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Being in the middle of a brand refresh isn’t stopping Le Méridien Hotels from opening new properties, with next month the addition of Le Méridien Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok Golf Resort & Spa. While it’s too early for some of the new brand elements to pop up in the room design, the first images show an attractive, if relatively safe, contemporary look, golf course views, and a balcony with sunbed.
The tenth Starwood hotel and third Le Méridien in Bangkok, the hotel brings some much needed competition to the city’s airport hotel game, dominated by the Novotel BKK Airport at the moment. Being a 15-minute drive away, Le Méridien can’t quite beat the Novotel’s terminal location, but with fresh rooms and much more extensive facilities, it should shake things up nonetheless.
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As Week 1 of HotelChatter Cocktail Week(s) wraps up, here's a run-down of some of the nifty things we see going on in the world of hotel bars and bevvies. What do you see goin’ on out there? Let us know in the comments below!
There’s so Much More to Syrup Than Maple –
If you’re into cocktails there’s a pretty good chance you’ve made your own simple syrup but these hotels are going beyond the norm and creating some pretty exotic specialty syrups.
At Fifteen Beacon’s Mooo (a Preferred Hotel) they make all of their syrup’s in-house, but we particularly liked the sound of the House made Celery Lemongrass Syrup that they use in their Celery 75 cocktail, made with Berkshire Greylock gin, Prosecco, strawberry, and the syrup, of course.
Cost to imbibe: $14
Cost to stay at the hotel 'cause you've imbibed: Starts at $479
And here’s an exotic beauty from the W Bangkok: the Chor Muang cocktail. You have absolutely no hope of making this drink at home since it’s made with Butterfly Pea Flower House Made Syrup – a flower that has become so rare that it’s difficult to find it in Thai markets. This elusive ingredient, however, makes it popular with guests who want something authentically Thai, and with locals who want the same. Other ingredients in this cocktail include Butterfly Flower-infused raspberry vodka, lime juice, and it’s garnished with – here we go – a 24-carat gold dust-dipped Butterfly Flower.
Cost to imbibe: THB $275 ($9)
Cost to stay at the hotel 'cause you've imbibed: Starts at THB 4,788 ($150)
Riverside room in the Krungthep Wing
Like Los Angeles, Bangkok is a city that seems to go on forever, sprawling out over a total area of over 600 square miles. This means that there’s no shortage of hotels and no shortage of neighborhoods. But if you’re looking for the finest lodging in the city, it doesn’t get much better than the Shangri-La.
Although its location puts you well outside the city center and quite far from many of the attractions (such as the Grand Palace), cheap taxis, nearby river taxi and public transit stops allow guests to maintain their mobility while indulging in the five-star comfort of the Shangri-La. We don’t need to say much more in that sense – the Shangri-La’s reputation for luxury definitely precedes it – but given that the property in Bangkok has two separate wings with two separate entrances, you might be wondering which is the best room to book.
It’s no secret Thailand’s tourism industry is suffering from the events of the past few months, with one of our last visits showing hotels noticeably quieter than we’re used to. One hotel seems to be doing fine though, thank you very much: the Novotel Bangkok Airport.
While we’ve appreciated its 24-hour flexi policy (meaning no matter the time you check in, you have your room for 24 hours), and have overlooked somewhat high rates for Bangkok in the past for both this and its convenience being next to Suvarnabhumi’s terminal, the hotel’s rates now really seem from a completely different city.
We recently paid around 7,000THB ($225) for a night in the hotel, booking well in advance, and saw rates creeping towards $250 and up later on – more than a room in town at hotels like the The Peninsula, the St. Regis, or Sofitel So.
A lot has happened since we last wrote about the situation in Bangkok. Back in January, we looked at how hotels were impacted by the anti-government protests; fast forward five months and one regime change later and the headlines about whether it is safe or not to visit Thailand continue.
We just had a brief stop in the city last week and here’s what we found:
- Hotels continue to operate as normal, though it was much quieter than we’re used to – official figures aren’t available, but visitor numbers and occupancy are down.
- Life seems to continue as normal as well; if you hadn’t known about the events of the past few months, you probably wouldn’t notice anything at all in most places.
