.

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Overall, I would say that despite its branding, The Stones Hotel, which is managed by Marriott emphasizes on the “mood” (and probably the “masses”) without considering the finer touches that make a hotel a great resort. The bathtubs on the upper floors located of all places the balcony with billowy white curtains for privacy is an indication of form above function

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The Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa
January 11, 2014, 2:58 pm
Filed under: hotels, Phuket, Renaissance, Thailand | Tags: , , ,

Located on the picturesque Mai Khao beach far from the maddening crowd yet mere minutes from the airport, the Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa is everything that its neighboring JW Marriott Phuket is not. The Renaissance Phuket is boutique with less than 200 rooms exuding tranquility and intimacy, while its sister property bearing the seemingly more glamorous JW Marriott badge is a sprawling complex replete with omnipresent sales staff selling timeshare units that screams mass.

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Guestrooms are spacious, and are decked in neutral palettes promoting relaxation. Its large, comfortable bed with pillow options and adjacent divan are perfect for that much needed postprandial siesta.

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But why spend too much time in the room when other stars of the property include two beautiful pools including one with direct access to the magnificent Mai Khao beach?

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Dining is great, and one of the more interesting options is Sand Box, which besides being literally next to the beach has soft white sand as its flooring. The Lounge, a pub adjacent to the lobby that also serves light fare during the day takes on a different vibe at night with the hanging seagulls creating surreal silhouettes against projected colored lights.

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For the health conscious, breakfast includes a juicing bar with a wide variety of local and imported fruits and vegetables, as well as a small fitness room with hot jacuzzi facilities in the shower room.

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All-in-all, the Renaissance Phuket with its warm and friendly service, boutique vibe, contemporary decor, and direct beach access, makes for a relaxing getaway.




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