Review: Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi Resort & Spa

Filed Under: Hotels, Starwood Preferred Guest

For my stay in Bangkok I was landing at 7PM, and then my flight out of Bangkok was two day later at 9AM. I love Bangkok as a city, though in this instance I had a lot going on, so decided to just stay as close to the airport as possible, since I knew I wouldn’t have much time to sightsee.

If I truly wanted the most convenient hotel I would have booked the Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is across from the terminal. That being said, the hotel isn’t especially nice and is also quite expensive, so I figured I’d instead stay at the closest hotel which belongs to one of my preferred chains.

That was Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi, which is about a 20 minute drive from the airport. It’s located inside a golf complex, so even once you turn off the main street it’s another 5-10 minute drive to the entrance of the hotel.

Upon arriving at the hotel I was assisted by a bellman and directed to check-in, which was located inside the lobby and to the right. The lobby was beautiful and rather grand, with high ceilings and nice finishes.

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi lobby

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi lobby

The associate checking me in was friendly, and presented me with a couple of welcome letters.

For what it’s worth, I had outright paid for a suite for my stay here. When I booked, the rate for a suite was the same price as the rate for a standard room, so I paid ~$140 per night. That’s not that cheap by Thai standards, but for outright booking a suite it was a pretty good deal, in my opinion.

The letter outlined all the things I’d receive as a club guest. The “concept” sounded pretty lofty:

The Le Meridien Club concept was introduced with the sole aim of ensuring the utmost in comfort, personalized services and recognition catered to you, the discerning traveller. We have basically created a hotel within a hotel to accommodate your individual needs and requests.

Sounds nice, eh? Per the welcome letter, you receive the following benefits as a club guest:

  • Complimentary buffet breakfast at Latest Recipe
  • Complimentary washing and pressing of two garments per person per stay
  • Complimentary non-alcoholic refreshments at Latitude Bar throughout the day
  • Complimentary drinks & canapés at Latitude Bar from 6PM until 8PM

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi welcome letter

Then I was also offered a Platinum welcome letter, which highlighted many of the same benefits.

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi welcome letter

The associate escorted me up to my suite, located on the fifth floor. The hotel has a beautiful exterior hallway, which leads to the elevators and guest rooms.

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi walkway

We took the elevator up to the fifth floor, and then turned right and walked down the open-air hallway towards my room, 518.

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi exterior hallway

My room was just a short walk down the hallway on the left side

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi room entrance

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi floorplan

The suite itself was beautiful. It featured a large entryway, and then a small dining table and bench (of sorts) to the right.

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Le Meridien suite entryway

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Le Meridien suite living room

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Le Meridien suite living room

Then the living room had a couch with coffee table, facing a flat screen TV.

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Le Meridien suite living room

Next to the dining area was an illy coffee machine, which was easy to use.

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Le Meridien illy machine

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Le Meridien illy machine

There was a welcome amenity waiting on the coffee table, consisting of beer (which I don’t drink), some nuts, and some sort of rice crackers, along with whole fruit.

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Le Meridien welcome amenity

The bedroom was separated from the living room by a door. It featured a king size bed, a desk area, and then a curved couch in the corner.

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Le Meridien suite bedroom

I found it a bit odd that the only desk in the room was in the bedroom, given how big the suite was. While it’s not a big deal, I always prefer working in the living room when possible so I don’t get tempted to crawl into bed, and then end up falling asleep.

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Le Meridien suite bedroom desk

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Le Meridien suite bedroom sitting area

The bedroom was separated from the bathroom by a sliding glass door, and then there was a further curtain for added privacy. I’ll never understand hotels which make it complicated to have some privacy in the bathroom.

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Le Meridien suite bedroom

Fortunately the bathroom itself was beautiful, and featured a sink, huge soaking tub, walk-in shower, and partitioned off toilet/bidet.

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Le Meridien suite bathroom

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Le Meridien suite bathroom

It wasn’t a big deal since I was traveling alone, though I did find it strange that the suite didn’t have double sinks.

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Le Meridien suite bathroom

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Le Meridien suite bathroom

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Le Meridien suite toilet

The shower had two showerheads, and the water pressure was excellent.

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Le Meridien suite shower

The bathroom was stocked with Cinq Mondes toiletries, which I quite liked.

