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I’ve taken advantage of one of the many recent Qatar Airways Business Class fares to book myself a lightning quick trip to Bangkok. The trip will give me the chance to review the Business Class cabins on both the airline’s A330 and A380 aircraft but, more importantly, it will be my very first trip to Bangkok.
Considering I’ve done quite a few trips into Asia over the past few years I’m not sure how I’ve managed to avoid Bangkok so far but I’m excited to be finally going and I’m enjoying the challenge of deciding where to stay.
As is usually the case I’ve been checking out the Marriott options in Bangkok first (for reasons I’ll explain in a minute) but the Hilton and Starwood options have caught my eye and the latest IHG Accelerate promotion has only added to my indecision.
Bangkok Sunset – Image Mike Behnken via Flickr
Relatively speaking I’m pretty close to locking in Marriott Lifetime Platinum status so, for the past year, I’ve been making an extra effort to earn the Marriott Rewards points I need to take me over the line before Marriott Rewards and Starwood SPG are merged (the night requirement for lifetime status is as good as in the bag).
That fact, combined with the fact that my current Platinum status will get me access to the executive lounge (at any Marriott property that offers one), complimentary breakfast, late check-out and probably a room upgrade means that I’ve been checking out Marriott properties first.
Getting the opinions of people who have actually stayed at the various properties is always my first move so, after reading this Flyertalk thread, I narrowed my Marriott option down to the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit.
I was tempted to try the JW Marriott Bangkok as, at just $20/night more than the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit, it seems decent value but the Flyertalk thread put me off.
There are mentions that the JW is is need of renovation and the lounge doesn’t sound as good as the one at the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit plus, when you see this picture of the Bangkok Marriott wouldn’t you want to visit? 🙂
Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit – Image courtesy of Marriott
The room I would book would be the cheapest possible (a Deluxe Room with King bed) which measures 366sq ft.
Assuming I get the expected one-level upgrade I would probably end up in an Executive room on a high floor….. but this wouldn’t be an larger than the room I had booked in the first place – it’s just a room on a higher floor.
Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit Executive Room – Image courtesy of Marriott
The room looks nice in the images (if a little on the small side) but I’m struggling to pull the trigger on this stay.
The reason for my hesitation is this….
I have Gold status with Hilton Honors thanks to my Amex Platinum card and Hilton Gold status offers me a number of benefits I consider valuable – like complimentary breakfast and a late check-out – so that opens up the possibility of a stay at a Hilton property.
Right now the Conrad Bangkok is pricing up at $29/night cheaper than the Bangkok Marriott and the “basic room” is considerably larger than what’s on offer at the Marriott (441sq ft).
And it looks nice too:
Conrad Bangkok King Room – Images courtesy of Hilton
The Conrad is in a different area of the city to the Bangkok Marriott so I’ll have to do a bit more research into that but, on the face of things, it’s looking like a very solid option.
To add a bit more indecision into the mix there’s a Starwood option in Bangkok that looks ok.
I have Platinum status in Starwoods loyalty program courtesy of my Marriott Platinum status but I have to admit to not seeing the big deal with Starwood in general.
SPG Platinum status will get me all the same important benefits at Starwood properties as my Marriott status will get me at Marriott properties so, on those grounds, the two are equal (I really don’t care if I get a suite upgrade or not when I’m traveling alone). My benefits at Hilton won’t be quite so good but, based purely on the things I really care about, it’s marginal.
I generally consider Starwood properties to be overpriced and the fact that most of the full-service Starwood properties in Bangkok are more expensive than the options outlined above goes a long way to proving my point….but the Le Meridien Bangkok looks interesting.
The cost/night is pretty much the same as the Bangkok Marriott and, at 388st ft, the basic room (Vista King) is not materially different in size to the Marriott but is still smaller than the Conrad.
Le Meridien Bangkok Vista King Room – Image courtesy of Starwood
An upgrade may see me get a Vista Premier room which is slightly larger at 398 sq ft (so that doesn’t really make all that much difference) but if I was to be upgraded to a suite (as SPG loyalists say can often happen) I’d be in an “Avantec suite” at over 800sq ft in size and with a living area, sofas, and a whole bunch of other things I may or may not have the time to enjoy (so should I really care?).
On top of all this the Le Meridien gets remarkably good TripAdvisor ratings:
There’s no executive lounge at the Le Meridien but Flyertalk confirms that the property has a very nice complimentary tapas/drinks happy hour and the breakfast has been called “excellent”
Location-wise it’s closer to the Conrad than to the Marriott but it still looks like in an area of its own so more research is probably required.
Just as I thought that was all my options covered IHG released its Accelerate Promotion for 1Q 2018 which gives me a very tempting set of tasks that would earn me over 70,000 IHG Rewards points.
I don’t really want to stay at a budget property when I already have the options I’ve set out available at reasonable rates….sot that probably leaves me with the InterContinental Bangkok.
Image courtesy of IHG
I have InterContinental Ambassador status so I’ll probably get a room upgrade and a late check out so the worst case scenario sees me with a spacious 485 square foot room to enjoy…but the cost here is an issue.
The nightly rate at the InterContinental is $60 – $90 more than at the other properties I’ve been looking at and I’m not sure I can justify that sort of premium….but then I don’t know this property. Perhaps it’s amazing and worth it.
Right now I’m leaning towards booking the Marriott because the guys on Flyertalk seem to think it’s pretty good (they’re not normally overly biased), I like the overall look of the property and I’ll get even closer to the Lifetime Platinum status I’m chasing.
Having said that I’m more than a little aware that loyalty programs are designed to encourage us make irrational decisions and, with the Conrad offering a considerably larger room for less money, I’m questioning my thinking.
The Le Meridien is currently third in my ranking despite the fact that it’s the property at which I’m most likely to get upgraded to a suite. Also, although it has a great TripAdvisor rating (which I confess I only half believe) I’m not totally sold on the property….but it stays in the reckoning because I think it would make a good review for this blog and it’s been a while since I stayed at a Starwood property.
The InterContinental is a late entry into this conundrum but, while chasing the 70,000 bonus points that the Accelerate promotion is offering is very tempting, the relatively high room cost is putting me off.
Lastly I’m also questioning one of my criteria for choosing the hotel in the first place – should the size of the room even come into play?
I’m only going to be in town for 3 days so it’s not like I’ll be spending all that much time in the room….so does it really matter if the room is smaller than one elsewhere? Probably not.
Right now I’m going to go away and do a bit more research on the locations and see if there’s anything about the properties that I’ve missed that would make a difference in my decision.
What I’d really like is some input from anyone who has been to Bangkok, who knows one or more of these properties and who has an opinion which direction I should go in (if it’s something haven’t mentioned that’s ok too).
Anyone have any thoughts?