Old Jul 10, 07, 7:26 am
  #13  
MegatopLover
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: ATL
Programs: DL SkyMiles DM/2MM, AA EXP, IC RA, Peninsula regular, amanjunkie
Posts: 5,762
Originally Posted by Pauldublin View Post
megatoplover, I havent stayed at the pen but i have at the Oriental a few times. My partner complains about the 'O' all the time, finds it stuffy and old. I havent had too many problems with it. I just dont want to cross the river !

Can you share your problem with the Oriental? (if you have done already in another thread, apologies).
I know what you and others are saying, but I'm not certain I understand it completely. The entrance to The O is fairly unattractive, crammed into a tight space deep in the soi, as often as not (at least when I pass by) with a tour bus or two and scads of annoying tuktuk drivers milling about. The walk out the soi is okay, but the walk down Charoen Krung Road to the BTS station, or up Charoen Krung to Silom and Suriwongse, isn't particularly pleasant--not particularly bad either, mind you. So to reach the SkyTrain you've got a 5-to-10-minute walk on crowded Bangkok streets or a ride on the hotel shuttle boat. From the Pen, you've got no choice but to take the shuttle boat to the SkyTrain. But the only real difference (during normal operating hours) is the added choice of a ho-hum walk on The O's side-- not a difference that would be determinitive for me. That's for normal daily use. When coming and going at the start and end of your stay, or at late-night times, I recognize that access by taxi or car to and from the Pen is a bit of a hassle since you have to cross Saphan Taksin and negotiate that ridiculous intersection on Sathorn (made all the worse recently thanks to incessant construction). As for the view, I can't speak to the view from The O, but it occurs to me that by being on the "wrong side" of the river, the Pen has a view of the good side, whereas being on the "good side" leaves The O with a view of, well, the Pen. The Pen seems to have the upper hand on that score, but YMMV. In a way, it reminds me of the story of the guy who dines at the Eiffel Tower daily because he thinks it the ugliest structure in all of Paris and being in it is the one place where he doesn't have to look at it-- being on the "wrong side" of the river means you don't have to look at it.

Again, I can't speak to the atmosphere inside The O. But the atmosphere at the Pen, while formal when desired or appropriate, can also have a younger and more modern (I'm reluctant to use the word "hip") feel. At the Pen, you definitely see a very good number of young couples from around Asia and farther afield. You also see quite a number of gay couples. The few weaknesses in service at the Pen (cold front-desk staff, inattentive pool boys) in the past have demonstrably improved over the last two years to a point where, in my experience, they cannot be faulted now. In fact, the changes in front-desk staff, especially, have resulted in dramatic improvements. And, for the record, I'm discounting from this assessment the "special treatment" I know I get as a regular guest, which goes above-and-beyond to a level that I, humbly, never could have imagined a hotel could provide.

I've written about my problem at The O before, but it would probably be hard to find with a search, so I'll just re-post it here. It comes down to a problem I and several friends of mine have experienced at a number of other MO hotels around the world: if you're a guest at the hotel, you get the red carpet treatment, but if you're not, they'd rather not have you around and treat you quite poorly. In my case, this was six years ago and I was quite young at the time (mid-20's). Mr. Megatop and I had a confirmed booking for dinner at La Normandie and, earlier that day wanted to stop in to the concierge desk to have a peak at the menu before going out for shopping. As we came up to the entrance, the doorman physically stood in our way and refused to let us enter the hotel. He would not explain why. I asked several times, in English, what the problem was, and he just waved us away without explanation. I told him that we wanted to go to the concierge desk or front desk to see the menu for La Normandie because we had a reservation for dinner that night. The doorman refused to let us enter and never gave us an explanation of any sort, pretending he did not understand and giving the impression that he couldn't be bothered to deal with us. I asked to see a manager or someone who could explain what was going on. A gentlemen in a suit of some sort (more likely a security manager than a real hotel staff member) came and said that we were not permitted inside the lobby. I asked, again, why. He finally produced from a cabinet underneath an ashtray a laminated form of some sort stating policy that people wearing shorts were not permitted inside the hotel. As if this place were the Grand Palace. Meanwhile, streams of apparently hotel guests are coming out in shorts or milling around the lobby in shorts because, after all, it's August in Bangkok. I told him that now we wanted to cancel our reservation for dinner. He said he would have a hotel staff member come out to talk with us in order to accept the cancelation. I would have none of it and told him that he would have to report the cancelation and that the reason was how rudely he and the doorman had treated us. IIRC, at this point he may have even said we could go inside to the front desk and speak with someone there. I turned to leave. Tehn Mr. Megatop, who had let me endure all of this on my own, stepped forward and very calmly but firmly lit into the security man and the doorman in Thai, telling them that they should not treat foreigners like this and he knows very well they speak English and shouldn't pretend they don't just to get rid of us.

Now, I understand that The O has a dresscode (as does the Peninsula). I have written in support of dresscodes in the past, though always noting that consideration should be given to cultural, climatological, kind of facility, and time-of-day factors. And I understand the desire to create or preserve a certain ambiance, although in this instance it was ineffectual given what guests were wearing. My beef here is not with the dresscode but rather with the staff's rude treatment of us given ostensibly in the interest of the dress code, most specifically the refusal to give an explanation and the feigned ignorance of English. We should not have been treated like that. They decided that we were just another couple of tourists wanting to scope out the hallowed halls. They were wrong, and it cost them a lot, in terms of business and bad word-of-mouth. I will never darken that hotel's door again.
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