Radisson Blu Plaza, Bangkok
Where: Bangkok, Thailand
Long story short: Uptown property in downtown Sukhumvit.
Short story long: I’m a little lost. You know like in the opening scene of the movie The Beach, when Leo DiCaprio arrives in Bangkok (“Good Time City!” – I’ve been here about 83 times and I have never heard anyone call it that. Nobody even calls it The Big Chilli, despite the best efforts of the Tourism Authority)?
Anyhoo, he’s wandering down Sukhumvit Road – probably between Sois 1 and 27, where I’m most familiar with and the market stall men are shouting things like “Hey, wanna see the waterfall?!” and “Hey, wanna stay in my hostel?!” and then it escalates quickly to “Hey, wanna drink snake blood?!” and again, I’ve never been asked that. He gets all disoriented and then drinks snake blood so to not look like a chicken. Some other stuff happens. I don't remember.
I’m like that, except kind of in reverse. I’ve stayed all up and down Sukhumvit Road in all manner of hotels but never in anywhere swanky. I’m wandering, dazed, around the Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok in a Leo-like state of shock, and would have a similar reaction to the snake blood question if someone in the lobby shouted, “Hey, wanna drink a prosecco cocktail?!” I know I’m on Sukhumvit, I just didn’t know it could be…well….nice.
I’d bundled in with my rucksack and my wheezes from the very close Asok Sky Train Station, around the winding driveway (the hotel is tastefully set back from the tuk-tuk and cab-smoked main road) and the staff were very polite about not pointing out that I looked like I’d be more at home in a hostel. No prosecco cocktail or snake’s blood offered, but a glass of water and the most impressively swift luggage transfer up to my room (I hate giving my case away usually but I was too tired to resist).
The rooms don’t make a big song and dance about being in Thailand or a sense of place because that’s not really the wheelhouse of an international business-class hotel and it always feels a little weird when they go overboard. It’s a solid, European-style, clean room with an understated design. If you want Thai boxing gloves and black and white photos of river markets, there are plenty of other options, and if you forget where you are, go for a walk.
I preferred to go for a drink after all that talk of snake blood, and yes, they have a typically great rooftop bar 30 stories up (the website says this is “almost” sky-scraping – I’m not sure what the minimum height is for actual sky scraping). The wines are described as “juicy”, which is funny as well as technically very accurate. If beers are more your thing, they also have a tap room with the none-more-American name ‘Brewski’, as well as some standard-issue hotel cocktail nooks.
The two restaurants take on Tuscan and Chinese cuisine respectively, but sadly I only got to nose into the breakfast buffet, which was perfectly wonderful, as are most breakfast buffets at high-end hotels in Thailand. The best part is that have to cater for so many rich people from very different countries, so you can have a curry or dim sum with your coffee.
The best part is being in a place like this but also being able to trot out and walk into the noodles and chaos of Sukhumvit. I’ve grown up a little bit, but not so much that I don’t like to be in the thick of it and get shouted offers of waterfall tours (nobody really shouts about anything this innocent and pastoral on Sukhumvit Road).
As with most Bangkok hotels on this level – if you haven’t stayed in a prestige internationally-branded hotel chain, then this is the city to do it in. For the price of a night in a London Travelodge, you can live like a prince, and still walk to hang out with the paupers if that’s your thing. You know, like Leo.
Rooms from around £120/$140 a night, though website offers have gone as low as just over £100. Go to the website HERE.
Paul Oswell was a guest of Radisson Hotels.
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