A night at St. Regis

It’s our anniversary so Miss Sachie used her Bonvoy points to book us a special night at the St. Regis in Bangkok.

Regular readers of the blog will know that Miss Sachie and I are no strangers to the finer hotels of Bangkok and around the world. Her platinum status opens doors and her associate discount makes them cheap, cheap, cheap, but this was something special.

The original St. Regis is the sister hotel to the Waldorf-Astoria back in 1904 New York and is a cut above the other Marriott properties — it’s very fancy and the service is very good. While many hotels provide room-service meals, laundry and so on, this place has ‘butler’ service. This sounds fancy but in practice you call the front desk and can ask the butler to unpack your suitcase, pack it up, run a bath, bring you a coffee and so on. All tasks that I am thankfully still capable of performing on my own. Here’s the view from the room.

We did get an upgrade so the room is nice. Being a posh type, it’s got a conservative, faux turn-of-the-century feel. The good news is that, unlike many hotel rooms these days, there’s not a picture-window between the bed and the shitter. Our toilet has its own room and a door! Adding to the old-world elegance is the antiquated A/V system.

We’ve seen a few of these about and they must have been pretty impressive when you were carrying about a five-kilo laptop with an S-Video output. Bring your own VGA cable, ha ha. HDMI? USB? What’s that?

The hotel is on Bangkok’s prestigious Rambutri Rajadamri Road. The photo from the window up there is looking towards the Erawin shine and it’s fancy hotels all the way between here and there. Not as fancy as this one though.

It’s hot season in Thailand so we got undressed and headed for the pool, which is very nice indeed.

When we checked in they said that we shouldn’t get the park-view room as there is construction next door and there was a little bit of noise. I guess the pool must share the view because it sounded like there were at least three excavators with jackhammer attachments taking down the building next door. The noise was almost too loud to talk over. It put me in the mind of holidaying in Pattaya, where no matter how much you pay, your hotel is next to a construction site.

The noise did stop but it was cocktail time. There’s no club lounge but we were entitled to a welcome drink each, from a special menu. Of course we had to hurry because when the sinking sun touches the horizon, at six PM exactly, it would be illegal to serve alcohol in Thailand. There was a general election on Sunday and they were going to choose a new PM.

Mere seconds left, bottoms up!

I’ve been to a few of these things before so know not to order the weird, house-special cocktails and got a margarita, which was excellent. Miss Sachie ordered the Siam Mary, a Thai take on the bloody Mary, which comes in a pewter tankard with a stalk of lemongrass, along with other stuff. It’s a sight to behold but has far too much chilli for my taste.

At sundown there’s champagne sabering in the bar’s smoking area. For those who don’t know, to ‘sabre’ a bottle of bubbly you take off the foil and wire then run a heavy knife quickly along the neck of the bottle which will strike the rim and take off the top. It’s a spectacular way to open an expensive champagne. Normally, you have a specialised knife (or you could borrow one of the chef’s knives, he won’t mind a few nicks and dents in the edge) but here they use an actual cavalry sabre.

Once the bottle is open, well, we may as well drink it. Normally it’s fancy French Champagne. Due to the demands of democracy ours was bubbly fruit juice, which was actually excellent.

A word about the hotel’s clientele. This is no business hotel — Karen from HR isn’t going to book you into a Bt15K/night hotel no matter how many Buddha-heads you promise to bring back. It’s not for your average tourist either. No, if you are visiting on business then you own the company and if you’re staying as a tourist then you probably don’t work for a living. Keep this in mind while I recount the following.

We were back at our window seat by the bar, nursing our bubbly fruit-juices and enjoying the sunset. An red oblong of paper was floating by on the breeze, playfully tumbling up and down towards the BTS station 12 stories below. “That’s a 100,” I said. There was another, green this time “That’s a 20.” Someone was dropping 100 and 20 Baht notes into the breeze. Not in handfuls but one by one. One of the bar staff hopped to the window, had a look, and bolted to the smoking balcony we’ve just been sabering on. Curious, I followed and was in time to see a middle-aged Asian lady counting her money. It was windy and I expect she’d lost a few. But she had plenty so probably didn’t miss the ones settling on the train tracks below.

Dinner was duck confit, not improved by the lack of red wine, or even white. Got to love a 50% associate discount though, thank you Sachie.

Now, I really only have one more tale of our stay and it concerns the aforementioned butler. Miss Sachie was put out that she, being platinum, had not received a welcome gift — usually some fruit and a kind note from the manager, although sometimes fine chocolates. In Poland she got a bottle of wine. So she mentioned this in the chat function of the Bonvoy app and shortly after our butler delivered some treats.

We never eat the fruit but do take it home.

I had just gotten out of the bath and was holding my robe closed when the doorbell rang. Our butler wore shiny shoes, a fine grey pinstripe suit and had her hair in a bun. She was a young Thai lady, short, and had teeth-braces, the kind with rubber bands. Now, I’ve read the Jeeves and Wooster books. I’ve read The Remains of the Day. Butlers do wear shiny shoes and exquisite grey pinstripe suits but in my mind they are male and older than me, not attractive young ladies cosplaying James. It was a little disarming. And hot.

That’s about it for the stay. I didn’t ask our butler to ‘rub the silverware’ or warm up the bed or anything but I did get her to shine my dirty old boots and drop off a newspaper in the morning.

So what do you get for the expense of staying at the top end? The service is excellent and the place is well-run — you can just tell that it’s better. But it’s a game of diminishing returns as the digits in your nightly bill grow. St Regis is probably top-class for Bangkok and that means it’s probably top-class for much of the world. It’s very nice, the staff know what they’re doing and it’s a great location, but they won’t serve you beer in a teacup on election day, so that’s 8/10 for this stay.

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