Scathing hotel reviews are among our favourite things. Spoof hotel reviews are up there, too. We love this one, written about guest houses in Ireland by Caroline O'Donoghue for headstuff.org.
"The main house features 18 bedrooms, a ballroom, a parlour for painting horses in, a slightly smaller ballroom, a “drawing room” and a narrow closet where servants were permitted to sleep standing up in. The large iron gates you see surrounding the property were added in 1850 after a number of local riots resulted in the death of 18 members of the Irish peasant class. During the time, this was the equivalent of three English people!"
Read the entire thing HERE.
We're excited to announce that this week will see the first episode of the Shandy Pockets Podcast. Or the Shandy Podcast. Or Shandy Podckets. We're not sure about the name yet. Either way, you'll be able to find it here and on the usual podcast sites and we'll be talking 2017 travel trends and traveling in Thailand in the late 90s (when The Beach came out) and tips for visiting the Ivory Coast. So...you know...check it out this Friday.
One of the first things you notice when you travel to Asian cities is how the Western corporations appropriate the local traditions to fit in. Usually it’s about as culturally comfortable as your dad wearing a bindi to a Hindu wedding (this analogy doesn't work if your dad is Hindu, of course).
In Bangkok, for example, the sight of Ronald MacDonald doing his forced clownish bowing outside the Thai outposts of his fast food chain never fails to illicit a cringe though maybe it’s better than him not doing it? I don’t know, you’d have to ask a local, but to me it feels a bit ‘white person wearing native headdress to Coachella’.
Starwood are a western brand but with their much-vaunted W Bangkok hotel, they’ve thrown themselves into placing this property with so much gusto you can only really admire it. Just walking into the lobby is an assault in the senses as vivid Thai imagery comes at you from every corner.
Some 80,000 crystals have been employed in huge collages amid the black marble backdrop and foreground of young fashion bloggers looking at their phone screens. A tiger fights a phoenix for…reasons? A lobby nymph does explain it to me but my old ears lose the thread beneath the curated trip-hop.
The other motifs include Thai Boxing – lobby drinking booths are fashioned over traditional ringside fixtures – and pimped-up tuk-tuks with artistic light installations. It’s kind of spectaular, like if young people had a go at redesigning Vegas.
In London or New York, you’d expect a hefty dose of disdain from the staff if you didn’t show up wearing Skrillex t-shirt but that famed Thai hospitality shines on through and the staff can’t help but be wonderfully helpful.
If you’ve stayed at Ws before, you know what you’re in for with the rooms – bold colours and tech-forward amenities with local touches that double as expensive souvenirs. The latter in this case is a delightful pair of oversized gold Thai boxing gloves (no, YOU danced around in your pants pretending to be Rocky).
Adjusting the lighting and temperature from a tablet still feels wonderfully futuristic to me, but I remember Friendster, so what do I know? In short, the rooms are great and if W prices are a bit too rich for you in Western cities, then the value on parade in Thailand provides a good opportunity to try it out.
Across the forecourt is a very different experience altogether. Still part of the hotel, the House on Sathorn (named after the road/neighbourhood we’re in) is a painstakingly-restored 19th century mansion that was formerly the Russian embassy in Thailand. It has beautiful, wood-framed colonial dining rooms and an expansive courtyard which had a DJ even at 10am when I looked around (possibly still there from the night before).
The to-be-expected modern freebies are all present and correct – fast, free WiFi so that stream of Instagram updates of you wearing your pants and huge boxing gloves needn’t suffer, and a breakfast buffet (if you book that rate) that is on a par with the city’s most sumptuous. If you’re into that sort of thing, the spa is pretty space-age and the rooftop pool delivers what all rooftop pools are supposed to in terms of views and a feeling of quiet superiority.
The immediate neighbourhood, Sathorn, took a few years to catch up to the W but there should now be enough cafes, bars and restaurants to keep those fashion bloggers happy. I didn’t see a bowing Ronald MacDonald, but it’s probably just a matter of time. (PO)