Bangkok - The Conrad
At this time of day, traffic was light and the ride into town only took 25 minutes in a much more civilized way of driving than last time, and cost less than 300 bath. I arrived at the Conrad and was immediately impressed by the large and stylishly appointed lobby, sporting what could probably be described as “contemporary Thai” features. This design extended not only to the rest of the hotel including the rooms, but also to the employees who wore a smart, jeans-like uniform. Thee of them took care of me once I left the cab, carrying my luggage, inspecting my passport and HHonors card, and checking me into an upgraded, large corner room. I was also offered free breakfast in the 2nd floor restaurant, but no lounge access. As I was only there for one night anyway, I didn’t bother with that and let myself be escorted by one of the agents that checked me in to my room. She pointed out all its features to me before wishing me a good night and leaving. Despite not featuring the much raved about glass-walled shower (only the smaller rooms have them), the room was very nice and featured all sorts of techno gimmicks that appealed to me. One feature that I liked in particular were the different CDs that could be played over the TV system and a high-quality speaker in the bathroom, which was not only large, but also had a free-standing bathtub with windows that allow guests to bathe while looking down onto the hectic of Thailand’s capital. In line with the national animal, my bed featured a little silk elephant toy and the bathroom was equipped with a “rubber elephantie”. The bathtub looked so inviting that I decided, for the first time ever in a hotel room, to take a bath before going to bed. It worked wonders in making me tired, and I fell asleep immediately after tucking into what was at least as comfortable as a Westin Heavenly Bed.
I slept in the next morning and then went down to the breakfast buffet just in time before it closed. The setting was nice, and I was seated at the bar that allowed me to look down at the lobby underneath, but the spread of food on offer was less impressive than the one in Hong Kong. Just like other Flyertalkers have noted before, the Conrad BKK uses very nice tea / coffee mugs, and for a while I entertained the thought of getting one. But somehow I decided against it and instead just went over to the large pool to read the paper, go for a swim and while away the hours until it was time to return to the room and get ready for the 2pm checkout (that’s the latest they offered me). During the check-out process, I was asked if I was leaving via BKK airport tonight, and when I said that indeed I would be, they offered me to sell me the THB500 airport tax voucher already at the hotel, I service that I truly appreciated as it allowed me to add the amount to the folio and earn Hhonors points for it! I left my luggage with a bellhop and then got into the first of a series of cabs that took me to several malls and shopping arcades where I bought all the “high quality branded goods” that my friends back home had wanted me to buy. By the time I was done it was just past 4pm, and I decided to have afternoon tea and thus walked into the Intercontinental Hotel. This was a mistake as the afternoon tea they offered there was cheap, but also very mediocre with inattentive service (despite me opening the lid of the teapot, no refill was offered until I finally stopped a waiter and asked him for it) and a small selection of finger sandwiches and pastries. There also was one single scone, but no clotted cream, which made for a rather dry affair. I scolded myself for not having had afternoon tea at the Peninsula in town or in Hong Kong, but then relaxed and read various papers for a good two hours before taking the Skytrain back to the Conrad. I had hoped to use another “hospitality suite” again to change before heading out to the airport, but was instead offered to use their spa. That was a very generous offer on the hotel’s part, but it still felt odd to roll my Samsonite into the spa’s changing room, opening it there to take out the fresh clothes and put in the dirty ones and then go for a shower in one of the stalls while leaving the bag unattended. Also, the other spa visitors where quite surprised to see a large case standing around there… But hey, it worked, and I felt refreshed and clean again by the time I hopped into the cab that was to take me to the airport. Despite me indicating that I had plenty of time, the cabbie deemed it appropriate to go 150km/h again on the tollway, and I prayed for my good luck not to leave me before the trip was over as we sped out to Don Muang. Without ausTXhiker and his credit cards offering any pre-flight excitement this time, my check-in was smooth (I overheard the non-revs complaining about not being assigned First class seats on this completely full flight) and I soon found myself in the Cathay lounge again, which Swiss uses for its Business class passengers. Vaguely hoping for an operational upgrade into First, I snacked on some peanuts, used the free WLAN to email with ausTXhiker and niklaus1 (already planning the next trip!) and then strolled down to the gate when the monitors told me that it was time to do so. That turned out to be a lie as boarding had not even started, and so I hung around at the gate for a couple more minutes, looking at my fellow passengers and gradually getting used to hearing my own dialect again mostly from loud, annoying, tanned holidaymakers who must have spent god knows how many hours in the Thai sun. When the gate was finally opened, an announcement was made inviting Gold and Circle members as well as First class pax to board at their own convenience, and I did so immediately. They had a hand-written note on top of the boarding pass reader, and to my disappointment only one passenger was operationally upgraded from C to F, and it wasn’t me (I later learned that the gentleman in question was a Circle member). But just like on the outbound from Zurich, there were a lot of op-ups to C from Y, and I’m sure that I would have scored one of these had I not been in Business already.