Bangkok hotel Oriental vs. Peninsula

May 8th, 2004, 11:09 PM
  #1  
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Bangkok hotel Oriental vs. Peninsula

I just wanted to post my thoughts after staying at both this trip as I think many people hesitate between the two when they have narrowed it down to staying on the river.

prices tend to be higher at Oriental, though I asked for breakfast not included and instantly brought down the price from $209 to $179! $30 is a lot by local standards, even by western standards I don't think is worth paying that much for a breakfast, you could eat at any fancy hotel restaurants for little more than that.

Not necessary to mention all the fine service you do receive at both hotels. Just to bring up the differences:

Peninsula: a bit farther to travel by taxi as they have to cross the river each time. also for you to go to any of the sights you need to take a boat across the river first then change boat or taxi.

Peninsula concierge was not totally up front about cost of trip to airport. I think they have some sort of understanding with taxi drivers and want to make you take the 440 baht (trip and toll fee included) fixed rate fare to the airport whereas each time I insisted on the meter the cost was significantly lower.

they were not very flexible with check out time. Simply refused late checkout whatsoever. at least could have offered a fee based late checkout. I was able to get 3pm chekcout with Oriental.

Spa: lack of one! they only have massage, not a full spa. We ended up looking all over town for other hotel spas since it was the weekend and almost every good spa was fully booked.

note: when you take breakfast, the outside seating section opens till much later and has a much bigger buffet than the inside seating section (at the Meijiang restaurant) but it can be quite hot even in early morning.


Oriental: everyone announces that you are staying at the best hotel in the world as you arrive. certainly has that feeling everywhere you go since so many famous people have stayed there. It has old world charm, very colonial, very english. Anyone who likes chic/modern/minimal will NOT like the decor here. Peninsula was a bit more contemporary though not modern either.

Restaurants are great and very moderately priced for 'the best hotel in the world'. Service very fast and friendly, waiters english good enough to comment on your selection of food.

Some snobbiness is noted. Especially when we were guests at the Peninsula hotel and came over to Oriental to inquire about the spa. The guy who gets taxi's at the door actually told us to walk down to the street for taxi's when he found out we were from across the river. I was shocked! I guess you really get snubbed for not being a hotel guest, which is not nice and reflects very poorly on the Oriental. It was so typical. 99.9% of Thai people are the sweetest and most courteous people I have ever encountered. most of the staff at the Oriental were that way too, but that 0.1% is also found there. they have been spoiled by their elite status.

The Spa is truly one of the best in the world. But in comparison with other spas, I find it to be rather 'assembly line' like. They are indeed very very busy, almost 100% booked each day weekends or weekdays. I was turned away twice. I had two treatments there, both were execellent. the masseusses had a confidence that was rare to be found in most asian spas. that can be good as they are very skillful and in control, but not so good in that they are not as sensitive to individual needs. Not once did they ask whether the pressure was good, or whether there are places to concentrate on or avoid. It results from the fact that they are so automatic, i.e. not fresh enough to their trade to treat each customer like an individual. Also the string of customers and big schedule sheets are in plain sight, making me feel hurried and under pressure. they also said "you can spend 15 minutes in the room' after my massage, which was a bit business-like. I understand the reasons, but still it makes my expereinces at the Mandara spas much better. I always felt like I was the only person there, lots of personal attention and the freedom to wander around the spa. Also, Mandara spas make a very diligent effort to get detailed and itemized feedback from customers each time, where as Oriental has a feedback form lying near the sink, not mentioned by anyone or asked by staff later.

As mentioned before, Oriental was very accomodating with late checkout, also took great care of me when I was leaving, giving me a big Oriental shopping bag for my last minute MBK purchases which had flimsy plastic bags. Also offering me the limo at 1/3 of standard price to the airport since the limo was going to pick up customers. I am sure the money went straight to the driver's pockets but I am happy to benefit the local people rather than a big already rich corporation. The driver was so nice and gave me some Oriental cold towels to take home as souvenirs! Normally anything from the hotel cost a load of money, like the Spa CD was $40!

