Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Accommodations, Part 7: Regency Park, Bangkok

An indoor garden on the ground floor level

Tucked in a half block off of Thanon Sukhumvit on Soi 22 is a little spot of green among the concrete and high-rises known as the Regency Park Hotel, a place I've stayed a couple of times.

The Regency Park sports around 120 clean, well-maintained and well-stocked rooms. You can see a basket of items above, but I'll caution you - none of the items in it are free. The bathing water is plentiful and hot, the bathroom amenities (which of course are free) are more than adequate and the beds comfortable.

Room with a king-sized bed, a good writing desk and a nice view (below)

The hotel's about a five minute walk from the Queen Benjasiri Park mentioned in earlier posts about takraw players and butterflies and just another couple of minutes further to the Emporium Shopping Center on Sukhumvit.

Soi 22 is between the Phrom Pong and Asoke BTS stations, and although it's not anything like Soi Cowboy you'll find plenty of ex-pat bars and clubs, which means the streets are also adorned with ladies in the evening, however I never felt uncomfortable or unsafe while walking there. The hotel likes to call itself "family friendly."

While there were plenty of nearby places to eat - including a vegetarian restaurant - none stood out enough for their name to stick in my mind. If you don't care to try the in-house 2nd floor restaurant (to the left) you can either explore the immediate area or easily catch the BTS to another part of town.

I've had a meal or two at the restaurant in addition to their breakfast buffet which I thought was very nice, even if it wasn't as expansive as some places.

The food is well prepared, well presented and kept at the temperature it should be, hot or cold. The lunches I had there were quite tasty, too.

Breakfast buffet items: fish, chicken, pork, vegetables and pastries

A couple of items I should caution you about, though, as these are deal-breakers for some of my friends: the internet is a little overpriced, and there is no swimming pool whatsoever (although I recall there being a gym). When I stayed there I didn't have a laptop along with me, so the internet cafes were fine for my needs.

Another thing I'd be less than honest if I didn't mention: I did have a problem with one of my friends coming to visit me - in fact, the very friend who'd originally recommended the hotel as being gay-friendly.

He'd had several other friends stay there and visited them without incident, but when he arrived to meet me for an evening out he was stopped at the desk and I was summoned to the lobby where I was told I either needed to put his name onto the room or pay what is known at many hotels as a "joiner fee" of 500 baht.

I suggested my friend wait in the lobby while I ran up and finished preparing to go out, but he wasn't having any of that. Having come directly from the hospital where he was a staff physician at the time he took offense to the implication he was a prostitute (!!) and asked to speak with the manager. I backed away and let him have at it. When the manager arrived, my friend spoke politely but firmly in Thai to him, taking out his hospital identification which he then held up in the manager's face. My friend turned to me, said "Let's go!" and suddenly it was over, the manager giving my friend a wai and retreating to his office.

"What a jerk!" my friend said, as the elevator doors closed - although "jerk" wasn't the word he used. "Maybe I should gel my hair into spikes next time and really mess with him!" I laughed.

The following afternoon I was doing a couple of interviews up in my room with the help of an interpreter, and the guys I was learning about were more obviously gogo guys for rent, but nobody said a word as we passed by the reception desk.

All things considered, I'd stay at the Regency Park again. I've caught myself thinking of it more than a few times while doing the dishes, if that makes sense to any of you psychologists.

I also kind of miss visiting with the doorman (on the left) and hearing about his kids and home. With staff turnover many places being high I wonder if he's still there, opening the door with that smile.

If you don't mind walking a little the location's good, and other than that one manager the rest of the staff was professional and pleasant.


ShamelessMack said...

I've stayed at this hotel a number of times in the 1990s and my memories distilled by time are now these:
1. The rooms were always very comfortable; the writing desk a huge plus.
2. The double beds were really two isngle beds side by side, so they were perhaps 2 metres wide.
3. Most times, after being shown to my room, I would find a problem with the safe. One time the previous guest had left it locked, another time, the batteries had gone flat... Usually, there was only one person in the whole hotel who knew what to do.
3. The breakfasts were tasty, but of limited variety (as you described).
4. I never had any trouble with joiners (which was one of the chief reasons I made repeat visits, safes notwithstanding)
But one memory sticks out above all others. This was the hotel that I had to wade to on one occasion. It was raining heavily, in the wet season, and the airport taxi had crawled two hours from Don Muang Airport. At the mouth of Soi 22, it was obvious the soi was awash, but we couldn't see how deep. He bravely tried to drive in, but within 50 metres, water came seeping in beneath the door and he decided he could go no further.

What was I to do? So I took off my socks and shoes, rolled up my trouser legs, held my luggage bag over my head and waded knee-deep through brown water with dead rats floating about, for the remaining 100 metres to the front of the hotel.

The doorman saw me coming and he waded into the water approaching me to offer help. He slipped on something within the murky, swirling water and went splosh backwards.

Water was rushing into the lobby of the hotel; it was utter pandemonium. The computer system was out and there was no way they could check me in. Fortunately, a few employees recognised me from previous visits and they quickly gave me a key, saying, "We'll deal with the paperwork later."

khunbaobao said...

Thank you for the great story, Mack! I can just see the chaos in that long lobby area.

I've also encountered a dead battery in the room safe, but they got it replaced within 15 minutes or so.

The "joiners" thing evidently began after my friend had visited friends there in 2004. I like trying new places so it may be a while before I'm back there again, but I'd certainly stay there again.