I don’t normally do hotel reviews on Not Delia. Restaurant reviews, yes, but not usually hotel reviews. However, Mr ND and I had such a bad experience at the Novotel at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport last night that I just had to write about it. Well, it’s still about hospitality and catering after all, so I guess it does come loosely within the general remit of the Not Delia blog. We’ll also be writing about our Novotel experience on our sister site British Expat, but that site is in the completing stages of a major revamp so we’re not currently adding new content. But we will. And Novotel will be sure to get a mention.
This is not a cheap hotel, at around £120 per night, but we needed to transit Bangkok overnight and thought it would be convenient to stay at the airport hotel. At that price we expected a bit of luxury and to be well looked after. Not so. Despite the fact that we had booked and paid for the room several weeks ago (and had the booking voucher to prove it), they were not geared up to receive us at all. This in spite of the fact that we’d even included on our booking voucher the details of the flight we would be arriving on, at around 6pm.
We got to the hotel by about 7pm and had to join a long queue for our first attempt at checking in. We were told that there were no rooms currently available but if we could wait in the lobby for a while until some of the rooms were cleaned, then we could have a room later. Hey! Hang on a minute – we’d already paid for our room and their normal check-in time is 2pm. So why could we not have the room we’d paid for from 2pm, until after 8pm? No sensible answer. Actually, no answer at all other than the fact that there weren’t any rooms available for us.
The overworked and obviously under-trained staff on the reception desk were quite surly. What happened to service with a smile? I guess they were fed up of having to deal with a constant stream of disgruntled customers. I nipped outside for a cigarette and met a very nice Canadian man by the smoking area. We got chatting about the hotel and the poor service and he sympathised and said he’d experienced pretty much the same thing. Judging by the very long queues of other unhappy faces, we weren’t the only ones by any means.
We finally got a room after 8pm. This is the room we’d been paying for since 2pm, remember? No offer of even a voucher for the coffee shop to keep us amused while we waited and waited for a room. We went to the bar to wait. Terrific – the beer was only £4 a time for a small glass. Perhaps there’s a lot of money to be made in keeping people waiting for ages to get into their rooms several hours after they’ve already been paying for them.
The check-in itself was a fiasco. During the form-filling process, the woman on the reception desk wanted to see our passports, as is normal, but she wrote down Israeli on the form having apparently not been able to distinguish between Ireland and Israel. We pointed out the error by telling her that ours were Irish passports, not Israeli. Oh! She seemed surprised, ripped up the forms and we started again from scratch.
We were allocated room 1242, which we assumed like other hotels would mean room 42 on the 12th floor. We entered the lift expecting to press “12” and proceed from there. There was no “12” button. We came out of the lift again and asked a staff member standing nearby how we would get to room 1242. He was helpful enough: “You want to go to the second floor. Press 2,” he said. Oh, right. It might have been useful if the person at the reception desk had mentioned that at the time she handed us our key card. We were starting to think that a stay at Fawlty Towers might have gone more smoothly and been more relaxing.
As I said, we finally got into the room a little after 8pm. It took them until after 9pm to deliver our luggage to the room. Meanwhile, the cupboard which contained the mini-bar was locked so we had no access to it. When we eventually got someone to unlock it, we discovered the fridge was empty, unplugged, and warm. It also had no ice-cube making compartment. (While we were checking out I overheard another guy at the reception counter at the same time as us saying that he’d had no access to his mini-bar either.)
We were tired from our journey and worn out by all this hassle with the hotel so we decided to order something from room service rather than sample one of the hotel’s restaurants as we had originally planned. To be fair, the menu was extensive and sounded appetising. It had Western, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and, on the face of it, had something for everyone. We decided to go for the Indian menu. Unfortunately, they didn’t have most of the items we originally ordered. Apart from that little irritation, room service were really very good and delivered an attractive and tasty meal in about 20 minutes, so there were no complaints about that. (I must confess that I felt sorry afterwards for the nice waiter who brought it and had to meet Not Delia in a not very friendly mood.)
I was going to take a photo or two of the nicely presented meal, but not all of the lights in the room worked and I knew it wasn’t going to be worth the effort in such a dingy environment. (I see someone else has also complained about this lack of lighting on Trip Advisor.) Which leads me on to the room itself.
The room and bathroom were nice, but nothing special for the money. The shower tap was a fancy design, but a poor one – the handle stuck out into the cubicle, with a very high chance it would be knocked by the person showering, resulting in no water or the sudden shock of an overly hot or cold shower. The shower door leaked at the bottom, so there was a big puddle of water trapped under the rubber mat and expanding slowly past the toilet pedestal towards the sink. If I hadn’t taken the “Welcome” mat up before I started showering, it would have been soaked.
The toilet seat was loose. It would have been a simple case of tightening a screw, but obviously this hotel doesn’t care about standards enough to make basic repairs like this, or to even check that the lights were working. There was no morning paper either. Just another example of how this expensive hotel has a total lack of attention to detail or care for their customers.
We’d planned to stay at this hotel to make things easy on ourselves. Ha! What a joke. From arriving at their reception desk at 7pm, it was gone 10pm before we were settled in our room, reunited with our luggage and with the basic room facilities operational. What a hassle!
Given that we didn’t need to move on to the next stage of our journey until 2pm, Mr ND asked if we could check out at 1pm and was told that check-out time was 12 noon. Wait a minute, if people have to check out at noon, then how come we couldn’t get our room until after 8pm? He got the answer, “I’m sorry, sir, we’re overbooked.” Eh? Overbooked? So you’re quite happy to take our money but not deliver what we’ve paid for? Is that sheer greed or what?
We would NEVER stay there again. And I strongly suggest that you don’t either.
I’ll be blogging about this experience on various other places and will also be posting about it on other websites and forums where I am a member. I shall also be writing a letter of complaint to the hotel manager. Will it do any good? I dunno, but it seems to me that this is a case where someone has a captive market and can’t be bothered to provide good service because they know they can still rake in the money anyway.