A prestigious property that’s earned its namesake
My father and I landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at around 11pm, capping off a whopping 33 hours of nonstop transit time. I love flying, but United Economy class gets old after a while… It was time to go to bed for a long time. The Okura proved to be a worthy place to do just that!
The airport was thankfully empty — one of the perks of arriving so late I guess — and we were out on the street and in a taxi by 11:30pm. A quick note of warning: make sure that when you are in Bangkok, the taxi has its meter running when you get in. Cabbies commonly try to shortchange customers by offering a flat rate, which is always more expensive than what you would pay otherwise. Be prepared to front the costs for toll roads too; you’ll want to get cash before leaving Suvarnabhumi.
The Okura Prestige is centrally located right in downtown Bangkok, and it’s easily accessible. It’s about a 30 minute car ride from the airport (albeit at midnight), and if you opt for a standard taxi, it’ll cost around $15, including tolls. The Okura also offers airport transfers in a Mercedes S-Class, but it costs $100 one way.
The hotel takes up the top of half of the Park Ventures Ecoplex skyscraper. There are a few shops, some office space, and most importantly a BTS Skytrain Station all located at the bottom of the building. The public train system makes it is so easy to get around the Bangkok sprawl, including to and from the airport, plus the cars are air conditioned. You never have to go very far or spend a lot to reach any of the major tourist destinations when the Okura is your “home base.”
We arrived at the Okura hotel around midnight, and there’s a small lobby on the ground floor. It’s simple and classy, but it’s staffed 24/7 with eager bellmen to help arriving and departing guests get their bearings. You have to take a high speed elevator up to the 24th floor, where the main lobby is located. After you exit out of the elevator, you’re greeted by a stunning view of Bangkok. With tall floor-to-ceiling windows, and an atrium that extends the entire height of the hotel, you feel like you’re at the top of the city in the lobby.
There are some really nice touches too that really enhance the the overall “aura” of the hotel. Adjacent to the reception desk is a cherry tree, which happened to be in bloom while we there (or is it always in bloom?), and it seems that the maintenance staff pumps in a specific scent through the air vents. It always smelled like fresh flowers whenever we stepped in to the hotel. It’s a nice contrast to the…uh…”melange” of aromas from the street, and my father and I would almost always say “Wow, it smells so good in here!”
Our check-in process was easy, and soon enough, we were being escorted to our room via a second bank of elevators. We had been upgraded to a corner room on the 29th floor with two plus sized twins, and that also included access to the club lounge and entitled us to complimentary laundry service.
Our room was spacious, modern, and quintessentially Japanese. From the simple bamboo finishes and clean lines and sliding doors, to the smart toilet (i.e. it has an auto-bidet feature) and a digital room manager (everything in the room — the temperature, the lighting, the shades, and so on — was controlled electronically) and blazingly fast wifi, you get the best of all worlds: style, practicality, and comfort.
There was no shortage of plugs throughout the room, and the desk was located near a special drawer filled with various outlets.
In terms of television, the screen was a respectably sized 42 inches, and it received dozens of channels. Many of them were in English, but there were also options for Thai, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, and Arabic speakers too.
There was also a comfortable easy chair in another corner of the room.
The small table next to the chair always had fresh plates of fruit on it when we got back from exploring the city.
Next to the television was a closet and a cabinet. The closet had plenty of space and hangers for both our clothes and our carryon suitcases.
There was also a safe inside.
The minibar, as well as some drinkware and other snacks, was contained in the adjacent cabinet.
The fridge and the cabinet were packed full of goodies, but nothing other than the complimentary water was particularly cheap.
These snacks wouldn’t be sufficient, or cost effective, solutions for dinner our first night. We instead ordered a quick bite to eat from room service — in this case some Thai curried beef with rice and Chang beers, and then crashed for the night in our firm, but not uncomfortable beds. There is a good collection of entrees too, from both Thailand and the West, and they could be delivered at any time. Even though it was nearly 1am when we ate, the quality of the dish was exceptional; it tasted like it was prepared just then (as opposed to being reheated), and the flavors were varied and spicy, but not overwhelmingly so.