Check in was done inside our room! That was a very nice touch. No lining up at front desks. Hotel staff were waiting for us outside the entrance and immediately presented sweet flowers. We had a welcome drink from CUTE butler and lots of doting attention throughout.

Concierge was great, often giving sky train advice rather than telling you to just take a taxi. I like the fact that they don't assume every guest is a sultan.

Don't like the fact they charge money for internet access in rooms. It also was malfunctioning during our stay and we had to use modem connection which accumulated to quite a sum.

So there is my nitty gritty comparisons. hope that helps out in the decision making process.
weiwei22 is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 02:09 AM
  #2  
 
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Thanks for your thoughts, we stayed at the Peninsula a couple of weeks ago and also noticed that they weren't too flexible when it came to checking out late. They did, however, offer us a fee based late check out (upto 6pm - 50% of published rate for the room - so pretty steep) which we kindly turned down.

In the end we left our luggage with the bell boys and used the showers in the fitness centre (free of charge) before leaving.

MAybe we'll have to think about staying at the Oriental next time?
Nats is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 02:25 AM
  #3  
 
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great post. the whole Pen vs orientl thing has driven me nuts over the years but your post has shed a lot of light on the debate.

I kind of think the door man excully did you a favour since he most likely knew the the taxis waiting at the hotel would not go for such a short ride.
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BASIC TRAVEL TIP.. try never taking taxis that wait at hotels they are just oppertunistic lazzy husstlers who sit aournd waiting for the longest trip or biggest sucker.

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orgy7 is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 06:19 AM
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I have also stayed at both the Pen and Oriental on the same trip to BKK. I did a + - sheet as soon as I returned, and I'd have to say that both hotels fared very well. It's a real toss-up as far as service, friendliness of staff, etc. Things I noted were:

I had the Rolls limo service at both places. I must say that ARRIVING, the Pen had their act together much better. The person greeting me the airport literally picked up his cell phone and the car pulled around within about 30 seconds. The Oriental made me wait for about 15-20 minutes for the car.

On the other hand, on my return home, the Oriental was very helpful in getting my seat upgraded to business class on Thai to Taiwan. He was right there at the airport when I stepped out of the car, to take bags, get me to the right counter, and then get the seat I wanted on the first leg of my long flights back home.

I was checked in IN THE ROOM at the Pen but at the counter at Oriental.

The shuttle boats across the river from the Pen have padded seats and are very comfortable. The Oriental boats are all wooden bench type seats and a little hard on the "backside" but both shuttle services came frequently to pick up/drop off at the sky train station.

I appreciated the floor butler at the Oriental. It was cute when I would ring for him and then he would come to the door and say excuse me for bothering you! He was very helpful.

My room at the Pen was significantly nicer than at the Oriental. But I was put in the older part at the Oriental. The design of the room at the Oriental was such that it was bi-level. I had a small window overlooking the city (in the bedroom, which was up about 9 steps from the livingroom) and a big window overlooking the river in the livingroom. Interesting design anyway. The livingroom window did not open to let in fresh air as it had been painted shut. I did NOT like that feature.

I could go on and on. I must say that it is the individual tastes and preferences that draw people back to their personal favorite. Mine is the Pen!
simpsonc510 is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 06:29 AM
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your post reconfirms many of my feelings about the two hotels...i find the penn people to be very flexible...for instance they serve us breakfasts on our last mornings at 3AM in the room, exactly on time, even though it is not normally available at that time....normally the included breakfast is only in the restaurant...

y0ur comments about the spa workers at the oriental reflict some of what i have experienced throughout the hotel restaurant system...
rhkkmk is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 09:50 AM
  #6  
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Don't agree at all with your assessment of the Thais. I found that, partic. in BKK, they were money-grubbing, superficially friendly, in order to try to scam you for every Western penny you had, and were quite rude at times, in addition to being anti-Western (see my post about what happened to me at the entrance to the Imperial Palace). This is to be contrasted with Beijingers, and the Chinese in general that I met-who I found to be very friendly and helpful, even though so few spoke any English, and decidedly NOT into scamming you for every penny they could. Chaiang Mai was different though-people very warm there. All in all, though, my travels in Thailand have not left me with a very good impression of the Thais- and although I found the Oriental to be nice, I found the Royal Orchid Sheraton to be nicer, in terms of less snobbishness, and a lot less worn than the Oriental as well.
 