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Le Meridien suite toiletries

The suite also had two balconies, which were connected. The balcony off the living room featured a couch and two chairs, while the balcony off the bedroom featured a daybed.

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Le Meridien suite balcony

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Le Meridien suite balcony

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Le Meridien suite balcony

The room faced the golf course, which I found to be peaceful.

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Le Meridien suite balcony view

All-in-all I thought the suite was beautiful, though it had some puzzling kinks, none of which were deal breakers.

I had breakfast the first morning of my stay at Latest Recipe, the hotel’s main restaurant. Breakfast is served there from 6AM until 10:30AM.

In theory the restaurant was quite nice, and the buffet spread was extensive. I got to the restaurant at 6:05AM, and found it was already quite busy.

Prior to the stay I wondered who would stay at a hotel near a golf course near the airport, which isn’t actually that close to the airport. Well, I had my first interaction with other guests at breakfast, and it answered that question for me — tour groups. Tons and tons of tour groups.

Even though it was only a few minutes after the restaurant opened, there were already dozens of people there, and it was chaotic — there was yelling, people were touching everything on the buffet with their fingers, and people would literally grab plates and plates of food at once rather than finishing some food and then getting more once they were done.

While I usually like to go to breakfast with my laptop and have a relaxing cup of coffee before getting food, that wasn’t happening here. It took 15 minutes until a server brought me coffee, and that was after repeated requests.

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe outdoor seating

As far as the food itself goes, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. As you can see, the spread was extensive, but the quality just wasn’t there. Most hot items were lukewarm, and things just didn’t taste very fresh.

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Latest Recipe breakfast buffet

Okay, now here’s where my real issue with the hotel starts, and I covered this briefly in a previous post.

The hotel sells club rooms, and the hotel’s welcome letter talks about how with Le Meridien “club concept” they’ve “basically created a hotel within a hotel to accommodate your individual needs and requests.” This is a bold-faced lie.

The hotel is still fairly new, so my assumption was that maybe the hotel’s lounge just isn’t open yet. Well, as it turns out they’re not actually planning on opening a lounge. So when you book a club room you basically get complimentary breakfast in the restaurant, complimentary soft drinks throughout the day at Latitude Bar, and then two cocktails at Latitude Bar between 6PM until 8PM.

I’m curious which part of that embodies their “hotel within a hotel” concept?

Latitude Bar is located just off the reception desk, and the space itself is nice, with plenty of seating.

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Le Meridien Latitude Bar

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Le Meridien Latitude Bar

The bar itself is pretty cool looking as well.

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Le Meridien Latitude Bar

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Le Meridien Latitude Bar

In theory this is a bar where there’s supposed to be table service I assume, though after sitting there for a while I decided to get up and order a coffee myself. That was brought to me. I sat there for a while longer working, and while other people were being served, the girl working there never came back to see if I wanted anything else, even though she clearly saw me sitting there.

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Le Meridien Latitude Bar coffee

I figured it was a fluke, and that maybe it was a miscommunication, or otherwise it might have just not been a good day for her. So I went back in the evening for happy hour. I sat there for 20 minutes and other people were being served, but I wasn’t offered anything. So I walked up to ask what drinks club guests could order, and was offered the following menu:

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The servers came up to others to ask what they wanted, but never asked me. Instead I had to go up to the actual bar to place my order. Furthermore, the hotel advertises club access as coming with two drinks and “canapés.” When I inquired about the canapés, I was informed the nuts and crisps were them. That’s the first time I’ve heard those referred to as such.

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Le Meridien Latitude Bar gin & tonic

I’m pretty easy going, and the only reason I’m writing so much about this is because getting two drinks out of them was truly like pulling teeth.

And it wasn’t just incompetence, but it was also unfriendliness. I find Thailand to usually be one of the most hospitable places in the world, but the staff in the bar just weren’t friendly. Not one bit.

I don’t know if they just generally weren’t friendly or didn’t like serving club guests having stuff for “free” (even though they paid for access in most cases), but regardless, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

After the happy hour was over I decided to order some food in the bar, and had some pad thai and mango sticky rice, both of which were decent, at least.

