For the last 2 nights in Bangkok, we moved to the Plaza Athenee located along Wireless Road in downtown Bangkok to be closer to the city. This hotel is within 5 minutes of walk from the Phloen Chit BTS station and is near to the US Embassy and several other shopping malls including the new Central Embassy that houses the Park Hyatt Bangkok. I have previously stayed and reviewed this property before but the rooms have received substantial renovations to the room and has since been rebranded to The Athenee Hotel, under the Luxury Collection brand portfolio within SPG.
While I visited the reception desk was being renovated and there was some desks by the entrance. The site of this hotel used to be a royal palace and the vast atrium and grand lobby pays homage to this being a Royal Le Meridien property previously when I stayed. As SPG Platinums, we were brought up to the club lounge on the 26th floor to complete our check-in.
Service in the club lounge was as good as my past experience with attentive staff that offers guests drinks on arrival. When we checked in around lunch time, the lounge was deserted, making it a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. Check-in took a while here as well since the staff needed our passports and to check if the room was ready. We had booked a twin room with 2 double beds as that would comfortably sleep our party of 3 in one room. As expected there was no suite upgrades available even when we asked, though Platinum members still gets a host of complimentary services such as the free laundry for up to 2 items per day, use of the meeting rooms, shoe shine service, breakfast which could be had in the Rain Tree Cafe on the ground floor and several other benefits like discounts within the hotel spa and restaurants and daily newspapers.
Room No: 2407 Category: Athenee Club Room
For this stay, we were assigned a room on the 24th floor. This was a newly renovated club room featuring 2 generously sized double beds. As a standard layout, a row of closet and minibar cabinet greets guests when entering the room. There was a good assortment of snacks on the cabinet and the room has an illy capsule style espresso maker. A simple to use espresso machine is always a treat in a hotel.
Inside the bathroom on the left of the entrance, there does not seem to be any changes since my last stay. There is a bathtub on the right end of the bathroom with a granite vanity countertop.
On the left end of the bathroom, there is a walk-in shower stall and a toilet, with the walls being clad in marble. This was definitely a classic bathroom design. Another upgrade I noticed was the generous provision of Malin + Goetz amenity as it was under the Le Meridien branding when I stayed. There is a possibility of them moving to use Remede amenities to be in line with Luxury Collection properties in South-east Asia.
Inside the bedroom itself, the change is more noticeable. First off, the bedroom feels darker due to the gray wallpapers though it gives the room a classy ambience. There was 2 double beds with a small console table in between.
At the end of the room, there is a desk with a swivelling work chair and an arm chair. The desk was similar to the one pre-renovation thus I do not think they replaced it.
My favourite area inside the room was the corner couch which is a nice space to lounge during the day. The standing light gave the space a touch of elegance as well.
On our arrival, there was a basket of fruits alongside a chocolate bar and some nougat candies beautifully packaged. This was the same as my last stay and seems to be a standard welcome amenity. As a luxury hotel, there was turndown amenity provided in the evening with the curtains being drawn, towels refreshed and some sweet pastries provided for guests on the table.
With the new decor, I really liked the feel of the room and it elevates the hotel to a different level of luxury. As a large hotel, there are plenty of facilities within the building. The Athenee houses one of the larger ballrooms in the city and thus guests could expect some convention or banquet attendees staying in the hotel. Up to 4 different restaurants serving French, Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine can be found on the 3rd floor and this is in addition to the all-day dining restaurant in the ground floor and the 2 bars inside the hotel.
Evening Snacks at the Club Lounge
Guests staying in the club floors or SPG Platinum members get access to the classically designed Club Lounge in the hotel for evening snacks and breakfast.
Evening snacks are served from 5pm to 8pm in the lounge which is a generous time-slot in city hotels as most hotels stop serving at 7pm. The range of food served is as good as the club lounge in the Royal Orchid Sheraton, and perhaps even slightly higher in quality. Food served here ranged from bite-sized canapes to a buffet with dishes like grilled seabass, fried rice and the ubiquitous pandan-wrapped fried chicken.
The buffet definitely could substitute for a light dinner and if one is still hungry there are some bread and cheese on the buffet table with vegetable sticks and fruits. Assorted dips and toppings are provided to add flavour to the fruits and vegetables.
There is also a soup corner that changes daily with the choice being chicken clear soup.
