Though I’ve previously stayed at the property, I haven’t had a chance to review the Conrad Bangkok. In fact, despite dozens of visits to Bangkok, this would be my first stay for more than a single night. I looked forward to settling in for a long weekend with my wife and daughter.
Close to the diplomatic and business heavy Wireless Road, the hotel is convenient by taxi to most places, but has some drawbacks for leisure guests. It’s not close to the BTS, in fact the hotel offers a shuttle to the Phloen Chit BTS which seems like a suitable stopgap but really isn’t as helpful as one might think – just walk the 10-15 minutes. On a 1-10 scale, the location is a 6 for leisure travelers and an 8 for business travelers.
Pulling into the driveway, a white glove grabs the door to our car and the glass doors of the hotel push open from either side by two women dressed in traditional Thai formal dresses. Our bags are collected in the background while we are guided through the lobby and to the checkin desk, where we stand in line like we do anywhere else in the world.
The experience was just shy of being magical and then snapped us back into reality. Had the Conrad’s staff ushered us to their many waiting couches in the lobby, got us a cold drink and a cold towel (this is the custom in southeast Asia) and then had our checkin process going on in the background it would be a perfect process. Instead though, it really does fall short right before the process is done.
I am a Hilton Diamond with more nights than any reasonable person should have this far into the year (more than 130) so when I checked in I was given a suite as a result of my status. I completely appreciate this gesture and benefit of Diamond status with Hilton.
The hotel is a standalone building with more than 30 stories of rooms, restaurants, and facilities. At the base of the building is a small mall that serves an attached office building predominately focused on banking and lunch options – it’s not the type of mall you will elsewhere in Bangkok.
The lobby has a towering ceiling some three stories high with plenty of seating, excellent air conditioning (a must in BKK) and open entry into the hotel bar (The Diplomat) a few short steps away.
Walking through the halls, I found similarities to other properties built at the same time (early 1990s) in Bangkok with lots of teak woodwork and black and white sketches of famous cultural architecture. The hotel is elegant and restrained though it could use an update in places.
The Conrad pool area is beautiful and offers a poolside bar with a full menu. Unique to other Bangkok hotels, the space offers a mix of greenery and deck space and there’s seating for plenty of guests.
However, the pool area suffers the same problems of other pools at high-rise hotels in the city. Skyscrapers block the sun for much of the day and as a result, the water sits in the shade for much of the latter half of the day.
Food and beverage around the pool was reasonably priced as we have found at other five-star hotels, with Thai meals around $8-11, and a club sandwich (among other American options) from $10-25. We twice ordered off the kid’s menu which our daughter loved.
There were some really small service issues that I will cover later, but overall most guests will find the pool space inviting, and impressive.
The upgraded suite was amazing. We were given the corner suite, wrapped around the end of the 30th floor. Walking in there was a guest bathroom in the foyer, which then opened to the main room. There was a large desk with a ton of outlets underneath and room for more than two laptops, my standard for a great hotel workspace. Across from the desk is a table for four with fresh fruit daily, and finally a large couch with chairs and a coffee table facing the TV. There was also a minibar that left enough room for two bottles of water of our own. Above the minibar was a coffee machine and a French press.
In the bedroom we had space to add a roll away bed for our daughter. It’s possible that the bed itself is a standard king but it felt like a California King size bed. There was also a small couch at the end of the bed as well as a couple of chairs and a small table. Switches to turn on and off all of the lights in the room are available at the bedside.
Entering the master bathroom, a large and well-placed walk-in closet (unlike at the Park Hyatt Bangkok) to the left. Slippers, laundry bags, a robe, and a safe are placed amongst the drawers and wardrobe.
The double vanity is spacious and opposite floor to ceiling windows which overlook the city. Continuing into the bathroom is a stand-alone soaking tub, a powder table, and a large glassed-in shower. There is a closed-door bathroom within this room as well which adds an appreciated level of privacy.
I covered the lounge in a separate post and won’t cover it again here, however I would rate the actual food and variety at 6/10. Aspects were great (French toast was excellent) other aspects were not good at all (Asian offerings were oddly terrible).
