upper tier hotels

Upper Tier Hotels: Millennium Hilton (Bangkok, Thailand)

Towering over the river, you have an amazing view of the city from nearly every room. And particularly at the Executive Lounge at the top and the adjacent bar. Rooms are clean, the lobby is well-restored and the staff is top-notch (very attentive in helping send a parcel on my behalf). It’s a bit far from things as it’s on the west bank of the river. But there’s a fast ferry they run right from the hotel across to a prime part of the city, near the popular Silom district and another BTS station. Very reasonable prices, probably due to the hotel getting passed by newer, fresher and “hipper” hotels. But it’s as good as it gets with the Hilton main brand and a nice place for respite from the endless parade of hawkers and touts who try to sell you on things every second of every day around hotels in the middle of the city.

Verdict: Can’t Miss (9/10)

Upper Tier Hotels: Aloft Sukhumvit (Bangkok, Thailand)

There is no better location than this one on Soi 13 in Sukhumvit for access to bars (both naughty and classy) and the shopping scene around Siam. It’s a bit obnoxious getting in and out - cars are completely gridlocked on the Soi and you’ll have to walk a few minutes out if you need a car ride or Grab (Thailand’s version of Uber). But there’s also a great BTS Skytrain station at the intersection with Sukhumvit, so you can jump around the city pretty well from there.

Rooms are cool and trendy as you expect from Aloft, with a good breakfast if you can ignore the few ants spotted around the drinks station. Won’t deduct too many points since it’s Bangkok and there are always some creepy crawlies to be spotted. Only real issue is that it’s ground zero for the old white men who are in town for nothing but plowing Thai women. And/or Thai ladyboys - to each their own on that account. They leave you alone and you don’t have to talk to them, but they are all over the place - more so than most places in the city - and it can be jarring.

All in all. It’s a super-well priced brand hotel in a great location with safety, comfort and all you can expect from the fast-growing Aloft brand.

Verdict: Solid choice (8.5/10)

Upper Tier Hotels: The Hongta (Shanghai, China)

Part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, the Hongta is what I consider a “luxury-adjacent” brand hotel.  It’s far nicer than a traditional chain hotel but you don’t get quite the same refined experience as a Waldorf, Ritz, St. Regis, etc.  

Rooms were spacious (upgraded to a suite on the 15th floor as a Platinum member) with very well-appointed rooms.  It does need a refresh - the carpets are beat - but the lobby is quite beautiful, the facilities are very maintained well and you have to consider fancy/luxury hotels in comparison to the big big big names in the industry. You aren’t living like a true A-lister at a place like this, but it’s darn good enough to impress someone special to you.

Service is great - good English-speaking staff.  With breakfast and Executive Lounge bar happy hour (over an amazing view from the 40th floor), it was well worth the $100 or so per night. The happy hour at the Executive Lounge is truly an amazing perk as a top member with Marriott (and when I stay with Hiltons too). It’s really worth using your credit cards and spend right to ensure you get these benefits. Free meals add up quickly when reviewing your travel budget over the course of a year.

The location in Pudong was so-so, a bit far from the action but in a safe spot with a close Metro stop nearby.  Not in the prime part of Pudong by Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai Tower, but the only hotels there are super pricey.  Only caveat:  if you’re a snowflake, avoid walking close to the Holiday Inn Express across the street.  The hotel looks nice enough but it’s hooker central.  You cannot walk near the hotel without being approached by many many overeager street walkers.  It was safe and didn’t bother me.  But for snowflakes, it may be a bit too appalling to handle.  Frankly, there is something uncouth to be found in the nicest parts of every city - all of SF is a demilitarized zone of poverty, crack and mental health issues - but it was more a fun observation than anything.

The price, quality, easy location to the fantastic Metro and very nice style - they all make it a great place to go for any type of audience (business, bleisure, family, romantic).

Verdict: Solid enough (7.5 / 10)