May 9th, 2004, 10:21 AM
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orgy says: "BASIC TRAVEL TIP.. try never taking taxis that wait at hotels they are just oppertunistic lazzy husstlers who sit aournd waiting for the longest trip or biggest sucker."

My experience in about two dozen trips to Bangkok is that the taxis the doorman gets for you at the hotel are fine. They'll use the meter every time, and the doorman will tell them where you are going and make sure the driver understands. The taxi drivers waiting nearby are the ones looking for a sucker. They want a fixed price to wherever you are going and if you insist on using the meter, they'll concede IF you'll stop at a jewelry store they want to take you to.

Airlawgirl has apparently had very bad experiences with Thais. I've been visitn Thailand staying at the Royal Orchid when in Bangkok for over twenty years. I've always been treated with both warmth and respect. With the occasional exception of the touts near the Royal Palace that want to tell you that the palace is closed (or the occasional cab driver that wants to divert you to a jewelry store) I've never encounted any real scams. And those people will quickly concede once you indicate you know what you are doing.

weiwei, thanks for your compare and contrast review of the Oriental and the Pen. I expect many people debating where to stay will appreciate your comments. By the way, I also like the Mandara Spas. Last trip I bought a spa card, which saved me lots of money at the Mandara spas as I was staying two places with Mandara Spas, the Royal Orchid and the Anantara at the Golden Triangle.
Kathie is online now  
May 9th, 2004, 10:30 AM
  #8  
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Like I said, my impression of the Thais is certainly not the same as WeiWei's (and I don't find his assessment to be partic. realistic) (and it had nothing to do with the touts outside the Imp. Palace, but the guards INSIDE the gate) but like I also said, as to hotels, I FAR prefer the Royal Orchid-don't know the Penn, and wouldn't want to, because it's on the other side, and a little too remote for my liking- but the Royal Orchid is situated perfectly for shopping, sightseeing, and just viewing the river traffic-plus, as I also said, thes interior/furnishings in the public/private rooms are not worn-looking like the Oriental- the Oriental is definitely coasting on its reputation at this point.

p.s. I thought the Mandara spa at Royal Orchid was just wonderful-I'm most enthusiastic about that part of my BKK trip!
 
May 9th, 2004, 09:50 PM
  #9  
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Thanks for everyone's comments! I just thought the funny thing is that I am Chinese, living in Beijing. And when I came back I was remarking to everyone how genuine the Thai people smile. In comparison with my own people, who smile so reluctantly and the ones who do, do it in a trained way rather than the kind of smiles that just bloom from the naturalness of being happy. Since I have been back I often look around me and so many of people were much better off than many Thai's I met, but sport constant attitudes of disatisfaction and are so quick to express exasperation and impatience... just made me appreciate the Thai disposition more.

Anyway we are all talking generalizations of course. but it's funny how much one realizes of one's own culture from seeing others.
weiwei22 is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 03:32 AM
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weiwei22-
I agree whole heartedly about the sincerity of the Thai smile. Thailand is called the "land of smile" for a very good reason. I have had very positive feelings about the Thais in 5 trips there... so far. I've met a nice mixture of folks who work hard for their existance and also those who own businesses and live very well. The sincere smile has "bloomed" on folks in all walks of life.

Yes, there are some who will try to get your money, but they are not the vast majority. I now have so many good friends in BKK, I can't wait to return.
simpsonc510 is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 07:06 AM
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My experiences in Thailand are different than those of Airlagirl. I found their friendliness to be comforting. Should we praise those locals in other places who are not friendly because they are more honest? When someone is nice and pleasant do I really care why?
Gpanda is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 09:32 PM
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I wonder at the mentality of a person who reduces an entire nation to a gross stereotype.
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May 11th, 2004, 03:10 AM
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its funny I've spoken too many Chinees frainds who admit that they can a be a bit rude and hardcore.. and there is an underlying problem between Chinnees imagrants/decendents and locals of many nations in asia. (indonesia, malaysia, etc).. yet when I visited China most people where super fraindly.

