[Accommodation Review] – Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa (Prestige Suite), Sentosa, Singapore (31 Dec 19 – 1 Jan 20)

Location

Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa is located near the western part of Sentosa Island, a resort island south of Singapore. Most of the attractions on Sentosa Island are located to the east of the island, hence Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa is very much isolated. The hotel does provide scheduled bus services to the other parts of the island as well as to mainland Singapore. Getting around the island is not a problem just a little time-consuming. The only other non-hotel establishment around Sofitel is the golf course opposite. This means that guests staying at the hotel, who are too lazy to step out of the hotel, will have to rely on the overpriced food options on the hotel premises. Being isolated also means guests can relax and enjoy the tranquillity the hotel offers and have a true resort feel when staying at Sofitel Sentosa Resorts & Spa.

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Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa Hotel Signage

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The main lobby of Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa

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Check-in counters in Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa

The Suite

We originally booked to stay in a Junior Suite, however, due to my friend’s status with Accor group, we were given a free upgrade to the massive 64m² Prestige Suite. The Prestige Suite at Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa has three main areas, the living room, the bedroom and the bathroom. As we were assigned the ground floor, the suite also comes with outdoor patios both at the bedroom and the living room.

Entryway

Unlike most suites in hotels where one will usually get a view of the living room from the main entrance, entering through the main entrance of the Prestige Suite in Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa one will come into an entryway. This entryway is situated between the living room and the bedroom, which both has doors for added privacy.

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We were greeted by an entryway that separates the living room and the bedroom

Living Room

The decor of the Living Room in the Prestige Suite of Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa has a heavy retro French flare to it. The squarish living room is cosy thanks to the use of the soft and fluffy carpet and the placement of the furniture, coupled with the use of soft yellow lighting.  A bulk of the living room is occupied by the lounge space consisting of a three-seater sofa, a soft leather coffee table and a couple of stools on the side. Tucked in one corner, by the floor to ceiling window, is a rocking armchair for guests to relax in while doing some reading. There are a couple of shelvings placed by the wall that does little than for decoration purposes. I did found spaces for putting small nick-nacks on this shelving though. In front of the couch is a large LED TV that features locals and international channels. Speaking of the couch, the couch does have a mouldy smell the moment we sat on it. There is an outdoor patio from the living room which can be accessed via the sliding door next to the TV.

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Overview of the living room in the Prestige Suite

Behind the couch, facing the living room is a sizable work desk, which allows guests to do some decent work. The low-back office chair clad in leather is more comfortable to sit in then it looks. However, I do find the placement of the power outlets on the floor a tad inconvenient for guests to charge their lifestyle devices. Next to the work desk, tucked in one other corner of the living room is the minibar cabinet. The cylindrical minibar houses a coffee machine, a kettle with complimentary tea and coffee as well as a fridge together with cups and mugs. I like the design of this cylindrical minibar as it can be closed fully, hiding its purpose when not in use.

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Work desk in the living room

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The cylindrical minibar is well stocked with drinks and snacks

Bedroom

The door on the left from the entryway leads to the bedroom. The retro French decor theme is also apparent in the bedroom, using mainly purple and soft colours, the bedroom feels cosy and comfortable. In the centre of the bedroom sits a large King Bed that provided me with excellent sleep quality. To ensure guests get a good night sleep, other than the comfortable King bed with its luxurious duvet set, Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa also provides a limited choice of pillow menu (the menu can be found in the wardrobe). There is a side table mounted to the wall on either side of the King bed complete with power outlets, which allows guests to charge their mobile phones and tablets. Opposite the King bed, sitting on a metal stand is a large LED TV with the same entertainment options like the one in the living room. The metal stand also provides additional space for guests to place small nick-nacks onto.

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King bed in the bedroom

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One of the two side tables in the bedroom

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Power outlets by the side table

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TV in the bedroom

Two wardrobes are tucked onto the wall in the bedroom. These wardrobes provide ample storage space for guests to put away their clothing. The wardrobe on the left mainly consist of shelvings and cabinets and is also where the in-room safe can be found. Despite having a small space for guests to hang their clothes, the storage of iron and ironing board here makes it impossible to do so. The wardrobe on the right mainly serves the function for guests to hang their clothing. Tucked along the same wall as the wardrobes and runs all the way to the door to the bedroom is a ledge where guests can stow their luggage. Some drawers underneath the ledge provided more storage space for guests.

The bedroom has a large floor to ceiling window panel that can be open for guests to gain access to another outdoor patio, complete with deck chairs and table. The view from the patio of the suite that was assigned to us leaves one to be desired as it faces the main driveway to the hotel. Nonetheless, this is a great place to relax.

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Outdoor patio from the bedroom of the Prestige Suite

Bathroom

The retro French theme that is consistent in the living room and bedroom of the Prestige Suite at Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa flows into the bathroom as well. The bathroom can only be accessed from the bedroom. The bathroom has a separate walk-in shower, tiled with predominantly red mosaic tiles, it features both a rain shower and a regular shower head. I like the fact that the hotel installed a fairly large stone shelf in one corner of the walk-in shower for toiletries and bath amenities. Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa pampers its guests with the luxurious Lanvin bath amenities. The toilet cubicle, located next to the walk-in shower, also uses retro red mosaic tiles making the decor consistent not only in the bathroom also throughout the entire Prestige Suite. The sink area occupies the entire width of the bathroom, features a single sink with ample countertop space for guests to put away their toiletries. The large mirrors installed at the sink area makes the entire bathroom feel larger than it actually is. Next to the sink is a bathtub where guests can soak their worries away. Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa provides its guests with bath salt for them to soak in the bathtub.

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A large bathtub in the bathroom of the Prestige Suite

Service

The service we received at Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa was good. There are instances where the staffs portrayed the hospitable value of the hotel. Queuing at check-in feels a little chaotic at first, however, the moment the staff processing our check-in realises my friend’s status with Accor Group, they immediately sprung into action and invited us to the counter for Accor Members to process our check-in. Another staff member got busy and prepared welcome drinks and cold towels for us. Our check-in was processed by a staff member named Harshpreeb. Harshpreeb processed our check-in with great efficiency and even escorted us to our suite and ran through every feature and corner of the Prestige Suite. We enquired about late check-out before Harshpreeb left our suite, and instead of calling us, the industrious Harshpreeb personally came to our suite and updated us on the information that we asked for. Our requests for additional bath amenities and ice buckets were met with great efficiency by members of the housekeeping team.

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Dedicated check-in counter for Accor members

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We were served welcome drinks during check-in

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Fresh fruit platter was provided in the Suite

Hotel Facilities

Swimming Pool

Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa has a very large swimming pool that guests can relax by. The swimming pool is also large enough for guests to do some decent laps. There is no lack of sundeck chairs and sofas around the pool for guests to relax on. Despite not having a separate pool for younger guests, the hotel did a great job by cordoning the shallower part of the pool to cater for their younger guests. There are more facilities at Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa, such as a gym and a spa, however, they are located in another part of the hotel that requires some walk from the main hotel buildings. We did not visit these facilities during our stay this time around.

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Swimming pool in Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa at night

Overall

We had a great stay at the Prestige Suite at Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa. The suite was large and certainly makes our stay feels comfortable and cosy. The air conditioning in the suite was great, keeping us cool amid a typical hot climate in Singapore. The sleep quality on the King bed makes us feel recharged the next morning. The service at Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa was great with staffs paying attention to details and made us feel welcome. Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa is a great place to stay and relax if one can overlook the inconveniences of its location.

[Accommodation Review] – Theme Park Hotel (Kings Room), Genting Highlands, Malaysia (30 Nov – 1 Dec 19)

Location

Theme Park Hotel is one of the seven hotels managed by Resorts World Genting and is located on the top of Genting Highlands together with other major hotels. Compared to the other hotels in Genting Highland, Theme Park Hotel feels a tad isolated being located in one corner of the resort, opposite the Arena of Stars theatre. The hotel is about 5 mins walk to the central area in Genting Highlands where food and entertainment are located. There was a concert over the weekend when my friends and I visited Genting Highlands, walking towards the central area in Genting Highlands from Theme Park Hotel was a challenge having to squeeze through hordes of concert-goers.

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Entrance to Theme Park Hotel

The Room

There are two wings to Theme Park Hotel, we were assigned rooms in the Valley Wing which is a 3 mins walk from the main building via a link bridge. My friend and I checked into a very clean 21m² Kings Room. The room feels small but the clever use of space does not make one feel claustrophobic. As we were only staying for one night, I thought space is good enough for sleeping at night.

Sleeping Area

The room has a simple set up, a sleeping area and a bathroom. The Sleeping Area occupies most of the real estate space in the Kings Room. The king bed is essentially a mattress laid on a raised platform. The sleep quality on the bed is decent, but the pillows are too soft for my liking. There is only one bedside lamp and power points one side of the king bed, which is rather inconvenient for the two guests staying in the room. The hotel is very good at utilising the small space in the room by using the space below the platform for guests to stow away items such as their luggage. The in-room safe is also found below the platform.

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King Bed in the Kings Room at Theme Park Hotel

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The bedside lamp and power sockets are only found on one side of the king bed

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An in-room safe is tucked below the platform

A small desk is mounted on the wall facing the window in the King Room at Theme Park Hotel. The size of the desk is too small for any work to be done, coupled with the hotel furnishes this part of the room with a stool, which is uncomfortable to sit on, rather than an office chair. It seems to suggest that this desk is not meant for guests to do work on, but to place small items, after all, who would want to bring their work all the way up to Genting Highlands. There are some complimentary coffee and tea placed on the desk for guests to consume. The in-room phone is also found on the desk. An empty mini-fridge with two bottles of water in the room is placed below the work desk.

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A small desk in the King Room

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Mini fridge below the work desk with two bottles of water

A 32″ LCD TV is mounted on the wall opposite the king bed. There are numerous local and international channels available on the TV, however, most of the international channels seem to be blocked past midnight. A luggage rack is placed next to the TV mounting. There is no wardrobe in the King Room at Theme Park Hotel. Guests will have to make do with the four large hooks mounted on the wall next to the main entrance to the room to hang out their clothing. We only used these hooks to hang our jacket and placed the rest of the clothing on the platform where the king bed is.

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The TV is mounted on the wall opposite the king bed

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Luggage rack

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There are no wardrobes in the room only some hooks on the wall by the entrance

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View from the Kings Room at Theme Park Hotel

Bathroom

The bathroom is located next to the entrance to the Kings Room. The bathroom has a semi open-concept. One will not find the main door enclosing the entire bathroom. The bathroom has a simple but functional setup. Facing the open entrance to the bathroom are two frosted glass cubicles. The left cubicle is the walk-in shower that is only equipped with a regular shower head, which serves its function of enabling us to shower. There is a ledge in the shower cubicle where the hotel placed one set of shower amenities. The right cubicle is the toilet. The sink area is tucked in one end of the bathroom. There isn’t much space for guests to place their own toiletries at the sink area, we had to shift the bathroom amenities provided by the hotel at the sink area to make space for our toiletries. The hotel provides two sets of good quality amenities, including toothbrushes. There is an opening below the sink where we were supposed to hang the hand towels. There are some hooks on the wall of the bathroom beside the sink for guests to hang clothing or towels. Due to the open concept, one has to be very comfortable with their roommate when staying in the Kings Room.

