As a traveller you sometimes ask yourself, “Why can’t I find a hotel that is simple which has most comforts of a luxury hotel and yet reasonably priced?” Honestly most of us who visit a bustling city hardly have time to enjoy the hotel’s swimming pool or sample the many amenities most luxury hotels have to offer these days. We just wake up, grab a breakfast and leave and when we get back in the evening all we look for is a nice bath and hit the sack. Yet we pay for unused luxuries and amenities.
The Holiday Inn Express chain of hotels addresses just that need. To provide a great room and board experience at an address that is right in the thick of all city action. Here are my musings on my latest trip to Bangkok – one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities.
Bangkok, tracing its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom is a bustling city located in the Chao Phraya Delta known locally as Krung Thep. Tuk tuks rushing by, the smell of street food in the air, tiered roofs with intricate carvings, stupas and friendly smiles make up this zestful city. Famous for its hospitality, spicy food, night-life, red light districts and shopping, Bangkok is a city that is penned on every traveller’s bucket list. Filled with colour and an amalgamation of culture, Bangkok is as diverse as the number of hotels that exist within the 1,568.7 square kilometres that it occupies in central Thailand.
We knew that when visiting a big city like Bangkok, we are always everywhere but the hotel. We would spend hours to end exploring the place and end up spending a fortune on higher room rates for amenities we fail to find time to use. Located in the heart of the shopping district in Pathum Wan or locally referred to as Siam, the Holiday Inn Express is a smart choice if you are anything like us!
Our 23sqm Queen Room came with complimentary breakfast and high-speed WiFi. It was spacious enough for the two of us and the room was equipped with a large bathroom, 32 inch LCD TV, work desk, international adapters, hair dryer, in-room safe, cupboard, iPod docking station, choice of pillows, tea and coffee making services and a mini refrigerator. The bathroom had a hand shower with a 3-way massage shower-head which we loved and it also came with the basic toiletries. The hotel also provides other toiletries like a shaver, toothbrush, etc. should you have forgotten to bring your own. Everything a person on the go would require. Smart indeed!
Holiday Inn Express is designed to please a discerning traveller. The hotel does not provide room service nor does it have a swimming pool but while its amenities are streamlined to minimalistic, it’s still a perfect place to stay with its cosy and relaxing room with the peace of mind a reliable brand like the Holiday Inn provides.
Instead of worrying to spend money on the usual hotel laundry, the Holiday Inn Express provides its guest with a laundry room where they can get their clothes washed and dried at a minimal fee. We love this feature as it allows us to pack light and always have fresh clothes. The refrigerator is not stocked thereby giving us the option of filling it up with snacks and drinks of our choice that we purchased at a neighbouring convenience store at local prices.
Apart from the 24-hour reception, the hotel also has a fully equipped gym, vending machines for that late night snack, and a Grab & Go breakfast option for those in a rush. We found it really easy to pack our breakfast in the provided containers when we had an early start at 6.15am. A novel attribute at no extra cost.
The BTS Skytrain station (National Stadium Stop) is a mere 90 steps (yes we counted) away from the Holiday Inn Express. Hopping on it makes it super easy to get around town. It’s a nightmare to negotiate with taxi drivers in Bangkok and we could rely on the Skytrain to take us to most places. For instance. it took us a mere 14 minutes to reach the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market located right across the Mo Chit BTS Skytrain station. The hotel is also strategically situated neat to the MBK Shopping Centre (3 minute walk) and Siam Paragon (8 minute walk or a 2 minute train ride) for a “mall” shopping feel.
The hotel has one restaurant called the Great Room on the 7th floor that serves a few a la carte dishes apart from the buffet breakfast. If you’re looking for an al fresco evening at the hotel, then choose to chill at the Asia Bar+Kitchen offering guests a selection of both western and Thai cuisines. If you want to head out, then there are plenty of options nearby. From fried chicken push cart vendors to coconut ice cream stalls. From international food courts at the MBK Centre to the typical western franchises in the surrounding malls. You name it, it’s most likely there, in the district of Pathum Wan.
There is a convenience store call 7/11 which is about 100 meters from the hotel. You can purchase anything from snacks to pre-paid cell phone sim cards. But should you require sim cards with data for your smart phones then walk into the malls nearby which have a variety of official Thai phone network companies.
If exploring the city isn’t enough, Holiday Inn Express also has an out-sourced tour service desk at the lobby. Opt to head out to the ancient kingdom of Ayutthaya (2 hours’ drive away) or to the Floating Market in Ratchaburi (1.5 hours’ drive away). Payment is made in cash, so keep that in mind. We spent our last night in Bangkok aboard the luxurious Chao Phraya Cruise. We were picked up from our hotel and treated to a fun filled night of singing, dancing and a large array of food.
During our stay at the Holiday Inn Express we couldn’t help but appreciate the convienence the hotel provides with its strategic location. It’s a joy to see public transportation nearby and the abundant food choices that dot the street that it’s located on. The staff was friendly and eager to help by pinpointing everything on a map which set us on our day of exploration. At the end of a tired day we were always happy to see the hotel with the comforting thought of our lovely room which was like our own oasis where we could rest and recuperate.
On a parting note, the Thai’s are fabulous people. They are eager to help and are extremely hospitable. One evening, on a crowded train station we asked a young lady which train to take when we change trains at the Siam train station. When we alighted we were lost in a sea of people who were madly scrambling to catch other trains. Suddenly she appeared from nowhere looking for us. She couldn’t speak English but apparently she watched us alight at Siam and ran up to us and directed us to the train we were to take to reach our destination. But before we could thank her she was gone…
More to come: 1. How to travel by BTS Skytrain in Bangkok 2. A Visit to the Chatuchak Weekend Market
The hotel lobby
The hotel façade
Our Queen Bed Room – the hotel also has a Twin Bed selection
The view of the National Stadium outside our window
Coffee and tea making facilities
Complimentary internet stations & self service business centre
The Great Room where breakfast is served
The bread station in the Express Start Breakfast
The coffee, tea and hot chocolate machine.
The hot breakfast section with a variety of western and Asian selection
The Laundry Room – It costs THB100 per load (5kg) and includes detergent
The vending machines for that late night snack. There is also a complimentary ice machine
The BTS Skytrain entrance just 90 steps from the hotel
MBK Centre which also houses a large international food court called Fifth Avenue
We had delicious Thai and Indian food at the international food court at MBK Centre
Shopping options inside MBK Centre
Alternative shopping options at Chatuchak Weekend Market – a 14 minute train ride away
The tour desk at the Holiday Inn Express
The boat we got on for our lovely Chao Phraya Dinner Cruise
We visited during the Loy Krathong Festival and witnessed the releasing of floating lanterns called khom loi
The Floating Market – a day trip we took from the tour desk at the hotel
We took a taxi to the Grand Palace from the hotel and it cost 75 Baht each way
Back at the hotel, we chilled out at the Asia Bar+Kitchen over some cool drinks
Holiday Inn Express is located at 889 Rama I Road, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. For more information on rates, head to their official page here.