I had this song by Toya Delazy playing in my head most of the time I was in Bangkok:
Bangkok isn’t technically “my city” but I loved it anyway. I can’t put my finger on what exactly – maybe it was the buzz, the heat, the food, the shopping, the lifestyle, the numerous massages. I’m not sure – but I’m willing to go back and figure it out!
Deciding on a hotel
As a Thailand first-timer, I trusted the advice of my well-traveled sister and checked out the Mercure in the Siam area. Although she never stayed at the Mercure, she recommended it because it was close to the BTS Skytrain (2-minute walk if not less) and she would walk past it on her way to the LIT Hotel. Being close to the Skytrain is a huge advantage as it means you can get around quickly and easily without relying on taxis. It’s also very close to some huge and legendary shopping malls (2-3 minutes walk) such as the popular MBK (which has loads of electronics, some halaal eating spots, clothes, watches, bags, etc), Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery. Central Mall and Platinum Mall are about a 15-minute walk or you could take the Skytrain there.
The Mercure has an interesting concept as the physical building is actually shared with another hotel called the Ibis. The Ibis occupies the 2nd to 7th floor – which we could not access as the elevators were specific to the hotel you were using. The Mercure occupies the 9th (reception) to the 29th floor (pool and gym). Initially, we wanted to stay at the cheaper Ibis but we didn’t like that you could only access the Mercure’s pool by paying a small fee.
I was happy with the Mercure’s 4/5 TripAdvisor rating and through suggestions on Tripadvisor, I booked online using the Mercure website and also signed up for the free Le Accor Rewards programme. I booked a standard room online but the money didn’t come off immediately (it was reserved) so I emailed them a month before the time to ask if the booking was made on their side. I also informed them that our trip to Thailand was for our wedding anniversary. They replied very quickly and the amount was charged to my account. Two days before checking in, I was sent an email to check in online which I did. That email was really reassuring too.
After taking the Skytrain from the airport, we finally arrived at the Mercure, weary from our travels. We were greeted on the 1st floor where we left our luggage and were taken to the 9th floor (the actual reception). As promised, our check in was extremely fast and our key was waiting for us. All we needed to do was to show our passports and the little document they had given us at immigration at the airport. I was also asked for my cheque card as they charged me a deposit (‘breakage fee’) which they assured would be immediately reversed upon check out if there were no issues. I knew to expect this as I was warned by other travelers to keep extra money for expenses such as the breakage (sort of a norm in Thailand). The receptionist was very friendly and informed us that we would receive a complimentary drink at the bar and ‘something special’ would be waiting in our room on account of our anniversary.
Being a lover of purple, the Mercure aesthetics appealed to me. SouthEast Asian-chic and modern, it was exactly what you’d expect to find in the melting pot that is Bangkok.
We went up, excited to find our ‘something special’ – only to find nothing! I figured that whatever they had organised had not yet been sent up to the room. I was right, it was sent up to our room later while we were out. It was a lovely assortment of chocolates and coconut. Yum!
The room was smallish but big enough for the two of us. There was a large, comfortable bed, a day-bed, a mini-fridge and kettle with coffee and tea. In the cupboard was a safe, torch, hairdryer, an iron and ironing board (which I had no intention of using! – but great for business travel). The bathroom had a sliding wooden panel that could move – so if you wanted to shower and watch TV, it was entirely possible!
There were plenty of plugs available for chargers and best of all – their plugs are compatible with SA ones so we didn’t need adapters. The wifi was free and it was great, we never had problems with it.
The windows gave a great view of the bustling, neon metropolis but the soundproofing kept it all out. The windows didn’t open – probably for safety purposes. We were able to sleep in due to the black-out curtains.
One annoyance was that we couldn’t really get things to dry while there. So, if we went for a dip in the pool, our things would stay damp. We couldn’t figure out how to put the aircon on a warm setting. The shower door also didn’t do a great job of keeping the rest of the bathroom dry. Better carpets or mats are needed as the whole place gets damp and stays damp.
The pool area was open until 10pm which was perfect to soak our tired feet in after a long day of walking. The pool is on the top floor and has a nice view of the city. There were various sunbeds to lie on and I liked the astroturf. There was a bar but things there seemed pricey for a South African. I liked that they gave warm, large beach towels at the bar. We never tried out the gym but it looked good. The pool itself was fairly cool (temperature-wise) but that may have been the April weather. The pool was not very large but we didn’t spend a lot of time there anyway.
Breakfast was served on the 8th floor at The 8. They had a wide variety of delicious options and the staff was really nice.
I liked the french toast especially. Breakfast is served to quite late in the morning as well which is great if you’re on vacation.
We had our complimentary drink at the bar near the reception (on the 9th Floor). The voucher we were given made no indication that we were only allowed certain drinks. We went to the bar and ordered but when we took out our voucher the barman looked annoyed and pointed out the ‘complimentary drink menu’. He was straight out unfriendly and he seemed irritated that I ordered a latte (rather than a soft drink). The bar is right next to the reception and after staying at the Mercure for a few days I noticed that if you are not checking in / checking out, the receptionists don’t bother to greet or acknowledge you. They are super nice when checking in / checking out but I guess I expected a smile or nod when you walk past. I’ve stayed at many hotels and always thought this was just standard courtesy.
The other small annoyance was the lift system. At first, you’re not too bothered about getting in at Ground floor, getting out at reception on the 9th floor and taking the 500m walk to the elevator that can access the 9th floor and up (of the Mercure). After a while, it can be irritating. I was wishing that there was just one lift that could skip straight to Ground. If there was, I never found it.
Check out was as smooth and my breakage fee came straight back into my account as promised. We organised a taxi to Don Mueang Airport through the hotel and it was pricey but worth it for the peace of mind. I wasn’t too impressed with the car that came to pick us up, though. I don’t mean to sound like a snob but our luggage could barely be contained in the boot and was kept together by a piece of rope. It made me think that you might as well stand outside the hotel and just flag a taxi as it’s probably a lot cheaper.
Despite the taxi ride and the lukewarm service (at times), everything went smoothly at the Mercure. I was impressed with lightning fast check-in and check out. The rooms had all the creature comforts you want to come home to after long days of exploring busy Bangkok. If you’re looking for Bangkok accommodation, the Mercure is a great place to call home for a few nights.
Mercure Bangkok Siam