Service

Our interaction with the staff at Theme Park Hotel is very limited. We only interacted with the staffs at Theme Park Hotel during check-in. The service rendered at the reception was a mix of hits and misses. As we arrived at Genting Highlands at 6am, we proceeded to the hotel to see if there are available rooms for early check-in (early check-in is chargeable). We were assisted by a friendly and efficient staff whom after checking regrettably informing us no rooms were available. Seeing that some of us have brought luggage, the staff proposed that we leave our luggage with the concierge so we will not have to lug our luggage while walking around Genting Highlands.

We returned some 10 hours later, after the official check-in time, to check ourselves into our rooms. There are staffs standing by the self-check-in kiosks at the lobby of the hotel, however, none of them approached our party of six to render any assistance or to encourage us to use the self check-in kiosks.

We proceeded to the reception for our check-in and was served by a staff who did not seem to bother to greet or provide any smile on her face. The first thing she asked was why did we not use the self check-in kiosks. She only proceeded to help us check-in after we mentioned that we have three rooms to check-in and coming to the counter seem to be the most efficient way of getting our rooms. The staff then proceeded to process our check-in which took her almost 30 mins to complete the check-in. We are not too sure if she did that on purpose or the system at Resorts World Genting is generally slow.

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Theme Park Hotel Lobby. The hot air balloon looking structure is the reception area where check-ins are being processed

Overall

The location of Theme Park Hotel is good but not great, especially when one is assigned to a room at the Valley Wing, walking to the facilities and restaurants at Genting Highlands means a 10 to 12 mins affair. The King Room at the Theme Park Hotel is small, but the clever use of space in the King Room does not feel small. The room is of a decent comfort and seems to only serve the pragmatic function of providing a bed for guests to sleep. For a one night stay, I thought the King Room in the Theme Park Hotel is alright, but I would not say the same if I am staying for more than one night. The service is a mix and not impressionable at the hotel, the only staffs that we interacted during our stay in the hotel are during check-in. Overall, the King Room in the Theme Park Hotel is good for a one night stay.

[Accommodation Review] – VIE Hotel Bangkok (Deluxe Suite), Bangkok, Thailand (14 – 18 Nov 19)

Location

Vie Hotel Bangkok is situated in downtown Bangkok, a mere one station via the BTS away from the central Siam area where shopping malls such as MBK, Siam Paragon, and Central World are located. The hotel is less than 5 mins walk from the nearest BTS Station – Ratchathewi, making exploring Bangkok on BTS very easy. There are several 24-hour convenient shops in the vicinity, however, they are all located on the opposite side of the main road, which is accessible via the overhead bridge at the BTS station.

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Vie Hotel facade

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Vie Hotel Lobby and Reception

The Suite

My friend and I had stayed in the Executive Suite back in May 2019 (read about it here), this time around we checked out the Deluxe Suite in Vie Hotel Bangkok. The Deluxe Suite has a massive floor area of 76m², which is slightly smaller than the 81m² Executive Suite.

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Suites in Vie Hotel Bangkok

Living Room

The living room occupies approximately half the floor area of the Deluxe Suite. It is the first room in the suite that guests will come into contact when entering the suite.  The Living Room has an earthy colour scheme ranging from the furniture to the wooden flooring used. The wooden flooring gives the suite a unique rustic character. A work desk sits in one corner to the right of the entrance to the Deluxe Suite in Vie Hotel Bangkok. The placement of the work desk in the Living Room of the Suite is not at all obstructive to guests’ movement in the massive living room. The work desk is large enough for guests to do some decent work on, but the lack of power outlet at the desk area means guests would have to remove the plug of the desk lamp to charge their laptops. The Living Room is sufficiently illuminated to render the desk lamp redundant. An electric kettle and a Nespresso Machine is found on the glass shelf behind the work desk. I was hesitant in placing anything on the glass shelving as it looks rather fragile. I thought having a wooden shelf would be a much better choice.

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The large work desk in the Living Room of the Deluxe Suite in Vie Hotel Bangkok

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Water kettle and Nespresso Machine on the shelf behind the work desk

Further into the Living Room, past the work desk, guests would find themselves at the lounge area of the Living Room. The lounge area is furnished with two large-sized sofas, which are very comfortable to sit on while watching the numerous local and international channels Vie Hotel has on the large flat-screen TV. The use of mahogany colour on the sofas and the carpet, as well as the curtain, complements the earthy theme in the Living Room very well. Coupled with the use of yellow lights, the Living Room in the Deluxe Suite feels very cosy and comfortable. A large wooden coffee table sits in between the two sofas, allowing guests to enjoy drinks from the minibar while watching shows on the TV.

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The two sofas in the lounge area of the Living Room are arranged in an L-shape configuration

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The sofas are very comfortable to sit on

Opposite the two sofas is a large TV, mounted on the wall between the two wooden doors leading into the Bedroom. There are numerous channels for guests to keep themselves occupied in the suite. I find the cabinet below the TV very useful to stow away my shopping whilst in Bangkok. The minibar fridge is hidden in the cabinet to the left of the left door into the bedroom. Vie Hotels provides complimentary minibar items such as soft drinks, juices and some snacks in the fridge, which are topped up daily during housekeeping, for guests staying in the deluxe suite.

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The TV in the Living Room of the Deluxe Suite is mounted between the two doors leading to the Bedroom

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View of the TV from the sofa in the Living Room

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Night view of Bangkok from the Living Room window

Bedroom

Access into the Bedroom of the Deluxe Suite in Vie Hotel Bangkok is via one of the two wooden doors on either side of the TV in the Living Room. The earthy theme in the suite flows into the Bedroom. A King size bed sits in the middle of the Bedroom, tucked on the wall. The King bed is very comfortable to sleep in and provided me with excellent quality of sleep, leaving me feeling fully charged to explore the hectic streets of Bangkok the next day. The pillows are a tad too soft for my liking, however, this is overcome by the extensive pillow menu that Vie Hotel was thoughtful enough to include where I found a pillow to my liking. Opposite the King Bed is another TV mounted on the wall between the two doors. This TV has the same channel choices as that found in the Living Room.

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Comfortable King bed in the Bedroom of the Deluxe Suite in Vie Hotel Bangkok

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Vie Hotel Bangkok has an extensive pillow menu for their guests

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TV in the Bedroom

The wardrobes in the Deluxe Suite is placed next to the King Bed, comprising a large two-panelled door and a one-panelled door. I find the walking space beside the King Bed a tad limited when the wardrobe doors are opened. The space in the wardrobe is quite generous, capable of swallowing one week’s worth of clothing. There are limited hangers in the wardrobe, but the hotel is happy to bring more when requested. Inside the bigger wardrobe, a two-tiered open shelf provides additional space for guests to put away-smaller items. It is here where the in-room safe is placed for guests to safe keep their valuables.  The storage space in a smaller wardrobe is rather limited. Due to only one door, guests cannot utilise the entire wardrobe space as it can be difficult to reach. An iron and ironing board is stored inside the smaller wardrobe. There is a three-tiered drawer placed next to the entrance to the bathroom, providing more storage space for guests. We utilised the top of this drawer as a ledge to place our luggage on.

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Main wardrobe in the Bedroom

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A smaller wardrobe which I find a tad difficult to access

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Luggage ledge on top of a three-tier drawer by the entrance to the Bathroom

Bathroom

Access to the bathroom is possible only from the Bedroom. The beige coloured marble bathroom has an elegant and contemporary feel in its decor. A large bathtub sits to the left of the entrance. I do find the filling up water from the tap takes more time than using the showerhead. Opposite the bathtub is two cubicles, one containing the walk-in shower that is equipped with both a regular shower head and a rainfall showerhead; whilst the other cubicle next to the sink contains the toilet. Unlike the Executive Suite that I have stayed in a few months ago, there are two sinks in the bathroom. There is a plentiful storage area on the sink countertop for guests to stow their toiletries.

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Large bathtub by the entrance to the bathroom

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Dual sink in the bathroom with generous countertop space

Service

The service at Vie Hotel Bangkok was nothing short of impeccable. At the time of our arrival, we were warmly welcomed by the staff at the door and our luggage was promptly taken care of by these diligent staff, who brought our luggage to our suites while another staff processed our check-in. We met with Tong, the front desk staff, who accord my friend the Silver Status with Accor Hotels from our booking records. Tong immediately invited us to the sit-down counter while he processed our check-in, and at the same time gotten his colleagues to prepare five glasses of welcome drinks for our party of five. He went on to explain the ingredients of the drink that we were served. On top of that, Tong also presented us with welcome drink vouchers, which we can utilise at the bar on the ground floor anytime during our stay at Vie Hotel. We did not have to wait for too long for Tong to complete processing our check-in, who also brought us to our suites and explained to us the features in the suite. We would get greetings from Tong whenever we see him on duty at the front desk during our stay at Vie Hotel Bangkok.

We interacted most with the staff at La VIE Bistronomy, where we had our breakfast, during our stay at the hotel. Every morning, without fail, the staff would greet us with the warmest smile. We met Jiw on a few occasions during breakfast. Jiw always greeted us with smiles, she even remembered our preference for beverage every single morning and would bring us Thai Milk Tea (we ordered once during breakfast) after our meals. Jiw took well care of us during breakfast, always asking how we find the food at La VIE Bistronomy.

We first met Beer at the La VIE Bistronomy during breakfast, who greeted us at the door and showed us to our seat in the restaurant. She managed to get us seats that are close to the buffet area and introduced some of the food that is available for breakfast. Beer would be checked with us how we find the food when she was clearing the empty plates on our table. We bumped into Beer again in the lobby when we were leaving for the airport. We raised the concern to Beer that we might not have time to utilise the welcome drink voucher. Beer assured us that we still have time and signal that she will buy us some time by helping us our luggage into our arranged transport. We managed to get some drinks at the lobby before departing for the airport, thanks to Beer who bought us some time.

The service in the Vie Hotel Bangkok is generally impeccable. We were always greeted with smiles from the staff at the reception whenever we walk past. Our suites were always immaculately cleaned up the housekeeping staff who ensured that we always have a clean suite to return to after a day’s exploring on the streets of Bangkok.

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Vie Hotel provides Tuk Tuk Service to major shopping malls nearby

Facilities in the Hotel

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool at Vie Hotel Bangkok is located on the rooftop of another building, linked via a bridge between the two buildings. The rooftop infinity pool is a tad small but still allow guests to do some decent laps to burn off some calories from the feasting in the streets of Bangkok. There is a small jacuzzi area in the pool near to the bar. The swimming pool is only accessible via the gym in the hotel.

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Walkway to the swimming pool

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A small rooftop infinity pool

Gym

The Gym at Vie Hotel Bangkok is a fully functional gym that is fully equipped with numerous workout machines such as bikes, stepper machines, treadmills, and weights machines. There is a free weight area in the gym where guests can do some serious workouts. The Gym also holds workout classes for its members, however, guests of the hotel who wanted to join these classes are required to pay for them.

