Filed under: Birmingham, holiday, Holiday Inn, hotels, reviews | Tags: Birmingham, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Birmingham City Centre
The Holiday Inn Birmingham City Centre is strategically located within 10 minutes of brisk walking to the bustling Birmingham New Street station with regular services to and from London (1 hour 20 minutes away by Virgin Trains) and other parts of the UK, and also to the futuristic Bullring Shopping Mall anchored by Selfridges and Debenhams department stores.
The Holiday Inn Birmingham City Centre reminds me of the Holiday Inn Los Angeles International Airport, which while totally serviceable, provides a quick and comfortable transit stop rather than a relaxing vacation residence, and lacks facilities such as a pool and a gym.
Staff are generally friendly, but service can be tardy, as perhaps can be expected of a busy hotel. A call for an ice bucket was not fulfilled despite a reminder after an hour’s wait, and we had to personally make a trip down to the lobby bar to bring up the ice.
Filed under: Bangkok, hotels, Marriott, reviews | Tags: Bangkok, Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, Marriott, Sukhumvit, Thailand
The Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit is Marriott’s latest property in Bangkok, having been only officially opened sometime in the middle of March (just in time for the Songkran, or Thai New Year holidays in April).
Its best asset is its propinquity to the Bangkok sky train system (the Thonglor station on the Sukhumvit line). Check-in was smooth, and the hotel fuses contemporary decor with traditional Thai motifs. The elevators are a highlight, with touch-sensitive LCD screens that advertises various features of the hotels (including “Thailand’s color for the day” which varies with each day) where buttons are.
Guestrooms are comfortable with all the amenities one would expect of a five-star property, except for one important feature. There is no full-length mirror. Did the decorators forget this essential item? Whether as a business or tourist hotel, most guests would want to do quick check of their attire before going out to their appointments of the day. Yet, this feature was sorely missing. The bathroom was curiously capacious, taking up almost a third of the room.
Service wise, as perhaps can be expected with a new hotel, staff knowledge was inconsistent. During breakfast in the all-day dinning restaurant, the breakfast menu never materialized despite repeated requests. At the third request, a menu was delivered, but it was the lunch and dinner menu. It was only then that the wait staff said that they did not have a menu dedicated to breakfast fare. Again, strangely lacking in a deluxe property. And for the fitness enthusiast, the gym–which while serviceable, would benefit from more weight resistance equipment–is shut tight by 10pm despite it being advertised as a 24-hour facility. Guests have to go to the lobby on the ground floor (no phone was in sight to allow guests to call the front desk) to ask a staff to open the door to the gym. And when I did, one front desk staff exclaimed that I could have just used my key card to open the door, only to be corrected by her colleague that a key card reader has not been installed at the gym. Hopefully this was part of a teething process that will soon be sorted out.
Filed under: reviews, hotels, Hyatt, Andaz, London | Tags: Hyatt, Andaz, London, Andaz Lndon, Andaz Liverpool Street
The Andaz Liverpool Street London is an enigma. And its many hallways hide a secret. For the unveiling of the secret, you may scroll to the final paragraph now. But first about the enigma.
The Andaz is Hyatt’s collection of mod, boutique hotels where guests will find no stodgy check-in desks, where social spaces mesh seamlessly one into another, where hosts welcome guests on iPads, and where guests can help themselves without charge to an enticing spectrum of beverages and hors d’œuvre and wine to welcome the evening. For all its modernity and fresh, contemporary vibe, the Andaz Liverpool Street (Hyatt’s first Andaz) is housed in a magnificent redbrick Victorian building dating back to 1884. In fact, before Hyatt purchased the building in 2008, it once housed the Great Eastern Hotel, one of the original London railway hotels. The confluence of modernity and history, of mod lighting and chandeliers, and of technology and tradition, is part of what makes a stay at the Andaz Liverpool London so special.
The top-notch service is another reason. The draping of soft bath towels over heated towel bars in the bathroom is a perfect example of the hotel’s service level. The bewildering array of complimentary in-room beverages from carbonated and still Llanllyr water, Breckland Orchard fruit-flavored refreshments, Schweppes lemonades, Coke, Diet Coke,tea from The East India Company, and more, is another. Toiletries are from London’s Plantation. The guestroom has everything that even the most fussy guest would want, and more.
For all its impressive amenities, the gym was disappointing. While it is spacious, the variety of equipment is limited. Multi-function stations (and the gym has just one) simply do not provide the same precision and adequacy of training that purpose-built dedicated stations do. And for a property of such caliber, one would expect a more well-equipped gym. This is an area I hope the hotel management can improve on.
And now for the secret. During renovations of the Great Eastern Hotel in 1990, workers came across a false wall. When the false wall was demolished, a hidden Masonic Temple revealed itself–marble flooring, mahogany walls, leather thrones, and all. Urban legends surrounding this Masonic Temple abound. The most disturbing perhaps is that as the neighborhood was thought to be one of Jack the Ripper’s haunts, and as the notorious serial killer was thought to be a Mason, he may have socialized in the temple. Today, the Andaz Liverpool Street makes the room available for events rental. Ask an Andaz host, and if they are not too busy, you might just be given a private tour.
