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Old May 9, 20, 10:08 pm
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Akyra Thonglor Bangkok SLH REVIEW - MASTER THREAD

Introduction This year I have been trying to expand my horizons beyond my traditional hotel chains for example by trying Small Luxury Hotel (SLH) properties and not necessarily booking via Hyatt. Back in January I tried 137 Pillars Bangkok and this month I tried another SLH hotel in Bangkok: Akyra Thonglor, not to be confused with Akyra Sukhumvit. The knock against SLH in a city with lots of competition is that room upgrades for elite guests can be quite modest at SLH compared to generous suite upgrades we can get elsewhere. For my stay at Akyra Thonglor, not only I was pleasantly surprised with a better than expected upgrade, but also I was favorably impressed by the quality of the room and the breakfast given the price point, and I can say this property can stack up reasonably well against top competition in the city. Location Many visitors to Bangkok like to stay in the Sukhumvit area; personally I like the Thonglor area (a Japanese neighborhood of Bangkok) just as much despite the fact that it’s a bit out of the way, mostly because it’s a more upscale area than Sukhumvit without compromising on the number of shops and restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. There is also a grocery store in the same building as Akyra Thonglor which is convenient. For people who want to use public transportation, the Thonglor BTS train station is about a 10-minute walk away, or alternatively the hotel has a shuttle van between the hotel and BTS every 30 minutes. The shuttle also drove me to other locations in the neighborhood upon request when it was raining for example, and I could call back the hotel for pick-up which was quite nice. Room Many hotels in Bangkok are closed during the virus outbreak and some of the few which are open have single digit occupancy. Akyra Thonglor was somewhat the exception; occupancy was not too bad (40%) mostly because they have a number of long-term residents in-house. I would say Akyra is a hybrid of a traditional hotel and a long stay property such as Conrad Residences or Marriott Executive Apartments. Akyra has some studios and suites, but they also have several apartments with 2 or even 3 bedrooms. One reason I normally do not stay at Executive Apartments is the lack of elite benefits such as upgrades or breakfast, but at Akyra you get the best of both worlds. In that regard, the most comparable hotel in Bangkok would be Marriott Surawongse which also has multi-bedroom apartments including a full kitchen and washer/dryer, along with the standard hotel amenities and benefits.For many hotels in Bangkok, the suites sell for a very significant price premium over the entry level rooms, sometimes 2-3 times more expensive and in excess of 10k THB. At Akyra Thonglor, instead of booking the Akyra Studio (37 square meters), I booked the Akyra Suite (61 sq m) which is priced for only a modest extra over the studio. Upon check-in, I was informed that as an SLH elite guest they proactively upgraded me to the 2-bedroom deluxe suite (140+ sq m) which has a large balcony on the top floor (15th) of the hotel with good privacy due to high walls on each side. While some FTers book SLH via, it is possibly not a good idea here because the cash differential between Hyatt and SLH is unrealistic, and Hyatt redemptions at this property are probably not the best use of points. I would note that it is fairly easy to reach the top tiers of the SLH program; the benefits might not be as generous as Marriott or Hyatt, but since it only requires a handful of nights I personally find it useful to have the flexibility of booking via Hyatt or SLH depending on points required or the difference in cash rates. In terms of luxury level, the room we had at Akyra was better than brands such as Westin, Renaissance, the 2 Marriotts and the 2 Hiltons in Bangkok, but a notch below the 2 Luxury Collection hotels from Marriott (Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit and Athenee). Some features such as Ikea-style cabinets was the main weakness, however the two full bathrooms were well done and more luxurious than other parts of the room, and the kitchen was nice as well with Siemens and Bosch appliances and all cooking equipment available. The main bedroom was large, very bright, and comfortable including strong central air conditioning working well during our stay. It was useful for us to have a washer/dryer available given that we have been in Thailand during covid for several weeks, they had detergent available and even a special bag for washing delicates. Overall the room was nicely decorated, no carpet (which I consider to be a positive), and I found very few faults except perhaps the second (smaller) bathroom did not have any soap or shampoo holder which was odd; you have to lay the soap/shampoo dispenser bottles on the floor of the shower. Dining As mentioned above I compare Akyra Thonglor mostly to Marriott Surawongse; while the room was a moderately nicer at Akyra