In the morning, my father and I awoke to stunning views of Bangkok. One wall was nearly entirely made of windows, and the other wall had really wide windows. It was as if we had a panorama of all the hustle and bustle of the city.
There are some real dramatic effects too, and I had a special appreciation for the shower…
For those who don’t like to marvel at the expanse of “The Big Mango” while they bathe themselves, you can automatically draw a window shade down. Exposing yourself isn’t an issue either, as all the windows are tinted for both privacy and to help keep the room cool during the day.
The shower itself was nice. There were two heads, a rain spout mounted on the ceiling and a handheld one too. Water pressure was excellent and the temperatures could get pretty warm without scalding. Unfortunately, I did have to reach through the stream to turn on the water, so when I wasn’t paying attention, I would get doused by cold water. That happened more than a few times unfortunately. Other than that, it was spacious and clean, and that’s what I care about the most in a shower. Right next to the shower was a soaking tub, complete with special bath salts.
The shower toiletries were by Aromatherapy Associates, and like the hotel itself, they smelled fresh and fabulous without being overpowering. They weren’t particularly big tubes, but they were replenished daily, so we never had to worry about running out.
Next to the sink, there was some bottled water and glasses, a hair dryer and hand towels, and some individually boxed “kits,” which included things like razors and shaving cream, toothbrushes and toothpaste, hair brushes and other necessities for travelers.
The design of the bathroom was unique, but functional. By default, the room is open to the rest of the living area, but you can slide massive bamboo doors to close it up. Amazingly, the room doesn’t lose it’s airy feel. As a point of comparison…
The toilet was also kept separate from the rest of the bathroom. It had its own private space adjacent to the foyer.
The toilet was also “smart.”
Most every day before starting our adventures, my father and I would head down to the main lobby on the 24th floor and consult with someone at the concierge desk for advice on what to do that day, as well as places to eat and how to get around. The service was impeccable; practically everything we needed and more was taken care of.
We came to expect such warm accomodations at the Okura, and we were not disappointed. Every morning, our beds were made when we were at breakfast. When we were out for dinner, our rooms were turned down. During the day, they were cleaned. Even though housekeeping came in to the room every few hours a day, I only saw them once during our 8 night stay. There were some more nice touches too; flowers with bedside water bottles and some midnight snacks, slippers were placed next to the bed sides, kimonos for lounging were laid out on the bed, and origami cranes, a symbol of good luck and fortune, waited on top of our pillows when we turned in for the night. The small touches make all the difference, and these helped make our stay so memorable.
Daily breakfasts, which were included in our room rate, were special experiences in and of themselves. The dining hall, like the rest of the hotel, has high ceilings and walls of windows overlooking Bangkok. For when it’s cooler out, there’s outdoor seating available too.
There are three restaurants at the Okura, and breakfast was served at two of them: Yamazato for Japanese fare and Up & Above both Western and Asian options. We only had time to eat at the latter though…
The spread, as is typical in Southeast Asia, is quite impressive. There are buffet options for every taste, with both Western selections like waffles and crepes and freshly-made pastries, as well as Asian selections like pork filled buns, dumplings, and noodles.
I like fruit a lot, and in addition to rotating tropical juices, like guava, mango, coconut and lychee flavors, there is a build-your-own fruit salad station. The selection isn’t particularly expansive, but quality is better than quantity, and everything is incredibly fresh. I was particularly partial to the rambutans!
Of course, if none of these options fulfill your cravings, you can always order eggs and pancakes a la carte.
After we got back from exploring Bangkok every day, my father and I would usually hang out in one of two places: the pool or the club lounge. Because we came at the beginning of the rainy season, there were only a couple of days that we could use the pool. The design of it is architecturally stunning; it is attached to the exterior of the building, just seemingly tacked on. I’m not an engineer, so I can’t articulate the design of it beyond “It just floats there! It’s so cool!”
Needless to say, the views from the pool deck are pretty awesome.
There is also a wait staff serving the pool guests. You can order cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while you take in the view. I had a Piña Colada, and it was delicious.