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Entrance to WE Gym in Vie Hotel Bangkok

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WE gym is a fully functional gym like one of those paying gyms

Breakfast

Breakfast at Vie Hotel Bangkok is served at the La VIE Bistronomy Restaurant, located on the 11th floor of the hotel. There is a good mix of local and international choices for guests of the hotel. There are minor adjustments to the menu daily, mainly at the cook to order local dishes bar. There are some freshly squeezed juices served at La VIE Bistronomy during breakfast. The food is delicious but can feel repetitive as the adjustments to the menu is rather minor. Nonetheless, the breakfast at Vie Hotel Bangkok does the job of energising guests so they have the energy to explore the streets of Bangkok.

Overall

We had a fantastic stay at Vie Hotel Bangkok. I find the size of the Deluxe Suite is of the right size, not too big and not too small. The Suite is very comfortable to stay in and the sleep quality on the king bed is excellent. The location of Vie Hotel Bangkok is also a major plus point as it is next to the BTS station and just a mere one stop away from the shopping malls in Siam area. The staff at the hotel provided excellent service who were always seen with smiles across their faces whenever we bumped into them.

[Accommodation Review] – Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemum Hotels & Residences (Residence Studio), Seoul, South Korea (2 – 6 Nov 19)

Location

Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is very well appointed. The hotel is 5 mins walk from Dongdaemun shopping district where the shops close at 5am every day. The hotel is also very accessible with a bus stop just 2 mins walk and the subway just 4 mins walk from the hotel. The nearest subway stop from Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is Dongdaemun  History & Culture Park Station, where three subway lines serve the station. The hotel is one subway stop from Myeongdong shopping district, five stops away from Gyeongbokgung Station and four stops from Seoul Station. Getting to and from Incheon Airport is a breeze with the Airport limousine Bus Stop being 1 min walk from the hotel. There are at least two 24-hour convenient shops nearby the hotel, with one located in the building next to the hotel. Numerous eateries around the hotel open 24-hour.

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Airport limousine stop next to Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences

The Studio

The Residence Studio has a total floor area of 26m² which is quite good by Seoul’s standards. Despite its size, the interior designers of the hotel did an excellent job is packing a kitchenette in the room and yet does not make the room feel cramp.

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View of Seoul from the Residence Studio

Sleeping Area

The large king bed is the first thing that greets guests upon entering the room. The sleep quality on the king bed is excellent, leaving guests feeling fully recharged every night one sleeps on it. The pillows are of the right firmness to my liking. Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences also provides guests with a choice of four types of pillows via the pillow menu ensuring guests having a better sleep quality. There are two side tables placed on either side of the bed with reading lights mounted on the headboard of the bed, thus freeing up space for guests to utilise on the side tables. There is an international power outlet as well as two USB charging ports above either of the bedside tables, providing ample outlets for guests to charge their lifestyle devices.

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The king bed is the first thing that greets guests upon entering the room

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The sleep quality on the king bed is excellent

Next to the entrance of the Residence Studio is a couple of armchairs and a small round table, where guests can relax by and enjoy a cup of coffee from the Nespresso machine in the kitchenette. There are some more power outlets and USB ports here, providing guests with more points to charge their lifestyle devices. A large 55″ LED TV is mounted on the wall opposite the king bed and above the armchairs. There is no lack of TV programmes, both local and international ones, to keep guests of the Residence Studio entertained.

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Armchairs and the 55″ LED TV mounted on the wall opposite the king bed

The Bathroom

The bathroom in the Residence Studio at Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is a tad tight, but one will not feel too cramp inside the bathroom. A sink and a small countertop are to the right of the entrance to the bathroom. Despite being small, there is still space on the countertop for guests to place some of their toiletries. A large mirror is placed on the wall by the sink, making the bathroom look bigger. A toilet bowl, that comes with remote control bidet, is placed in the corner next to the sink. A walk-in shower with both regular and rain shower heads, enclosed in glass partition separating the wet and dry area of the bathroom, is diagonally opposite the sink. The space inside the walk-in shower does not feel cramp at all. One can still shower comfortably in the walk-in shower. I am amazed that the designers of this Residence Studio in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences manage to fit in a wardrobe in the bathroom. This ingenious design not only frees up space in the sleeping area of the room, it conveniences guests of the room in changing their clothes after a shower. The wardrobe is, however, a tad small for two guests staying in the room. The space in the wardrobe at most can hold up to one week’s clothing for one guest and maybe two guests if the clothings are hanged closely. An iron and ironing board is stowed inside this wardrobe. An in-room safe is hidden on the top drawer of the two-tiered cabinet inside the wardrobe.

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Sink and toilet in the bathroom

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Remote control bidet

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Walk-in Shower

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Bath amenities provided by Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences

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Wardrobe in the toilet

Kitchenette

Despite having a total floor area of only 26m², the designers of the Residence Studio managed to put in a kitchenette area in the room, displaying their cleverness at using space in the room. The kitchenette occupies the corner of the room outside the bathroom and to the left of the entrance to the Residence Studio. The two induction cookers and the microwave in the kitchenette allows guests to cook a simple meal. There is also a rice cooker and some cookwares stowed inside the cabinet in the kitchenette area. The hotel also installed a Nespresso machine in the kitchenette for guests to enjoy quality coffee in the room. In the cabinets under the induction cookers are a washing machine that comes with dryer function and a mini-fridge.

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Kitchenette Area in the Residence Studio

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There is a sink and two induction cookers in the kitchenette

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Microwave oven, electric kettle and Nespresso machine in the kitchenette

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There is a washing machine cum dryer in the kitchenette

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Mini fridge in the kitchenette

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Rice cooker and other cooking wares are found in the cabinet at the kitchenette. There is space here for guests to store their belongings

Service

The service in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is out of this world. From the moment we step into the hotel on the ground level, we can already feel the friendliness and eagerness to help guests from the staff. We were greeted by the concierge staffs and invited to the 20th floor to get our check-in processed. The concierge staff also offered to help us with our luggage and escort us to the reception for check-in, which we declined. At the reception, the staffs welcomed us with the biggest smile on her face. She processed our check-in with such efficiency and made some recommendations for us to explore during our stay in Seoul. The staff also gave us three welcome drink passes (unlike the miserable Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae) and recommended us to use the pass at the bar on the 20th floor where the view is more spectacular.

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Concierge staff on the ground floor who are always willing to help

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We were warmly welcomed by the staff at the reception on the 20th floor during our check-in

I always thought the housekeeping staffs are the unsung heroes of any hotels. It is the same for Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences. We were assured that we will always return to a spick and span suite every night after exploring Seoul. These diligent housekeeping staffs cleaned every corner of the suite and replenished all the amenities in the suite so we do not have to worry about them running out.

When we redeemed the welcome drink from the bar on the 20th floor, we were warmly welcomed by the only staff at the bar. The staff briefed us of the choice of drink we are entitled to and found us an excellent seat which gave us a commanding view of the surroundings after taking orders for our drinks.

The hotel provides free shuttle service three times a day to six major destinations around Seoul include Myeongdong, Gyeongbokgung, Changyeonggung to name a few. Guests are required to arrive at the hotel concierge early and queue up for the shuttle service. We did not manage to catch the shuttle service during our stay in the hotel as the timing does not match ours.

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Complimentary Shuttle service

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This bus would take guests around six destinations in Seoul

Hotel Facilities

Gym

The gym in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is located on the 20th floor. The gym is very well equipped with treadmills, bikes, weights machine and free weights for guests to get a good workout. I like the placement of the bikes and treadmills where guests can do their workout and get a great view of Seoul while doing so.

 

Swimming Pool

There are two swimming pools in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences. The hotel requires guests to wear a swim cap when using these pools. The indoor swimming is located on the 20th floor of the hotel and is opened all year long. The swimming pool is heated and is great for guests to swim a few laps in. There is a jacuzzi by the entrance to the indoor pool for guests to relax in.

 

Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences also operates an outdoor swimming pool on the rooftop (21st floor). Despite being a smaller pool compared to its indoor counterpart, guests can also get a decent swim from this outdoor pool. The outdoor pool is open only from Jul to Sep each year.

 

Rooftop Garden

There is a rooftop garden on the 21st floor in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences. There are some chairs in the garden for guests to relax and enjoy the view of Seoul. There is also a bar where guests can order some drinks and snacks while taking in the beautiful scenery of Seoul.

 

Overall

Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is an excellent choice for visitors to Seoul. The location is excellent with the Dongdaemun shopping district right at the doorstep of the hotel. The hotel is within minutes walk from the airport limousine bus stop and the subway station. Despite the small size, the Residence Studio is very well designed in terms of space and is very comfortable. The sleep quality was excellent in the king bed. The service we received throughout our stay with Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is impeccable. We were always greeted with smiles whenever we bumped into any of the staffs around in the hotel. We felt welcome to the hotel by the diligent staffs working tirelessly around the clock to ensure guests are well taken care of. I would not hesitate to book a stay at this hotel the next time I visit Seoul.

[Accommodation Review] – Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences (Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite), Seoul, South Korea (2 – 6 Nov 19)

Location

Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is very well appointed. The hotel is 5 mins walk from Dongdaemun shopping district where the shops close at 5am every day. The hotel is also very accessible with a bus stop just 2 mins walk and the subway just 4 mins walk from the hotel. The nearest subway stop from Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is Dongdaemun  History & Culture Park Station, where three subway lines serve the station. The hotel is one subway stop from Myeongdong shopping district, five stops away from Gyeongbokgung Station and four stops from Seoul Station. Getting to and from Incheon Airport is a breeze with the Airport limousine Bus Stop being 1 min walk from the hotel. There are at least two 24-hour convenient shops nearby the hotel, with one located in the building next to the hotel. Numerous eateries around the hotel open 24-hour.

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Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences Facade

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Airport limousine bus stop is just next to Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residence

The Suite

Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences has generally two types of accommodation, the hotel side and the residence side. The residence part of the hotel has facilities similar to a serviced apartment. The Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite that my friend and I were staying has a generous total floor area of 81m². 

Kitchenette

The Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is equipped with a small kitchenette immediately after the entrance foyer to the suite. There is a sink for guests to wash their dishes, which the hotel also provide washing detergent and sponge. Beside the sink is a two induction stove for guests to do some simple cooking with the pots and pans stowed in the drawer in the kitchen island. In the kitchenette area, rice cooker and microwave machine can also be found. The hotel provides china and cutlery for up to four guests usage in the numerous drawers around the kitchenette area. A washing machine is concealed inside the cabinet under the sink in the kitchenette area. The washing machine has a dryer function which is great for guests needing to do their laundry in the suite.

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Sink in the kitchenette

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The washing machine is tucked away in the cabinet under the induction cooker and rice cooker

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Coffee and tea

On top of that, the kitchenette is equipped with a full-size fridge for guests to store the groceries they bought. A Nespresso machine and electric kettle are placed on the kitchen island, which can also double up as a dining table that comes with four high chairs. The design of the suite is so thoughtful that power outlets are installed on the kitchen island for guests to use the Nespresso machine and kettle.

