Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok – A Review By Punam Mohandas
It never ceases to surprise me as to the differing perceptions regarding the Hilton brand in Asia and Europe. I have stayed at both the Hilton Amsterdam (Apollolaan) and the Hilton Paris Eiffel Tower; somewhat unprepossessing facades and rooms that had the bare essentials, along the lines of an Ibis! In fact, the Hilton Amsterdam did not even have a restaurant on the premises and served a basic breakfast. I am speaking of the late nineties, so perhaps things have since changed; I have heard that the rooms have been majorly refurbished. Mostly though, the Hilton is considered as a Business hotel in the four star range.
However, in Asia, the brand is accorded an almost reverential status and straight off catapulted to the five star bracket, acquiring a startling level of luxury and quiet ostentatiousness that does not exist among its western cousins! Many industry folks will recall the Hilton in New Delhi that was opened with much fanfare and celebrity attendance a few years ago, although subsequently, the brand could not sustain its presence in India.
More recently, on visiting the Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok, the impression I received was one of understated luxury, where the overriding emphasis is on guest comfort.
One enters into a tastefully done up lobby with lounge seating as though in some comfortable, lived-in, home living room. Thankfully, the lobby has some pleasant fragrance wafting through, rather than the overwhelming jasmine scent many Thai hotels opt for. The Reception desk is almost hidden, placed discreetly off to the side. A couple of sculptures are placed at strategic points…the hotel is built up around the story of a (fictitious) Italian gent, Jay, who meets the American love of his life – Daisy – here and so one comes across sculptures of the two all across the hotel, indeed, the chef even puts together miniatures in white chocolate!
With a room inventory of 280-keys, the Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok offers mind boggling categories such as: King Deluxe; Twin Deluxe; King Accessible Deluxe (three rooms for physically challenged guests); King Executive Room; Twin Executive Room; King Junior Suite; Twin Junior Suite; King Executive Suite; Twin Executive Suite and the King Presidential Suite. As if this were not enough, as of January 2018 the hotel is adding on yet another category – the Premium Executive Room.
I stayed in a King Executive Room; very spacious indeed for a city hotel, where the emphasis is on comfort rather than luxury fitments that are seldom of utility. The room has plenty of mirrors and extremely adequate lighting, including flexibly angled bed lamps. The carpeting and stone flooring is in a light biscuit shade. The bed and pillows deserve a separate word of praise, being so soft that one can sink onto them.
This room category offers a very large bathroom, with the bathtub and rain shower both in the same cubicle and which can be covered off from the bed space by roller blinds. The sink area is spacious too, while the toilet is in a separate cubicle.
The Hilton Sukhumvit provides the uber luxurious Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries across its room categories. Other amenities include two complimentary bottles of drinking water; tea/coffee maker; minibar; electronic safe; large screen TV (albeit with limited channels on offer) weighing scale; bathrobes; iron and ironing board and a platter of sweet nothings on your day of check-in.
F&B options include the 45-covers, all day dining Mondo, which means ‘world’ in Italian – keeping to this meaning, there are plenty of stacked suitcases around this space. Mondo again has unusual, comfortable armchair seating that has come up around a square bar in the centre, with the premium single malts and cognacs lending the otherwise casual atmosphere a touch of sophistication, with piped piano music playing softly in the background. The chef here puts together unique salads (particularly the pomegranate and mango with quinoa) and desserts.
Then there is the Italian outlet Scalini, which means ‘spiral staircase’ in Italian and so, fittingly, there is indeed a staircase leading up past Mondo and thence to Scalini, with its open kitchen concept. The décor here is of the early 1900’s, during the Prohibition period. Once again, this restaurant too offers comfortable seating complemented by beautifully carved wooden dining cabinets, although there is the usual table-chair placement in the centre of the room, near the wine racks. This outlet has a young new Italian chef who is constantly revamping the menu to offer tantalizing tastes and show off his culinary skills.
Breakfast options are myriad – one can either avail of a Japanese breakfast at Mondo, or else, the usual international spread at Scalini. (It is slightly strange though, to find that the Hilton does not serve fresh juices.) On a smaller scale, although by no means meagre, is the breakfast at the Executive Lounge. Indeed, the latter offers finger food pretty much through the day, with a high tea followed by ‘Happy Hour’ cocktails. This is really a most pleasantly done up space, with a separate wine cellar that is also the enclosed smoking zone, overlooking the Bangkok skyline. There is also a computer work station here for complimentary guest use.
The Hilton Sukhumvit has quite a small – and therefore with minimal space for seating or sun loungers – swimming pool on the rooftop, with quaint statues of Jay and Daisy reading a book, paddling their feet in the water. There is a small bar here as well, playing peppy, piped Latino music. This space is known as ‘Lapse’ and also has a small Fitness Centre that is open 24-hours.
The convention facilities are actually quite delightful; I never thought to use this adjective to describe boring old boardrooms but – there it is! The entire floor is fashioned as a New York style penthouse, with the kitchen and pantry exactly as one would find in an apartment. Done up in elegant grey and black, the foyer leads to a luxuriously appointed sitting room, on either side of which are the halls. Summit I is a boardroom that can accommodate 12-pax, while Summit II and Summit III on the facing side can accommodate 50-pax each, theatre style. Rather than a slider on wheels, these halls have a door in between and hence, are better suited to events than conventions. Usually, this entire floor is rented out for weddings or magazine photo shoots.
The Study Room on a lower floor can take 60-pax theatre style, while the Grand Ballroom can accommodate 300-pax theatre style. The Grand Ballroom has a pre-function area that is a short L-shape, to one end of which is a smaller boardroom for 10-pax.
Unfortunately, given the tempestuous times we live in, security needs to be at a premium and the hotel has addressed this issue by ensuring that your room key card gives access only to your own floor or else, the public spaces. Even there, you need to tap the card against the reader in the lift, else it will take you down to lobby level only.
Front Office staff are smiling, helpful and professional. F&B service is friendly and efficient. Housekeeping are chatty (and sometimes over friendly) but a little lax when it comes to replenishing amenities.
The Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok is most enviably located! On the prestigious Sukhumvit soi 24, it is a two minute walking distance to BTS Phrom Pong and to upscale malls such as Emporium and EM Quartier – the latest addition to the city. The Naraya store, famous for its cloth handbags, is across the road and there are many massage places around the hotel, including the well-run Asia Herb Association further down the road. Unfortunately, this kind of location for a city hotel usually brings traffic disturbance in its wake and so it is here; there is a humming sound of traffic, although you can request for rooms not facing the BTS and so avoid some of the outside noise.
Phrom Pong is on the Sukhumvit line; the next station is Asoke, prime business district and also home to malls such as Terminal 21. A few stops more gets you to Siam, with more malls, restaurants and roadside shopping and the MBK mall within the area. Heading away from Phrom Pong, the next station is Thonglor, full of exclusive and upbeat pubs and bars.
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 Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok, a taxi should cost approximately THB 400 (plus the airport surcharge of THB 50.) Alternatively, you can reserve a hotel car. You can also reach the hotel via the BTS if you’re feeling adventurous and don’t have much luggage; take the Airport Rail Link till Phaya Thai station on the Sukhumvit line (THB 45) and from Phaya Thai, take the BTS to Phrom Pong station.
HILTON SUKHUMVIT BANGKOK
TEL: +66 (0)2 620 6666
FAX: +66 (0)2 620 6699
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.