A Thai Vacay: The Millennium Hilton, Bangkok


I arrived at the Central Pier of Bangkok using a mix of the airport express train system of the city, and switched to the Bangkok Mass Transport System later. Our hotel was located across the Chao Phraya river that runs through the city and put us towards the western end of the city and removed from the entertainment district of the city (Siam), but it was fine by us because the first couple of days we were going to be doing the touristy sight-seeing thing anyways and most of that was upstream from the river.

Also, this gave me an opportunity to ride in a ferry boat of the hotel a few times a day, which was a simple joy of life. The Millennium Hilton offered a complimentary ferry ride to hotel guests every 15 minutes from the hotel and from the Central Pier. The hotel ferry was our first experience with the hotel in the real world, and when the ferry arrived at the pier, we were helped with our bags to be loaded on the boat. Subsequently, we were offered water and cold towels on the boat and welcomed to the hotel. However, this was inconsistent with the later experience when we came back with the parents and they were not offered any cold towels.

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The Millennium Hilton across the river

Seems like there was no advanced information from the boat to the hotel, so eventually we had to drag our bags ourselves from the hotel’s shuttle boat pier to the lobby, by which time I was soaking in sweat in the humid Bangkok weather. I would have ideally wanted to check-in at the lounge, however, I just approached the reception where me and my brother presented our passports for check-in. It is good to note at this point of time, that I had booked two rooms at this hotel (under my name) and after much to and fro between me and the hotel over email, they had agreed to upgrade one to a standard Suite, after taking what they called a special approval from the General Manager. They expressed their inability to upgrade the other room so I transferred the reservation in the name of my brother, who is a Hilton HHonors Gold himself, and then we had an Executive Room and a King Executive Suite for the four of us in the family.

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On our way into the lobby

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Millennium Hilton, Bangkok Lobby

The hotel also had King Executive Plus Suites (not for the plus sized, mind you!) and the only difference between both the suite classes was the view. The standard suites (the one I got) was at the back of the hotel and offered a city-cum-river view, while the Plus suites were in the front and offered a full river view. My request for accommodating everyone on the same floor was noted and we were all going to be staying on the 25th floor (the Executive Floor).

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Suite: Living Room work area and couch

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Suite Relaxing Area

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Suite Working Desk

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Suite: from the workdesk

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Suite from the entrance

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Suite view from the bedroom

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City View from the living room of the Suite

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Suite Bedroom

The hotel offered Peter Thomas Roth amenities, something they rolled out across Hilton properties in mid 2011, and a little ducky a-la the Lufthansa First Class Terminal (FRA).

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A little knock on the door announced the arrival of the welcome amenity which was going to be a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries and a box of hand-crafted chocolates. A plate of fruits was already in the room when we arrived.

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Welcome amenities

Complimentary bottles of water were already provided for, and the minibar looked stocked.

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I decided the parents needed a treat so left the suite for their use, and me and my brother headed to the other room (Executive Room) which was way smaller and cramped at 34 sq. m. to make it a home for two days. For some strange reason, the hotel thought that having a work desk behind the bed is a great idea and will give inspiration to all of those looking out into space.

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Executive Room Bed

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Executive Room Couch

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Executive Room workdesk (behind the bed)

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Executive Room view from the window (with the screen drawn down!)

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A separate tub, lav and shower area was provided for

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I still haven’t figured the need for a little ottoman in my bathroom.

As was expected, water and welcome amenities arrived, however smaller rooms get two strawberries each rather than six! Talk about feeling entitled!

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Executive Room: Welcome Amenities

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Executive Room: MinibarIMG_0667

Now, we were tired and did not have the time or the appetite for a full lunch, so we hopped over to the Executive Lounge on the 31st Floor where Afternoon Tea would be served from 3-6 PM. The Lounge had an indoor area and an outdoor area, with a sweeping view of the city and the river. A variety of canapés, scones and small pastries and savoury items were present, good for a light snack. We were asked for our room number, and our order of tea and coffee was served on the table, while we helped ourselves to the snacks. I was too busy eating so I forgot clicking a picture inside the lounge Winking smile

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Afternoon tea at the lounge

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View from the 31st floor Lounge

I visited the lounge quite a few times in my 2 day stay at this hotel, and here is my little beef with them. At a hotel lounge, I am used to pulling out my own chilled beer/water/soft drink cans from the display chiller, and I’d usually make a trip or two just to get water and some snacks on any given day. Out here, you apparently don’t have the luxury, so when I swung by to collect some water and cola the next day and proceeded to the fridge to help myself, the staff stopped me and asked me to let them know what I wanted and they’d get it for me. That it was an open-door lounge did not help much either, because every time I turned up for the 36 hours, they would like to know my room number (there was no key-card based limited access!)

Anyways, after bringing back my parents from their flight to the hotel in the evening, we were all exhausted so we simply called for room-service dinner, which was very very good. Turn-down service was offered, and while you wouldn’t find little chocolates, you’d meet a little handicraft toy on your bed wishing you good night.

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Room service dinner

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Good night!

The next morning, we decided to help ourselves to breakfast in the FLOW restaurant. It seems the hotel has a regular problem with executive floor guests wanting to eat the full breakfast at the restaurant, so I encountered a host who made it clear to me for the third time that morning that there would be an extra supplement of THB 365 per person if we decided to eat breakfast at the restaurant, which sounded very pushy to me. My situation was that I had access to all four members of my family getting free breakfast in the lounge, and upon check-in I was also informed that the guests in the Suite could eat at the lounge/restaurant with no extra charge. So, I basically figured I had 4 eligible breakfasts in the restaurant and we could eat in the lounge one day and in the restaurant on another. However, if the hotel would want to enforce that only two people were welcome, I would be happy to pay for the other two pax on check-out.