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Full-size fridge in the kitchenette

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A kitchen island that also doubles up as a dining table

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Cutlery and cooking ware are stored in the cabinet of the kitchen island

Living Room

Further from the entrance to the Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite, after the kitchenette area in the living room. The decor in the living room is contemporary and cosy, due to the earthy tone used in the decor coupled with the lighting from the ceiling. There is a cabinet placed in the entrance foyer next to the kitchen island, which is great for guests to stow away their shopping items without having the living room looking messy. The living room in the Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite of Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is very well illuminated at all times of the day. In the day the living room is illuminated with natural light from one of the six floor-to-ceiling windows, and at night it is brightly lighted with the yellow lighting from the ceiling and the floor lamp placed in the corner of the living room. The centrepiece of the living room is the L-shaped couch, capable of sitting five to six persons. The sofa is very comfortable to sit on or lying on to watch the numerous programmes on the huge 55″ TV mounted on the wall opposite the couch. A coffee table between the couch and the TV, laid with hotel literature, is perfect for one to place their drinks or even snacks while watching TV.

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View of the living room from the entrance foyer

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The very cosy living room

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Contemporary and spacious living room

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View from the living room

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Huge 55″ Smart LED TV in the living room

Bedroom

The spaciousness of the Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite of Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences extends into the bedroom. The bedroom is furnished with a large king bed which is very comfortable and made us feel fully recharged to explore Seoul every single night when we were staying in the hotel. The pillows on the bed are of the right firmness to my liking. On top of these pillows, guests can choose from a list of pillow menu to find one that one prefers to get a better night sleep. The spacious bedroom allows the hotel to place an armchair, without obstructing the space, by the floor to ceiling window for guests to relax on with their legs stretched out. I find the armchair perfect to read a book from or simply to gaze at Seoul from the chair.

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Bedroom in Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite of Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences

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A very comfortable King bed in the bedroom

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Armchair placed in the window for guests to read a book or simply gaze out of the window

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Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences offers four types of pillows in their pillow menu

Bedside tables are installed on either side of the king bed in the bedroom of Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences. The open style tables are a tad small with all the gadgets such as telephone on the left side table and a tablet dock on the right table. However, these gadgets can be shifted to the bottom tier of the table freeing up space for guests to charge their lifestyle devices. The hotel has excellent power options for guests. Other than the international power socket, there are USB power ports on each side of the bedside table for guests to charge their phones, tablets, etc. Switches for the lighting in the suite can also be accessible via the switches on both sides of the table. Bedside reading lamps are installed on the headboard of the king bed, freeing up even more space for guests to use on the bedside tables. The tablet on the right side of the bedside table allows guests to control practically everything in the suite. From the lighting to temperature to TV and music controls. Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is the first AI hotel in Korea. Other than being able to control these from the tablet, guests can gain access to a webpage via scanning a QR code found on the light switch panel in the living room. This webpage allows guests to control everything in the suite from their mobile phone anywhere in Korea, including requests for make-up room, request for additional hotel amenities, room climate, TV control and lighting controls. I find having this control on my palm and on the go to be very interesting.

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A tablet that controls everything in the Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite of Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences on the right bedside table

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Tablet menu

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Lighting control and power outlet above the left bedside table

Another large 55″ smart LED TV is mounted on the wall in the bedroom, opposite the king bed. This TV has the same entertainment options as that in the living room, allowing guests to watch TV from the comfort of the bed.

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55″ Smart LED TV mounted opposite the king bed in the bedroom

Wardrobe Area

Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences has a generous wardrobe area in the bedroom of the Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite. The wardrobe area is an extension in the bedroom, between the king bed and the bathroom. There are a total of three wardrobes, two large wardrobes with two door panels and one smaller wardrobe with one door panel. There is no lack of storage space in this wardrobe for guests to hang out the clothing they bring to Korea. The in-room safe is hidden in one of the drawers inside one of the large wardrobes. On top of that, the iron and ironing board is also tucked away in this wardrobe. The space in the wardrobe area is so large that the hotel placed of a rectangular stool here, giving it a boutique feel, and yet still have sufficient space for guests to move around even with the wardrobe doors open. Having the wardrobe area in front of the bathroom gives guests the convenience of changing into their clothing after a shower.

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There is no lack of space for clothing in the wardrobes

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The in-room safe is hidden away in one of the drawers in the wardrobe

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The wardrobe at the entrance of the bedroom

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Entire wardrobe area in the bedroom

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There is no lack of space for clothing in the wardrobes

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The in-room safe is hidden away in one of the drawers in the wardrobe

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The wardrobe by the entrance to the bedroom of the Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite. The hotel is happy to provide additional hangers should guests request

Bathroom

Bedroom

The main bathroom in the Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is accessible from the bedroom. This main bathroom is huge. The bathroom is separated from the bedroom by a three-panel sliding door. Entering the bathroom, the first thing that caught my eyes is the huge circular bathtub sitting in one corner of the bathroom. This bathtub is perfect for guests to soak away the fatigue after a day’s exploring around Seoul. Despite being large, the water pressure from the tap on the bathtub fills up the tub very fast, guests do not have to wait for too long before being able to enjoy their soak.

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A large bathtub in the bathroom

Right by the entrance of the bathroom is large sink countertop with a single sink sitting in the middle of the countertop. The countertop occupies 2/3 of the width of the bathroom, which provides tons of space for guests to place their toiletries on. Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences provides their in-house bath amenities completed with body lotion, dental kit and shaver. The bath amenities are of good quality.

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Sink with a large countertop in the bathroom

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Quality in-house bath amenities

There are two cubicles furthest end from the entrance to the bathroom. The cubicle next to the sink countertop is where the shower cubicle is located. The shower cubicle has sufficient space to place bath amenities as well as a cup for toothbrushes. The shower cubicle has both regular shower head and rain shower head. The cubicle next to the walk-in shower, behind the bathtub, is where the toilet is located. The toilet is equipped with a bidet. Instead of a control panel mounted on the wall, usage of the bidet is via remote control.

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Large walk-in shower

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Toilet with bidet

Guest Toilet

There is another toilet right at the main entrance to the suite at the entrance foyer. The guest toilet, furnished with a toilet bowl with bidet and a sink, is very big. The hotel is very thoughtful in the placing of towel rack with two hand towels in this toilet. This toilet is perfect for the guests of those staying in this Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite to use without having the need to enter the bathroom in the bedroom. This toilet is also convenient for guests who wanted to use the toilet without having to walk to the toilet in the bedroom while they are watching TV in the living room.

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Toilet in by the entrance to the Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite

Service

The service in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is out of this world. From the moment we step into the hotel on the ground level, we can already feel the friendliness and eagerness to help guests from the staff. We were greeted by the concierge staffs and invited to the 20th floor to get our check-in processed. The concierge staff also offered to help us with our luggage and escort us to the reception for check-in, which we declined. At the reception, the staffs welcomed us with the biggest smile on her face. She processed our check-in with such efficiency and made some recommendations for us to explore during our stay in Seoul. The staff also gave us three welcome drink passes (unlike the miserable Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae) and recommended us to use the pass at the bar on the 20th floor where the view is more spectacular. The staff was observant and wished my friend an advanced birthday.

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Concierge staff on the ground floor who are always willing to help

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We were warmly welcomed by the staff at the reception on the 20th floor during our check-in

I had previously requested a birthday cake for my friend whose birthday falls on one of the days during our stay in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences. My request was to have the caked delivered at the stroke of midnight and the cake was indeed delivered by a hotel staff despite being in midnight. The staff wished my friend a happy birthday with the warmest smile on his face. As we were receiving the cake, we got locked out of our suite. The staff immediately went to the reception and gotten the master key without letting us wait for too long. We apologise to the staff for making him make the extra trip to get the key to open the door. The staff responded with a smile that it was no trouble and told us not to worry about it.

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Birthday cake with compliments from Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences at the stroke of midnight during my friend’s birthday

I always thought the housekeeping staffs are the unsung heroes of any hotels. It is the same for Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences. We were assured that we will always return to a spick and span suite every night after exploring Seoul. These diligent housekeeping staffs cleaned every corner of the suite and replenished all the amenities in the suite so we do not have to worry about them running out.

When we redeemed the welcome drink from the bar on the 20th floor, we were warmly welcomed by the only staff at the bar. The staff briefed us of the choice of drink we are entitled to and found us an excellent seat which gave us a commanding view of the surroundings after taking orders for our drinks.

The hotel provides free shuttle service three times a day to six major destinations around Seoul include Myeongdong, Gyeongbokgung, Changyeonggung to name a few. Guests are required to arrive at the hotel concierge early and queue up for the shuttle service. We did not manage to catch the shuttle service during our stay in the hotel as the timing does not match ours.

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Complimentary Shuttle service

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This bus would take guests around six destinations in Seoul

Hotel Facilities

Gym

The gym in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is located on the 20th floor. The gym is very well equipped with treadmills, bikes, weights machine and free weights for guests to get a good workout. I like the placement of the bikes and treadmills where guests can do their workout and get a great view of Seoul while doing so. 

Swimming Pool

There are two swimming pools in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences. The hotel requires guests to wear a swim cap when using these pools. The indoor swimming is located on the 20th floor of the hotel and is opened all year long. The swimming pool is heated and is great for guests to swim a few laps in. There is a jacuzzi by the entrance to the indoor pool for guests to relax in.

Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences also operates an outdoor swimming pool on the rooftop (21st floor). Despite being a smaller pool compared to its indoor counterpart, guests can also get a decent swim from this outdoor pool. The outdoor pool is open only from Jul to Sep each year.

Rooftop Garden

There is a rooftop garden on the 21st floor in Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences. There are some chairs in the garden for guests to relax and enjoy the view of Seoul. There is also a bar where guests can order some drinks and snacks while taking in the beautiful scenery of Seoul.

Overall

Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is an excellent choice for visitors to Seoul. The location is excellent with the Dongdaemun shopping district right at the doorstep of the hotel. The hotel is within minutes walk from the airport limousine bus stop and the subway station. The Residence Premier 1 Bedroom Suite we stayed in was very spacious and comfortable. The incredible space we had in the suite ensured that we had lots of space moving around and put away our belongings. The sleep quality was excellent in the king bed. The service we received throughout our stay with Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences is impeccable. We were always greeted with smiles whenever we bumped into any of the staffs around in the hotel. We felt welcome to the hotel by the diligent staffs working tirelessly around the clock to ensure guests are well taken care of. I would not hesitate to book a stay at this hotel the next time I visit Seoul.

 

 

[Accommodation Review] – Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae (Standard Room with 1 Queen Bed), Busan, South Korea (29 Oct – 2 Nov 19)

Location

Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is located one street away from the famed Haeundae beach. The hotel is around 7 mins walk from Haeundae subway station and 4 mins from Gunam-ro and Haeundae Market, where there is no lack of food options. There are numerous convenient shops around Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae, with the nearest in the next building and another one just across the road of the hotel. Busan Sea Life Aquarium is 3 mins walk from the hotel. Being located in Haeundae district, Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is rather far from Busan Train Station, which takes more than 1 hour by subway. The main lobby of Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is located on the 20th floor of the hotel. There is a relay lobby by the main entrance to the hotel, however, this lobby is never manned throughout our three nights stay at Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae.

