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Bangkok, Thailand is one of the few places in the world where it’s possible to stay in a luxury property for less than $100 per night, as TPG International Contributor Lori Zaino discovered at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers.
This past July, I had a very enjoyable two-night stay at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers, due in no small part to the refreshing swimming pool (hello, humidity) and the property’s panoramic river views.
Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River — and designed to curve with it — the 28-story Royal Orchid Sheraton manages to provide river views from all 726 of its guest rooms (including 110 suites). Just outside the hotel, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, shops and street food, plus a small shopping center next door.
If you’re into boats, you’re in luck here, as the hotel is only a five-minute walk from the local ferry stop at Pier 4 (which allows for easy access to the Grand Palace and many temples). Nearby, a free boat shuttle leaves every 30 minutes between 10am-10pm for the Stephan Taksin stop on the Skytrain, Bangkok’s elevated public train. From this stop you can easily reach major city landmarks and shopping opportunities, as well as connect to other Skytrain lines, including the Airport Rail Link to Bangkok Airport (BKK).
The Royal Orchid Sheraton is an SPG Category 3 property that starts at just 7,000 points or 3,400 THB ($94) per night. While searching for July availability on the hotel’s website, I spotted a $94 rate for a Deluxe River View Room and quickly snapped up a couple of nights. I was eager to see how a stay here would compare to some of the city’s more expensive luxury properties, like the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and the swanky W Bangkok.
I like to plan ahead, so I prepaid for my room, using my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to earn 2x points on this travel spend. The Starwood Guest Preferred Amex would also be a great card to use for booking this hotel, as it charges no foreign transaction fees and you’ll earn 2x points per dollar at Starwood properties. If you want to ensure that you earn Starpoints for your stay, be sure to book via the Starwood website or directly through the hotel, as you may not receive your points when booking through online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia or Hotels.com.
Set below a soaring ceiling, the hotel’s lobby welcomes you with an ornate replica of a gilded shrine beside a reflecting pool where wood-carved boats and orchids float in the water. To the left there are various shops and to the right there’s a seating and bar/lounge area where you can order a drink or snack. My partner and I arrived at about 8am after a very long flight from Madrid, and the check-in staff, dressed in traditional Thai silk outfits, was extremely polite and helpful. Thankfully, we were allowed to check into our room early.
Our bags were delivered to our room almost immediately after we arrived. The porter apologized for the delay even though there was no delay! This extra-polite treatment would continue throughout our stay, which made us feel welcome and valued.
Deluxe River View Room
Our 14th-floor room was clean, but a little dated — a common theme in my experience with Sheraton properties. The gorgeous river views from the floor-to-ceiling windows and a fresh orchid were the only clues that I was actually in Thailand (rather than a Sheraton just about anywhere else), but we had lots of space to stretch out, a huge plus after the 12-hour flight.
The room was equipped with a coffee/tea maker, a mini-bar and fridge, a desk and ergonomic chair and a decent-sized bathroom with a shower/bathtub, sink and toilet. The highlight of the furnishings was the very comfortable King-size Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed. This hotel stay was the start of what would be a long trip in Southeast Asia, and I knew most of my other (less luxurious) hotels rooms and Airbnb rentals wouldn’t have such a plush bed.
I appreciated having a sufficient number of electrical ports in the room, as well as ample lighting, both natural and artificial. The hotel also provides two complimentary bottles of water per day in the room.
My favorite feature of the room was the amazing view of the river, coupled with a window-side chair that enabled me to relax and enjoy watching the boats chug along the Chao Phraya. The solid air conditioning worked well throughout my stay and was especially appreciated after many hot and sweaty hours of sightseeing.
I was happy to see the spacious closet and plentiful dresser drawers, though during my two-night stay I didn’t make much use them. If I’d had a week, I could have unpacked everything I’d brought for my two-month vacation and had storage space to spare. Only one thing was slightly bothersome: The heavy room safe was set in one of the dresser drawers, and its weight would often pull open the drawer.
The room was fairly quiet — until the second day, when our obnoxious neighbors checked in. That’s when we discovered our room had next to no soundproofing. For half of our otherwise pleasant stay, we could hear every single detail of our neighbors’ conversations, which sometimes involved yelling, tooth-brushing, hair drying, etc., as well as their door slamming — and that time they rang our doorbell at 7am. (I assume this was an accident, but if not, it was the first time I’d ever been ding-dong-ditched in a hotel.) I’d definitely request a room that doesn’t connect with another — unless, of course, you’re traveling with a group.
Unimpressed by the basic shower/bath products, I ended up using my own shampoo and conditioner.
The bathroom was well-lit and there was plenty of space around the sink to place toiletries, but the sink itself was a bit low. This wasn’t an issue for my 5’2″ self, but it might be a bit of a reach for tall people to wash their face or hands in this sink. The water pressure in the shower was good, and the water got sufficiently hot.
If you’re hoping for a refreshing dip after a hot and humid day on the mean streets of Bangkok, the Royal Orchid Sheraton’s two swimming pools will not disappoint. I particularly loved the setup, as one pool (open in the daytime only) is more of the “kids” pool. It was shallow with plenty of shaded spots — ideal for families.
The deeper lap pool overlooks the river and provides a more peaceful and adult scene. It also wasn’t very crowded, which made it a perfect spot to relax with a drink while boat- and people-watching.
While the gym wasn’t huge, it was clean and organized, making the space feel larger. There were plenty of machines, weight equipment, mats and balls, and the gym actually offers memberships to locals.
The Mandara Spa offers a variety of Eastern and Western treatments using British-made Elemis products. As usual with hotel spas, the prices were exorbitant (2,900 THB/$81 for 90 minutes), but it was so much more obvious in a place like Thailand where you can get incredible Thai massages pretty much everywhere (typically starting at about 350 THB/$10 for 90 minutes). I indulged in plenty of massages during my trip, but had none at the Mandara Spa.
There are four different restaurants in the hotel: the elegant Thara Thong, which offers a Thai menu; Feast for buffet-style meals; Sambal Bar and Grill, a sleek spot for indoor and outdoor dining, with both Western and Thai menu options; and Giorgio’s, which specializes in Southern Italian cuisine
Preferring to munch on street food snacks and hit up local spots, I skipped dining at the hotel — except for the first night, when I was jet-lagged and craving a late-night curry. I ordered the Panang curry with duck to the room, and as I pretty much expected, it was largely bland and four times the cost as it would’ve been in a local Thai restaurant. This poor curry confirmed my decision to seek breakfast elsewhere the following morning. In lieu of paying 700 THB ($20) per person, I headed to an adjacent coffee shop and had a full, hearty breakfast for just 120 THB ($3.50).
If you prefer big chain hotels, this is an economic choice that still maintains its brand standard. Polite staff, the gilded lobby and a choice of two pools certainly all add an air of luxury, but the room furnishings are a little tired. That said, the gorgeous river views would make any room seem great.
Bangkok has no shortage of boutique properties that you can book for $50-$75 per night (or even less), but if you’re loyal to SPG or are traveling with family, this is still a great option for a relatively comfortable and reasonably priced stay. If you choose to stay here, I’d recommend having most of your meals outside of the hotel — there are lots of cheap, delicious spots nearby — and make sure to request a non-connecting room if you value your peace and quiet!
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There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.