The restaurant apparently had quite a few open kitchens and the breakfast choices were a mix of American, Continental, Japanese, Chinese and Indian.

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The FLOW restaurant

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Chinese Breakfast Options

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Dimsums and Indian options

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From the Bakery

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Some of my breakfast

Service at the restaurant was surprisingly lax, and having come off from a few leisure stays earlier in the month where hotel staff was eager to please, here I got a look when I asked the waiting staff to get me a basket of toasted bread and some eggs sunny side up on the table. They pointed me to the direction of the eggs station and I got them myself.

Later that evening, after our sight-seeing trip around town, we were back in the hotel in good time for the Pre-Dinner Cocktails the hotel serves from 6-8:30 PM. On my work trips the after hours are spent socialising with the colleagues or walking around town, but between the four tired souls we were, we could do with a drink and some banter. On the menu was a generous selection of spirits and cocktails, and some warm bites which included sausages, salads, prawns, spring rolls and other finger food. However, it seemed to take them forever to refill the counters once they ran out of stuff.

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The evening view from the Lounge

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Cheese and short bites to go with the drinks

None of the bigger tables were empty when we arrived so we were accommodated on a smaller table till a set of couches opened up and the staff were proactive in moving us there. They took drink orders on the table and cocktails, spirits and mocktails all arrived like ordered. They even offered suggestions to my family about what they could try out. Since lounge time was family time, as usual I forgot taking an inside picture of the lounge! However, the cocktail hours required smart dressing and this was stated in the welcome letter placed in the room.

The next morning, we decided to check out the lounge breakfast and headed back up to the 31st floor for our breakfast. To my amusement, there was a ‘full’ breakfast offered in the lounge as well, including an egg station and a pancake/waffle station, and the sushi, so the only difference I could make out was that some of the Chinese and Indian selections which was not such a great deal in the first place. So, I wondered if I got the 365 THB charged per pax on the bill, would it ever be worth it!

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From the bakery

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Fruits and Cereal Station

The staff in the lounge was far more friendly and welcoming by the end of the stay and I was wondering what did I do, except for showing up pretty often to deserve a better treatment and the end of two days here. On the other hand, I could not say that for the restaurant staff who were very stiff in their approach and seemed to be keen only to go about cleaning the tables and not do much about making the breakfast an experience for their guests.

An amusing incident that happened during the stay was something I’d like to classify under oversight but I am having a hard time trying to justify it to myself. Both our rooms had some or the other faulty lighting and the staff did not take note of this by themselves but I had to inform them instead. Then they ended up sending someone to my room, who was a technician but the hotel preferred to call him an engineer, and he just barged into the room without me permitting him just yet to walk in. I had to ask him to leave and put out an email complaint to the hotel, however, they did not do much but to write back with an apology.

Amongst the other benefits offered as Executive Floor residents was complimentary wi-fi internet, which was patchy at best and I had to eventually plug into the cable based internet to be able to get some work done. Also, they offered complimentary pressing services for 2 pieces per person per day.

What I really wanted to check out but could not head out to was the pool on the 4th floor which is a nice infinity pool as per the website.

Overall, I was happy with the stay, but I had a few loose ends which I’d have loved the hotel to have sorted out which would have clearly put this in the memorable bracket!

P.S. : My choice of hotel was guided by a variety of factors, including loyalty benefits. I know most of my BoardingArea colleagues like the SPG properties over others, but since I am a lowly SPG Gold, I had to skip them. As a Hilton HHonors Diamond, I could potentially be offered a suite upgrade with their new policy this year onwards, so I chose this property. However, based on FlyerTalk feedback, I was not sure if the suite upgrade was going to come through, since this hotel apparently does not offer suites to top-tiers, even when they have them unoccupied. I wrote to the hotel after making a Best Available Rate reservation, and seems like they were not getting the hint, so quoted the book to them and then they did reserve one suite for us. However, my inference of their reservations department was that the hotel wanted to give as less benefits as possible to HHonors elites, so they’d stick to the bare minimum where possible (I’m trying to avoid the word stingy!). Thereby, for the second room upgrade, which was an Executive Room, they wouldn’t give it till I put in my brother’s name in the booking who is a Gold member.

However, due to work commitments I was not sure if we were going or not till a few days ahead of the trip. I’d always intended to confirm this into a prepaid reservation under the Great Getaway sale since I was going to save 33% on the Best Available Rate, however, I only went about doing that at T-6, where the BAR had moved up by 1,000 THB per night. So, while I paid more than what I intended to, I still saved about 20% on my original booked rates. The Millennium Hilton is a Reward Category 4 hotel, so this means a standard room night award could come to you at 30,000 HHonor points per night.

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Comments

  1. Hilton hasnt changed, same strategy since I worked for Hilton 15 years ago, the least upgrade the better so when the guest complaint then you upgrade that way for the same amount you get appreciation from the guest because of the ugrade. Havent been lucky to experience SPG or Hyatt but based on my reading thru this site, seems like Hyatt and SPG are more open to true upgrade.

  2. Good review, but as you noted, for the river properties, I prefer the Sheraton Royal Orchid, with all rooms facing the river and excellent service and facilities. Of course, there is also the Shang, MO, and Pen as well in the vicinity.

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