sojourneys


The Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok
January 2, 2015, 1:45 pm
Filed under: Bangkok, hotels, reviews, Thailand | Tags: , ,

The Radisson Blu brand draws its lineage from Scandinavian Airlines System, and is positioned at the upper end of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. The Radisson Blu Bangkok, opened less than a year ago, did not disappoint.

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Rooms are spacious and well-appointed. Like many contemporary upscale hotels, a glass panel separates the bathroom from the bedroom, and there is a generous writing desk as well as a comfortable lounge chair. It would have been nice if the water pressure in the shower was stronger, but otherwise, the spaciousness of the bathroom and large mirror provide much respite from the hustle and bustle of the Bangkok streets.

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The fitness center, while not as equipped as commercial gyms or for that matter, the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, is adequate for a getting a decent overall workout. The all-day dinning restaurant serves a delicious breakfast, and service was excellent. All-in-all, the Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok presents a compelling value proposition for visitors making a sojourn to the Thai capital.

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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 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 Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Refreshed Tony Chi-designed Rooms at Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok
November 21, 2012, 7:28 am
Filed under: Bangkok, hotels, Hyatt | Tags: , , , ,

The Grand Hyatt Erawan is my hotel of choice whenever I visit Bangkok, and I’ve previously noted that despite the spaciousness, the decor of the rooms is looking rather dated.

I was hence excited to be upgraded to a newly renovated guestroom by celebrated designer Tony Chi during my recent stay in October.  Having stayed there for a weekend, my verdict is that the refresh is incremental rather than quantum.

The layout is essentially the same as the old rooms–entrance foyer with bathroom to the side, bed, and finally study–expect that the furnishings are updated with designs that emphasize clean-lines, non-intrusiveness, and functionality.

So while the net effect is not jaw-dropping, perhaps the brief was for Tony Chi–whose projects include the Andaz Fifth Avenue, Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou, and Grand Hyatt Chengdu–to design a theme that is contemporary without being avant garde, comfortable without being boring, and modern without loosing the distinct Thai identity.  These, especially the surfeit of the in-room amenities such as fine teabags with an Asian-accented tea set, fruit basket that was replenished daily, June Jacobs toiletries, as well as various objet d’art exuded a plush yet residential vibe.



Ascott Sathorn Bangkok
January 24, 2012, 4:40 am
Filed under: hotels, reviews | Tags: , ,

A key strength of the Ascott Sathorn Bangkok is the sheer spaciousness of the rooms, but that is perhaps unsurprising because all the rooms are serviced apartments.  The fitness center is another asset also because of its cavenous dimensions.  The pool is of an adequate size, and seems to be popular among the guests.  The rate also seems reasonable for a property as well furnished as the Ascott Sathorn.

Having said that, several issues could be looked into to enhance the guest experience:

(1) Stop charging for bottled water.  I know of no other premium hotel that charge for factory distilled water beyond the daily “allowance” of two small bottles.

(2) Stop charging for requests for refreshing of toiletries supply.  Yes, the hotel uses L’Occitane, but the bottles are miniscule and to charge for requests for additional supplies beyond the daily “allowance” suggests stinginess.  In fact, prominently displayed in each apartment is an astounding list of 125 items from the sofa set to the desk lamp and their corresponding cost (just in case they go missing upon check-out).  Either the hotel is not quite attracting the premium travelers it claims to target or the management is paranoid.  Not good either way.

(3) Press the commercial operator of the fitness center to extend the operating hours to be more guest-friendly.  Closing at 9:00 p.m. on weekends and 10:00 p.m. on weekdays is quite unheard of.  Most premium hotels today have 24-hour gyms.

(4) Ventilate the corridors on the guest floors.   They are as warm as a sauna.

(5) Improve the breakfast offering.  Guests on diverse online travel communities have commented that the breakfast is pedestrian.

(6) Smile more?  The staff seem so stern-faced.

That is not to say that the Ascott Sathorn is inferior.  For business guests who plan to stay for weeks at a stretch and find the commercial business district of Sathorn convenient, the service apartment presents a viable option.  Regular holiday makers however may find other alternatives more attractive.



Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, Thailand
August 5, 2008, 3:15 pm
Filed under: hotels, reviews, Thailand | Tags: , , ,

The Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, Thailand, situated at the heart of the prime shopping beltway within walking reach of Central World, Gaysorn, Siam Paragon, and beyond that the Siam Discovery Center and MBK, is a hotel that befits its prefix. It also houses one of Bangkok’s holiest shrines.

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The rooms are spacious, well-appointed, and immaculately-maintained, although the furnishings and over-use of wood hints at the era during which they were designed.

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Fitness and spa lovers will appreciate the expansive (and expensive) Club I.sawan, which boasts Italian-made Technogym machines with a view out to a bamboo-lined wall. The gym is hence called The Greenhouse.

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The lobby features an all-day dining restaurant and lounge flanked by an interior promenade lined with European-inspired street lamps. The mezzazine floor overlooks the lobby via spacious balconies. Colonial pillars reach for the sky. All these design features combine to create the impression of a genteel European boulevard within the spacious lobby.

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Rates can be pricey, but occassionally the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok does run some specials, which make the stay worthwhile.