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There is a cafe on the ground floor of Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae

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The lobby on the ground floor of Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae

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The relay lobby that was never manned on the first floor

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Reception on the 20th floor

The Room

The Standard Room with 1 Queen bed is the smallest room in Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae with a total floor area of 20m². Despite staying in the room alone, the small room feels full after my friend opens her luggage.

Minibar

The minibar is located next to the door to the bathroom. The minibar fridge is placed in the bottom-most shelf in the open cabinet. Above the shelf where the fridge is where the in-room safe is placed, maximising the small space the Standard Room with 1 Queen bed. An electric kettle and complimentary coffee and tea are placed on the top of the shelf. There are two power outlets strategically installed by the top shelf for guests for boiling water as well as an alternative spot for guests to charge their lifestyle devices.

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Minibar area in the Standard Room with 1 Queen Bed

Sleeping Area

As one walks into the room, space opens up to the sleeping area. The centrepiece of the sleeping area is the queen bed. The sleep quality on the bed is good, but the pillow is a tad too soft. Only two pillows are provided by Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae, however, one can always request for more pillows from the hotel concierge. Bedside tables are placed on either side of the queen bed, providing guests with space for them to charge their lifestyle devices. I thought the mounting of the bedside lamps on the headboard is a good move by the hotel as it frees up space on the bedside table for guests to put more things on. Above the bedside table are the powerpoint outlets with international plugs, meaning guests do not need to bring along an international adaptor.

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View of the room from the entrance to the room

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The Queen bed in the room

Facing the queen bed, mounted onto the wall, is a 42″ LCD TV allowing guests to watch TV whilst lying on the bed. The wall where the TV is mounted is painted with shelf graffitis, which makes the room feels cosier. A full-length mirror is found on the wall space next to the TV. By placing the mirror here makes the room looks larger than it is.

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TV and a full-length mirror in the Standard Room with 1 Queen Bed

Tucked into one corner of the room is a small wardrobe. The wardrobe is so small that it is not possible to stow away clothing for two pax. The queen bed occupies a bulk of the room, leaving little space for one to walk around or even have their luggage opened up and placed onto the floor.

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Wardrobe in the room

Sitting at the far end of the Standard Room with 1 Queen Bed, next to the wardrobe, is the work desk, placed by the only window in the room. The table is rather small but is sufficient for one to do some decent work on it. There is a table lamp and some powerpoint outlets fixed onto the wall by the work desk, allowing guests working on their laptops to charge.

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Work desk by the window

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Power outlet by the work desk

Bathroom

The bathroom in the Standard Room with 1 Queen Bed in Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is small but functional. One can see the entire bathroom from its entrance. The sink is located right next to the entrance of the bathroom with little space for guests to stow their toiletries. Next to the sink is the toilet with bidet function. Towels are found on the rack above the toilet. The walk-in shower surrounded by glass panels is located diagonally across from the sink. The walk-in shower is equipped with both a regular and rain shower head. The bathroom amenities provided Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is very basic and limited to the shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and toothbrushes. The hotel does not provide body lotion.

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Bathroom in the Standard Room with 1 Queen Bed

Service

The service my friends and I received at Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae has more misses than hits. Before our arrival in Busan, I called up the hotel from overseas to enquire about a few things, one of the things that were brought up during my call to Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae was the possibility of an early check-in. I was assured by the staff whom I spoke to that our rooms will be ready by the time we arrive at the hotel at around 10.30am. However, we had a rude shock from the only female staff who was manning the reception on the 20th floor during our arrival at the hotel. She insisted that check-in was only possible at 3pm, the hotel’s official check-in timing. Despite telling her my previous conversation with one of her colleagues, she did not even bother to check and was adamant that we can only check-in at 3pm. At one point, she even told us to show email proof of the arrangement. I had to tell her a few times that the arrangement was done via phone call before she told me to show her proof of my call to the hotel. Without such proof, the staff refuse to check us into our rooms despite having an earlier arrangement. From the moment we met her during our arrival to our leaving the hotel to explore Busan, there was no smile on the said staff. She was pulling a long face throughout our conversation.

My friends and I returned later in the evening to check-in. As an Accor member, my friend is entitled to welcome drink. Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae was very miserable in handing our welcome drink. We had another rude shock to find out that the hotel only provides one welcome drink for the three of us. The reason given was that the welcome drink is only provided to Accor members. When we told the staff who handled our check-in that all three of us are Accor members, only that the rooms are booked under one of my friend’s name for the convenience of our arrangement for our trip to Korea. Only at this point, we were told by the staff that welcome drink is only given to the member whose name the rooms were booked under. My friend and I often stayed in Accor Hotels during our overseas trips, this is the first hotel we met that was so stingy in providing only one drink and expect us to share. The other hotels (including the hotel we stayed in Seoul during the same trip) give welcome drinks to the number of guests checking into the hotel. This gesture does not only show that Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae does not even bother about service, their action of giving only one welcome drink seem to suggest they only pay lip service (to the requirement of Accor Group) in providing a welcome drink. We end up leaving the hotel without even bother having the so-called welcome drink.

Having said that, there are staffs in the hotel who were understood what service is all about. The elderly staff at the carpark knows what is service. When we drove into the carpark, the staff not only guided us to a very good parking spot, with his limited knowledge of English, he gave us clear directions on what we should be doing with the parking ticket. On the next night, he assured us that we do not have to pay any more parking as he was told that we had made payment for two nights of parking. All these time, he interacted with us with an assuring and warm smile across his face.

Hotel Facilities

Gym

There is a small gym on level 20 of Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae equipped with a couple of treadmills, a step machine and a stationary bike. There are some free weights and weight machine as well in the gym. Despite its small size, guests are able to get some decent workout in the gym.

Sauna

The signage Sauna as stated in the hotel’s lift lobby as well as outside the changing room is confusing. Instead of a sauna, I found a jacuzzi pool inside the changing room. There are no saunas found in the hotel.

Overall

Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is well located in a very convenient spot in Haeundae, with no lack of restaurants, shopping and 24-hour convenient shops around. However, the hotel is far from the Busan Train station. The Standard Room with 1 Queen Bed ais comfortable but a tad small for two pax. The service is what makes us avoid the hotel should we decide to return to Busan. The staffs at the reception behave more like divas and only paid lip service to guests. Providing only one welcome drink to the three of us checking into the hotel felt like the staffs at the reception are only interested in putting a tick in the box to Accor’s requirements according to their members. I would not recommend anyone to stay at Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae lest one wants to be treated badly at the hotel.

[Accommodation Review] – Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae (Standard Room with 1 Queen Bed and Sofa), Busan, South Korea (29 Oct – 2 Nov 19)

Location

Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is located one street away from the famed Haeundae beach. The hotel is around 7 mins walk from Haeundae subway station and 4 mins from Gunam-ro and Haeundae Market, where there is no lack of food options. There are numerous convenient shops around Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae, with the nearest in the next building and another one just across the road of the hotel. Busan Sea Life Aquarium is 3 mins walk from the hotel. Being located in Haeundae district, Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is rather far from Busan Train Station, which takes more than 1 hour by subway. The main lobby of Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is located on the 20th floor of the hotel. There is a relay lobby by the main entrance to the hotel, however, this lobby is never manned throughout our three nights stay at Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae.

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Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae signage

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Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is in a very good location in Haeundae, Busan

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The relay lobby that was never manned on the first floor

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Hotel directory

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Main lobby on the 20th floor

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Reception on the 20th floor

The Room

The room I stayed in is the Standard Room with 1 Queen Bed and Sofa in Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae. The 45m² room is more like a small suite than a standard room as it has a living room with a separate bedroom. The Standard Room with 1 Queen bed and Sofa in Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae comprises a living room, a bedroom, a bathroom and a separate toilet in the living room.

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All rooms in Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae have a no smoking policy

Living Room

The main entrance to the Standard Room with 1 Queen bed and Sofa in Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae leads to the living room. From the main entrance, the entire living room decorated in wooden furnishing feels warm and cosy. The first thing that caught my eyes from the main entrance a wooden table that extends out from the wall. This wooden table is the main study table that also doubles up as a dining table for the two guests that stay in this room. Underneath the table, at the wall side is where one will find a minibar fridge. There are powerpoint outlets on the wall above the table. To the right from the main entrance, is where one will find the toilet as well as a wardrobe with an in-room safe.

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Minibar fridge under the table in the living room

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Coffee facilities on the table in the living room

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Wardrobe in the living room between the table and toilet

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Climate control panel

Further into the living room, past the table, is the couch area. The living room in the Standard Room with 1 Queen bed and Sofa in Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is furnished with a three-seat couch and two large cushion stools. Opposite the couch is a 42″ LCD TV mounted on the wall that separates the living room and the bedroom. A coffee table sits between the couch and the wall-mounted TV. There is ample space in the living room for the guests to open up their luggage or to stow their luggage by the wall.

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Couch area in the living room

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The TV mounted on the wall separating the living room and the bedroom

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We get a partial view of Haeundae Beach from the living room window

Toilet

The only toilet in the room is found by the main entrance, which is separated from the main bathroom. There is a toilet bowl equipped with a bidet and a small sink inside the toilet. I have mixed feelings on the separate toilet. Having a separate toilet allows guests to use without having to go into the room, which is great if the guests are hosting their friends over to the room. However, the glass door with the mid-section being frosted feels a little odd to use if there are other guests in the room. The separation of the toilet from the bathroom is also a tad inconvenient for guests staying in the room.

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Toilet and the wardrobe in the living room

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Toilet in the living room

Bedroom

The wooden theme of the room extends into the bedroom. At the heart of the bedroom, a queen bed awaits guests to rest upon itself. The sleep quality on the queen bed is good, however, the pillows are a tad too soft for my liking. As with most hotels, bedside tables are furnished on either side of the queen bed. These tables are large enough for me to set up my charging station to charge my lifestyle devices. International power points are located on either side of the bed, which means guests do not have to bring their international converter. On top of these powerpoints are bedside lamps mounted on the headboard of the bed, freeing up space for guests on the bedside tables.

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Queen bed in the bedroom

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Bedside lamp and an international power plug on either side of the queen bed

Opposite the queen bed is another 42″ LCD TV, where guests can be kept entertained in on the bed with numerous local and international channels, similar to that in the living room.

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There is another TV mounted on the wall facing the queen bed

Another wardrobe in the Standard Room with 1 Queen bed and Sofa in Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is found next to the queen bed. This wardrobe allows guests to hand out a few days of their clothing. Next to the wardrobe is another small table in the bedroom which allows guests to put their toiletries. However, I am a little confused about the purpose of this table as there are no power outlets to make it functional as a work desk, nor is there a mirror for it to be used as a make-up table. Nonetheless, the placement of another table here gives guests additional space to put away small items.

