12 Dec 2008
Elegance Suites, Bangkok, Thailand
Hotel Suite
2 rooms

At 12 Dec approx AU$997

Usually I don't do a review until we've left, but as we're going to be here for a while to come I thought I'd better pull my finger out. We booked our first week here as a timeshare rental for AU$250, after arriving and finding it OK booked the following week (also as a timeshare rental at the same price), then negotiated directly with the hotel for a month long stay, making 6 weeks in total.

The PAD shutting down the airport at the beginning of the month has just about killed tourism here. There are virtually no tourists in Bangkok - suppose if I were in the position that I had to be guaranteed to be back home on the day I'm supposed to be, I'd rethink my plans. With the military and police not taking any action to remove the protesters and reopen the airport, it's going to be very easy for them to repeat the exercise next time they aren't getting all their own way.

Elegance Suites is an 90-odd room all-suite hotel which is about to close for total refurbishment so much of this may be out of date by the time you read it. It's also nicer than my photographs indicate.

All of the suites have a bedroom facing the outside wall, and a separate living/dining area behind it. Logistics, of course, mean that only rooms on the corners of the building have natural light in the living area. When we decided to stay for the extra month, for a small amount we upgraded the remainder of our timeshare rental stay to the room we would be renting directly - an executive room which as well as having natural light in the living area and a full size dining table is a lot bigger than the standard suites - same length but about 2 meters wider. There is plenty of storage in the bedroom and a mini-kitchen with full size fridge/freezer, toaster, kettle and microwave with crockery and cutlery for 4 people. Apart from the size, the executive rooms have better quality furniture, bed linens and crockery.

Elegance is probably best described as a fairly standard 3 star hotel in a fantastic location. There is a rooftop swimming pool and jacuzzi, a basic but OK gym and sauna. The rooftop also has a pleasant looking bar area and massage, can't comment on either of those. There are only half a dozen or so sun beds around the pool - OK during our stay as it's very quiet - and it's a bit hard to find shade until late afternoon.

The TV has only a handful of satellite channels - a couple of news, a movie, a sports and a Chinese and a Japanese channel. Internet access is available in the lobby on their computers at prices 3 times what I found on the street or via ridiculously expensive WiFi in-room. With my new super-dooper signal boosting antenna I had no problem finding unsecured signals - I tried to do the right thing and told them I was leaching and that I didn't mind paying for my access as long as it were a reasonable amount (TB600/week is not reasonable) but they didn't want to know. This time in Thailand, we've come across our first bout of "logic pricing" - when there are no customers around, you put the price up so the ones you do get make up for the ones you didn't. I've always thought pricing logic was a bit of a myth, but now I've seen it for myself in full swing - it really has to be seen to be believed.

Like many others, the hotel has also put the prices of tours up because nobody is booking to go on them. Nobody seems to understand the basic principles of sales and marketing during difficult times.

The location is great for us. Eating and convenience stores on the doorstep, a less than two minute walk to the main road with a supermarket, department store and international fast food chains and about 3 minutes walk to Saphan Thaksin BTS (sky train) and river taxi pier. I read a lot of reviews before we came here (I always take them with a grain of salt as some people can never be pleased) and was concerned about a couple of things that came up more than once. First was the location - many people claimed taxi drivers going round and round and not being able to find it (I bet they were all on the meter, not with the fare negotiated in advance). As we were to arrive via public transport, we looked at the location map on the hotel web site, figured it was almost exactly half way between Saphan Thaksin and Surasuk BTS stations, got a bus from the Southern Terminal and used sign language with the conductor to be put off at Saphan Thaksin (Thaksin Bridge). We were put off the bus, got our bearings - OK, I can't take the credit for that, Peter got his bearings - and within 2 minutes we were checking in. For anyone finding it difficult, it's right at the bottom of a small soi. The entrance to the soi is directly opposite Robinson's department store. It's called Robinson's in Thai as well as English, so you don't need to speak the language and anybody will point you to it. The other thing that concerned me was comments that it is down a seedy back street. Soi Patpong is seedy. Soi Cowboy is seedy. Soi Nana is seedy. The nearest go go bar and collection of lady-boys is Patpong, a good 30 minutes walk away. The hotel is on a normal Thai soi, full of normal Thai people going about their normal everyday business, and the soi is lined with some great food stalls, cheap hairdressers and coin operated washing machines. And a school. Any seedyness would likely be frowned upon.

I'm sure I read in some advertising that it is a few minutes walk to Silom Road - true enough, but Silom is a very long road. It's a good 30 minute walk to the eating and entertainment area of Silom Road (around Patpong). Continue for another 5 minutes and you're at Lumphini Park then another 20 minutes and you're at the Chit Lom/Erawan/Ratchadamri junction. From there, if you turn left 5 minutes gets you to MBK shopping centre, or go straight ahead then left for about 5 total minutes and you're at Panthip Plaza (computer nerd heaven), or if you turn left about 20 minutes walking will get you to Nana. We had a very leisurely stroll to Chinatown (about 20 minutes) and being in Sathorn you're no more than 30 minutes walk from many embassies. Local buses in Bangkok are great and very cheap. Get on, tell the conductor where you're going and if you're on the wrong bus they'll let you off without charge and tell you (or write down) the number of the correct bus. Don't understand why anyone would moan at the location.

So, would we come back? Probably not, but only because Bangkok is full of serviced apartments in this price range and we've probably exhausted all short strolls and long walks in the area. Next time, somewhere new - but I would recommend this place.