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Review: Tower Club at Lebua – Bangkok, Thailand

Posted by Ted on Nov 16, 2010 in Food & Drinks, Reviews

When my wife and I began our three month exploration of Southeast Asia, our first stop was Bangkok. Arriving at 11p after a 19 hour flight from San Francisco, there was only one place that I wanted to go; the Tower Club at Lebua. In the heart of the Bangrak district, Lebua is both relaxing and lively, offering five-star amenities with exceptional service at a great value. Luxurious without being pretentious, one is made to feel at home and is treated with courtesy and warmth. Fourteen hours jetlagged, there was no softer place that we could land than in one of their king-size beds.

An all-suite hotel, the Lebua at State Tower has 358 rooms, of which the recently launched Tower Club comprises those on the top 51st to 59th floors. One, two, and three bedroom suites are spacious at 66 to 226 square meters, and offer feather-soft beds with 330 thread-count sheets, and complimentary mini bar, premium TV, and wireless internet. There are 3 restaurants, 3 bars, a lounge, swimming pool, and business and fitness centers. It is convenient to the BTS SkyTrain and MRT Subway, several Buddhist and Hindu temples, and the Patpong night market.

The Rooms:

While I had the pleasure of returning to Lebua, it was my wife’s first time. Her reaction upon walking into our suite was “Wow, this is where we get to stay?” and that enthusiasm would carry through until the moment of our eventual departure three days later. A hand-written letter from the General Manager welcomed us and was accompanied by a bowl of fruit and some assorted chocolates which we slowly savored. Every suite has a living area, kitchenette, and bathroom which can be separated from the bedroom with a sliding door and independent climate controls.

One of my favorite features of the rooms at Lebua are their open-air balconies, which require signing a waiver upon check-in promising that you won’t do anything stupid or hold them liable if you do. Our 55th floor balcony faced south, offering a view of the twisty Chao Phraya river, long-tail boats plying its waters by day and night. Upon our arrival, we had front row seats as the heavens above Bangkok welcomed us with a brilliant lightning show on the horizon.

Somewhat lost on my being a typical male, my wife appreciated the Bulgari toiletries enough for both of us. Beyond the standard soap, shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner, Lebua’s set of bathroom amenities also include a toothbrush, qtips and cotton balls, moisturizer, and bath supplies. “When I woke up jetlagged at 4am, it was wonderful to be able to relax in a bath, use nice bath salts, and scrub away weeks of stress and hours of flight with a loofah. It was a great way to start the day when no one else was awake.

Some other standard features that Lebua offers in their rooms are both daily housekeeping and a nightly turndown service, a local newspaper and weather report slipped under the door every morning, soft robes, and very good light-blocking curtains.

The Food:

If the rooms at Lebua are luxurious, its bars and restaurants are sublime. From exceptional buffet breakfasts to well-crafted drinks with a breathtaking view over the city and creative internationally-inspired cuisine, there is something to meet any taste or mood.

  • Tower Club Lounge (10am to 9pm) – Strictly open to those staying at Tower Club is the 52nd floor lounge that offers continental breakfast, afternoon snacks and drinks including free beer, and serves high tea from 3pm to 6pm.
  • Café Mozu (6am to 1am) – This poolside cafe with lush Middle Eastern decor begins its day with an extensive brunch buffet from 6am to 11am, offering dishes from around the world that give every guest the chance to try something new or have the comfort of home. Chinese congee and dim sum, Indian croquettes, Japanese sushi, and Belgian waffles are offered, as well as carved meats and sausages, stir fry, yogurt, fruit, pastries, and a variety of fresh juices. A large selection of breads can be toasted for you in a wood-fired brick oven. In the afternoon and evening, the fare turns to Indian and Lebanese cuisine, as well as thin-crust pizzas.
  • Sirocco (6pm to 1am) – Located on the 63rd floor, the world’s highest open-air restaurant offers a dramatic view over Bangkok and serves Mediterranean cuisine. Live jazz music adds to the ambiance, giving one a truly memorable dining experience.
  • Mezzaluna (6pm to 1am) – The chef’s tasting menu we enjoyed on our last night in Bangkok was one of the top ten meals of our lives. Twin chefs Mathias and Thomas Sühring create innovative Italian dishes that are a feast for all of the senses. By expertly combining flavors, textures, and colors, their works of culinary art took us on a roller coaster ride of taste and sensation. The service is flawless, with multiple servers making sure that every course was presented in unison. So beautiful they nearly brought tears to our eyes, a string quartet helped to create a relaxed space to savor every moment of our meal.
  • Breeze (6pm to 1am) – With both indoor and outdoor seating, Breeze offers modern Asian cuisine in an exquisitely designed restaurant.
  • Distil (5pm to 1am) – On the 64th floor, this bar takes its name from the very process that purifies a spirit to its purest potential. Premium whiskeys, vodkas, and brandies are available, as well as an extensive wine and champagne selection. An oyster bar compliments the drinks, and Cuban cigars are available as well.
  • Skybar (6pm to 1am) – Literally perched on the edge of the 63rd floor, a few steps up from the diners at Sirocco, you feel as if you are on top of the world (or at least Bangkok) as you sip elaborately concocted cocktails. A chest-high glass wall is all that separates you from the nighttime sky, where you can watch lightning storms on the horizon over a brightly lit cityscape.

