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Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

A Focus on What’s Important

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With its “Stay Smart” concept, Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam meets the travelers’ growing demand for comfort and value

When you are so used to full-service, luxury hotels, it takes some time getting used to “back-to-the-basic” kind of travel. Or so we thought. When there are so many hotels that pamper you like a king during your stay, why would you opt for one where you are basically left to fend for yourself? When you are among today’s so-called smart travelers, that’s why.

Smart travelers, according to the argument, don’t see the need to pay anything more than they need. They don’t see the need for super spacious room; large, en suite bathroom; or extra indulgent amenities and mod-cons that they don’t even get to use, especially when they are traveling alone or just a pair, they don’t want to waste their limited time in a very purpose driven trip. They want everything they need, nothing they don’t.

And “they” — from the looks of it — is a growing breed.

Enter Holiday Inn Express – a new brand that defines smart travel as such and meets the demand.“Smart Travel is pairing comfort and convenience with proximity and price,” according to proponents of the brand. “Holiday Inn Express is for travelers who want to make the most of their trip. They want comfort and quality of a trusted global brand but they don’t see the need to pay for service and facilities beyond what they absolutely need.”

After proving to be a success elsewhere, the brand made an entrance in Bangkok recently with the opening of Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam – the brand’s first in Southeast Asia. Khun Sue, the hotel’s general manager, said the hotel – located in one of the most-touristic areas of Bangkok — meets the needs of these modern savvy travelers. “We focus on what’s important to tourists,” she said.

“Bangkok is one of those cities where you would fly in for a concert, for a short weekend getaway, or for a quick business trip,” explained Sunny Bajaj, managing director of Amburaya Hotels and Resorts, and owner of the Bangkok Siam property. “The brand fills a gap in a market dominated by full service, luxury offerings; a fresh alternative that gives you everything at a great price.”

Set right in the heart of downtown Bangkok, just minutes from popular shopping, dining, entertainment and business districts, Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam is indeed well situated to provide an affordable alternative to full service hotels within the area without compromising on quality.

We tested the hotel’s promise with an overnight’s stay at the hotel recently and found out why it makes sense for today’s mid-range travelers. The ad pitch of “Save here, spend elsewhere” is certainly catchy, but there’s more to the hotel than just great value.

Foremost among it is location. As Khun Sue said, “Everything you need is at your doorstep: location is the key.” If you’re in Bangkok for leisure, the National Stadium area is certainly a great place to be – putting you right in the artery of exciting things. MBK, Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon – even CentralWorld and Gaysorn is within easy reach, not to mention that Bangkok’s main attractions from sightseeing to dining to nightlife are easily accessible via the BTS and MRT lines. If you have a penchant for the arts, the Bangkok Arts & Culture Center is within walking distance.

Similarly, the location is very convenient if you’re here on business. One can kick-start his or her day with breakfast from the complimentary “Express Start” breakfast bar. If strapped for time, you can just grab a quick muffin and pack a coffee from the Grab & Go counter. And while the hotel only has a very small room for small meetings, it can bring in increased business productivity at no extra cost with its complimentary Wi-Fi connection, available throughout the hotel. There’s no reason to miss work e-mails, or FB status updates from colleagues and friends.

Room size is a bit standard compared to many we have reviewed but we’re not complaining; it’s comfy and delightful to stay. It’s uncluttered, but with smart fundamentals. Bedding is high quality, and there’s a choice of soft and firm pillow to lay your head on nightcap time. The basic flat screen TV is present too, although we thought we need the ergonomic workspace more than the LCD. The bar is empty except for water but that’s only because you are allowed to buy anything you fancy at the nearby 7-11 and stock it up to your heart’s content without worrying about the unreasonably marked-up prices of snacks and drinks in many other hotels.

We missed the usual Bulgari bathroom amenities, but you just have to cal the reception desk and your needs will be delivered promptly to your room. Even the shampoo dispenser is refillable by a call, but there’s an invigorating three-head massage showerhead in the tub-less bathroom. Enabling amenities and facilities, which guest may use if they need to, complete the “guest empowering” concept: self-service laundry room, self-service vending machines, gym facilities and takeaway services.

A comment from a friend: “Come to think of it, this is kind of a ‘green’ concept too. So much wastage can be prevented just by making the bathroom amenities – for one – just available on call.”

One thing we find amazing is the service. Even with a lean and mean team — and almost everything outsourced, we heard – the hotel delivers a service that is comparable to hotels with a one-on-one staff ratio. Call up the desk for a shampoo refill and the staff will be there in no time at all. Call the hotel partners for a room service delivery and you will not be disappointed. Talk to the team at the reception and you will get the answers you need – fast and efficiently.

More than the “pillars” of the “Stay Smart” concept: great location, free Wi-FI, free breakfast, comfy bed, and great value — Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam truly delivers. Not bad for a room with a special introductory rate of Bt1,999++ per night (tentatively valid until Sept. 15 only).

Contact Details:
Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam
889 Rama 1 Rd, Pathumwan
(BTS: National Stadium)
Tel: 02 217-7555;
www.holidayinnexpress.com