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Wardrobe and a small table in the bedroom

Bathroom

Entrance to the bathroom in the Standard Room with 1 Queen bed and Sofa in Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is next to the small table in the bedroom. A large countertop where the sink is placed on one side of the countertop allows guests to put a lot of their toiletries on. Next to the sink area is a large bathtub where guests can have a soak after a tiring day of exploring Busan. A separate walk-in shower cubicle is found at the far end of the toilet. The walk-in shower has both a regular shower head as well as a rain shower head. There is a lack of storage space in the walk-in shower for guests to place their toiletries. There is also a lack of racks in the bathroom for guests to hang their towels. With the amount of wall space, the hotel can easily install a towel rack onto the walls. The bathroom amenities provided Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is very basic and limited to the shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and toothbrushes. The hotel does not provide body lotion.

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A large sink countertop in the bathroom

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Bathtub for guests to soak away the fatigue of exploring Busan at the end of the day

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Walk-in shower with rain shower and regular shower head

Service

The service my friends and I received at Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae has more misses than hits. Throughout our stay in Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae, we never saw the relay lobby on the ground floor being manned, making the lobby a white elephant. The absence of staff manning this lobby also meant that guests wanting any assistance would have to suffer the inconvenience of having to take the lift to the main lobby on 20th floor before being able to gain any form of assistance.

Before our arrival in Busan, I had called up the hotel from overseas to enquire about a few things, one of the things that were brought up during my call to Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae was the possibility of an early check-in. I was assured by the staff whom I spoke to that our rooms will be ready by the time we arrive at the hotel at around 10.30am. However, we had a rude shock from the only female staff who was manning the reception on the 20th floor during our arrival at the hotel. She insisted that check-in was only possible at 3pm, the hotel’s official check-in timing. Despite telling her my previous conversation with one of her colleagues, she did not even bother to check and was adamant that we can only check-in at 3pm. At one point, she even told us to show email proof of the arrangement. I had to tell her a few times that the arrangement was done via phone call before she told me to show her proof of my call to the hotel. Without such proof, the staff refuse to check us into our rooms despite having an earlier arrangement. From the moment we met her during our arrival to our leaving the hotel to explore Busan, there was no smile on the said staff. She was pulling a long face throughout our conversation.

My friends and I returned later in the evening to check-in. As an Accor member, my friend is entitled to welcome drink. Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae was very miserable in handing our welcome drink. We had another rude shock to find out that the hotel only provides one welcome drink for the three of us. The reason given was that the welcome drink is only provided to Accor members. When we told the staff who handled our check-in that all three of us are Accor members, only that the rooms are booked under one of my friend’s name for the convenience of our arrangement for our trip to Korea. Only at this point, we were told by the staff that welcome drink is only given to the member whose name the rooms were booked under. My friend and I often stayed in Accor Hotels during our overseas trips, this is the first hotel we met that was so stingy in providing only one drink and expect us to share. The other hotels (including the hotel we stayed in Seoul during the same trip) give welcome drinks to the number of guests checking into the hotel. This gesture does not only show that Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae does not even bother about service, their action of giving only one welcome drink seem to suggest they only pay lip service (to the requirement of Accor Group) in providing a welcome drink. We end up leaving the hotel without even bother having the so-called welcome drink.

Having said that, there are staffs in the hotel who were understood what service is all about. The elderly staff at the carpark knows what is service. When we drove into the carpark, the staff not only guided us to a very good parking spot, with his limited knowledge of English, he gave us clear directions on what we should be doing with the parking ticket. On the next night, he assured us that we do not have to pay any more parking as he was told that we had made payment for two nights of parking. All these time, he interacted with us with an assuring and warm smile across his face.

The unsung heroes who made up our room every single day were diligent in their job, ensuring we have a clean and tidy room every night of us returning to our room. The room was made up to such perfection that it felt as though the room was ready for guests who first check-into the hotel. It is a shame that we never met these staffs who ensured we have a clean room to return to every night.

Hotel Facilities

Gym

There is a small gym on level 20 of Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae equipped with a couple of treadmills, a step machine and a stationary bike. There are some free weights and weight machine as well in the gym. Despite its small size, guests can get some decent workout in the gym.

Sauna

The signage Sauna as stated in the hotel’s lift lobby as well as outside the changing room is confusing. Instead of a sauna, I found a jacuzzi pool inside the changing room. There are no saunas found in the hotel.

Parking facilities

As we rented a car during our trip to Busan, we were glad that the hotel has (limited) parking facilities in the basement of the building. Guests of the hotel do not get free parking, we were required to pay for parking charges at the hotel premises. I do find the parking charges to be reasonable at KRW5000 per night.

Overall

Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae is well located in a very convenient spot in Haeundae, with no lack of restaurants, shopping and 24-hour convenient shops around. However, the hotel is far from the Busan Train station. The Standard Room with 1 Queen Bed and Sofa is comfortable and very spacious by Ibis standards. We had a good night sleep on the queen bed every night. The service is what makes us avoid the hotel should we decide to return to Busan. The staffs at the reception behave more like divas and only paid lip service to guests. Providing only one welcome drink to the three of us checking into the hotel felt like the staffs at the reception are only interested in putting a tick in the box to Accor’s requirements according to their members. I would not recommend anyone to stay at Ibis Ambassador Busan Haeundae lest one wants to be treated badly at the hotel.

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View from the view in the bedroom

 

[Accommodation Review] – Airbnb – Myeongsu’s Apartment (2-Bedroom Apartment), Jeju-do, South Korea (26 – 29 Nov 19)

Location

Myeongsu’s apartment is a little isolated, on a quiet part of Jeju (Airbnb link to Myeongsu’s apartment). There are some orange plantations near Myeongsu’s apartment. However, if one is driving around Jeju, Myseongsu’s apartment is great for exploring Jeju as it is near a highway. The apartment is located around 15 to 20 mins drive from Jeju Airport and around 30 mins drive from Jeju City. There is a convenient store at the end of the street, about 15 mins walk from the apartment. I like the peacefulness created by the quietness in the surroundings of Myeongsu’s apartment.

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Myeongsu’s apartment is located in this building in Jeju

The Apartment

Myeongsu’s apartment is a 2-bedroom apartment with two toilets, large enough to fit a party of six. The modern decor apartment has a total floor area of 99m² and is very comfortable to stay in.

Patio

Entering through the main door in Myeongsu’s apartment is a patio with large cabinets for our shoes. The patio is fitted with senor which lights up whenever we are in this area of the apartment. Another screen door separates the patio to the living room.

Living Room

The living room in Myeongsu’s apartment is minimalistic decored and is very spacious. The living room is decorated with wooden floorings and stone feature wall that makes this part of the living room feels very cosy and comfortable. There is only one three-seater couch that can be converted into a sofa bed and a TV mounted on the wall. At the far end of the living room is a three-panel floor to ceiling glass window, which allows a good amount of natural light into the living in the day. At night, the living room is brightly lited with the combination of lighting from the ceiling lights and the feature wall where the TV is mounted. A fake wall cum shelving separates the living room from the kitchen and dining room.

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Living room in Myeongsu’s apartment

Kitchen and Dining Room

Separated by a semi fake wall that doubles up as a shelf, the dining room is well equipped with everything one needs to cook up a decent meal. There is a large fridge at the entrance that provided us with more than sufficient space to store the drinks we bought during our stay in Myeongsu’s apartment.  A small dining table with seats for four pax is placed in the kitchen where we had our snacks at night. Inside the kitchen, next to the fake wall is the entrance to the indoor laundry yard. Despite being in Korean, the washing machine cum dryer is intuitive to use. Myeongsu also provided washing detergent for guests should they want to wash their clothing.

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Kitchen and dining room

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Indoor laundry yard next to the kitchen

Master Bedroom

The Master bedroom in Myeongsu’s apartment is fairly large. The master bedroom is furnished with one queen-size bed and one single bed allows up to three pax to be accommodated in the room. The sleep quality on the beds is superb, allowing us to rest well after a tiring day of exploring Jeju. Opposite the beds are three large wardrobes where one can put away one week’s clothing for three pax. Myeongsu is also very thoughtful in providing ample hangers in the wardrobe. There is no lack of power outlets in the master bedroom. All power outlets in the room are well placed for guests to charge their lifestyle devices. There is also a good amount of lighting both from the natural lightings, thanks to the large windows in the room, and from the ceiling lighting.

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Master bedroom in Myeongsu’s Apartment

Second Bedroom

The second bedroom in Myeongsu’s apartment is located next to the kitchen, to the right from the patio. The second bedroom is furnished with a queen-size mattress laid on the heated flooring, ensuring guests stay warm during colder months.  There are two wardrobes in the second bedroom, allowing the two guests staying in the room to hang out one week’s worth of clothing. Similar to the master bedroom, there is no lack of power outlets in the second bedroom and all power outlets are very well placed for guests to charge their lifestyle devices.

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Second bedroom

Bathroom

Master Bathroom

Entering a door that separates the master bathroom from inside of the master bedroom is a small powder room for guests to put their cosmetics as well as to doll themselves up. Some shelvings in the powder room give guests ample space to stow their cosmetics. Through another door inside the powder room leads guests to the master bathroom. The bathroom has both a wet and dry area. The bathroom has both a shower booth, with both rain shower and regular shower head, and a toilet as well as a sink area. Myeongsu provides the shower essentials for guests staying in the apartment.

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Powder room

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The dry area inside the master bathroom

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Shower stall inside the master bathroom

Second Bathroom

The second bathroom is accessible from the living room, next to the second bedroom. Similar to the master bathroom, the second bathroom has both a wet and dry area. The shower booth is larger than that in the master bathroom and is equipped with both rain shower and regular shower head. The dry area in the second bathroom has both a toilet and a sink. There is ample space for guests utilising the second bathroom to place their toiletries. Myeongsu also provided all the shower amenities needed for one to shower in the second bathroom.

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Second bathroom

The Host

Myeongsu is an excellent host. He is very responsive to communications via the Airbnb app. Months before our trip to Jeju, I have been communicating with Myeongsu, generally enquiring about the apartment. Myeongsu replied within minutes of my messaging with answers that cleared my doubts. Myeongsu also texted me via the Airbnb app giving clear instructions on how to get to his apartment and how can we gain entry into his apartment on the day of our arrival. He was concerned if we had any problems in getting to his apartment and if we were comfortably settled in. Myeongsu even remembered that we wanted to have Korean BBQ that I have mentioned to him months ago and recommended some restaurants with maps and directions on how to get to these restaurants when we got to Jeju. I messaged Myeongsu at around 11pm regarding some of the facilities in his apartment on our first night and Myeongsu responded almost immediately.

Overall

Myeongsu’s apartment is very cosy and comfortable. The apartment is large enough to host up to six guests comfortably. There are numerous TV programmes on the TV in the living room, however, most if not all are in the Korean language. Myeongsu’s apartment is a tad far from the nearest town or city, but a convenient shop about 5mins drive allows guests to get some essentials. The apartment is near expressway, making it a good base to explore Jeju by car. Myeongsu’s apartment has ample parking space for guests to park their rental car. Myeongsu is an excellent host who is responsive to messaging via the Airbnb app. I would recommend one to consider Myeongsu’s apartment only if one is planning to explore Jeju via driving around.