I come from the backgound of honesty above phoneyness. So I appresiate places and people who "keep it real" as they say..

Gpanda has a great point...
life is rough enough as it is. why not have some fraindly smiles light up the day even if it is disengenoius.. especially on a trip.

As for the thai people I kind of find it funny that many tourists see them as almost hugable teddy bears.. I've lived here enough and met enough locals of all types too have a better peek of the thai way. obviously everyone is diffrent. from what I've experienced they are trully one of the fraindliest people in the world. But much of it is just being formal, doing thier jobs. and working the cultural systom of "face"...

I've heard/overheard enough of what they think about most of us, and seen some of their negative and posative atributes as too really respect them and know too always keep the cell-ee aournd in case I make new frainds or have too make a #191 emergancy call.

orgy7 is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 04:52 AM
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I vote the Oriental.We got a 8PM checkout at no charge.The informal restaurant accross the river was a great way to end the day or spend sundown.The butler service at the Oriental was fast and efficient.They filled the room with flowers and fruits whenever we asked.
As for the Thai people-we have travelled the world over and have found Thais to be the frendliest along with Hawaiian natives.I am not generalizing but speaking of the entire people.
citiboy50 is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 10:13 PM
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Like I wrote previously we cannot avoid but to speak in generalization. Especially on a forum like this where the point is to get general impressions and evaluations. To stick to 100% PC would mean we cannot say anything at all.
weiwei22 is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 01:32 PM
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We can speak from a point of view of 99% if you catch my drift. These people are wonderful.I suggest you travel to Paris and directly to Thailand. Let us know if you see a difference.
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May 13th, 2004, 09:34 PM
  #17  
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So Orgy7, I think you agree with me in part... and I was waiting to hear from you, as I kinda thought you would. Your opinion counts here, because you're obviously a foreigner living in Thailand- like I said- the Thais did not impress me so much with their fake smiles as their desire to make me part with all my money-but that was for the most part in Bangkok- Chaing Mai was very different- the people there were very warm.
 
May 17th, 2004, 12:02 PM
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Things have changed at the Oriental. In 1998, I was able to walk into the hotel and walk around and check the place out without any problems. In 2001, Two friends and I weren't even allowed on the property...and we wanted to have lunch there.We were all dressed very nicely. The reason given was that my friend's daughter was wearing pedal-pusher pants and had a very small purse that was worn on her back...they claimed she was wearing shorts and carrying a backpack...which was absolutely not the case. But, what was interesting was...as we were being refused entrance, two people exited the hotel to enter a taxi and were wearing shorter than usual Bermuda shorts.That was the last straw. I highly recommend staying at the Regent Four Seasons hotel.It's right across the street from the sky train. I had a great time there.The food was fabulous and everyone was wonderful and although it's an elegant place, I didn't feel any snobby attitude. I used to stay at the Siam Intercontinental, but they tore it down a few months after my last trip to Bangkok.
Guenmai is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 02:03 PM
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I'm sure the Four Seasons is fabulous, Guenmai, except that it isn't on the water, which is always my preference. That's why I like the Royal Orchid Sheraton- because I can sit and have a lovely drink or dinner and watch all the river traffic go by. As for the Oriental, it's nice, but it's clearly seen better days.
 
May 18th, 2004, 06:46 AM
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The Royal Orchid Sheraton has very good western food. I haven't stayed there, but I have eaten there many times. I love Thai food, but I eat it weekly at home since we have tons of Thai restaurants where I live. I might try splitting up my hotel stay on my next visit and stay at the Royal Orchid a few days. I have friends who love it,too. I love shopping and the Regent Four Seasons is close to the shopping action.
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