To set the context for my review, I traveled for just over a week from Texas to Bangkok with 10 other adults for a church-related trip. We were NOT looking for the Marriott experience. The hotel was perfect for what we did need - a base for our work with the basic amenities at modest cost and within a 10 minute walk to the BTS train station. I would definitely go back to the Nice Palace, but only for a similar trip. I would not take my fair spouse on a vacation trip there (please refer to the story of the Princess and the Pea to understand why!)
We stayed two to a room on the top floor, floor 8. The rooms were basic and clean with only a few tiny, harmless ants showing up in the bathroom sink for a drink whenever we ran the water tap - really not a problem, it did not seem unsanitary at all.
The walk up to the 8th floor is hot - no air conditioning in the hall ways and stairways; but, the elevator is unusually smooth and pretty fast compared with those in similar buildings in the US. And once in the room, after inserting the room key card in the slot by the door, we found the air conditioning very satisfactory for cooling down for a good night's rest. It took about 10-15 minutes to get me comfortable, not bad. One tip for the air is to close the bathroom door since the window ventilation in the bath may slow the cooling of the room. The rooms have small refrigerators that worked for all our team to varying degrees of coolness; but, we could easily keep bottles of water or other perishables from a nearby 7-11 cool and ready.
The rooms are locked manually, more like a home in the US than a standard hotel room. Be mindful to either leave the door unlocked on purpose if you leave for a short time while the room cools off or to take the key and manually lock the door when leaving the hotel.
To disappoint the US-Asia adventurers, the bathrooms do have western style toilets. There are three things remarkable about the baths for an average American traveler. First, you should not flush the TP but place it in the little canister by the toilet. I typically carry Huggies Pull-ups flushable moist wipes in a zip lock for this purpose, and did not experience an odor problem. The bath did have plenty of TP, though, in case you need it. Second, the bathroom floor is also the shower floor, meaning that you shower behind a curtain with comfortably cool water that can be easily heated if you need it (I desperately wanted it cool!), and the floor drain is across the bath room floor under the sink. This is not a big deal, just plan on drying your feet before stepping out of the bath room once you've wet the floor after showering. The floor dried easily, and this was not a significant inconvenience. In fact, it offered a little of the reality of international travel without the horror some Americans have heard about. Third, unless you are a very seasoned Asian traveler, I recommend you avoid ingesting tap water. So be careful to have a bottle of water handy and stop and think before wetting your toothbrush, etc. The room comes stocked with a bottle for your convenience.
Wifi costs a modest amount - 20 baht for one hour. This is less than 0.75 USD. We were OK with this since we generally were only looking to connect up and communicate by email and Skype once or twice a day given the combination of our time zone and other activities. I used an iPhone for all my comms, and could easily email, text, and even Skype. Although Skype video calls worked a little, I was happy to go with audio only to minimize disruptions and delays. My team lead did find that it took 3-4 hours to upload video from his laptop; but, I'm not sure that is uncommon even at home, especially when we did not have a way to skinny up the file sizes conveniently.
The hotel purports to offer services downstairs such as a Thai massage, tour services, and an elderly guy standing by to call for a taxi; but, we did not need or try any of these things. The hotel restaurant was a little pricey by Thai standards. You pay for convenience, and I did find that an American style breakfast with coffee was nice once or twice. Cost was about 140 baht, less than $4 USD . Our group also asked to pull tables together and hold a couple of team meetings over food while there and the restaurant staff was happy to oblige us. Be aware that food service ends around 8pm many nights, and other choices are limited in the area. There are 7-11s all over the place, however, and for at least one late night return from work, we had to chow down convenient store style.
The 10 minute walk to the BTS station will also take you right by a supermarket and food court called the "Big C". We ate there with a wide variety of modest but authentic Thai food for less than 100 baht ($3USD) per meal, including a frozen fruit drink for dessert. The Big C has a full service supermarket upstairs with many items for much less than the 7-11, and during daytime hours offers other services such as currency exchange through a couple of bank outlets.
Additionally, there are street food vendors (buy it hot-cooked, fresh from the grill is my advice), a Boots drugstore, and a 7-11 for grabbing a cool bottle of gatorade, soda, or water. Just outside the hotel, within a half block, there are two little restaurants with outdoor seating. I think only a few of my team tried one of these and I heard no complaints about them. So you have some modest, very modest, choices handy.
The streets seemed safe to walk at night or early morning. The neighborhood is sort of urban mixed use - residences and small businesses, and you walk through the parking lot of Paolo Memorial Hospital to and from the BTS train station. There were always attendants at the hospital and most of the streets were very well lit. I would not recommend women going alone or in pairs only; but, I'm getting old, too. Guys or groups of 3 or more seemed to me to be at pretty low risk. There are plenty of taxi-type options that can get you quickly back to your hotel in the late evening, even from the nearby BTS station.
Finally, the hotel staff were OK. These are not 5-star hospitality industry professionals, so don't expect to get waited on hand and foot. But, someone was always available who could speak enough English to help me purchase an hour of wifi or answer a question about transportation.
Last thought - this place is named aptly. It is relatively nice, NOT top tier. From American standards, the place is like an older business traveler hotel in the 1970s. Everything works but it is due for renovation. It met our needs nicely.
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