The four-star Amari brand is part of the Onyx Hospitality Group. Its properties are currently all based in Thailand, apart from the Amari Doha – which opened its doors in January 2013 – and there are plans for the brand to expand to Dhaka, (later this year) China (Guangdong and Yunnan in 2015) and Bali (2016) among other Asian destinations.
The 569-room Amari Watergate Bangkok opened in 1994 and is brand’s second hotel in the Thai capital (the Amari Don Muang opened in 1983).
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Despite being 20 years old, the 32-floor skyscraper hotel feels contemporary, and the in-room décor fresh, particularly in the Executive rooms, which were refurbished a couple of years ago.
The property upholds its ambition to reflect “the warmth and energy of an evolving modern Asia” and there is a strong sense of locale in the décor and touches such as the traditional Thai music in the lobby in the evenings. I was greeted warmly upon arrival and escorted straight up to the executive lounge, where I was given a glass of juice and presented with floral wreath while I was checked in.
The flexible, proactive service was a standout feature of the property. While I was waiting to meet somebody in the lobby, two separate members of staff approached me asking if I needed assistance, and staff in the Executive lounge went out of their way to make sure that you had everything you needed and initiated conversation. My companion asked if they could leave some luggage at the hotel for a few days after we’d checked out (returning to collect it later) and staff were more than happy to accommodate this.
WHERE IS IT?
On Petchburi Road, in the heart of the international hotel district, Across the road, opposite the entrance, is the gigantic Platinum mall, while the more modestly-sized Pratunam Mall is across the road on the hotel’s left, which has a decent food court. Suvarnabhumi airport is a 40-minute drive away – if you’d like to make use of the city’s amazing public transport, the Bangkok Skytrain (BTS) “Siam” station is a 15-minute walk away, and the journey to the airport takes roughly the same amount of time.
I stayed in an Executive Suite on the 28th floor. The long, room had light wooden walls paired with a pale brown patterned carpet and warm-hued cushions, and the sliding door between the bathroom and the bedroom created an open feel. Floor-to-ceiling windows surrounded the bedroom area, with dizzying views down to the ground. The overall design of the room was stylish, homely, and more interesting than your typical mid-scale brand.
A huge chocolate brown leather chaise lounge ran the width of the room (about the size of a single bed). Oriental décor touches included a plush silk stool at the end of the bed and the carved wooden fresco at its head, which was brushed in gold paint. The bed itself was extremely comfortable, with good quality pillows. There was large Sony flatscreen TV upon the chest of drawers opposite the bed, and a Phillips DVD player.
The living-room area of the suite had a dark wooden floor, another Samsung flatscreen TV, a sofa and two single chairs – the space would be suitable for a small meeting. There was also a work desk here, with Asian plug sockets above it, and two chic swivel chairs tucked underneath. There was a separate toilet in this area too.
The light marble bathroom had twin sinks, a glass walled walk-in shower with a rainshower head, and a bath with a Jacuzzi setting – this was little erratic, and initially squirted water across into the bedroom, but when I turned it off and on again, the problem was resolved. Amari’s own-brand toiletries were provided.
Wifi was free – though I had some trouble connecting to it at first, and found the manual login page slightly confusing. Other amenities included tea- and coffee-making facilities, free large glass bottles of Chang mineral water, a laptop safe, an iron and an ironing board and a minbar – which was equipped with everything from beer was (190 baht/£3.50) to condoms (170 baht/£3.10). The air conditioning worked well (the windows didn’t open, as you may expect from a skyscraper hotel).
Guests staying in Executive rooms and above can make use of the relaxing Executive lounge on the 32nd floor, and I ended up spending a lot of time in here. There is a small outdoor decking area with seating and great city views, while indoors, the
Breakfast is served here daily from 6am-10.30am – the offering is extensive, including sushi, fresh hummus, miso soup, a range of savoury Asian options, western hot options, fresh fruit, yoghurts, an egg station and selections of bread, cheeses and cold cuts. Free hot drinks and small snacks are available at any time, and food from the hotels’ Thai restaurant can be purchased throughout the day. Cocktails and light bites are served daily from 5pm-7pm and there is a PC area with two Apple macs and a printer and a meeting room (which is free to use for executive floor guests).
Another advantage of the Executive lounge, is the free late check-out (3pm), which is done for you while you wait in the lounge. Wifi is also free here.
Entry-level Deluxe rooms now come with free wifi as standard and they style differs from the other categories in that they are slightly less modern and have darker wooden furnishings – I would recommend opting for the category above (Grand Deluxe) as a matter of taste, though these rooms will be revamped in the near future.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The hotel boasts five restaurants. Heichinrou (pictured below), its Chinese eatery on the fifth floor, has a beautiful Imperial-style décor with red walls and four private dining rooms, each with a lazy susan table.
Thai on 4 is as it sounds – a contemporary Thai restaurant on the fourth floor – while Cascade is the hotels’ all-day dining restaurant, serving deli-style treats and coffees from 6am until midnight. Breakfast is served in Promenade restaurant from 6am-10.30am, and the eatery then presents an international buffet from 11.30am until 2.30pm.
If you’re missing home, on the basement level there is a Henry J Beans Bar and Grill. Open from 6pm- 1am, it presents live music from Monday to Saturday. I found it quite surreal how similar its interior was to the branch on London’s King’s Road.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The property’s meeting facilities are spread across a number of floors, and there are 25 spaces in total.
I was particularly impressed by the stylish “Connections” meeting rooms on the ninth floor, which had natural daylight and comprised three meeting rooms and two areas for coffee breaks which, when combined had the feel of a modern apartment. Connection2@9 was the largest, accommodating 70 people theatre style, and it had an extremely large projector screen.
The carpeted Watergate Ballroom on the sixth floor is the biggest space – it can hold 1,000 guests for a banquet and is divisible by three. At either end of the space, there are ornate marble and wood wall embellishments, which create a sense of grandeur.
The lobby-level business centre comprises three spacious private rooms, each with free wifi and printing facilities.
The fitness and wellness facilities can all be found on the 8th floor. There’s a vibrantly- decorated Breeze spa with seven treatment rooms (open 10am-10pm), a hair and nail salon, a well-kept outdoor pool area with bar (open 7am-5pm) cabanas, planted palm trees and sun loungers. There is also a poolside sauna, steam room an indoor spa bath. The hotel’s gym is also located here.
It was difficult to fault the in-room experience, and the hotel was well set-up for business travellers and events. The service in the Executive lounge was particularly good.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 569 – 186 Deluxe rooms, 285 Grand Deluxe rooms, 73 Executive rooms, 18 Corner suites and six Executive suites.
- HIGHLIGHTS The executive lounge, the homely feel of the rooms, and the accommodating, flexible service that made my stay a lot easier.
- PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in a Deluxe room in February started from 3,000 baht (£55).
- CONTACT Amari Watergate Bangkok, 847 Petchburi Road, Bangkok 10400; tel +66(0) 2653 9000; amari.com