When I first tried to book they were quoting GBP225 (US$354) a night as their cheapest price for a regular room. A number of people had told me they are “the only good hotel in Pattaya and so they can set their own prices”.
I met my friends (Edd and Austen) at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport and a Le Meridien BMW, with WiFi, drove us to Pattaya. It took two hours.
The only things I knew about Pattaya were a reputation for a seedy nightlife and the fact it has a teddy bear museum.
The Hilton Pattaya is sleek and luxurious with white being its signature colour. We were checked in on the 33rd floor in the Executive Lounge. There was a slight mix up with my room as I was told it would be ready in 5 minutes. I was brought coffee and, when I checked 40 minutes later, I was told my room had been ready for some time. I was also surprised that sparkling water is not offered in the Executive Lounge.
My room was on the 31st floor with a glass panel to see the bathroom from the bedroom - with a blind, if you wanted privacy, and an incredible marble shower, a small fruit plate had been left.
Next it was drinking sparkling wine in the stunning infinity pool on the 16th floor before ‘happy hour’ in the Executive Lounge where cocktails and canapés were served.
We then went to Horizon bar & restaurant on the 34th floor where they made perfect dry martinis. This open air bar is impressive. For dinner I had duck with foie gras on risotto and the staff presented me with a Hilton Pattaya teddy bear, singing “Happy Bearday to me…” - I was glad we were the only people left in the restaurant.
The evening ended looking around Walking Street and going to various bars. Something for everyone there - OK, not for me - and quite an eye-opener for a ‘Shropshire lad’.
I got back to the hotel to find the balcony door being left open by cleaning staff meant the room was too hot and the air con was not able to cool it down fast enough. The situation was handled very well with me being given another room for the night.
On Thursday morning I went back to my original room, cool again, and then went to breakfast in the Executive Lounge. They cooked eggs to order, I had Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and I decided to name my new teddy bear Harold.
Then I went back to the infinity pool - great for swimming in - until heavy rain started. On the way back inside I met Jean-Philippe (Director of Operations), who said we should ask for sparkling water in the Executive Lounge and he would ensure it was provided.
I then went to read the newspapers, and staff made me a coffee, in the Executive Lounge. After this the sun was back out and so I headed back to the pool to swim and chat to Austen. Next was afternoon tea with Edd in the Executive Lounge - with scones with homemade jam.
At 6pm was ‘happy hour’ in the Executive Lounge again. The selection of ‘free’ food was incredible with small cups of chicken curry, cold meats etc and they made perfect Long Island Ice Teas.
Our group of three ended the night in Flare - the Thai restaurant in the hotel. The chicken fried rice, pork with five spices & quail eggs etc were perfect and we had fun, despite being the only people in the restaurant at 8:30pm.
Friday I got up early and headed to the Executive Lounge for breakfast. The Eggs Benedict was even better that day.
Then it was swimming in the infinity pool on the 16th floor again. I have said it before but I could not get over how stunning that location is and how great the pool is to swim in. Other people felt the same with numerous guests constantly taking photos of the place.
That morning I walked off to see the 'Teddy Bear Museum' in Pattaya. On the 3rd floor of a rundown shopping mall it was a big disappointment. Harrods Toy Department is better and I have a more interesting collection of teddy bears myself. The 500 Baht price seemed too much for the collection of teddy bears grouped in Stone Age, Christmas etc scenes but people with children seemed to like the opportunity to take photos of their kids with the bears. Its other name ‘Teddy Island’ seems more accurate than calling it a museum.
Walking along the tacky beach front of Pattaya made me appreciate the Hilton even more. Back at the Hilton I swam and chatted to Edd & Austen and a Swiss guy (Oliver) with Multiple Sclerosis ('MS').
Then I had lunch by the pool of wok fried rice with egg and pork - too many tough fatty bits of pork but the rice had a good flavour.
I then agreed to meet Edd and Austen on Jomtien beach before my mum tried to Skype me. It was a quick call and then I was off arguing with taxi drivers about their prices, no one uses their meter in Pattaya. In the end Edd and Austen’s boat went missing and we all just had separate nightmare journeys getting back to the Hilton in the bad traffic related to the start of a long Thai weekend. OK, I did have a cold beer watching a beautiful sunset and it was interesting to watch Thai families sitting down to feasts, brought to them by local restaurants, at low tables on the beach. The Thais clearly love food even more than me.
Back at the hotel we all cooled off and then met in the Executive Lounge for the end of a final ‘happy hour’. Golf, and the other staff there, treated us like celebrities. They are an excellent team in that lounge and nothing is too much trouble. I asked the staff about two more guys in suits (after the guy on the train) I had seen wearing dark red lipstick and was just told “things are odd in Thailand”.
After this it was another drink on the 34th floor and last dinner on that floor in Horizon. Staff were incredible (remembering details regarding the sparkling water we liked two nights before etc). The steaks & truffle mash were sublime and one person’s whole Maine lobster looked incredible. A memorable final dinner and Horizon is a fine dining restaurant I would highly recommend.
Saturday started with Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon on the 33rd floor Executive Lounge balcony, as the rain started again.
Back at my room I emailed Four Seasons about meeting their Head of PR for Thailand in Bangkok the next week and decided to go to Boots in the basement for some essentials. The large basement mall is full of UK stores (eg M&S etc). I was going to pack but was then told we did not need to check out until 2:30pm, when a hotel BMW would take us back to Bangkok.
I went down to the infinity pool for one more swim and to try their Mexican burger. The burger was delicious but the fries were cold and unpleasant. Then I took a look around the stylish spa with its couples massage room with bath on the balcony, nail area etc
Finally it was off to the room to pack and then meet in the Executive Lounge one more time, staff made us tea, before the BMW drive back to Bangkok. The Le Meridien WiFi was so good in the car that my mum Skyped me from Shropshire and the 2 hour 15 minute journey went quickly. Back in Bangkok we went to the Conrad hotel's Executive Lounge for tea, a perfect way to arrive back in Bangkok.
The Hilton in Pattaya is the best Hilton I have stayed in by far and paying the extra to stay on their Executive floors, and use the Executive Lounge, is really worth it. However, the mall underneath the hotel means the elevators are confusing and frustrating. You have to take an elevator to the 16th/hotel lobby floor and then transfer to another bank of elevators that service all the hotel floors, and so they stop many time before you get to the 33rd floor. In the morning some of the elevators are switched off because the mall is not yet open. All this means you see a large number of ‘lost’ guests. The Wifi is also irritatingly intermittent by the pool. However, in the event I return to Pattaya, I would definitely stay at this Hilton again.
Overall 3.5 out of 5 'teddies' because of the elevators issue; the pool food problems; & the pool WiFi frustrations.
Si Frew has lived in the UK, Bermuda, Qatar, Cyprus & the Cayman Islands. During this time he met Whoopi Goldberg (in Claridge's), Mike Tyson (in the Concorde Lounge at JFK) , Gordon Ramsay (in the Doha Four Seasons), Chris Eubanks (in The Dorchester), Cherie Blair (in Bermuda & again in the Doha Four Seasons) etc. There are funny stories attached to all these interactions, feel free to ask Si about them when you meet him.