Pedantic Service Gripes
Our readers command a wide variety of demographics, travel experience, and service expectations. Some of our guests will look at the following minor issues as a reason they would not book a hotel, others will suggest that these are unimportant and no stay will ever be perfect. Regardless, they are worth noting and I leave it to the reader to decide whether it matters to them.
- Poolside service was hit or miss. Attendants didn’t respond to pages on the button 50% of the time, but were almost never seen walking around the pool. Dishes took a long time to get cleared on one day, the next day it was immediate. Both days we had something wrong with the order, however, when the wrong kid’s meal was brought out it was over 30 minutes to replace the meal with two slider cheeseburgers originally ordered.
- Also at the poolside, we had a preference for a pair of chairs close to the shallow end for our daughter. We had to insist and argue with the attendant (whose job in this instance was solely placing towels at the chair) to get the pair of chairs we wanted, less than 10 feet from the towel station where we were standing. Why was he so insistent we sat somewhere else and resistant to our preference? We have no idea.
- I covered the Lounge issue earlier, but after several visits it appears this was a one-time occurrence and we were singled out for some reason. The attire rules they have in-place apply selectively, it just happened to be that on our first visit to the lounge, it was my party that was selected. If you have a rule in-place that you want to enforce, fine, enforce it. But you cannot pick when to enforce it and when not. It’s all or nothing.
- I called down to the concierge the night before to arrange a taxi service for the morning. We were told to call back and speak to the morning’s concierge. The taxi was for a two-hour journey at a specific time so it’s not something we wanted to arrange last-minute.
- Maid washed our coffee mugs (and those of our guests) in our hotel room sink instead of replacing them with new ones (we returned to the room and saw this). There were bits of white fuzz from the towels she used to dry the dishes. We asked for them to be replaced at the front desk but they were not the following day. I wonder how many other hotels are doing this…
In fairness to the pedantic gripes there were also some moments where the hotel service shined. It provides some balance to the experience and shows the ways that employees went above and beyond to make our stay great.
- Our request for an upgrade was granted without hesitation, and this was one of the most impressive suites we have been upgraded to, certainly in Bangkok but among the best in the world.
- We scheduled a kid’s massage for our daughter who got cold feet once we were in the room. They should have charged us for the massage and there is no way they could fill the time with another guest. They opted to charge us nothing and we felt it was an unexpectedly generous and appreciated gesture. We tipped the would-be masseuse as if the service had taken place at full-price. We were grateful for their understanding.
- We called for ice buckets several times and every time they returned it promptly – ice is one of our favorite luxuries in the Bangkok. Call it our most-American vice.
- Chocolates and snacks were left in our room as well as changing the fruit on our dining room table daily. This is above and beyond.
Thanks to one of Hilton’s summer sale offers, I was able to secure an unmatchable rate. It’s almost unfair to write about the hotel’s value-for-money based on the deal I got of $84/night plus taxes, a total of $295 all-in for the three night stay. However, as that is the real rate that I paid, and as anyone who booked during the sale could have replicated it, I can confidently state that this is best value in the city.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my experience at the brand new luxury Park Hyatt Bangkok but lamented that the price was just way too high for the market. Then I compared between the two Bangkok Hyatts. The reason why this factors into this post, is that I paid less for three nights at the Conrad Bangkok, a five star hotel by any measure, than just one night at the Park Hyatt Bangkok’s standard rate.
Is the Park Hyatt better than the Conrad. Yes, on all accounts, but it is brand new while the Conrad is 20 years old. The real question is whether the Park is three times better than the Conrad and there’s no question – it’s not.
What about the hotel’s regular rate of $150-160, is it still the best deal in Bangkok? No, but it’s not far off. The Sofitel at $120-140 has to be the best deal in the city for the price point but I slot the Conrad in right after that. If you are a Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond member with free breakfast and lounge access it adds even more value for money.
I would also posit that this may be the most affordable nominal rate for a Conrad anywhere in the world (though I welcome better price examples in the comments).
If you’re in Bangkok it’s hard to find a better dollar-for-dollar value than the Conrad. If you’re an Honors member, it’s even better and if you are a Diamond member booking the hotel on an $85/night sale – it’s about the best place on Earth.