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Le Meridien Latitude Bar pad thai

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Le Meridien Latitude Bar mango sticky rice

I spent most of my time in my room working, though I did visit the gym once, which was fairly well equipped (and empty).

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi gym

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi gym

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi gym

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi gym

The hotel also had a pool, which seemed fairly small given that this is a secluded resort, so you’d think it would be popular. Then again, no one was using it when I looked at it, so maybe it isn’t in fact too small.

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi pool

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi pool area

I’ll just leave you guys with a few more random pictures of the resort.

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi exterior

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi exterior

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi grounds

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Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi grounds

Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi bottom line

Physically I thought the hotel was nice. While there are certain aspects of the suite which weren’t practically designed, all things considered I thought the rooms and resort were up to brand standards and generally impressive.

I have three major issues which would prevent me from returning to this hotel. One of which I knew going in (and was fine with), and two of which I wasn’t expecting.

First of all, the location of the hotel sucks. It’s an airport hotel of sorts which isn’t actually that close to the airport. And beyond that, the hotel is truly in the middle of nowhere. There’s not even a small town within walking distance, but rather you’re tucked away inside a golf resort. Perhaps it’s nice for golfers, but in reality this hotel’s market seemed to be big tour groups. I imagine they’re getting quite a good deal, since others have no reason to stay here.

My second issue was with the hotel’s policies. They advertise club rooms and they advertise an experience which is a “hotel within a hotel.” That’s not the case. Being a club guest gets you a few things for free, but that’s it. Furthermore, they advertise canapés with the evening drinks. Those don’t exist either. I don’t have an issue with the concept of what they’re doing as such, but I do take issue with them selling club rooms when there’s not actually a club, and claiming that the current arrangement is temporary, when that’s not actually the case.

My last (and biggest) issue was with the service. The service throughout the resort was just consistently less friendly and attentive than I’ve grown accustomed to in Thailand. The service in Latitude Bar was especially disappointing, both in terms of friendliness and attentiveness. I genuinely felt like I was inconveniencing them by being at Latitude Bar, both during the day and in the evening.

Despite the property being nice physically, I wouldn’t return.

Comments
  1. Very interesting report, Ben. From the pictures of the hotel and the buffet alone, it would seem that this is an excellent hotel (ignoring the location). But your detailed commentary was a real eye-opener. Many thanks for such a detailed report explaining its deficiencies. How maddending!

    One question; I note that you often refer to hotel employees as “Associates”. I have seen this term used elsewhere by others. Isn’t this really a ‘corporate gobbledegook misnomer’ as they are not associates at all but employees? I think that the term is probably used by hotels and stores to make believe that the staff has some kind of elevated status and responsibility? Anyhow, I find it annoying! 🙂

  2. Plain curiosity on my part, but did you bring any of these issues to the property’s management?

  3. ” … there was yelling, people were touching everything on the buffet with their fingers, and people would literally grab plates and plates of food at once rather than finishing some food and then getting more once they were done.”

    Chinese tour groups no doubt.

  4. We had the same decision since we arrived in Bangkok from Phuket at 6:00 pm and will be departing the next day at 11:40 am. Decided against the Novotel and went into town to the JW Marriott last night. Great hotel, very fairly priced for the luxury and upgrade (Marriott Gold). An extra hour of transit time but well worth it for great service and a great executive lounge.

  5. Thanks for the post as in fact I myself was considering this property for overnight layover (the morning Qatar A380 also departs around 8am). But an acquaintance in BKK advised me not to stay at this hotel as it’s a bit complicated to get a taxi or Uber in the early morning from this hotel to airport. I see that you managed to get to hotel using Omar Air Chauffeur service but how did you get back to airport (also by airline chauffeur service??).

    The hotel does look beautiful and very clean, somewhat reminding me of Le Meridien Cairo Airport in many ways where I frequent although the latter offers great warm hospitality.

  6. We were there in October, and the friendliness of the staff was one of the things we remember. The hotel didn’t seem to be busy during our stay, so perhaps that helped things.

  7. Just a little lesson for those who have not been to BKK and been “lectured”. The name of the BKK airport, “Suvarnabhumi”, looks like it should be pronounced as “su – var – na – BOO – MI”. That would be wrong. It is actually pronounced as “su – var – na – BOOM.”

