I was really looking forward to this stay. I had contacted the hotel prior to booking my room, in order to ensure that I would receive a Club Room, with my specific choice of element: water. The rooms in the hotel are divided by element (water, earth, fire, wind and metal), water to me looked like the coolest. In addition to this I requested that my room have a Lumphini Park view.
The response from the hotel was very quick, informative and friendly. I was told that I would indeed receive club access and that everything possible would be done, to ensure that I received the view/room type that I requested.
My first impression of the hotel was fantastic, the exterior is very slick.
I was greeted by two members of staff at the outdoor reception podium, one of whom immediately took my bags. Save for the walk down the jet bridge, with my carry-on, I had yet to physically come into contact with either of my bags since arriving in Thailand!
The receptionist asked for my name and upon confirming my reservation, arranged for me to be escorted to the Club Signature floor, for check-in.
We first took an elevator to the main lobby floor, which also houses a lovely bar area (where I would later use my platinum drinks coupons).
We then proceeded to another bank of elevators, for the final ascent to the club floor.
This kind of check-in is not difficult to do, particularly at this early time of day but it definitely makes you feel like you are being extra specially looked after. I was asked to take a seat on the sofa and offered a drink. Another double espresso, very strong and slightly sour, giving way to a sweet finish. Excellent. Things were looking good.
The lounge itself was decorated in a very modern yet elegant way. The feeling I constantly had throughout my stay was that this hotel managed to be everything a W aspires to be, whilst also being friendly and elegant (as opposed to aloof and tacky).
Check-in was very quick and easy, I had my Platinum/ Club Signature benefits explained to me:
Early check-in (it was still pre-7am at this point)
Late check out
Breakfast in the lounge or main restaurant
Evening drinks and canapes
I was also asked when I planned to check out. When I said it would be early in the morning the girl checking me in said they could organise a take-away breakfast box for me. I said this wouldn’t be necessary but thought this was a really nice touch.
I was given time to finish my coffee and as soon as I exited the lounge, the same girl was waiting, ready to show me to my room.
The hallways in the Sofitel So are enormous and by far the most impressively designed of any hotel I’ve ever seen.
I almost felt bad about the amount of wasted floorspace. The contrasting sculptures, lights and textures really make you feel like you are somewhere special, somewhere that has been designed with precision and flair.
My first impression of the room was superb. This was even better than the pictures on the website. I particularly liked the fact that there was an Apple TV, for internet browsing, youtube etc. as well as a comfortable sofa chair and table next to it.
The most striking feature of the room, aside from the view, was the enormous bathtub. Seriously you could fit 4 people in that thing. I also quite liked the glass behind the bed, which permitted natural light to enter the walk in wardrobe/ dressing room.
I had told the girl checking me in that I was really tired after my flight, she showed me how to close the electronic blinds asked me if I needed anything else and wished me a pleasant sleep.
My alarm woke me a couple of hours later. I felt like I’d left half my brain on the moon. The bed was so comfy but I knew that I didn’t want to waste my day lying in bed, particularly when there was an Asian hotel breakfast buffet waiting for me downstairs!
So, I staggered down to the restaurant floor. A discombobulated, somnambulous marionette of a man.
My mental state was in no way improved by this seeing this guy, greeting me across a pool of water, behind which was some restaurant seating.
I began to formulate a plan to pay him for safe passage to the seats, perhaps he’d pose me a riddle… then I realised that the restaurant entrance was behind me.
I was asked for my room number and sat in the middle of a room absolutely buzzing with atmosphere. The Red Oven restaurant has tons of natural light, high ceilings and great views across the park. There is also an outside terrace area and a sleek looking bar at one end. In this room I strongly felt that I was far from home. This level of energy is just never present in Europe.
I forgot to take pictures in the restaurant because I was a foggy passenger in a barely responsive cadaver. I apologise.
Anyway, the food and coffee were really good. There were approximately one billion dishes to choose from, as is par for the course in Asia. This included everything from dim sum to pasta to freshly baked pastries. The food throughout my stay was phenomenal. A good deal of the staff at the Sofitel are French and this includes the chefs. This really showed in the baking and cheese selections, in particular.
