35 Soi 11 Sukhumvit Road
In the process of working our way through Soi 11’s many hospitality establishments, we found ourselves booked into Aloft, a relatively new boutique hotel well into the soi just two doors down from the venerable Federal Hotel.
It’s part of a chain of Aloft hotels that are part of the Starwood group, along with more familiar names such as the Sheraton, Westin and Le Méridien chains. There are currently over 70 Aloft hotels dotted around the world, mostly in the US and East Asia. (So far the only ones in Europe are in London, Brussels and – if you include all of Turkey – Bursa.) However, the Aloft chain is aimed at a young, trendy clientèle rather than the business traveller, which makes it a good fit for the kind of traveller that frequents Soi 11 these days.
We booked, as ever, through Agoda. As a result, check-in was straightforward enough, and conducted by a friendly young man in an open-necked shirt (but we’ll come back to the check-in later). The lobby’s full of plenty of televisions and other offerings, such as a 24/7 self-service cafeteria, a pool table and a bar.
The room itself was smallish for the price, but comfortable enough. At least it had a proper shower you can stand up in, with a decent grab bar too.
On the IT side, everything was fine. WiFi was free and easy to log into, and there were no problems with both of us using it at the same time. All the sockets were multi-standard, so no need to take plug adapters with you. There was even a clever docking port enabling you to connect your laptop, or any other video or audio device you might happen to be travelling with, to the telly (a decent-sized LG 42-incher).
Unfortunately, as ever the television was positioned facing the bed, and the base was glued to the furniture so there was no chance of swivelling it to face the comfy seats. So watching a film was out. Grr. I suppose we could have had a disco, except we’d have been hard pushed to find space to dance in. (We’d have had the music, though. There seemed to be bass notes thumping through the fabric of the building most nights until about three in the morning.)
Other accessories were pretty much the standard you’d expect from an £80-a-night hotel in South East Asia – eg an iron and a hairdryer. There was also a kettle and a coffee machine that brewed proper ground coffee, from pads. Oddly, there were no glasses that we could find – just two clear plastic beakers.
As for the view… Remember I said we would come back to the check-in?
We’d actually booked an “Urban” room with panoramic views of the city, rather than a “Chic” room (which appeared from the Aloft website to be identical in every respect other than the view). So it seemed pretty clear that we’d been put into a Chic room by mistake. When I pointed this out, the staff were very apologetic and offered to move us immediately – but this would have meant us going into a room with two queen-sized beds rather than the king-sized bed we’d asked for, so we decided to wait until the following day. They also offered us a free breakfast as compensation, which was fair enough considering the respective prices of the two rooms and the value of the breakfast.
It was worth the move, though. There was plenty to see, including the progress of rainstorms across the city and the odd big-screen advert over by the expressway flyovers. Worth paying £4 a night for? I’d say so.
The other problem we had was with the bed. Although you couldn’t fault it for size, it was soft. Not so soft that your hand would sink straight into it if you prodded it for softness; more the sneaky sort of softness that means you wake up the following morning with a sore back. As both of us did.
I ended up sleeping on the floor most of the time because it was the only way I could be reasonably sure of being able to raise myself from a lying position without excruciating pain. (Only a few days earlier I’d been scoffing at Tiger Woods for being a wimp after he’d complained that a hotel bed had caused his poor performance in a golf tournament. Sorry, Tiger, I take it back.) Dave tried lying at the edge of the bed in the hope of getting a bit more support there, but he still found it uncomfortable.
Overall verdict: 2½ out of 5
I’m sure the Aloft is a nice place to stay if you’re into trendy places. (It describes itself as “Thailand’s hippest hotspot”.) The staff are friendly, and the facilities are pretty good. Unfortunately the bed wrecked the experience for me. Perhaps they have some rooms with firm mattresses, but if not, I won’t be staying again.