Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok – A Review By Punam Mohandas
It was a trip down nostalgia lane as I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Erawan recently; I used to stay at this hotel during my early visits to Bangkok many years ago and always favoured it on account of its rather grand atmosphere and staff courtliness.
A pair of majestic, four-headed elephants in green stone that have been the signature motif of this hotel for years, flank the entrance. One enters a black-stoned foyer with an atrium roof, lots of greenery and small water bodies. The sound of rushing water from the fountain a level below, is a soothing accompaniment. There is seating on either side of the foyer, with the left-hand side actually being an extension of the all-day dining outlet. The Reception is a narrow space hidden behind all the chairs and the plants, so that one feels one has strolled into a café rather than a hotel lobby. A spectacular sweeping staircase leads to the upper level with its restaurants.
The Grand Hyatt Erawan offers 380-keys categorised as follows: Grand King and Grand Twin (standard rooms); Grand Deluxe; Grand Executive Suite; Premier Suite; Club Rooms (floors 16-22); Diplomat Suite and the Erawan Suite at a boggling 240-sqm that also includes a small gym and has an all-marble bathroom with jacuzzi.
Wide corridors with discreet sconce lighting and very nice carpeting in a muted fawn and black plaid, lead to the rooms. All fitments in the rooms are similar; it is just the size that varies. The Hyatt Erawan uses the American June Jacobs line of toiletry products in all the guestrooms as well as at the spa.
The Grand Deluxe room lives up to its name and is rather grand in size. Aesthetically arranged, with a curved diwan, study desk and chair, it has lots of natural lighting. A room otherwise simple in décor, it is made all the more pleasing by the same unusual, deep ivory tiles with a black floral pattern and the carpeting that is prevalent across the hotel; an unusual interior design of marrying Scottish plaid with a distinctly Moorish touch that is nevertheless a complementary combination.
A particularly thoughtful touch is that all the light switches are touch buttons and on dimmer mode, so that the room does not plunge into instant darkness. The room has a large screen TV, tea/coffee maker, electronic safe and bathrobes. Given the fact that we are in a humid climate like Thailand, the hotel hospitably provides six complimentary bottles of drinking water in the rooms.
The bathroom has adequate space, although the bathtub is narrow. It has a hand shower as well, apart from which there is a shower cubicle with rain shower. The glass wall between the shower and WC spaces has a sheer, gauzy fabric with gold and silver squares encased within the glass, which is understated in its simplicity and beauty.
The room inventory also includes six spa cottages to the side of the swimming pool. Depending on the package, guests get a free, daily one hour massage per person within the cottage, with no need to go to the spa.
F&B options are quite varied at this hotel, with Tables Grill, The Dining Room and Spasso as three separate venues for Sunday brunch choices. Restaurants include the 149-covers (including two PDR’s for 16 or 32 pax)Tables Grill that serves grilled meats and has a strict dress code; The Dining Room (130-covers) that is the main breakfast area and also a multi-cuisine, all-day dining; Spasso, with 120-covers, that is the Italian fine dining outlet but surprisingly, also a popular nightclub, with dance floor, live band every night and a DJ on Sundays; the 120-covers Erawan Tea Room serving Thai cuisine; the 60-covers You and Mee (a play on the word; ‘Mee’ is Thai for ‘noodles’) that serves quick noodle lunches and rice porridge dinner buffet; the 36-covers Erawan Bakery for bagels, wraps and pastries, as also tea/coffee and the 95-covers Bar@494.
The Erawan Tea Room offers a unique, daily high-tea experience, where Thai nibbles are paired with English scones that nonetheless have been given an Asian twist as they are flavoured with ginger and coconut. I have long believed that the true essence (!) of any chef would be to turn out a simple dish perfectly and the Tom Kha Gai at this outlet is outstanding as is the crab rice, which, although plainly presented, is delicious in every bite. On the other hand, although the breakfast spread at The Dining Room is quite varied, with the usuals plus separate Asian and Indian stations, the Indian dishes are a sad disappointment; the idlis as well as chutney were sour, while the vadas were dry and rockhard – even a Gits instant packet turns out more superior products! Also, why is the poha referred to as the “pova”; one wonders if there’s an authentic Indian chef in the kitchens!
The Club Lounge should also be included in the list of F&B outlets, as it serves a light breakfast, refreshments through the day and quite an interesting cocktail repast from 5.30-7.30pm. Indeed, this space gets really busy during this period as most Club guests head here to put on the nosebags.
