In a market bustling with new hotel openings from international hotel brands, Hilton Hotels and Resorts’ Conrad Bangkok is something of a veteran, the hotel having first opened its doors 16 years ago. In the time since, a plethora of new properties has cropped up across the Thai capital, and in order to keep up the Conrad began a two-phase renovation project last year involving its main public areas, conference facilities, guestrooms, suites and executive lounge. Renovations of the remaining guestrooms are set to continue until September this year.
Where is it?
In the city’s Lumphini business district on Wireless Road. The hotel is a 25-minute car ride from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport – at least, it was when I was picked up by a chauffeur from the hotel at around 11.30pm. Bangkok’s notorious traffic may make the journey far longer if you arrive earlier in the day. A large number of hotels can also be found in this area, with the most recent addition being the Rosewood Bangkok that opened nearby at the end of March. A lot of the foreign embassies are also located around this area, and connectivity to the city’s BTS skytrain system is offered via Phloen Chit station, a short walk from the hotel.
What’s it like?
The renovations have done a good job of lifting the hotel to meet the growing competition from new openings around the city. This is especially visible with the lobby, which employs a lot of marble tiling on the floors and reception desks, giving the space a modern, stylish look.
That being said, the hotel has retained some of its traditional features if you know where to look for them – a prime example being a huge, cylindrical wood carving in the lobby depicting traditional Thai buildings that, I’ll admit, I didn’t even notice until I saw it from the balcony after coming back from lunch at one of the hotel’s restaurants.
Conrad Bangkok has 391 guestrooms and suites, ranging from the smallest Deluxe Room at 41 sqm to the largest 238 sqm Presidential Suite. I was in one of the hotel’s newly renovated Premium Rooms on the 24th floor. So new, in fact, that the plastic “guards” inside the room’s new universal electrical sockets had yet to be broken in – a task that, I’ll admit, took a fair bit of strength to accomplish.
From an aesthetic standpoint alone, the new look is significantly more modern. Gone are the more golden hues of the older rooms, replaced by sleek greys. Sofas, chairs and tables are also more contemporary in design.
At 53 sqm, this is a sizeable room. The open-plan design of the wardrobe area – located to the side when you enter the room and featuring a safe, ironing board, hangars and drawers, and a place to pop your luggage – helps the room feel spacious, as do the floor-to-ceiling windows.
At night, the lights provide ample illumination and are thankfully easy to control with a few pre-set options, a dimmer switch and a large “master” switch all located beside the bed. Power outlets, HDMI and USB ports are also available by both bedside tables.
The bed is sizeable and thoroughly comfortable. Indeed, the four pillows are so voluminous that I often found sleeping on just one to be more than sufficient.
Next to the bed is an armchair and a small sofa that surround a coffee table, upon which was placed three desserts, two mandarin oranges and a pack of ginger rice crackers from Asian Artisan.
The bathroom is also spacious, and is separated from the main room by a sliding door.
Chrome metal, marble table tops and light brown tiling give the room a modern edge, while the wooden window shutters above the bath are curiously resort-like – a pleasant touch.
A separate shower is in the corner with both regular and rainfall settings, and amenities are from Shanghai Tang.
An interesting addition to the rooms following the renovation is the sensors that detect when you enter the room and return the lighting and blinds to their original settings. This was nice when I came back to the room, though on one occasion I did have the issue where the lights turned themselves off and the blinds began to lower after I’d been sitting at the desk working for about 30 minutes. I had to get up and wave my arms about a bit until the sensors rediscovered my presence and once again brought everything back to life.
Like the rooms, the hotel’s Executive Lounge on the 29th floor is spacious with seating stretching around in a sort of “U” shape. The setting was calm despite being reasonably busy when I headed down at 10am for breakfast on a Tuesday.
There’s a good spread of dishes on offer with a pleasant mix of hot Asian dishes, dim sum, cold cuts and cheeses, fresh fruit and bread, and western breakfast options, as well as a live egg cooking station – an uncommon feature in club lounges. I often find myself recommending guests go to the lounge for breakfast if they want privacy and the restaurant if they desire a good feed, but in this instance the spread was impressive enough that I’d happily have all my morning meals at the lounge.
The shape of the lounge means that a lot of the tables are positioned right by the windows and I recommend trying to grab one of these so you can enjoy a pleasant city view with your breakfast.
Food and beverage
This is an area where the Conrad Bangkok certainly shines. Top of my list of recommendations has to be the hotel’s Japanese restaurant Kisara (open 11.30am-2.30pm; 6pm-10.30pm) on the third floor, which offers individual tables, live cooking stations with bar-style seating, and traditionally styled private rooms. The dishes served here are authentic and, in some cases, elaborate but are well worth trying if you’re not too pressed for time.
The hotel’s main F&B offering, however, is all-day-dining restaurant Café@2 (6am-10.30am; 11am-10.30pm) on the second floor. This has a similar spread at breakfast to the executive lounge, albeit with slightly greater breadth of options such as a live pancake and waffle station.
Other eateries that I didn’t get a chance to visit include Cantonese restaurant Liu (also open 11.30am-2.30pm; 6pm-10.30pm) on the third floor; the more casual Deli by Conrad café (open 10am-8pm); and the poolside City Terrace-Pool Restaurant (open 7am-9pm); and the first-floor Diplomat Bar (open 7am-1am most days; 7am-2am Fridays and Saturdays), which features live music every evening.
The hotel’s seventh floor is home to the Seasons Spa, the Bodyworx gym and the outdoor swimming pool. The spa features 11 different rooms and offers a mix of Eastern and Western treatments, as well as an Express Menu for guests who just want a quick session. The fitness centre has a good number of machines, especially treadmills and ellipticals, and was seldom busy when I visited in the evenings. There’s also a studio inside the gym for classes such as yoga. The hotel also has a tennis court and rooftop running track, though I used neither during my stay.
The outdoor pool definitely has more of a resort feel about it with deck chairs and parasols laid out around the perimeter. This is great for relaxing, but not quite as ideal if you’re looking to get a few laps in.
The hotel has 22 meeting and conference rooms, including the 780-sqm, eight-metre-high pillarless Conrad Ballroom capable of accommodating up to 1,200 guests for a standing cocktail reception or 60 tables in a banquet set up.
The hotel’s renovation has certainly given the Conrad Bangkok a fresh, contemporary facelift that helps bring it up to standard with the many other new properties opening their doors around the city. As is common with newly renovated hotels, I discovered a couple of very minor teething problems that could do with being ironed out – namely, the plug sockets that needed to be broken in, as well as the somewhat recalcitrant in-room sensors – but I’m sure these issues will be addressed promptly and they didn’t really negatively impact my stay. The rooms are sleek and sizeable – a valuable find in any Asian capital – and the interesting mix of urban and resort styles gives the property a professional yet relaxing atmosphere overall.
- Best for… Sizeable, modern rooms and strong F&B offerings
- Don’t miss… An authentic meal at the hotel’s Japanese restaurant Kisara
- Price Online prices for a mid-week stay in August in a Premium Room start at THB5,690 (US$181) per night not including fees and surcharges.
- Contact conradhotels3.hilton.com