Bangkok / 2nd - 5th September 2016
Day 1 (in chronological order)
Day 2 (in chronological order)
Conclusion: Reflections on trip to Bangkok
Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers (Bangkok, Thailand)
I had a pleasant time at Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers. The service was top notch, among the best I have had experienced. The hotel is less touristy and noisy compared to hotels at the Sukhumvit area. Its surroundings are calmer and more meditative. However, a lot of shops around the area were closed when I was there, on a Sunday.
The reason I chose to stay at Royal Orchid Sheraton was because it is located along the Chao Phraya River. I had planned to take a ferry up north the river, alighting at as many piers as I have time for and bask in the historical richness of Bangkok. In 2012, I visited the reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Wat Arum, Grand Palace, Khao San Road and went up north till I reached the Democracy Monument. I could still remember vividly various impressive sights as I strolled through the many sacred areas which were sadly flooded with tourists.
It’s befuddling now as I reflect the demographic of tourists in 2012 which was made up of mostly Europeans, unlike what I see these few days, which are mostly Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. I am not too sure of the reason.
I made my way here from Four Points Sheraton which is located at Sukhumvit Soi 15, which is near Asok Station. There are a few ways to get to Royal Orchid Sheraton from there. I could take the a train that runs along BTS Sukhumkit Line from Asok to Siam Station and transfer to the Silom Line and alight at Saphan Taksin station. Then take the Chao Phraya Ferry Service up to Si Phraya Pier. But I thought that journey was too much of a hassle. Instead, I chose to take the MRT from Sukhumvit Station to Hua Lamphong Station and then walk 15 minutes to the hotel. It was less complicated.
Exiting the MRT, you’ll see the Hua Lamphong Railway Station, one of the gateways to most of Thailand.
Fortunately, I had a rather smooth pleasant and memorable walk to the hotel. There were only a few locals on the sidewalk, either peddling their goods or standing still waiting for nothing to happen. And, gladly, there were no tourists at all. Personally, I love such moments of my trip when I get to truly be alone among the locals, away from groups of tourists who tend to never fail to spoil every authentic experience I wish to indulge in and treasure for a lifetime.
At one point, I saw a teenage couple frolicking around, slapping each other hard with a rolled up t shirt. They were unruly, probably having had made the assumption that they could behave in such a boisterous way because they were the only ones walking on the sidewalk. I mean that is probably true if not for the fact that I was closely walking behind them, observing them throughout, and secretly hoping I could join in the fun and slap the heck out of them too.
Google Maps say turn right please.
I know directions were correct because I could see the hotel from afar.
So with the help of Google Maps, I managed to reach the hotel without making any wrong turns.
When I entered the hotel, I had mistaken the “group” check in counter to be the main check in counter. So understandably, I was rather shocked to see nobody manning the counter. So very unlike Starwood hotels I thought. However, soon enough, I was directed to the main check in counter by a bell boy. And when I started seeing the usual hustle and bustle of guests checking in and out, I immediately felt that I am all ready to be welcomed home again.
Starwood Hotels are my second home.
This are the lifts.
As expected, the check in process was swift. It took only five minutes. I went up to the 22nd floor where my room was. Apparently, they have two separate lifts sections, one for SPG members and the other one for normal guests. And it was rather interesting to also realise that even Four Points Bangkok had the same lift system. But I cannot remember if Starwood hotels in Singapore and Malaysia have such a system. Hmmm, probably not.
Lifts on the 22nd level.
Sofa on the 22nd level.
Walkway to my room.
My room for the night. The door is showing its age.
I was disappointed when I entered my room. But it was expected. After all, it is a Sheraton. Most Sheratons, if you are not aware of it, are notorious for maintaining old and ageing rooms that are, by modern standards, in severe need of rejuvenation. I wonder how they are planning to compete against Airbnb and emerging hip boutique hotels all over the world which probably already give tourists many times the value Sheratons are currently providing.
Overview of the room.
Wardrobe and doorway.
Television and fruits.
I was searching for the safe everywhere. Eventually I found it hidden somewhere.
Coffee and other stuff.
Luggage rack. Look at all those scratches.
Even though the room has aged quite a bit and over-scratched wooden furniture were obvious, the room was clean and the bed was wonderful. The view of the Chao Phraya river was clear and gorgeous. And I can’t complain much for the price I am paying and the prompt, amazing service I received during my stay there.
Just look at the river. A good alternative to Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.
Another beautiful shot of the river.
Bathroom was clean too.
Amenities neatly arranged.
Nothing to complain about the state of the bathroom.
I had to request for the toothbrush + toothpaste set by the way.
And the bathtub.
The main facilities of the hotel.
Swimming pool and gym are near to each other.
Well equipped gym.
Row of empty lounging chairs.
There is a boat dock here.
That’s one boat probably owned by the hotel.
I wonder where it sents the guests to.
There is a shopping arcade near the check in counters.
View from the second level.
As Thai as it can get, the lobby.
Second level lounging area near the seminar rooms.
I love this piece of wall art.
I must say the level 1 and 2 of the hotel feels majestic. There were beautiful Thai art and sculptures littered everywhere. The space looks so luxurious, so unlike the room I was staying in. I felt I was in a Thai palace.
There are obviously some issues with this hotel. For one, this hotel is far from the main shopping belts, unless you want to go to Silom for its night markets. There is also no MRT or BTS train station within reasonable walking distance. So you need to accept the fact that you will need the service of the rather pushy taxi touts that camp outside the hotel all the time.
Personally, most times, I would refuse to give in to taxi touts. I rather walk than to get conned by a taxi driver again. I hate to admit that I have been conned too many times already by heartless taxi drivers. 😢
Silom Night Market was not near either.
Another issue to consider is that most shops around the area are closed on Sunday. The shopowners seems to treasure their Sundays a lot. In fact, it was so bad that I couldn’t find any halal restaurants around that area that were opened. I had to resort to ordering my food through the Foodpanda app.
This hotel is also less touristy and noisy compared to hotels at the Sukhumvit area. The surroundings are calmer and more meditative. You will love just sitting alone on a reclining chair in silence, in the room, engrossed with the liveliness of the scene from the window, at the bum boats and cruise ships that slide ever so effortlessly up and down the river. I guess this hotel was perfect for me on my last night in Bangkok as I didn’t feel like doing anything at all then.