    So, this post is about Le Meridien Su-var-na-BOOM 😉

    G’day!

  8. @DCS Suvarnaboomi is 2 Sanskrit words Suvarna means Golden and Boomi or Bhoomi in the original Sanskrit means land so Suvarnaboomi is Golden Land and it is pronounced boo-mi two syllables.

  9. That’s right…..there’s an i on the end but not really. And yes, the Chinese tour groups–probably regular visitors at this place, but you happened to be there during the Chinese New Year holiday, which is like ‘regular’ on steroids.

  10. @Prabuddha and @John — Well, they might have “bastardized” it in BKK since “SuvarnaBOOMI” is what I said, and “SuvarnaBOOM” is what it sounded like I was told it should be…but looking at Wikipedia, it seems that I am closer to the way Thais pronounce the Sanskrit word: “pronounced [sù.wān.ná.pʰūːm] (Thai pronunciation)”, with no “MI” at the end… 😉

    G’day!

  11. @DCS @John @Prabuddha It’s su-wan-na-poom. Yeah, even though the writing has the V and B, the Thai spelling doesn’t show any characters of those sounds in the word. The official romanization of Thai language is weird; the romanization is of the WRITING instead of the READING.

  12. @Thai Native — Thank you for the clarification. Wikipedia, of course, got it right. And, I believe I did well because in a conversation “su-wan-na-poom” could easily come off as “su-var-na-boom” if one does not roll the ‘r’ and ‘w’ and ‘p’ are soft. Try it. My major surprise, however, was that the ‘MI’ at the end is totally silent.

    G’day!

  13. Thanks for the review – very useful and interesting. Sitting in Lattitude Bar now having booked a standard Club room for close-ish access to the airport for tomorrow. The bar is still the “Club” lounge but alcoholic drink choices are decent (cocktails and premium spirits although no Johnny Walker Red label today, despite being on the list) and all complimentary from 18:00-20:00 and there’s a decent spread of canapés too – sufficient to fill you up so they’ve clearly got their act together. Will see what breakfast is like to tomorrow but definitely doesn’t seem busy although it is a Sunday if that makes a difference.

  14. Now back at home and having provided a brief write up of the Meridien’s Lattitude Bar with Club access, I thought I’d follow up on the breakfast experience. Before I do, I just want to say there were a few Chinese guests who entered the Bar after I’d submitted my comments and maybe it’s just the way they are but they were demanding quite rudely that the staff fill their flasks with hot water before they got on their coach. It wasn’t overrun with them but “please” and “thank you” would have gone a long way. We spoke to the bar staff about it afterwards and they said there’s not much they can do – there’s a language barrier and they’re one of the biggest contributors to tourism there.

    We were also fine about the Club lounge being the bar and didn’t see any problem with this – having stayed at more expensive properties with dedicated lounges which only could be described as akin to a zoo, this bar concept made for an extremely pleasant change and as mentioned, the drinks are not limited.

    Anyway, the next morning, we went down to breakfast at about 07:45 and it was pretty peaceful and nowhere near what the original review described. Maybe we were lucky and maybe it was the slightly different time on a Monday morning but it was quite civilised. Service wasn’t particularly slick – tea and coffee took a while and we had to work out for ourselves where some things were. Food was buffet – Thai and international – and it looked decent enough although I wasn’t hungry and knew I’d be stuffing myself in the Cathay lounge and on the plane. I had an omelette though and it was nice enough. My partner had some “hot” Thai food from the buffet but it was beyond cold and not pleasant so it was left.

    Check out was easy and we had the choice of the hotel’s airport shuttle bus at a time which didn’t suit us and THB200 each or a metered taxi at THB200 total. We took the latter at a time to suit us and it was perfectly acceptable, taking about 15 mins max. Just watch the amount of luggage if taking a taxi as some of them have been converted to LPG and boot space is minimal although we managed.

    The hotel has clearly come a long way since Ben’s review and there are still a few gaps they could sort but if you want a good value easy-access hotel the night before your flight which gives you Club benefits, breakfast and a perfectly acceptable and comfortable room for about THB 5,800 all in (when we went on a Sunday night in March), this property is perfectly fine and we will happily go back.

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