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With big things happening for Tune Hotels in the UK and Australia, it kind of makes sense that the expansion waves would also carry over to Asia, where the chain is actually based.
This September, Tune will open its third Thailand hotel, a 130-room outpost on Bangkok's Sukhumvit Soi 14, a few blocks away from Lumphini Park, and encircled by pricier hotel choices like Westin Grand Sukhumvit, Grand Millennium Sukhumvit and Sheraton Grand Sukhumvit.
But while basic rooms at those places generally go for around $150-$220 USD, Tune will be swinging into town with rates of just $15 USD/night.
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These days, amenities can make the difference between booking one hotel and kicking another to the curb. So, properties are upping their A-game. The latest trend? Wooing potential guests with two sure-fire hits: booze and technology. These hotels have got it right with these tasty and techy treats.
The Opus Vancouver goes a step beyond just offering in-room iPads. Guests are actually allowed to take those iPads anywhere off property, since the devices are equipped with GPS. Plus, customers will save money by avoiding international data charges if they forward their calls to the iPad and check emails there instead of on their smartphones. Genius!
What would you say if we told you that a hotel just opened today that has rooms with private courtyards, with private pools and rooftop terraces, and yet it's in a giant metropolis and not on some deserted island? Well, you'd probably ask where and how much. The answers: Bangkok, Thailand and starting at $516 per night for no pool and $1000 per night with the pool.
It's called The Siam and in a town where luxury rooms can usually be had for as little as $100 per night, it's a hotel with a certain demographic in mind, specifically high-spenders looking for maximum privacy with minimum big city feel.
We at Hotel Chatter like to indulge our desires on a regular basis (cake from the Mandarin Oriental Paris, anyone?) and few come any more passionate than chocolate.
The Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok with its splendid setting on the banks of the Chaopraya River is home to a confectionery cornucopia called, simply, The Chocolate Boutique.
The classy signature outlet is located on the lobby level and a heaven for chocoholics. After being greeted at the imposing entrance to the hotel by pith helmeted and putteed doormen, a homage to colonial style, head inside the chandeliered lobby, go forward and turn right and there you see it. The duck egg blue and rich mahogany exteriors and subdued lighting are enticing and suggest the dark pleasures that await.
There are hotel reception areas and then there are Le Meridien Hotel reception areas. Frequent hotel lobby admirer, Christopher Scott Dixon, reports....
We visited the Le Meridien Bangkok the other week which is regarded as the flagship property for Asia. At first sight, it has to be said that the exterior to the hotel does not prepare you for the internal treats to follow. It appeared dark, dull and less than inviting, however, once the smiling doorman greeted us and opened the entrance, we stepped into a different world.
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What do you think of when you think Peninsula Hotels? Chances are it's some combination of luxury, business travel, personalized service, Hong Kong, and helipads. For us, we've never thought of Peninsulas as being highly romantic or ideal honeymoon destinations...until we stepped out onto the deck of the Terrace Suite at The Peninsula Bangkok.
In a word: mindblowing.
Up this far in the high-rise hotel, near enough to wave up at any helicopters arriving to The Peninsula helipad (don't worry, air traffic is very rare), the views are unbelievable. But believe itbelieve not only do the Terrace Suites have at least 180-degrees of Bangkok metropolis at your feet, but they've also got hot tubs, chaise loungers and a table out there. You could sleep outside if you really wanted tobut why neglect to enjoy a Peninsula bed?
Our bed at the Novotel BKK
A couple days ago, Portfolio.com published an article that delves into the up-and-coming trend of the 24-hour hotel room. In it, the Starwood "Your24" concept takes center stagethis is when a Starwood elite member choose their own check in time, and gets the room for 24 hours from there. Alas, this isn't a totally new idea, but Starwood is the largest chain to experiment with it worldwide.
The article continues: "And, tellingly, none of Starwood's much larger competitors have matched the Your24 initiative...Not Accor of France, with 4,100 properties worldwide." Here's where we must step in to point out that Accor actually does offer 24-rooms, though we've only experienced it at the Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
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Now that we've already shown you how to get there in style, it's time to actually go inside The Peninsula Hotel Bangkok. Rooms at this high-rise luxury hotel in the center of Bangkokright on the bustling Chao Phraya Riverrun from $185 for a Superior King to $500 for a Grand Deluxe Suite King. Of course there are higher, more expensive categories but for those it's a "call for rates" situation.
First things firstthe internet situation at the Peninsula Bangkok is the best we've ever encountered, and they're even making it better. WiFi throughout the hotel is free, super fast andwe could hardly believe iteach room has its own network. The proof of that is right here, a screenshot taken directly on our iPhone.
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Traffic. It's the the worst, and always when you're trying to get somewhere quickly. Many hotels in traffic-prone cities like New York and Jakarta can't do a thing about the congestion, short of sending a private helicopter transfer. But then there's Bangkok, Thailand, specifically The Peninsula Bangkok, which not only has solved the problem of traffic but made the solution free to guests. That solution? There's two Peninsula Piers on the Chao Phraya River, complete with Peninsula-branded boats going between them.
You see, the Peninsula sits on the Thon Buri side of the river, across from where all the action is happening. To connect this very active part of the city over the river, there is the Taksin Bridge. During rush hours, forget it. Therefore, The Peninsula has a Pier Lounge on the Bang Rak side of the river for you to arrive at, be welcomed, checked in and directly transferred by boat to the hotel on the Thon Buri side. It's quite a dramatic way to make an entrance, really.
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We better start saving our pennies now because come 2014 there will be two brand-new luxury hotels that we will be dying to try out.
Earlier this week, Mandarin Oriental announced plans for the Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum in Turkey, located on the waterfront of "Cennet Koyu", or Paradise Bay, overlooking the Aegean Sea. The destination resort will have 82 guestrooms and 20 suites, all with sun-decks and terraces and some with private gardens and infinity-edged pools.
There will be six restaurants and lounges on a site, a signature Mandarin Oriental cake shop, a spa and a Beach Club offering a ton of water activities, including an array of pools. The resort will also have 214 residences attached.
Happy Chinese New Year! As we turn from the tame Year of the Rabbit to the aggressive Year of the Dragon, we've got Asian hotels on the mind. To be more specific, Peninsula Hotels and their badass heliports. If you're in the habit of making resolutions for the New Yearwhich onethen "setting off from a Peninsula heliport" needs to be one of them.
To get you in the mood to drop some dough on a flight worthy of James Bond, we've now got three exclusive looks inside different Peninsula helilounges:
· China Clipper Helilounge at The Peninsula Hong Kong
· The Seven Seas Pacific Aviation Helilounge at The Peninsula Tokyo
· Paribatra Helilounge at The Peninsula Bangkok
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The hotel's Longtail Bar on its private dock
While Thailand was flooding these past few months, a hotel right on the river in Bangkok was busy renovating and changing brands. Luckily the new Anantara Riverside (formerly the Marriott Riverside) wasn't effected by the high waters and now that the country is drying off, they're ready to welcome the return glut of travelers.
Until the end of April 2012, they're offering rooms from 3,888 THB ($125 USD) per night; it's the Journey Begins package, which includes a room upgrade, breakfast, internet and discounts on the spa and further dining.
During a recent trip to Thailand at the very start of the flooding, we spent two nights at the Anantara Riverside and found that wasn't near sufficient to both explore Bangkok and enjoy the hotel's amenities. This is a place for a long weekend, a return visitor to Bangkok, or really anything more than a quickie of two days.