 

 

 

[Accommodation Review] – Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel (Opera Suite), Hanoi, Vietnam (9 – 12 Aug 19)

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Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel Facade at night

Location

Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel is located in the heart of Hanoi in the upmarket French Quarter. It is within walking distance to most of the attractions and restaurants in the city, making the hotel an excellent base to explore Hanoi. The hotel overlooks Hanoi Opera house and is within minutes walk from attractions such as Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Night Market, Old Quarter and the upscale shopping centre – Trang Tien Plaza. There is a 24-hour convenient store within a 2-min walk from the hotel and numerous cafes and restaurants within 15 mins walk from the hotel.

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The Hanoi Opera House viewed from the terrace of Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel

Opera Suite

I stayed in the Opera Suite which is actually a Junior Suite in Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel. The entire suite is decorated in exquisite French-inspired decor, with wooden flooring. The Opera Suite has a floor area of 46m² and has three general areas: Sleeping Area, Lounge Area and Bathroom.

Sleeping Area

The sleeping area in the Opera Suite of Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel occupies the left corner from the entrance to the suite. A huge large King bed with thick mattress, making the bed a tad high, draped with four large soft pillows sits in the of this part of the suite. The sleep quality is excellent providing great sleep throughout the three nights of my stay in the hotel. The bedside tables on either side of the king bed make a great spot for one to set up a base for the charging of their lifestyle devices. There are power outlets, with international plug sockets, by the bedside table on both sides of the bed. This provides a great convenience for guests staying in this suite.

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The king bed in the Opera Suite

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Bedside table by the king bed

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The king bed is placed next to the entrance to the Opera Suite

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Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel provides an extensive pillow menu

Smack right in front of the king bed, enclosed in a chrome cabinet, is the only TV in the suite. The 36″ LCD TV comes with numerous local and international channels, provided guests with entertainment to kill time during their time in the suite. Unfortunately, the TV can only be viewed from the bed, it cannot be swivelled to face the living area.

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The only TV in the suite, which can only be watched on the King bed

Behind the TV cabinet, placed by the windows in the Opera Suite, is a work desk for guests to do some work. The desk is sufficiently sized for one to do some work on, yet not too large that it hinders the movement of guests in this part of the suite. A desk light is the only decoration on this desk and the hotel places some magazines on the desk to provide guests with some reading materials to occupy their time. There are a couple of power outlets underneath the desk, which is a clever way that the hotel employs in order not to clutter up the desk.

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Work desk in the Opera Suite. I find the placement of the power outlet on the floor a tad inconvenient

Lounge Area

The Lounge Area of the Opera Suite in Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel is to the right of the entrance to the suite, next to the bathroom. The centrepiece of the Lounge Area would have to be the contrasting single-seat high back red armchair and the light purple two-seater couch with a rattan glass top coffee table placed on a carpet. For extra illumination, the designers of Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel placed a floor light that resembles those used in movie sets by the window. As mentioned previously, the TV cannot be swivelled for guests in the Opera Suite to relax and watch from the lounge area, hence I would think the purpose of this lounge area is purely to chill and sip some drinks from the minibar.

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Lounge Area of the Opera Suite

The minibar is placed in the cabinet behind the two-seater couch in the lounge area. The minibar also acts as segregation between the lounge area and the wardrobe. The bar fridge is placed on the left of the cabinet, while in the right cabinet, guests can find wine glasses and champagne flute. I do find it weird that regular drinking glasses are not placed in the suite, we had to call up the operator to get these regular drinking glasses. All items in the fridge are chargeable. Guests can find complimentary coffee and tea as well as coffee cups and electric flask on top of the minibar cabinet. I thought adding a power outlet at the minibar would be great as it would save us the trouble of boiling water from other parts of the suite (such as the bathroom).

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Minibar in the Opera Suite

At the end of the suite, behind the minibar area is a double panel wardrobe. The size of the wardrobe is alright, sufficient for us to place our four days worth of clothing. Guests can find an in-room safe placed on top of the three-tiered drawer inside the wardrobe. Iron and ironing board are also well placed inside the wardrobe, which does not obstruct the use of the wardrobe space. On the right side of the wardrobe is where one can hang longer garments.

Bathroom

The bathroom is immediate to the right as one enters the Opera Suite from the entrance. The French inspiration decor extends into the bathroom, laid with pearl coloured tiles, marble walls and white themed walls, the bathroom looks clean, bright and classy. The semi-open bathroom is walled on one side and draped with curtains on the side where the bathtub is placed.  The first thing that caught my attention opening the French-inspired double panel wooden doors is the large mirror with Hollywood styled lighting surrounding the mirror. The bathroom has a single sink which is placed on one side of the sink countertop. The placement of the sink provides more space for guests to stow their toiletries. Towels are stored in the open cabinet beneath the sink. A cushioned stool is placed in the bathroom by the bathtub for guests to doll themselves up in comfort.

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View of the bathroom from the entrance

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Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel provides good quality bathroom amenities

To the left of the sink is where the toilet and walk-in shower cubicles are located. These cubicles are large enough to provide one with space and not feel too constricted while using these cubicles. The rubber lining on the doors of these cubicles means guests would have to open one door in order for the other door to open. Guests using the door to the walk-in shower would have to be careful as the placement of this door is angled in a way that it might hit the sink countertop if one opens the door with force. The walk-in shower cubicle does not feel cramp and cataphoric. A bathtub is placed opposite the toilet and shower cubicles. This is the part of the bathroom where a curtain separates the bathroom from the rest of the suite. The curtain can be drawn to provide spaciousness for guests while taking a soak in the French-inspired clawfoot bathtub. When guests turn on the tap, water would flow from the tap as well as the showerhead that is by the bathtub. I do find it peculiar that the tap for the bathtub does not come with a switch that toggles between the tap and the attached shower head at the bathtub.

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The bathroom has a semi-open concept

Service

I find the service that I received in Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel is top-notch. The moment our transport from the airport pulls up to the front porch of the hotel, the friendly and helpful porter was standing by ready to receive us and volunteered to help us unload our luggage. I observed as soon as we were at the reception with our luggage for check-in, the staffs at the front desk sprung into action like clockwork. One staff would be focused on processing our check-in, another staff went to the back of the reception desk and presented us with a welcome drink, and yet another staff was standing by ready to help us carry our luggage to our suite. The staff at the reception welcomed us with the biggest smile on her face. Despite being hours earlier than the usual hotel check-in timing, the front desk staff processed our check-in efficiently and allowed us to check into our suite. As we have made some request for the orientation of our suite in the hotel, the staff counter proposed to have us shifted to another suite. According to her, the original orientation we wanted is facing a newly opened club, where music would play into the wee hours of the night. Such a gesture goes to show the staff genuinely wanted to provide good service to guests.

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Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel reception

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Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel lobby

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Welcome drink

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Inner courtyard of Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel

The excellent service did not stop at the front desk. It is apparent in the other parts of the hotel. The staffs at the swimming pool and gym were very hospitable. One staff even showed us around the swimming pool and gym, and another passed us a bottle of chilled water from the fridge inside the gym. Whenever we were at the swimming pool area, the staffs stationed here would always welcome us with a friendly smile. The housekeeping staff not only tidied our suite tirelessly every day and ensured that we would come back to a nice clean suite. The housekeeping staff also performed turndown service every evening, placing a couple of chocolates by the bedside table. On the second day upon returning from our trip in Hanoi, I noticed one of the bedside tables was shifted slightly out from the wall. The observant housekeeping staff must have noticed that I had set up a charging station for my lifestyle devices and shifted the table outwards so that I will be able to access to the power outlet. It is such attention to details that make staying at the hotel a great experience.

The staff at Cafe Lautrec, where breakfast is served, worked with attention to details and efficiency. They would always welcome us every single morning when we were there for breakfast. They left no empty plates and mugs on the table so that we can return to a cleared table and continue to have our breakfast. The staff was even brought us a menu with items we can order for the chef to prepare ala minute. There was one instance I ordered some eggs and wanting to collect them after I had my meal, instead of leaving it by the egg station, the staff went around the restaurant and had the eggs delivered to me.

Hotel Facilities

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool in Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel is located on the third floor. The enclosed indoor swimming pool is touted to be the only heated swimming pool in Hanoi. Despite the small-sized pool, one can still get some decent laps swimming in it.

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Indoor swimming pool at Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel

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Swimming pool in Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel

Gym

Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel is also equipped with a small gym located on the third floor next to the swimming pool. The gym, although being small, is well equipped with modern exercise machines such as treadmills, weight machines and stationary bikes allowing guests to get some decent workout. There is even a small corner of the gym dedicated for guests to practise yoga.

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Gym in Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel

Breakfast

Breakfast was served daily at Cafe Lautrec, located on the ground floor next to the front desk of Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel. There are numerous options, ranging from local dishes to western and orientation dishes that fuelled us with energy to explore Hanoi. The food served during breakfast was delicious and was often topped up. I had croissants every morning during my stay at Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel, these croissants are very fluffy and tasty. Guests can also order from a menu of items that the chef would prepare ala minute. I had the Eggs benedict and they were tasty and the eggs were poached just right. Despite the sumptuous breakfast served every morning, I find dining at Cafe Lautrec uncomfortable. As we visited Hanoi in summer, the hotel did not seem to have turned on the Air-conditioner in the Cafe. Huge fans were used instead, making the environment very stuffy and hot.

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Breakfast is served in Cafe Lautrec next to the reception in the hotel

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Local delights served during breakfast

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Cold cuts and salad during breakfast

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Pastry selection during breakfast

Overall

I had a very comfortable stay in the Opera Suite in Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel. The suite is spacious and the French-inspired decor adds character to the suite. The air conditioning in the suite is excellent, which is a relieve to the heat outside the hotel. The bed is very comfortable to sleep in, provided me with excellent sleep quality. However, the only flaw in the suite is the placement of the TV, which I could only watch while lying on the bed. The service I have received in the hotel is top-notch. Every staff made me feel welcome and were always seen wearing a smile on their face. Their attention to details further adds to the reason why staying in this hotel is a wonderful experience. Customer-orientation seems to be deeply infused into the staffs when it comes to dealing with their guests. The location of the hotel is a major plus point making it a great place to explore Hanoi. I will no doubt stay in Hanoi De L’Opera Hotel the next time I visit Hanoi.

 

[Accommodation Review] – VIE Hotel Bangkok (Executive Suite), Bangkok, Thailand (14 – 18 Jun 19)

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Hotel Facade

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Hotel Signage

Location

VIE Hotel Bangkok is very well located in downtown Bangkok, which is very close to the central shopping district in Bangkok. The hotel is a mere one BTS stop away from Siam Square and mega shopping malls such as Siam Paragon, MBK and Centralworld. The nearest BTS Staton – Ratchathewi station BTS is located right in front of the hotel and takes a mere 2 min walk from the hotel, allowing guests to explore Bangkok easy. There are several eateries next to the hotel, however, the nearest convenient shop is across the street which is a tad inconvenient to get to as one has to cross the road via the overhead bridge to get access to the store.