There is also a computer at the Club Lounge for complimentary guest use, including printing facilities (Club guests only) and there is free wifi across the hotel.
Recreation facilities include a meandering pool surrounded by greenery and palm trees, resort style. A small café called Breezeway provides light snacks, juices and other beverages.
The Fitness Centre has plenty of machines, with huge windows that look out over some plants, giving the semblance of a green space within a humming metropolis. The gym is open for non-resident members until 11pm only, however, for in-house hotel guests it is operational 24-hours. There is quite a large Juice Bar here as well, with seating in pale orange and black.
The I.Sawan Spa offers six (single) treatment rooms and three couple rooms, as well as separate sauna and steam facilities for men and women, with spacious changing area and locker facilities. Very sensibly, this busy space has a separate lift to the car park. The hotel also offers a hair salon and nail spa that are operated by outside management.
The signature treatment at the spa is the hour-long Essence of I.Sawan, which combines the Swedish and Thai massage techniques to increase the circulation and also as a detoxification. The massage is done using a blend of aroma oils such as lemongrass, cypress and plai. This massage mainly relies on the expertise of the masseuse and the feeling of relaxation attained through the oils used.
Convention facilities at the Hyatt Erawan include a staggering 14 meeting rooms, ranging in capacity from 10-1,500 pax. Organised in clusters, The Residence, as its name denotes, is done up like the living room of some stylish mansion, with a home décor concept comprising bookshelves, faux fireplace and grand piano. There are five rooms within this area that also has a loft kitchen where food stations can be organized and can cater to a capacity of 800pax.
The Campus, on the other hand, is a marvellously fun concept and quite daring for a hotel; as its name suggests, this space is done up just like a university campus, with cafeteria, candy and popcorn machines, pool tables – even the staff are dressed in student uniforms! The conference rooms too mirror actual classrooms. There are five rooms in this area, from a capacity of 15-60pax.
Apart from the boardroom, there is then the Grand Ballroom, which can be partitioned into three smaller rooms. Once opened, this pillar-less hall that is eight feet in height can accommodate 1,500pax. There is also the Business Centre at lobby level.
Housekeeping staff are extremely efficient and courteous, while Front Office are polite and businesslike. The F&B staff at breakfast are a delight, as they cope with a sizeable crowd with ready smiles. The F&B team at the Club Lounge are very friendly, although the staff at the Club Reception tend to get noisy. The security at the Grand Hyatt Erawan is discreet and ever vigilant, with constant patrol checks.
Quite honestly, there is some traffic noise disturbance as the hotel is on the main Sukhumvit road and in the busy Ratchaprasong market area, as also adjacent to the BTS Chidlom line.
There is a lot to do and see in this area itself, with malls such as Isetan, Zen, Amarin Plaza, Central and CentralWorld in the vicinity. More importantly, you should stop by for a few minutes to pay your respects at the adjacent Erawan shrine that most Thais believe has strong powers. A ten-minute walk along the skywalk (or one stop away on the BTS) gets you to Siam, with more malls, restaurants and roadside shopping and the MBK mall within the area. Apart from this, there is plenty to do in Bangkok; you can take in a day tour of the Grand Palace; visit Wats (temples) such as Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Arun and others; do a ferry cruise down the Chao Phraya river, stopping at China Town, Little India, or Khaosarn along the way; visit a Floating Market, the Flower Market and countless Night Markets. The Chatuchak Market is open only on the weekends, 6am-6pm. You can also do day trips to Ayutthaya, Suko Thai (both erstwhile capital cities of Thailand) Kanchanaburi and the Bridge over the River Kwai, Khao Yai with some Thai vineyards, or Pattaya.
All major airlines fly into Bangkok and many low cost ones. From the airport to the Grand Hyatt Erawan, a taxi should cost approximately THB 300 (plus the airport surcharge of THB 50.) Alternatively, you can reserve a hotel car at THB 3,000 one way. You can also reach the hotel via the BTS; take the Airport Rail Link till Phaya Thai station on the Sukhumvit line (THB 45) and from Phaya Thai, take the BTS to Chidlom station (approximately THB 42.)
GRAND HYATT ERAWAN BANGKOK
TEL: + 66 2254 1234
FAX: + 66 2254 6244
WEBSITE: www. bangkok.grand.hyatt.com
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.