Because it’s an infinity pool, it looks like the water drops off to the city. There’s a small ledge on that side of the pool though, and it makes for some pretty cool photo ops…
There is also a fitness center next to the pool. I didn’t have the chance to take pictures of the inside myself, but it is an open, airy space with solid wood floors and various machines available for use. It didn’t seem clustered or cluttered or cramped, which is a common problem in hotel gyms. Indeed, it is actually somewhat zen. It overlooks the Bangkok skyline, which is especially neat from the perspective of an elliptical.
The club lounge is by no means as dramatic as the athletic spaces, but it does offer a quiet, comfortable place to do work, have a drink, and take in the experience of being 33 stories up in Bangkok. The views up here are even better!
As is the case with other public spaces at the Okura, there is a courteous and attentive wait staff manning the lounge. Employees check up on guests periodically without being overbearing. They also have access to the reservation and concierge services, so if you need to change your travel dates, or get some form of assistance, you won’t have to go down to the main lobby.
There are small plates of food served in the lounge as well, and the selections rotate depending on the time of day. I never had a full meal — only some hors d’oeuvres at dusk — but everything I sampled was high quality. There were both Japanese snacks, like delicious sushi, and Western fare, like mini hot dogs.
That said, there are far more options at the main restaurant on the 24th floor.
The club lounge also hosts fun drink events throughout the day. There’s a daily afternoon tea from 3 to 5, and then a happy hour from 5 to 7. My father and I never made it for tea, but we had a predinner cocktail almost everyday. The beverage menu wasn’t as extensive as it would be downstairs either, but of what’s available, it’s done quite well. Better yet, the price can’t be beat — everything in the lounge is free. My go-to was a Thai adaptation of a Mojito, while my dad preferred the house Gin & Tonic. There was also a decent selection of wine and beer, although we never had any during our visits.
The club lounge bests the main restaurant in terms of comfort and quietness — there’s more personal space and nice easy chairs, but if you want to eat, I’d head to the lobby instead. No matter where you decide on though, you’ll have a consistently good experience!
The Okura Prestige is worthy of its namesake: it is a prestigious hotel that doesn’t really have any shortcomings to speak of. It earns its five star rating, but moreover, it doesn’t break the bank. While you may lament the fact that you won’t earn practical hotel award points — I thought I might — you’ll quickly forget about that when you’re taking in the many luxuries of one of Bangkok’s best hotels. I can’t wait to return there!
The good, the bad, the ugly of the Okura Prestige, Bangkok
- The Good
- Visually stunning property in terms of design, architecture, and finishes…
- …But still quite comfortable and practical. In many hotels, usability is sacrificed for appearance, but that’s not the case at the Okura.
- The service was phenomenal all across the board. Everyone was so kind and helpful.
- The public spaces are really well done too. Each place had their own quirks and charms, but the high quality experiences were consistent throughout.
- The “aura” of the hotel is calming. Even though it’s located in the middle of Bangkok, you can’t help but feel like you’re far removed from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis as soon as you enter.
- The Bad
- The Okura makes it hard to pick out things for this section — it’s that good.
- The Ugly
- You won’t earn any significant program specific points when you stay at the Okura.
- Don’t stay here if you’re deathly afraid of heights…
“Southeast Asian Summer Vacation” Trip Report
- Introduction: Southeast Asian Summer Vacation
- United Club, Tokyo Narita (NRT), Japan
- Okura Prestige, Bangkok, Thailand
- Photo Series: Bangkok
- Air Asia Hot Seats (Economy Plus), Airbus A320, DMK-REP // REP-DMK
- The Aviary Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Photo Series: Angkor Wat
- Plaza Premium Lounge, Siem Reap (REP), Cambodia
- Thai First Class Lounge, Bangkok (BKK), Thailand
- Thai Airways Royal Silk (Business Class), Boeing 777-300ER, BKK-PEK
- United Airlines Polaris First (First Class), Boeing 777-200, PEK-IAD
Have you stayed at the Okura Prestige in Bangkok? What were your thoughts?