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lebua at State Tower – Bangkok

State Tower
1055 Silom Road
(BTS: Saphan Taksin)

After years of staying in the Sukhumvit Road area whenever we visited Bangkok, for a change we decided we’d try somewhere near the Chao Phraya river. Not the backpackers’ haven of Khao San Road, though – this was going to be a treat, not an ordeal.

The problem was that, although there are plenty of waterfront hotels, they’re not always very accessible from the key transport networks – the BTS (Skytrain) and the metro. The Bangkok Mandarin Oriental is fairly close to the Saphan Taksin terminus of the BTS’s Silom line (and has a complimentary ferry service from the nearby jetty), but with prices starting at USD 289 a night, it’s not exactly cheap.

However, the lebua at State Tower seemed to offer a pretty good compromise. Although it wasn’t located on the river, it was close to it, and as a suite hotel it appeared well appointed. With Agoda offering a deal for USD 468.78 for three nights in a 66m² Superior suite, with several attractive little extras thrown in, it sounded like good value – just over half the price that the Oriental was charging for a room little more than half the size. So we decided to book.

Unfortunately, on the day that we were due to travel, Kay was unwell. We contacted Agoda using their live chat facility and asked whether it would be possible to put our booking back by a day. (Normally if you request a change so late, the hotel’s late-change penalty policy kicks in, so we fully expected to be charged for an extra night.) After contacting the lebua, Agoda were able to tell us that the booking had been changed with no extra charge, which was a relief.

The following day, we arrived in Bangkok and made our way to Saphan Taksin. Traffic was heavy (it was half-past four in the afternoon) so we ended up hoofing it to the hotel – a taxi would have taken twice the time. We were greeted by an army of smiling, smart staff; one of them took charge of our suitcase, while a smartly-besuited door manager took our passports and the card Dave had used to make the booking, and politely invited us to sit on the comfy chairs in the lobby while formalities were dealt with. Five minutes later a young lady (likewise smartly besuited) appeared and invited us to accompany her to our suite on Floor 21. On the way up she informed us that we had been upgraded from a Superior suite to an Executive two-bedroomed suite. Very nice, we thought.

We had no idea how nice! Our first sight of the suite was a surprisingly long corridor-cum-entrance hall, with a door leading off into what we assumed was the bathroom. Rounding the corner – and still not at the end of the corridor – we were faced with a respectably equipped kitchenette, complete with fridge/freezer, microwave/grill, two-plate electric hob, combined kettle and coffee filter machine, double sink… even a washing machine! So where was the living space?

As we finally emerged, our jaws dropped as we discovered an immense living space, with an office area (complete with free 4MBps broadband access and complimentary stationery), and a vast semicircular settee that could comfortably seat five people, together with a decent-sized television complete with satellite TV and a DVD player. The whole suite, it turned out, was 118 square metres; nearly twice as big as the one we’d booked, and about a third bigger than the entire floorspace of the two-and-a-half-bedroom house we used to have in suburban London.

The bedroom? Lovely! A king-size bed, for starters. We’d been worried to read on the lebua’s website that the beds were “feather soft”. Thankfully, the one we had wasn’t; it was good and firm. Plenty of wardrobe space (complete with dressing-gowns and slippers), another telly… and an en-suite bathroom. (It turned out that the door we’d noticed was to the second bedroom’s bathroom.) Separate bath and shower, with a decent washbasin and marble counter, and loads of Bvlgari toiletries. Superb!

Back in the living-room, our greeter told us that we could use the two balconies (one for the living-room, one for the bedroom) if we were willing to sign to accept the rules of use (no furniture, no glasses, no kids… no problem). It turned out we didn’t have a river view, but we weren’t too bothered – we had plenty to look at over the Bangkok skyline, and a lovely room to enjoy!

The freebies? Well, the breakfast buffet every day (from 0600 to 1130: now that’s civilised!) was an excellent start – a superb range of food and drink in pleasant surroundings, so good that we broke from our usual habit and made it to breakfast every day! – and you’ll be able to read more about it in our sister website very soon. And a day pass for the Skytrain, a discount card for the Central chain of department stores and specialist shops, free shoe-cleaning service, and complimentary transfers to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport were certainly worthwhile too. They’ve also got a shuttle bus to Saphan Taksin BTS station during the day, although we never had occasion to use it. And there were several nice little touches besides, like the welcome chocolates (a variety of Belgian truffles), the living orchid in a vase on the coffee table, and the newspaper every morning, that all made us feel pampered.

Downsides? Erm… the restaurants won’t let you in if you’re wearing sandals. This doesn’t seem to apply to the breakfast buffet, although Dave saw one guy turned away, apparently for wearing rather scruffy shorts.

And when the time came to check out, it couldn’t have been easier – we simply went to the cashier’s desk, confirmed that we’d had nothing out of the minibar, and were smilingly handed our receipt and the cancelled card impression they’d taken for the deposit. And they let us leave our bags free of charge (we’ve known some posh places that charge per item per day) while we went and did some last-minute shopping.

Rating: 4¾ out of 5
Our highest rating ever, for the nicest hotel stay either of us has ever had. We’ve said in the past that no-one gets 5 out of 5, but this was pretty damn close to it!

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