The Gist:

If we could use only one word to describe the Tower Club at Lebua, it would be simply this; impeccable. The brand is consistent and unobtrusive, and everywhere there are nice touches that exude both class and comfort. One feels cared for from the moment they walk in the door to the moment they leave. Service is excellent, with staff always right there when you need them, yet not overbearingly so. The doormen always made sure our taxi knew where they were going, and the front desk staff are happy to answer any questions, even going out of their way to escort me out of the building to point out where we could get visa photos taken down the street.

Reasonably priced for the quality, Lebua can offer backpackers a chance to be pampered for a few days, and more upscale travelers an amazing home base to explore Bangkok. For conference organizers, Lebua is an exceptional property that has function space, meeting rooms, and enough amenities to allow for both focused and more relaxed business to be conducted.

Tower Club at Lebua
State Tower, 1055 Silom Road
Bangrak, Bangkok  10500 Thailand
Phone: +66 (0) 2624 9555
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.lebua.com/en/tower-club

 

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A soft landing in Bangkok

Posted by Ted on Sep 26, 2010 in Travel

Generally we prefer to “wing it” during our travels, planning as little as possible to allow for more flexibility. Doing so gives us the ability to take advantage of serendipitous encounters, such as meeting a young man in a bus station in Marrakech who facilitated our trek into the Sahara a few years ago. However, one of the key travel rules we follow is to arrange the first couple of nights lodging before arriving in a new country. The longer the flights and the later the arrival, the more important this is. Our flight to Bangkok from San Francisco was over 19 hours, and we landed at 11pm.

Needless to say, we were extremely grateful that I had arranged a stay at the luxurious Tower Club at Lebua for the first three nights of our Southeast Asian Adventure. Thanks to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, I had the opportunity to stay there a couple of months ago during their “50th anniversary mega familiarization trip“, and I knew that was where we should recover from the long flights and acclimate to the 14 hour time difference.

As soon as we walked into the lobby, were greeted by the staff, and shown to a 55th floor room with a familiar view out over the city from an open-air balcony, I felt relaxed and like I had come home. Our landing in Bangkok was as soft as the bed that we crashed upon after ordering a small snack from room service. Even after several hours of exquisite sleep and an exceptional buffet breakfast, our bodies were still tense from weeks of stressful preparation and hours of cramped economy seating. A visit to the RarinJinda Wellness Spa further relaxed our weary selves as I received a Thai massage and Liz their signature ‘Elements of Life’ treatment.

On our third and last night, we met a friend for drinks at the Sky Bar atop Lebua, offering a stunning 63rd floor view out over the city with not only its own lights spread out before us, but a dramatic lightning display on the horizon. Finally, our soft landing was made complete with the Chef’s Tasting Menu at Mezzaluna, inside the gold dome that graces the top of the hotel. It was a culinary adventure, with each course and wine pairing a delicate contrast of textures and flavors, masterfully presented.

The rest of our 3-month trip will likely be spent in much simpler accommodations and eating street food, pushing our dollars to their furthest in a region where the exchange rate is favorable. Our stay at Lebua was the perfect way to begin our adventure, easing us into a trip that will both relax and challenge us.

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15 minutes shy of 85 days

Posted by Ted on Aug 10, 2010 in Travel, Vagabonding

Today I moved the first boxes into a steal of a $24/mo storage unit 10 minutes away.

In just 8 days, we will be homeless.

We’ll still be in the Bay Area, but we will be house sitting, camping, and couch surfing until the end of September. We may even get to visit our cats in our house that we’re not living in.

Phrao, Thailand, just outside of Chiang Mai

Phrao, Thailand, just outside of Chiang Mai

Then, 6 weeks from today, we get on a plane bound for Thailand, via a stop in Korea. Our return to the U.S. isn’t until mid-December. Assuming a perfect world of ontime plane departures and arrivals, there will be 84 days, 23 hours, and 45 minutes between when we land and take off again from Bangkok. That’s 12 weeks of living by whim alone. That’s just over a year’s worth of a 9-5 job (2039 hours).

After exceedingly busy months of the metronome tipping ‘is-it-going-to-happen-or-not’, everything finally fell into place over the last month, and our vagabonding trip throughout Southeast Asia is GO FOR LAUNCH! We are now in full preparation mode, with just over a week to have a party, pack everything away, and live out of what we can fit in the car for a month. And we’re very much looking forward to it.

We were able to sublet our flat, find cat care, and secure cheap storage. Unsurprisingly, the biggest factor of all was our cats. We knew that they would be the hardest logistical problem to solve. While we were lucky in finding subletters willing to both take care of our place and our cats, we had a 4th cat who was a local stray that we had been fostering for six months. Finding a home for Snuffles – a sweet, skittish, FIV+ cat that courted us for six months before we even let him in – proved much more difficult than we could have anticipated. Finally, just as we were thinking we might have to give up, we found the North County Humane Society, an all-cat no-kill shelter in Atascadero, south of Monterey. With some sadness, we drove 7 hours last Saturday to take him to his new home. We are so glad to have found them, and they are worthy of your donation. Now our efforts are on cleaning, organizing, and packing. It’s going to be a very busy week!

Stay tuned for our continued Countdown to Homelessness!

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