Birthday blues, drinking bans, monsoon season, and all-you-can-eat health food, (and the world’s your oyster…)
On August 6th (my 29th birthday for all those keeping track) I took a cab to Sports Complex Station in Seoul, the express subway to Gimpo, then crossed to the other side of the platform to catch the remaining distance to Incheon Airport. The subway from Seoul to Incheon is ridiculously easy, as is the public transportation from Don Mueang (the smaller airport) into the city of Bangkok, Thailand.
From International arrivals head to Gate 6. From Domestic it doesn’t really seem to matter which Gate you take, just head outside and look for the A1 Bus. This bus will take you to Mo Chit BTS Station and costs 30 baht ($1.11 Canadian). From there, you’ll need to figure out to which BTS station you need to go. This determines the price of your trip. To ASOK Station, the cost was 42 baht ($1.56 Canadian). You’ll need exact change, but there are cashiers to provide you with all that. The cashiers, however, don’t provide you with a ticket. That seemed pretty odd to me to have you line up to get change then go to a machine for your ticket.
I did one splurge night and one save night in Bangkok as bookends to my trip. While my save night was more comfortable than expected, the splurge night left me ready to take on the next 10 days of my trip in style. The Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 is a short walk from Asok Station, and is very close to Terminal 21 – a Western-style shopping mall with an H&M, a Victoria’s Secret (accessories and undies, only – no bras), a giant Starbucks, MAC cosmetics, and some other recognizable retailers from back home. I didn’t stick around too long as I was in Thailand, of course. On the other side of the main street you’ll find Soi Cowboy (from the movie “The Hangover II”) as well as a variety of Indian restaurants, upscale burger bars, and tons of stalls for fragrant street food (just make sure they cook it in front of you!). The location of the Novotel Sukhumvit 20 in Bangkok could not be more perfect – you’re right by the subway (Sukhumvit Metro Station and Asok BTS), street food, ladyboys, nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping. The old city is a 25-minute air-conditioned subway ride away as well.
I wish I had known what an amazing location this actually was, but in the heavy rain and with the drinking ban due to the election, I was very happy to enjoy a lovely meal, a glass of champagne, and a quiet night in my luxurious hotel room.
When I arrived at the front desk I was hot, sweaty, and carrying a big ol’ duffel bag since I had no checked baggage with Air Asia. The staff were courteous and friendly, and my check-in experience was smooth.
I loved all the details included in the decor. I had no idea that this location was only a couple of months old. Upon first glance everything just seemed to be in tip top shape. I was really impressed!
The best part of my hotel stay is definitely a toss up, but I always judge a hotel based on my room in particular. My Superior Room included 1 King bed (although 2 Single Beds are available if you’re not keen on snuggling), a 42″ Flat screen TV, a mini-bar with cheap and cheerful Chang (100 baht/ $4/ can), free WiFi and a safety deposit box. My room had a shower, but apparently bathtubs and Smoking rooms are available upon request.
The bathroom had great lighting for makeup as well as a giant, fancy shower with a removable nozzle and a waterfall/ rain-style shower head. I’m also very, very glad it was the only hotel/ hostel of my stay with a scale, because I got a little curried away throughout Phuket and Chiang Mai!
After a quick shower and rest in my stellar than stellar room, I ventured up to the infinity pool to check out the view and take a dip before dinner. The pool wasn’t too crowded, the music was faint, but added to the ambiance, and the decor was modern and fun while still managing to be sophisticated. Because the hotel is so new, I really felt like I had the place to myself to just relax right into the start of my Thailand vacation.
I had read all about The Food Exchange restaurant in the in-flight magazine on Air Asia, so I was excited to give it a try at my own hotel! After a dip, I wandered up to the 9th floor for some healthy eats. They were running a promotion for 50% off the price of the buffet, so I bought myself a glass of champagne and settled onto the balcony for a breath before heading back in to check out the buffet offerings. The Food Exchange prides itself on being health-focused. There’s even a tag-line about this being a lifestyle and not a diet. I’d be inclined to agree, however my lifestyle couldn’t handle the sheer volume of what I would mostly agree were healthy eats!
Aren’t these facilities perfect for small conferences, appreciation dinners, or even (dare I say it…rehearsal dinners/ weddings)? I like a modern touch with warm, muted tones so this space would be perfect for the kinds of events I enjoy planning and running!
I couldn’t believe the different international dishes they were offering! I was delighted by the giant, carved wasabi flower, the large display of colourful sushi, the various types of hummus, tabouleh, sun-dried tomato spread, olive tapenade, and guacamole (with real, fresh cilantro – heaven!). There was chicken kofta and falafel balls, freshly made papaya salad, bespoke pasta, tasty flatbreads, a smoothie bar and salad bar. This is what Korea so desperately needs: GREENS! I would dine out weekly at a hotel rather than a meat-market weekly if fresh avocado and mixed greens were on an all you can eat menu. I think most expats would agree!
After getting my mix of falafel and steamed veggies (as well as a little birthday champagne – why not, right?) the rain started to fall…hard. I retired to my room where there was a surprise of light, but decadent, chocolate cake from The Gourmet Bar and a lovely note from the hotel management wishing me a Happy Birthday. It was nice that someone remembered and did something (oh – shout out to Air Asia for giving me a complimentary bottle of water, too. No love for Canada Post).
After over-indulging and then catching a few heats of Olympic swimming, if was time to snooze! My bed was plush and comfortable, my room was quiet, and the only thing waking me up in the morning was my alarm. The blackout curtains would have been essential had my “one night in Bangkok” gone according to party plan! Sometimes I think the universe is just willing me to slow down, and I can’t think of a better place to have relaxed!
If a hotel has a fitness centre I always make sure to check out how stacked it is and try to at least get in some weights. Being that this location of the Novotel Bangkok is so new, the fitness facilities were practically untouched. This, to me, was perfection. I got in a quick run followed by some time with their free-weights and weight machines. If I were here for business I’d be thrilled to come into this clean, well-organized facility before heading to meetings of a boardroom for the day.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present: REAL BACON! After a year and a half in South Korea, real, fragrant, crispy bacon is a rare find. I was clearly very excited for my bacon! There was also tons of fresh fruit, a new assortment of sushi, the smoothie and salad bars were up and running again, and there was a grand supply of morning pastries I avoided. Omelettes to order were available, the coffee was hot and fresh, and there was finally an assortment of Thai dishes ready for me to devour. While the fish balls didn’t happen, the cashew nut chicken was calling my name. I enjoyed it without rice, instead opting for fruit, veggies, and assorted cheese (something else that tends to be a hard find in Korea!).
The Novotel got their very own tuk-tuk the evening of August 6th, so I guess this little guy and I share a birthday. In the morning, I had my very first tuk-tuk ride to the subway station where I departed for the airport to head to Phuket. I’ll have to make it back soon to check out the new Sky on 20 bar where those staying in Executive Suites may enjoy lounge access with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks during happy hour. Since the 20th floor is currently getting its finishing touches, I guess it’s just an excuse to come back when Lake Ratchada is visible from the 20th floor with 270 degree views (and Mexican cuisine being served, because I’m always down for tacos!).
My one-night stay at The Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 was in partnership with Accor Hotels and The Toronto Seoulcialite, however views (and food & beverage purchases!) remain my own. I would like to thank the team at Accor Hotels for hosting me, and for their start to finish great service with a smile. My stay at the Novotel Skhumvit 20 may have only been one night in Bangkok this round, but I would surely recommend staying with them again. #WeLoveAccorHotels isn’t just a hashtag!
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