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Bangkok, First Time, For a Day: Pen or MO?

Bangkok, First Time, For a Day: Pen or MO?

Old Jul 6, 07, 9:21 pm
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Bangkok, First Time, For a Day: Pen or MO?

Hello, everyone.

Since you were so great about my Phuket vs. KS thread, I have to come begging for some more advice.

I know there's a Best Hotels in BKK thread, but I think this may get lost. If the mods disagree, I apologize, and please feel free to move this there.

My parents are going to BKK for the first time. I personally think they should stay at the Pen (I booked them the best non-suite room). One of their close friends has told them that they may be better off at the MO, since they only have 24 hours in BKK and it's in a better location.

Advice? Opinions?

Thanks in advance.
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Old Jul 6, 07, 9:37 pm
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Location: both are on the riverfront (facing each other) but most tourists and business travellers who stay at the Pen say that they need cross the bridge to get to their destination. Guests at the Pen can of course also cross to the "correct" side by taking the complimentary hotel water shuttle that seems to leave every 5 or 10 minutes.

Room: Did you reserve the baclony room for your parents at the Pen That's the best non-suite room. Otherwise, all the other non-suite rooms are the same, just on different floors (with prices rising according to the floor number).

Breakfast buffet: The Pen has a better breakfast buffet. I find it has more variety and better quality.

Overall though, I prefer the MO. I feel it has more charm and personality. The Pen is an outstanding hotel. It is luxurious and efficient. The hardware at the MO may be less refined, but to me it really feels like a special place.
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Old Jul 6, 07, 9:42 pm
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This is sort of like having to choose between, I dunno, Cartier and Tiffany -- if you can afford it, you won't get bad stuff no matter which one you pick!
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Old Jul 6, 07, 9:52 pm
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I agree with RichardInSF - either is great.

The balcony rooms are not preferred by many here (including myself) so bear that in mind.

Also, the MO is a bit more expensive.
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Old Jul 7, 07, 4:07 am
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We were at the Pen a while ago, but it was an amazing stay. We booked their suite, and got a great deal, as it was their low season, and our kids school vacation time.

As for location, I dont think it is too inconvienient. There is a free boat ride to cross the river. We only went across once. We took a long boat from the hotel down into the residential areas along the river, and to see the giant reclining buddah and the Royal Barges.

We went over to the MO, and I felt it was a little too hectic, it seemed more family oriented, and there was a lot of kids and adults running around.

But, as it is a MO, I dont doubt that you will have a great experience, it is definately an experience that your parents will remember.

P.S. I too agree with RichardSF and Fliar, that they will be happy with either.

Oh, I haven't stayed at the MO, so I'm a little biased toward the Pen.

Plus, the Pen has the new spa that I read (in Travel and Liesure) beats the MO's spa.
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Old Jul 7, 07, 9:03 am
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On the Spa - Mrs Fliar, who is a massage-addict, thought that her treatment last month at the Pen was the best she ever had, apart from the one she got at Amandari. She much preferred it over the MO's one.

I had massages at both places too, but I can't tell the difference. To me the best massage is the one done by the prettiest girl ;-)

ps The pool at the Pen is *much* nicer than the small and crowded pool at the MO.
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Old Jul 7, 07, 10:03 am
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Both hotels are fantastic...but have quite different ambiances. The Pen is a more contemporary and relaxed luxury hotel...the MO more 'old style' elegant refined luxury. My parents swear by the MO...my partner and I love the Pen. I would also say the Pen attracts a bit younger crowd than the MO. Either way...you can't go wrong.
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Old Jul 9, 07, 2:46 pm
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Originally Posted by francophile View Post
Room: Did you reserve the baclony room for your parents at the Pen That's the best non-suite room. Otherwise, all the other non-suite rooms are the same, just on different floors (with prices rising according to the floor number).
I can't really compare the two properties, because I stayed at the Pen on my first trip to Bangkok six years ago and have never stayed anywhere else. I'm just back from something like my 15th stay, and the hotel exceeded its own exceptionally strong track record, keeping it firmly my and Mr. Megatop's Favorite Hotel in the World.

I will respectfully disagree with francophile's statement above, though. There are some subtle differences in the non-suite/non-balcony rooms. Some time ago I gave a detailed description of the hotel's layout and my own analysis of which rooms are better than others. I think some folks may have offered their own comments too. The post I'm thinking of was in this forum, so a search for my handle and Peninsula Bangkok will bring it up (along with probably 100 other posts of mine).

Although I'm thoroughly in love with PBK and it very much feels like home to me, one reason I've never stayed at The O is that Mr. Megatop and I were treated rather shabbily (to put it mildly) by the staff there once, six years ago. I vowed never to set foot in the place, and that's a vow I've kept.
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Old Jul 9, 07, 6:09 pm
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I LOVE the MO and cannot imagine staying anywhere else. It has such charm and history. It may not have all the high-tech extras of the Pen, but the overall ambiance is unmatched.
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Old Jul 9, 07, 6:32 pm
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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).
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Old Jul 10, 07, 2:48 am
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Originally Posted by Fliar View Post
I agree with RichardInSF - either is great.

The balcony rooms are not preferred by many here (including myself) so bear that in mind.

Also, the MO is a bit more expensive.
I'm young, and since I had heard that the MO can be a bit stuffy, decided to stay at the Pen. It was also cheaper and had free internet ^

I got upgraded to one of the balcony rooms on arrival, and everything during my stay was wonderful. I really didn't want to leave, especially after my last dinner at Thiptara, and I'll definitely stay there again when I go back to BKK.

I didn't go to the MO, but waiting for the hotel ferries, the guests getting on the MO boat definitely seemed to be more "old style" as yycworldtraveler said. The Pen seemed to be a little younger and hipper.

Alex
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Old Jul 10, 07, 3:15 am
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Mo

the service at MO is in a class of it's own
your parents will thank you for staying here
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Old Jul 10, 07, 7:26 am
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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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Old Jul 10, 07, 4:20 pm
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I'd pick the MO every time....a true classic with the best service I've ever encountered.

Lunch by the pool & live jazz in the bar in the evening....priceless!
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Old Aug 19, 07, 1:41 pm
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having stayed at both the Peninsula and MO, I am now hooked on the MO! I do not feel out of place for being young.
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