On May 1, Radisson Blu welcomes guests to its first hotel in Thailand’s capital, the Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok. The brainchild of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Radisson Blu Hotels extends its reach into Asia, as does everyone else, while continuing to offer up its universally appealing style of hospitality.
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Over on Jaunted, you can get our inside looks at some of the world’s best airline lounges, so we thought we’d do something similar here and start talking about some of the hotel lounges we’ve frequented for our series on Hotel Club Lounges. Today, we're having a look inside the recently renovated Grand Club Lounge at the Grand Hyatt Erawan in Bangkok, Thailand.
While the mixed-use complex that will eventually house the Park Hyatt Bangkok is still going up, the Tony Chi-led renovations at sister hotel Grand Hyatt Erawan are now complete, including the 17th floor Grand Club lounge facing Radjadamri Road.
A small number of rooms are located on the same floor, but if you have access to the Grand Club, it’s worth seeing whether you can get one – if not there – on floors 16 or 18. These are connected to the 17th by a staircase, which beats taking the elevator up and down. We loved some of the artwork on display, like the sculpture above at the entrance.
If that headline implies hope of an opening date for The Bangkok Edition itself being around the corner, we’re going to ruin it for you straight away: looking at the state of construction at the Mahanakhon Tower – see below for further photos – we’ll say it will be at the very least the 2016 that Edition Hotels itself currently lists on its website before that happens, if not a bit closer to a decade after we first looked at the crazy-cool development (Jenga!).
That hasn’t stopped Dean & Deluca from opening in early March though, and if the crowd we saw here this past weekend is anything to go by, the urban Bangkok set is all over the barista-crafted lattes and $11 ham & cheese sandwiches. If you’re looking for the affordable Bangkok, you certainly won’t find it here.
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Having had such major openings recently as Sofitel So and W, Bangkok continues apace with new hotels over the next few years, from a Rosewood and a Capella to no less than three Hyatts (Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, and Hyatt Place).
The Park Hyatt will arrive first, scheduled to open next year in a mixed-use building on Ploenchit Road. While completion is still a while away, you can just about start to make out the “twisted coil” architecture that will give the building its distinctive shape. The white skeleton you see peeking out above the exterior cladding on the left swoops up into the tower element that will eventually house 173 rooms and 49 suites. Check out the rendering below to get a better sense of the end result.
Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok
You will have likely seen the recent news coverage of ongoing unrest and anti-government protests in Bangkok, including the state of emergency declared last week. The Thai capital is one of the coolest cities in Asia, and a crazy good destination for awesome hotels at great prices, so it's always been on our list of places we recommend going to.
But what about now? How does the current situation impact Bangkok hotels and how are they dealing with it? We reached out to a few to see what’s what.
First of all, both Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Muang Airport (DMK) are open as normal, and the government has opened Tourist’s Friend Centers at both and key places in town to offer support to travelers.
The airport rail link, BTS Skytrain and MTR public transport are up and running; they will also be less impacted by traffic and potential road closures. All major tourist attractions (the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Temple of Dawn) are also open.
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Not only did we ogle Rosewood London last week (hopefully just phase one in Europe for the group), we also picked up some additional news: a first few snapshots of the rooms at Rosewood Beijing (coming next year) and the exciting update that another hotel is being planned for Bangkok.
Both hotels sound like they will be rather unique; the building in Beijing “will recall a mountain profile with contrasting volumes and shapes” and Bangkok promises 650-square foot Pool Sky Villas, with large terraces and private plunge pools (!!).
Thailand may be famous for its gorgeous silk (among many other things), but a key figure that is credited with saving the silk industry from extinction is actually from the good ol’ USA: Jim Thompson, an American businessman with a rather interesting life story, complete with a still unsolved disappearance in 1967.
His Bangkok home is an enduring tourist attraction, and you’ll find references to his life and eponymous company around the city. One such place is the Four Seasons Bangkok, where – aside from beautiful silk murals anyone can admire in the lobby – there is the swanky Jim Thompson Explorer Suite, spreading over 2,000 square feet with head-on views of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club across the street.