Disclaimer: In exchange for a two-night stay at this #BangkokCityHotel, I am writing this review.
The Pullman King Power Bangkok is located in the Phaya Thai neighborhood of the sprawling Thai capital. It is near to the transportation nexus of Victory Monument, from which one can take buses to both Don Mueang Airport and Suvarnhabumi Airport. Furthermore, the #PullmanKingpower is very close to the Phaya Thai BTS station, and the Phaya Thai (Suvarnhabumi) Airport Express train line.
Although the #PullmanKingpower is operated by the France-based Accor Hotels group, this particular hotel is directly associated with Thailand’s largest duty free company King Power. In fact, in the same complex as the hotel is the headquarters for King Power, as well as its largest duty free store in the country. In addition to chits for select hotel services, in-house guests receive discount coupons for the duty free shopping experience:
The #PullmanKingpower has 354 rooms and suites – ranging between Superior Rooms, Deluxe Rooms, Deluxe Rooms with Balconies, Executive-Level Rooms, and Suites – twenty meeting rooms, and two ballrooms with capacities of up to 600 people.
Alighting the Airport Express from Suvarnhabumi, I saw that the #PullmanKingpower was within walking distance of the terminus. However, I ended up walking the long way around (my advice for those taking public transit, look for Exit #4, then there will be a shortcut by way of pedestrian bridge). With luggage in this constant heat, it was no fun, especially as the closest intersection has a nearly interminable traffic light.
At the front desk, Milk, a jolly and helpful trainee, and Pai both helped with check-in, informing me about the King Power duty free store across the way, and about the Accor Hotels membership program. Thereafter, Milk walked me to my room, and shared with me that I had access to the Executive Lounge.
Indeed, for those guests expecting a higher level of service, the Executive Lounge, which can be found on the 20th floor, is accessed by a simple swipe of one’s keycard in the elevator.
The Executive Lounge is open daily from 06:00-23:00, and offers both breakfast and a happy hour with canapes from 17:00-19:00. It also offers one meeting room, ample seating, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Kan, the executive lounge manager, Music and North, two floor attendants, were pleasant to chat with, and helpful in suggesting lesser-known (to non-locals) places to visit in Bangkok.
I had a Deluxe Room on the 11th floor, fortunately (for me) located in the corner. The hallway had a muted aesthetic, and like every other public area at the #PullmanKingpower, it was quite clean.
The Deluxe Room was in good shape, and nothing looked worn. My biggest issue was maintaining a stable connection to the internet – though there was no problem with connectivity anywhere else in the hotel. Another negative was the presence of small, single-use plastic containers; even at Accor’s Ibis properties, showers have large, easily refillable containers. Nevertheless, the bed was comfortable, the corner location of the room made it quieter, and the water pressure in the bathroom was good. Two water bottles were offered daily, since water isn’t potable in Thailand.
And what Southeast Asian hotel would be complete without a pool and gym? Many, but not this one.
Hmm, merely thinking of physical activity is making me hungry…
Food & Beverage
Before getting into detail about the restaurants available at the #PullmanKingpower, I’d like to emphasize that the hotel has received an official HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certificate, offered by the Swiss-firm SGS, a group that recognize companies excelling in food safety and quality, as well as in the reduction of food loss and waste.
At this #BangkokCityHotel, there are three primary restaurants, two bars that serve cocktails and snacks, and a co-working space that combines a café with a new-age bar.
The first restaurant that I tried is called Cuisine Unplugged. Although it also offers an à la carte option, it is most popular for its buffet. However, in a crowded field of hotel buffets in Bangkok, does this one stack up well with the rest of the lot?
For the most part, I wouldn’t say so.
As usual for buffet days, I woke up to be at the restaurant as soon as it opened, so as to take photos with less human traffic. Although the presentation of the food and seating areas was clean and welcoming, there didn’t seem to be much staff until about an hour later, ostensibly because more diners had showed up.
Although the Thai breakfast section – two different types of porridge with various toppings – was one of the more positive notes, and the fruit and sugar-free “detox” juices also stood out, the main prepared dishes were just satisfactory.
Moreover, when I stopped by the night before to reserve a specific table, the woman at the Cuisine Unplugged reception gave me a hard time, not to mention the duty manager warned me to “be on time,” as if 06:00 was the usual peak period. Nice try.
Cuisine Unplugged open weekdays for breakfast from 06:00-10:30, and weekends from 06:00-11:00. Their lunch buffet lasts from 11:30-14:30, Grand Ocean Seafood and Barbecue Dinner Buffet runs between 18:00-22:30, and the Grand Sunday Brunch with Free-Flow Beverages goes from 12:00-15:00.
On the second night, I had dinner at the Japanese-French “fusion” restaurant Tenshino. Although most dishes use ingredients shipped straight from Japan, some cooking styles and finishing touches, as well as much of the ambience of the restaurant, reflect French inspiration.
Although Tenshino was busy that night, Nancy, the manager, and two of her waitresses, Baitoey and Cake, showed that they were well-trained, and enjoyed chatting about the seasonal menu and sake selection at their restaurant.
Speaking of the seasonal menu, I was quite eager to try the autumnal flavors of Japan, in spite of being in a city whose coldest temperatures are found either in a fridge, or a shopping mall.
Let’s have a look!
First, choose your chopsticks and hashi oki (chopsticks rest).
Kanpachi (greater amberjack) otoshi (Japanese amuse-bouche) with ponzu sauce at the top, and maguro (tuna), madai (sea bream), and kanpachi sashimi with salmon roe. All very fresh and clean tasting, even though it all made it to Bangkok – direct from Toyosu Market in Tokyo – by plane.
The only miss of the evening, the pumpkin croquettes were uninspired, and I feel would have paired better with tempura sauce than the more savory tonkatsu sauce.
The highlight of the night was also the main dish. Grilled kanpachi with houjicha (black tea) sauce served with chestnut steamed koshihikari rice. The sea bream was very well cooked, lightly salted, and paired expertly with the slightly bitter and sweet houjicha sauce.
Chestnut parfait with a coconut cream base. Another delectable course in one of the 4-course fall menus. The earthiness of the chestnuts balanced well with the tropical sweetness of the coconut cream. This dish obviously borrowed a bit from Japan, France, and Thailand; I wish there had been more of this mix scattered throughout the menu!
Paired with carefully selected sake, each bite of the seasonal menu transported me to a rural part of Japan, as if I were peacefully gazing at fall foliage while enjoying the delicious kanpachi. Save for the croquettes, I would gladly return to Tenshino for another meal, and for the good service common to restaurants in Japan.
Other eating options include Tenko, a Japanese restaurant known for its omakase (let the chef decide), The Junction at Pullman, a co-working space, the Glen Bar with its private mezzanine and modern Thai eats, and the Pool Bar on the 4th floor.
At the end of the day, the most important factors in a hotel for me are peace and quiet in the room, ease of access, and a stable internet connection. The #PullmanKingpower hits the first two marks, but my room had very spotty internet throughout my stay, requiring me to re log-in numerous times. Of course, that may vary depending on which room you’re in, and not everyone stays at a hotel to use the internet, but it’s a necessary evil these days.
Except for Cuisine Unplugged, service was friendly throughout, and facilities looked clean and taken care of. The hotel works for shoppers, business people, and people on short trips transiting between the two airports. Although the PR people didn’t introduce themselves to me – the first time that has happened – I would stay here again, but would feast at another Bangkok buffet instead.