On my last of several trips to Bangkok recently, I had a long layover in the city and have wanted to try new properties in the city. I have already secured top-tier status with IHG, Hilton, and Hyatt for the rest of this year and next, so not only does it make sense to branch out, but my love for Hyatt is waning. Thus, it was time to review the JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok.
Proudly, the hotel is the first stop on busy Sukhumvit Rd, the heart and soul of the city. Situated near Soi 2. The massive property is accessed by side roads but upon closer inspection, looks down directly onto Nana Plaza. It is located close to a few BTS stations and is easily accessible. While personally, I would want a little more distance from Nana’s nightlife and crowds.
Nana is also near a big expat community and Phloen Chit, so it has its advantages. If this is your first trip to the city, the JW Marriott will be as central as you could need, though return visitors may have their favorite corners of town. Personally, I prefer to be a little closer to Siam, though getting to and from the airport was far quicker with the JW’s location close to the expressway.
I was brought up to my suite by a staff member who insisted on demonstrating the features of the room, as I declined to checkin at the lounge. There was a guest bathroom to the right when walking in the door, a coffee maker to my left and desk straight ahead.
To my right following the guest bathroom was a small table with comfortable chairs and fresh fruit awaiting my arrival. Then a couch and coffee table filled out the room with a letter from the GM welcoming me as a Marriott Gold member.
“On behalf of the 615 employees that feel this is their second home, we hope you feel the same”
The desk was amazing. If I wasn’t on such a short visit I would have loved to work at this desk for a while. There was tons of space, the lighting was just right and it felt premium. I know that might sound peculiar to some, but if you have spent enough time at dorm style desks in hotels fifteen years past their prime in small town America – you come to appreciate a quality hotel desk. Wall-to-wall windows let in natural light in the morning though the view was nothing worth writing home about, not even from that desk.
There is a small anteroom between the living room and the bedroom featuring a huge mirror and some small lamps. The use of mirrors in this room was something I was surprised to like. It gave the room added size and felt upscale.
Through the anteroom into the spacious bathroom we find a high-end Asian hotel standard, separate soaking bathtub and shower. One area that the JW Marriott Bangkok needs to update is shower head. The glassed-in shower offers enough space, but the shower head itself is pretty tired, a rain shower head would be a cheap and easy fix.
I didn’t have a chance to use the bath, but I noticed that there was a container for bath salts (hopefully not the kind that cause people to lose their minds) and a robe waiting. No bidet on this toilet, but for one reader that is particularly fond of the “bum gun” (high-powered hose that serves the purpose of a bidet), both bathrooms were equipped. I’ll just leave that there.
The bed was really comfortable in this room, the sheets were fresh and I had all of the pillows to myself. Blackout curtains did their job, I was shocked to see just how bright it was when I pulled them back at 7:30AM.
There is a control unit on the bedside table that allows you to shut off all the lights, ask for someone to clean the room or do not disturb, control the temperature of the room – standard for high-end hotels built around this time in Bangkok. One problem was the lack of plugs in the bedroom. There were no easy plugs next to the bed, but once I pulled the bedside table back I found a pair of plugs on either side of the bed. Unfortunately, just one of four actually worked and sadly, it was on the device I least needed a full charge.
It’s time to update the plugs, and it may sound petty when considering how otherwise great the hotel was, but for me it was an important issue that is easily resolved.
On the 16th floor, the lounge awaits and it is stunning. An open kitchen awaits diners eagerly ready for breakfast and starting their day. There was a mix of tourists and business professionals when I came in, and now, out of spite, I walked in with shorts, a t-shirt and a lounge. I wasn’t asked to leave by the staff this time, unlike the Conrad Bangkok and on balance this was simply a nicer lounge.
I needed to print off some documentation ahead of my trip to Vietnam later that morning and found my way back to some computers that were available, though it was separate from the business center (4th floor). I successfully printed one of my documents, the other failed and I don’t know why. In the end, I didn’t need it so it wasn’t a big deal.
A nice feature to this lounge is access to an outdoor space that offers guests the ability to eat their breakfast in the sunshine or in the shade of overhead umbrella at each table. There was a contingent of smokers outside as well as a couple of people who just wanted to enjoy the sun with their breakfast before it became unbearable for the day at around 9AM.
The most important meal of the day (according to my mother)4 included whatever you wanted to drink, I chose an espresso and some orange juice. It was boxed which is a black mark on an otherwise good spread. Servers and chefs were pulling a fresh batch of croissants out of the oven when I arrived to add to a series of other pastries which included an-house, made from scratch donut. I didn’t see the donuts until the end and a waitress encouraged me to take on with me, something the Conrad wouldn’t allow.
Freshly cut fruit and a salad bar is an Asian breakfast standard and if you are so inclined, the offerings were generous on the salad, limited on the fruit. That being said, I wasn’t trying to eat an entire pineapple so I don’t know why it would be a concern that the plate of fruit wasn’t towering, especially when the one in my room, was.
There were some Asian dishes like vegetable fried rice (which I thought was a nice touch since so many places only offer meat with rice), shrimp dumplings, etc. There was a self-serve buffet of Thai sausage, potato triangles, bacon, and scrambled eggs.
I made my way to the end of the line where a chef was ready to cook made-to-order omelets. The JW Marriott Bangkok had a placard explaining the toppings in English and they were fairly standard, then they suggested their specialty omelet that included Thai sausage and spicy sauce. I ordered it, but unfortunately they did not have the Chang Mai (Northern Thai) sausage that morning. I instead ordered an omelet I get everywhere else in the world with the added touch of Thai chili peppers.
It was the best omelet I have had in years. I have ordered that same omelet in the last month at three other Bangkok properties (they all offer the Thai chili peppers) and none of them were within a mile of that omelet. It was expertly executed.
As with any Bangkok hotel review, value is market-specific and this one is no different. Right in the middle of the market at $145/night (with tax) this hotel was under-priced for my stay. It certainly beats out the Grand Hyatt Erawan who I have been taking to task for weeks over their recent price gouging. It’s on par with the Sofitel Sukhumvit but offers a better location and more spacious room, though the JW Marriott is not as new as the Sofitel and needs a little touch up.
For American consultants and road warriors that spend most of their nights away from home in Courtyard, Fairfield, and SpringHill Suites – this is your chance to cash in. The JW Marriott in Mexico City ran $599/nt just a few days before I stayed in Bangkok (I was looking to try that property too but instead chose the Hilton Mexico City Airport). In Hong Kong, the JW comes in closer to $400/nt and it looks to be worth it.
There is no question that the JW Marriott is a good value and premium hotel priced correctly or a little cheaper than it should be given its location and offerings. But for Marriott loyalists in the States paying $150/nt and sleeping next to the ice machine, I implore you to try the JW Marriott Bangkok, you won’t regret it.
Have you stayed at this property before? How was your experience? Do you have a favorite hotel in Bangkok that you prefer instead?