Rolling back into Bangkok after three weeks on the road in Ho Chi Minh City, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok (the first time around I stayed for a week) I was exhausted. I had two days to spend in Bangkok on my way to Taipei, and while people don’t think about Bangkok as a place to relax, in this case the City of Angels turned out to be just what I needed. I had raced all over Thailand’s north, from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, to the borders of Myanmar and Laos, and back again. So I was looking forward to a relatively relaxing time in Bangkok, and I hoped my favourite hotel in Bangkok would deliver.
I was staying at the Majestic Grande, a hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 2. I had stayed at the Majestic Grande on a few previous occasions, and often raved about it to fellow travelers as the best deal in Bangkok. But it had been a while since I had been back, so I was looking forward to renewing my relationship with them. One of the most common questions I get from people traveling to Asia is where they should stay; over and over again I had referred people to the Majestic Grande, so I was seriously hoping it would live up to the standard I remembered.
When I arrived in Bangkok a few weeks prior for TBEX and my first stay in the city on this trip, I had taken the Airport Rail Link from Suvarnibhumi International Airport into the city. The ARL is awesome – it’s fast, comfortable, and aside from the six thousand school kids who jumped on halfway through the ride, it was quiet. Actually, it stayed quiet once they jumped on as they immediately got immersed in their phones and basically ignored each other. Thank the heavens for cell phone addiction.
This time, though, I was so tired I didn’t want to deal with dragging my luggage on the ARL and then on the MRT (subway) and BTS (skytrain), so I creaked open my wallet and sprung for a cab. Amazingly, traffic wasn’t horrendous, and I was standing outside the Majestic Grande in about thirty-five minutes. Upon getting out of the cab, the security guard snapped to attention and saluted me. Rarely have I been saluted, so I smiled and saluted back. I liked that.
The doorman swung open the doors and I walked into the nicely appointed lobby.
A small waterfall on the wall created a calming sound and the high ceilings allowed me to just breathe and relax. It was a calm place to be. I was greeted by a pleasant wai by one of the front desk staff, and then, as it wasn’t busy, I was checked in by this lovely team of people. They gave me a drink voucher for the lobby bar, which was a nice touch.
Shown into my room by the bellman, I threw open the curtains and took in my view – Bangkok looked intense before a coming rain storm, dramatic clouds hanging over the city.
I dropped my things, lay down on the big comfy bed, and took in the room. There are a few things about the room that struck me – thought was definitely given to function. As a gadget nerd I really liked the control panel beside the bed. I could control the whole room from here and would never have to move. As someone who is inherently lazy, this was pure magic.
I also liked the big flat screen television (with excellent programming – I caught about an hour of Million Dollar Arm, which seemed to be on no matter where I went in Asia on this trip), the work desk, the fridge, and the amenities in the bathroom. I took a shower, rested for a bit on the big comfy bed, and just relaxed for the first time in days.
My room. I had to grab this pic off the hotel’s website as something went wrong with the image I took in the room – ah, the joys of being a travel writer! All the other images here are mine.
Heading out later I grabbed dinner at an Irish pub on Soi 4. The location of the hotel is right in the middle of scores of restaurants, clubs, nightlife, and it’s only a short walk to the Nana BTS (skytrain) station, making it easy to get around the city. It’s also about a five minute walk from my favourite tailor, Rajawongse, who I wrote about in an earlier post.
It was a strange night, as it was a national holiday, so there was no alcohol for sale anywhere. I am not a huge drinker, but I had been looking forward to a nice cold beer after a long day. There is always a lot of activity in this area of Sukhumvit, so having a beer and watching the world go by is always entertaining. Instead, the apologetic waitress brought me a Coke Light and fish and chips for supper. I know I should have been eating satay, or tom yum soup, or pad thai, but honestly fish and chips sounded great to me after weeks of Thai food, and I was in an Irish pub so it seemed to make sense. It turned out to be a great choice – the first fries I’d eaten in weeks turned out to be packed with greasy pub food deliciousness.
Sitting at the next table over was a fellow travel writer from upstate New York. We had a good time commiserating over our Coke Lights and comparing stories from the road. He left his job and was making a go of living permanently as a traveler; a bold move, one that I found inspiring. Don’t we all dream of just chucking everything and exploring the globe?
New friend made, I called it a night and headed back to the Majestic Grande. Despite the busy Sukhumvit area occasionally launching an assault on the senses, I immediately felt calm when walking into the Majestic Grande.
The next morning I got up and enjoyed a killer buffet where they have one of the best menus going for a hotel in this class. This happy staff member made me an omelette out by the pool and I enjoyed the best breakfast I had eaten in a few weeks. They have a wide array of Asian and North American dishes, with plenty of choice for any taste.
This sounds funny, but one of the things that made an impression on me was the way the honey was served. Instead of putting it in a dish with a spoon as many hotels might do, they had an actual honeycomb that dripped honey onto a silver plate. It’s a small detail, one of the things that encapsulates this hotel – they pay attention to the small things, and it makes for a strong impression.
I liked eating out by the little elephants that spout water from the pool. It’s a salt water pool, and a totally refreshing place to take a dip when you need to cool off from Bangkok’s heat. It’s not a big pool, but it hits the spot when you want to cool down.
Later in the morning I checked out the spa, opting for a sixty minute massage. One thing that will happen to you if you spend any time in Southeast Asia is that you’ll become addicted to massage – it seems to be a cultural phenomenon, and costs a lot less than what you’ll pay in North America or Europe. At the Majestic Grande they have a great spa area including steam room, sauna, and whirlpool baths in each the men’s and women’s changing areas. I changed into my robe, made my way into the private massage room, and enjoyed one of the best massages I had had since arriving in Asia three weeks earlier.
I had some work to do, so I went back to the room, feeling well relaxed from my spa time, and wrote for a couple of hours. I then enjoyed a great lunch at their buffet on the seventh floor – again, massive choice, and a steal at 399 baht – and then got ready to check out.
My time at the Majestic Grande coming to an end, I was thrilled to find that this hotel not only met, but exceeded my expectations. The key ingredient that takes any hotel from good to great is its people – you can have the finest amenities, the tastiest food, the softest bed; but if the people don’t make you feel welcome you’ll never come back. I think this is what stands out to me as the Majestic Grande’s finest asset – I have always been made to feel like a VIP here. From my first trip in 2006, to my last stay a few days ago, I always felt like an old friend. Staff members obviously enjoy their jobs, and their passion for the hotel shows. I hope they never lose this enthusiasm, as it’s one of the hotel’s finest attributes. From the doormen to the managers, the cleaning staff to the marketing team, I was always greeted with a smile, and for me, that goes a long way.
I hope to be back in Bangkok in 2016, and I know my first stop will be the Majestic Grande, my oasis in the middle of one of the most exciting cities in the world.
In full disclosure, Majestic Grande invited me to stay with them and they paid for my stay in exchange for this coverage. Please know I will always be honest in my reviews, regardless of who’s paying the bill. Cheers!
What do you like best about hotels that treat you well? What gives you peace when thousands of miles from home? Comment below, and don’t be afraid to mention your own blog / website!