After breakfast I headed back to the Signature Club floor to ask for directions and a map for the day. I was told that Club room guests get a free one day pass for the Skytrain (an extra benefit not mentioned on my letter), which is a nice touch. The Club desk staff were always super friendly and helpful, whenever I came back to my room they would welcome me back and ask specifics about how my day had gone. This was always done in a charming and friendly way, rather than the by the book professionalism that seems to underpin proceedings at other hotels in this league.
After a day of sightseeing I headed back to the room and found that some fruit, snacks and drinks had been left for me.
Pretty much every time I set foot in my room, I noticed that some amount of cleaning/ tidying had taken place. Toiletries were always replenished, clothing was folded and tidied and fresh bottles of water were left in the fridge.
I went to check out the pool in the afternoon, it was super busy but absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, my first little corner wasn’t the best:
I would recommend avoiding the late afternoon here, as it is the time when everyone has come back from a busy day and is looking to relax.
At night , lit up, the pool was fantastic and deserted.
Before 3pm the pool was always quiet too.
After a bit of time relaxing by the pool I decided to investigate the cocktail hour at the lounge. The food spread was fantastic, with fresh items being brought out constantly.There was a decent selection of French and Australian wines and staff were very proactive in coming to serve you cocktails (although you could always help yourself too).
I liked the fact that staff came round to take last orders, a few minutes before the cocktail hour was due to finish. At no point did I ever feel that this property was penny pinching (something which cannot be said for numerous other 5* properties in Asia, particularly in Japan).
The staff were also great at remembering drinks preferences. I came in for a decaf before bed at 11pm one evening and was greeted by the same server the following morning, asking if I still wanted decaf or if I needed some caffeine in the morning. Little touches like this, really set the Sofitel So apart.
In the morning of day 2 I checked out the gym facilities, before breakfast. The facilities were great but I felt that the gym staff were substantially less polished than those on the club floor. They didn’t apologise at all when I pointed out that I’d been given a dirty towel, they pushed past guests using machines, in order to show other guests around etc. Not huge failings but I feel they need pointing out, for the sake of completeness.
On day two I had breakfast on the terrace of the club lounge.
I went for the eggs Benedict a la carte, as well as a selection of bites from the buffet.
On day three I went for the Japanese breakfast option, after the buffet, this was (once again) excellent.
Throughout my stay, I also made use of the spa. I’ve never really done this before but the prices were really competitive and the stairs leading up from the gym looked really inviting. The whole process was very well executed, from the greeting on arrival, confirmation of music and tea choices, the finish of all the surfaces in the spa, even the presentation of the chocolates was cool and different.
I honestly felt like I could completely relax and forget about any distractions of the outside world.
I liked it so much that I ended up going three times for three different treatments.
Other notes: you get 2 pieces of dry cleaning per day for free as a Platinum member. This wasn’t mentioned in the letter but the staff were aware of the benefit when asked. I wanted a couple of things cleaning before my early morning flight to NRT. I handed them in at about 3pm. When I came back from dinner, at 10pm, my shirt and trousers were already hung up in my wardrobe.
As a platinum member, you also get a drinks voucher for use in the lobby bar.
Because I was staying alone, the hostess proactively suggested that I should get two drinks and made sure that the server knew this. I said I was heading out to dinner and didn’t want to have two drinks beforehand, she said no problem you can have your second drink later.
True to her word, a few hours later I came back, the server immediately recognised me and asked “Mr Marcos, same again?”.
I also checked out the rooftop bar, for a final nightcap. The ambience was very trendy and ‘hip’, if you’re into that sort of thing. I personally prefer the laid back atmosphere in the lobby bar and club lounge. Although, I have to admit, the view was pretty cool.
Overall, this was one of my best ever hotel stays. The staff were a huge part of this. Despite this being a 5* hotel, the service managed to be proactive and friendly without any stuffiness or excess formality at all. The most formal people were those behind desks at reception downstairs and in the main lobby, even they would always grin and greet you with a a wai whenever you walked past.