than Marriott, the aspect in which Akyra distinguishes itself the most was breakfast. The Platinum breakfast benefit at Marriott is limited to the lounge (restaurant breakfast requires guests to pay for it) with very weak offerings. At Akyra the breakfast benefit includes an extensive a-la-carte menu year-round (not only during covid) which is far more luxury than any buffet. The a-la-carte options were delicious and varied, from traditional Asian dishes such as fried rice and wok fried noodles with a choice of protein, to more unusual choices such as avocado and pomelo on toast, quesadillas, etc. The restaurant is not very large and unsurprisingly it was not crowded during our stay, but even if the restaurant had been full it would not feel cramped because each table was large and considerably spaced out from others. They also temporarily offered breakfast to be served in the room because of covid so it was nice to enjoy our breakfast in the comfort of our large suite on several mornings for a change of pace from the restaurant. Overall for the price range of this hotel the breakfast punches well above its weight and is the complete opposite from Marriott Surawongse’s weak breakfast in the lounge. Many rate types at Akyra include breakfast, but if not, anyway both Hyatt and SLH elite guests get free breakfast as a benefit.We ordered room service dinner on a few occasions on found the dishes to be quite good at reasonable prices. I would guess because of the presence of several restaurants around the hotel, it puts on a cap on the price level of the in-room dining menu.Unlike many hotels in Bangkok, Akyra does not have a lounge in the traditional sense, so for people who like free drinks for happy hour and/or want to use lounge food as a replacement for dinner, then Akyra might not be the best fit. Still, instead of offering nothing at all they offer bite-size canapes during happy hour in the “Presidente Lounge” although it was temporarily closed during covid so I could not take a look myself but I suspect it’s more similar to the modest offerings at St.Regis or Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit rather than a real lounge. At least I can say that their Presidente Lounge seemed to be a cozy and appealing place to relax and have a drink during the evening to go along with those canapes, even if the drinks are not free. Guests can also have paid lunch or dinner at Presidente so the venue is not only used for afternoon tea and for happy hour. Service Service in the hotel was excellent throughout. It started with a welcome from the front office manager with a tour of our room upon check-in, in addition service in the restaurant was good and they remembered our preferred drinks, housekeeping was always done exactly at the time we requested, as mentioned above the hotel shuttle van was available to drive guests, etc. Pool I seldom use hotel swimming pools in Bangkok as I would rather swim in resort destinations such as Koh Samui, Phuket, Hua Hin, etc. That said I realize some people care more about the pool than me so I went to take a look even though it was closed due to covid. I would say the pool is not the strength of this hotel; there were a few chairs one level down from the pool which was odd because you don’t get a view of anything. Other chairs were on the same level as the pool but many were not facing the pool itself and not having any kind of view. Wifi Wifi was blazing fast and from memory it was the first time I have ever seen a hotel with download speeds above 200 Mbps and upload more than 100 Mbps – that’s even better than hotels I have stayed at in South Korea which tend to be world leading for wifi speed. Akyra Thonglor is a nice place to get set up for work for the internet connection. Overall Overall I was quite satisfied with our stay and there are not many hotels where you can have such a large suite/apartment with great breakfast for less than 4k THB per night. It was supposed to be a short 3-night stay just to try a new hotel in Bangkok and compare with the competition, yet we ended up extending our stay twice and stayed 10 nights and I can say that we will return in the future. The hotel has shown willingness to go above and beyond the standard room upgrades when occupancy allows, breakfast is better than the vast majority of hotels in the city, and the room was huge and convenient for long stays. If I compare with Marriott Surawongse, Akyra does not have a “real” lounge with happy hour and the pool is better at Marriott. However for the rest Akyra Thonglor wins for location, breakfast, the quality of the room, the balcony, and even price. When booking via Akyra is often 20% cheaper than Marriott is not more; we cannot earn points at SLH unlike Marriott but even when considering the value of points earned at Marriott, Akyra comes out cheaper more often than not and you are essentially guaranteed a suite. Marriott Surawongse is very generous with suite upgrades but if the hotel is full it is possible to end up in a non-suite which would be a scenario easy to avoid at Akyra.
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