Filed under: hotels, London, Pullman, reviews | Tags: King's Cross, London, Pullman, Pullman London St Pancras, St Pancras
Located on 100-110 Euston Road, one of the Pullman London St Pancras‘ most strategic assets is its location: it’s a mere 10-minute walk to both the Euston and the King’s Cross/St Pancras stations (where travelers can hop on the Eurostar to Europe).
Formerly known as the Novotel London St Pancras, the property was rebadged as a Pullman after a major refurbishment into a four-star all non-smoking hotel. True to the Pullman branding, the property exudes modernity with plenty of mod furniture and decorative piece, and ambient lighting.
The deluxe room we were assigned was spacious, especially for a central London location, and had large windows which let in plenty of natural light, further enlarging the confines of the room. The decor is clean and contemporary, with a the clever use of light yellow mustard to throw up a bright contrast to the predominant use of grays and whites. The room amenities are all once can expect of a four-star hotel, with a Krups coffee-brewer and Jing tea (Jade Sword Green, Earl Grey, and English breakfast) for in-room refreshments. Toiletries are from Roger & Gallet of Paris (Pullman, after all, is part of France’s Accor Group).
While the Pullman London St Pancras is young and modern in almost every respect–including its international staff–one area the refurbishment seems to have missed is the gym. It looks like a school gym from the nineties with equipment that while functional, are austere and dated. It also has a coed sauna and steam room, which as one can expect due to its mix-gender nature and within the context of a hotel, see little utilization.
Filed under: hotels, Hyatt, Indonesia | Tags: Borobudur, Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Java, Yogyakarta
The best asset of the Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta is its staff, who are ever smiling and who exude warm, cheerful service. The grounds are verdant and well-maintained. But its age is starting show in the frayed corners, mouldy baths in the spa, and visible wear-and-tear on the facilities.
The rooms are spartan by Hyatt standards. There is no alarm clock in sight, access to the shower is via a precarious climb into the steep bath, and the in-room safe is so shallow that it can accommodate only one laptop. Cold, austere tiles overlay the flooring.
The expansive swimming pools, surrounded by lush gardens and an abundance of deck chairs, somewhat offset the austere guest accommodations.
Taking inspiration from Borobudur, Indonesia’s most visited monument, which is about an hour by car from the hotel, the outdoor lounge area is flanked by charming Koi ponds with miniature stupas.
The Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta is probably the city’s most luxurious hotel, but by global Hyatt standards, there is certainly room for improvement, and an infrastructure upgrade is urgently needed.
Filed under: Andaz, hotels, Hyatt, reviews, USA | Tags: Andaz, Andaz West Hollywood, California, Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Hollywood
The Andaz is Hyatt’s collection of boutique hotels, and I enjoyed the vibe, intimacy, and amenities of the Andaz West Hollywood as much as I did during my previous stay in 2011. The check-in staff (“hosts” in Andaz lingua franca) recalled details of my last stay, and thoughtfully asked if I would like a similar room looking out to the famed Sunset Boulevard in the immediate vicinity and the downtown Los Angeles skyline beyond.
The room I was assigned was spacious, and one special feature that distinguishes the front-facing room from those that look out into the fabulous residences that line the hill behind the hotel is that rooms facing the front come with a relaxation alcove with lounge sitting and a separate flat-screen TV of its own. Not that guests will be utilizing the TV all that often with the spectacular views of the glittering Los Angeles skyline especially at dusk.
A refreshing change from the Portico Spa products found in all other generic Hyatt properties is the aromatherapy series of toiletries set from Lather by Modern Apothecary.
Facilities include a fairly basic gym, but fitness buffs might want to time their visits as the hotel as saw fit to place the treadmills and elliptical trainers in the direct rays of the relentless Southern California sun in the morning hours.
Guests of the Andaz West Hollywood should take a trip to the rooftop where the pool–as well as verdant flora and more great views–await.
Filed under: holiday, hotels, Hyatt, reviews, USA | Tags: Hyatt, Hyatt Grand Champions, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, Indian Wells, Palm Springs
Nestled in the Coahcella Valley embraced by majestic mountains such as the San Bernadino Mountains, the San Jacinto Mountains, and the Santa Rosa Mountains, the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells (formerly known as the Hyatt Grand Champions) is a 45-acre desert oasis in a well-to-do neighborhood festooned with posh gated communities.
The grounds are verdant, and immaculately manicured. The rooms are spacious, with a step-down area holding a living area, workdesk, and balcony space looking out into the property. The color scheme comprising muted earth tones is soothing and the furnishings are comfortable for an extended stay.
There are three pools (including a small water slide) and the fitness center is more well-equipped than most Hyatt Regency gyms, although it is also much busier as it is open to members of the community (for a fee, one is fairly certain).