Dessert was available as well with 3 choices of mini-sized sweet pastries. They tasted not bad and while I did not try every dish on offer, I found the presentation of the dishes to be excellent.
Breakfast at the Club Lounge
In the lounge, breakfast is served from 6:30am to 10:30am and while it lacks the diversity of food being offered, the space is more conducive for guests who prefer a quieter space to dine and catch up on news in the morning. For a Club Lounge, there was an egg station which could cook eggs to one’s liking. There is even a special omlette with spicy minced chicken that is really hot and should be ordered only if guests can withstand Thai chillies.
Another great feature was freshly squeezed Thai mandarin oranges which has a sweeter taste than the usual Sunkist oranges.
On the buffet table, there was a choice of pastries with mini preserves, salads pre-mixed and bottled in a jar, and several types of yogurts and fruit cocktails.
Other cold food includes smoked salmon with the toppings, 2 types of healthy smoothies, cold cuts and cheese.
Hot dishes on the buffet range from the usual bacon and sausages to Asian specialties like fried rice and stir-fried vermicelli. They could usually be found alongside stir-fried dishes like pork and vegetables. As Thais eat pork frequently, they seem to be predominant as a choice of meat for sausages and stir-fried dishes.
Inside the club lounge, there is a meeting room that Platinum members and Club Room guests get access to for 2-hours each day should they need to schedule meetings. There are also a couple of iMacs on the corner near the reception area for guests to use.
Breakfast at the Club Lounge
As far as hotel breakfasts go, it is difficult to top the variety offered at the Rain Tree Cafe in the ground floor; where breakfast is served from 6am to 10:30am. Beside the buffet breakfast that is complimentary for Club Room guests, there is an a-la-carte menu where guests could pay if they rather have individual items. Note that some of the items on this menu is also presented on the buffet.
Starting with beverages, guests are offered coffee or tea. In addition, they could also start with fresh coconut water or several choices of healthy drinks.
If there was one downside to a buffet with a huge variety, the whole buffet was spread out and feels somewhat disorganized. For example, the central area has a variety of fruits including the salt and dried chilli toppings that Thais eat their fruits with.
Other cold items on the buffet was yogurt with a variety of toppings, two choices of smoked fish – salmon and red snapper, sushi rolls, cold cuts and several cheese selection.
Vegetarians could help themselves to a salad bar with many different types of fresh greens. To complete the continental selection, there was a good range of bread, muffins, croissants and Danish pastries from the bakery. This was even accompanied with an ice cream cart with 4 different kinds of flavours.
Cooked food in the buffet can be segmented into 4 different kinds of cuisine – Chinese, Thai, Indian and International. Chinese selection includes congee and the usual toppings that goes inside. There are also several baskets of dim sums and steamed dumplings to choose from, and a noodle station where diners can create their favourite combination.
Another Chinese breakfast staple is fried dough fritters that is enjoyed with soya milk. Commonly found in hotels around China, they are a cheap staple served around South-east Asia.
Thai dishes includes fried riceberry with chicken, stir-fried pork, grilled chicken with sticky rice and green curries for the eggs.
For Indian cuisine there was parathas and dosas with chutneys and curries. International choices was the usual baked beans, bacons and sausages that seems a tad common in this diverse buffet mix. As such I recommend trying out the other dishes here. Especially the specialty dishes such as the pandan crepe with candied pomelo for dessert.
During my stay in the hotel, I got to use the fitness centre for my regular exercise. The fitness centre is well equipped but it can get busy in the morning as it seems to be open to non hotel guests who have perhaps purchased a membership with the hotel.
In addition, there is a beautiful bar in the ground floor right outside the Rain Tree Cafe called the Glaz Bar that would be a great place to unwind after dinner.
On the same floor as the fitness centre, the hotel has an outdoor pool with several lounge chairs. However the pool location amidst the skyscrapers means it does not get the sun nor the ambience for a relaxing time by the pool side. What it does have is a nice pool side bar should guests prefer to enjoy the city breeze outdoor.
For this stay, the average room rate was around THB5,800 (~$177) inclusive of taxes and while not exactly the cheapest choice in Bangkok, I would rate it highly in terms of comfort due to the newly renovated rooms. Its great location in the middle of the city means access to public transport is easy and there are plenty of entertainment and fantastic shopping or dining depending on your interests. With the club rooms, the great breakfast and evening snacks seems to be a bonus that adds value to this stay.