So I am not really sure what all the hype about Hilton’s luxury brand is all about. Compared to Conrad, and even some Hilton Hotels (such as Hilton Mumbai), it pars substantially.
Yes, it is a lovely hotel and in a good area of Bangkok, but in terms of service and amenities, it really falls short.
We arrive at the hotel and are a bit lost – there is no signage (or at least very difficult to find signage) stating where the reception is. When you finally find it a few floors above via elevator, there is nothing that distinguishes it from being the reception area, other than 3 desks cluttered with pieces of A4 paper (presumably the check-in and check-outs of the day). There is no acknowledgement as we are waiting to be attended to, and when we do finally sit down and hand over our passports, there is no acknowledgement of our Diamond status. To be fair though, the hotel general manager does come out to greet us when he is told we have arrived.
The receptionist seems a bit flustered and goes to speak to another colleague who quickly comes over and *finally* smiles and welcomes us to the hotel. We are told although we have already checked into our room online, we have been upgraded to a King Deluxe Suite :), but it is not ready yet so we are asked if we would prefer to wait or take our assigned room. We decide to wait. In the meantime, as this is my first stay at a Waldorf Astoria branded hotel, I ask what are the Diamond benefits. There is no lounge, we are told, but instead we can receive a dining credit of THB 500 per registered guest (about USD 15 each).
We leave our bags, go for a walk around, and then return to go to our room. We are escorted there by a friendly ‘personal concierge’ and told of the facilities in the room. On our way I notice how bland the walls are – no artwork and quite sterile. It also smells of some kind of chemical agent that has been used on the carpet (like a wet carpet smell). The room itself doesn’t seem to be that big (for a suite), maybe around 50 sqm or so, and the main feature we notice is the technological aspect of the amenities (curtains and drapes that automatically open each time you enter the room; an iPad that controls all the lights, aircon, and curtains; and a temperamental, over-eager Japanese-style washlet toilet).
A bowl of fruit, welcome letter, and two small fruit tarts are provided as a welcome amenity. They are actually quite tasty.
After a quick look around the room, we check out the pool, gym, and spa area. All quite small, and not without challenges (I ask if the hotel is going through a ‘soft opening’ but not so). Small things, but not at the standard of what I had expected/envisioned a Waldorf Astoria to be like. For example, the steam room is not switched on, so we have to go to the spa lobby in our dressing gown (which by the way is very luxurious) to ask for it to be turned on; the second (upper) row of lockers is unreachable unless you are a 7″ basketball player; pool towels at one stage are not replenished and again have to ask for some. Small (yet modern equipment) gym.
The highlight for me is the food. Superb. As Hhonors Diamond members we are entitled to breakfast and it is delicious. A buffet (small, but top notch) and a choice from the a la carte menu. I choose the truffle eggs, which comes with caviar (I think).
But the amazing food doesn’t end there. We use our THB 500 x 2 dining credit to enjoy afternoon tea on day 2 of our stay. Usually THB 1900 for 2, we enjoy it at half price. With a view to the racecourse, Peacock Alley is a splendid way to enjoy afternoon tea like you have never done so before. The selection of cakes and canapes is huge, and each morsel is utterly divine.
So in summary, would I spend the money (and points) to stay here again? Probably not. But bucket-list ticked. I have now stayed at a Waldorf Astoria!