The Suite

I stayed in the Executive Suite at the VIE Hotel Bangkok. The Executive Suite has a massive area of 81m² and occupies a corner of the floor. The Executive Suite has a Thai decor and is clad in a comfortable and coherent brown earthy tone with wooden floor and furnishing which exudes a cosy feel in the suite. The Living Room, the Bedroom and the Bathroom are the three main parts that make up the entire Executive Suite.

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VIE Suite section

Living Room

The elongated living room in the Executive Suite in the VIE Hotel Bangkok is very spacious, thanks to the absence of unnecessary walls and partitions. The Thai themed earthy decor can be felt as soon as guests enter the suite. The earthy brown and burgundy colour tones employed throughout the living room is coherent and gives me a sense of comfort. The first thing that caught my attention from the entrance is a 2-door wardrobe at the side of the main entrance. I find it weird for the hotel to place a wardrobe at this area as it does not function as a shoe rack. Throughout the entire stay, I did found no use for the wardrobe. I welcome the full-length mirror by the main door to the Executive Suite so that guests can ensure they look presentable, especially guests who are attending functions before they leave the suite. A display shelf is placed little further into the suite from the main entrance. This display shelf serves the function of the hot mini bar area where the in-room Nespresso coffee machine and water kettle are together with coffee capsules and tea can be found. At the side of the shelf is the first of the few power outlets that are found in the suite. There is some storage space at the bottom of the display shelf, where I used to store the shopping from that I bought during my stay in Bangkok.

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Overview of the living room in the Executive Suite in VIE Hotel Bangkok

The Executive Suite in VIE Hotel Bangkok is fitted with three floors to ceiling windows that not only brought natural light into the living room of the suite, it also makes the suite feels a lot bigger than it already is. The living room is bright in the day due to the natural lighting from the floor to ceiling, however, the living room is rather dim at night. The lighting in the suite does not seem to be sufficient to illuminate the area well. Facing the entrance to the Executive Suite in VIE Hotel Bangkok, in front of the first floor to ceiling window panel lies a fairly large work desk furnished with two chairs and a table lamp. This is a great space for guests to get some work done, as the table is large enough to place a laptop and some work documents on. However, the work desk suffers from the flaw of a lack of power outlets that resonates throughout the suite. The only power outlet that is available at the work desk sits on the floor beneath the desk, making it inconvenient for guests to plug in their laptop or any mobile devices for charging. Opposite the study desk is a long wooden table, that guest can place some small items on. This table serves more for decoration purposes than it is functional.

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Workdesk in the Executive Suite in VIE Hotel Bangkok

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View of the work desk from the sofa area in the Executive Suite

Further into the living room in the Executive Suite in VIE Hotel Bangkok is where one will find two large sofas placed in the near the floor to ceiling window panels. These two sofas arranged in an L-shape manner, furnished with numerous cushions, are capable of sitting four to five guests making this a great place for hotel guests to entertain their friends. A large coffee knee-height coffee table is placed in the space between the sofas. Two-floor lamps are placed on either side of the sofa that is facing the 40″ LED TV mounted on the wall. The 40″ LED TV is mounted on the wall that separates the living room from the bedroom, between the two dual-panel wooden doors. There is no lack of entertainment options on the LED TV in the suite. Guests are able to enjoy programmes from numerous local and international channels such as Fox movies, National Geographic and Discovery Channel to name a few. A minibar fridge is tucked into the wall to the left of the TV. All drinks and snacks in the minibar are free for guests staying in the Executive Suite in the VIE Hotel and will be replenished on a daily basis.

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Sofa area in the living room of the Executive Suite in VIE Hotel Bangkok

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One of the sofas in the living room in the Executive Suite in VIE Hotel Bangkok

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40″ LED TV in the living room

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Minibar fridge with complementary items hidden in the cabinet next to the entrance to the bedroom

Bedroom

The bedroom is accessible via the two dual-panel doors on either side of the LED TV. The Thai decor and earthy colour theme from the living room are also found in the bedroom, making the decor in the suite coherent. Like the living room, the bedroom is furnished with wooden furniture. The King bed, placed by the wall caught my attention when I entered the bedroom. The King bed is firm but comfortable which provided me with excellent sleep quality. However, the four pillows that were placed on the bed is too soft for my liking. VIE Hotel does not have a pillow menu for guests to choose, however, guests can still request for firmer pillows from the concierge. Bedside tables are found on either side of the King bed. The lack of power outlets in the living room also plagued the bedroom. Despite having four power outlets in total on the walls behind the bedside tables, only one of these is freed up for guests to use. The rest of the power outlets are used for the two bedside lamps and phone in the bedroom. The placement of the power outlets, which are hidden behind the bedside table further makes it inconvenient to use. All power outlets in the suite use Thailand standards, guests would have to bring their converter to use them. 

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King bed in the bedroom of the Executive Suite in VIE Hotel Bangkok

The two wardrobes in the bedroom are placed beside the King bed. The wardrobe nearest to the bathroom door is the larger of the two, where the in-room safe placed on top of a two-tiered cabinet is found in. This wardrobe is where I find more convenient to hang my clothing due to the two-panel doors to the wardrobe. The second wardrobe placed nearer to the wall is a tad more inconvenient to access, due to the limited space and the fact that there is only one door to the wardrobe. Here is where one can find the iron and ironing board. Despite being able to hang one week’s worth of clothes for two guests, there is a limited number of hangers in the wardrobe. We had to request for additional hangers from the housekeeping staffs.

Facing the King bed, mounted on the wall that segregates the living room and the bedroom is another 40″ LED TV for guests to enjoy the entertainment options while lying in bed. Beneath the TV is a cabinet that guests can stow some knickknacks. There is a three-tier cabinet placed by the entrance to the bedroom, next to the entrance to the bathroom. This cabinet provided guests with yet more storage options. This cabinet also doubles as a great space for guests to lay out their luggage.

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LED TV in the bedroom

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The three-tiered cabinet in the bedroom next to the entrance to the bathroom in the Executive Suite

Bathroom

The frosted glass door marks the entrance to the bathroom. The decor of the bathroom took a departure from the Thai earthy theme found in the living room and the bedroom. The decor of the bathroom is contemporary and classy, tiled in yellow marble, but is rather small in size compared to the rest of the suite. Much of the bathroom is occupied by a huge bathroom, sitting by the wall to the left of the entrance to the bathroom. Opposite the bathtub is the walk-in shower, equipped with rain shower and regular showerhead, as well as the toilet. The bathroom comes fitted with only one sink and a large sink top counter tucked at the end of the bathroom. Due to the placement of the bathtub, only a section of the sink countertop can be used. VIE Hotel Bangkok uses in-house bath amenities and provided a comprehensive choice of bathroom amenities.

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Overview of the bathroom

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The sink area has a large countertop in the bathroom

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Large bathtub in the bathroom

Service

I find the service in the VIE Hotel Bangkok suffers from inconsistency. The experience with the staffs was generally pleasant in the hotel. The moment we got off the cab, the porters at the door immediately sprung into action and assisted us with our luggage and escorted us to the reception for our check-in. The staff took notice of my friend’s Accor membership and invited us to check-in at the sit-down check-in counter next to the reception. While processing our check-in, another staff served us welcome drinks and took the effort to explain the concoction of the drinks. The check-in process is a tad slow, however, the staff processing our check-in made us feel welcome throughout the process. She even brought us up to our suite and explained some of the equipment in the suite. The staffs at the reception were generally welcoming and were always seen wearing a smile on their faces whenever we walked past them, even late in the night.

The thoughtfulness of the staffs in the hotel was also felt when the housekeeping staff left two cookies and a good night card every single night during turndown service. The diligent housekeeping staff even took the liberty of arranging the toiletries we placed on the sink countertop neatly.

However, when it comes to late night, the porters at the main entrance of the hotel were seen chatting with their colleagues by the door or were not around. This is where one of the inconsistencies of the service was felt. I noticed this to be the case every night when we leave and return to the VIE Hotel Bangkok. We were left with opening the doors ourselves.

The service at LaVIE restaurant also suffers from inconsistency. I noticed that service seem to be more prompt and the staffs were friendlier when the restaurant was not crowded. Plates were cleared quickly and I always return to a clean table and I did not have to wait for too long for my latte to be served. When the restaurant sees more people heading for breakfast, service is sluggish. The latte that I ordered took more than 10 mins to be served and the empty plates were piled up on our table. Staffs were seen patrolling the restaurant floor and I noticed them saw the empty plates on my table but none of the staffs took the initiative to clear them on my table. One of the staff only took action to clear the empty plates on my table when I accidentally dropped my butter knife on the floor. This was the only time the plates on my table was cleared, after which the plates remained piled up until I left the restaurant.

After my check-out, I requested to speak to the duty manager but was told that the manager was not available. I was told by the front desk staff to wait until the manager was available. However, there was no attempt to contact the manager by the staff at the front desk despite informing him that our transport to the airport is already on the way.  I ended up leaving the hotel without speaking to the duty manager.

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We were invited to a sit-down check-in

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Welcome drink served during check-in

Facilities in VIE Hotel Bangkok

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool in the VIE Hotel Bangkok is located on the 10th floor of the hotel, in a separate building. To get to the pool, guests would have to go through the gym and walk through a bridge that links the pool building to the main hotel building. The pool is an infinity pool with a glass panel at the end of the swimming pool facing the main road and the BTS tracks. Swimming in the pool feels as though one is swimming in the air. The pool area is small and is equipped with eight sundeck chairs. There is a small jacuzzi area in the pool by the towel area. Despite the limited size, I find the pool to be a great place to get a good tan due to the absence of trees. However, tanning by the pool is only possible in the afternoon as the hotel building would block the sun in the morning.

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The swimming pool in VIE Hotel Bangkok

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Swimming pool in VIE Hotel Bangkok

Gym

The Gym in the hotel is located on the 10th floor as well. Unlike the gyms in most hotels, which are usually small, the gym in VIE Hotel Bangkok is a fully functional gym. The gym is meant for fee-paying members who are not guests of the hotel. It is well equipped with the equipment that allows guests of the hotel to have a great workout. There is a studio that runs classes on a scheduled basis, hotel guests would have to pay in order to attend these classes.

Breakfast at LaVIE Restuarant

Breakfast is served in LaVIE restaurant, the only restaurant in VIE hotel, located on the 9th floor. There are quite a number of selection ranging from local to international food choices during breakfast. VIE Hotel Bangkok makes minor variations to the breakfast menu daily, however, these variations are so minor that they are hardly noticeable. The food served during breakfast is tasty though. Breakfast is served from 6.30am to 10.30am daily.

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LaVIE restaurant where breakfast is served daily

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Buffet selection in LaVIE restaurant during breakfast

Overall

VIE Hotel Bangkok is very well located which is a few steps from the nearest BTS station which makes exploring downtown Bangkok very convenient. The Hotel is one BTS stop away from central Bangkok. The Executive Suite while is huge, but the facilities seem a little run down due to wear and tear. Nonetheless, the suite is still comfortable to stay. The service I received around the hotel is inconsistent and seem to be dependent on who you bumped into during your stay. I would hesitate to recommend a stay at VIE Hotel Bangkok.