The Sofitel Centara Grand, Bangkok (formerly known as the Sofitel Central Plaza) is one of the top luxury hotels in Bangkok. Luxury however does not always mean the perfect hotel and, in fact, my stay at the Sofitel Centara Grand was not one of my favorite Thai hotel experiences.
The Sofitel Centara Grand, located in northern Bangkok and starting at over $100 a night, is expensive for Bangkok hotels so I expected something better. Here is why.
Staff at The Sofitel Centara Grand – When I stayed at the Sofitel Centara Grand, I had already stayed at four other hotels in Thailand and had quickly become used to the exceptional customer service Thais are famous for. It was with immense surprise therefore that I discovered not only were the staff at The Sofitel Centara Grand incredibly unfriendly and unhelpful, in some cases they were downright rude.
Our tour guide who had stayed in more than 200 hotels in Bangkok told us the Sofitel Centara Grand was his least favorite hotel in Thailand, due to the staff, and a few months after our trip was happy when his company stopped staying there.
My experience at any hotel is colored by how nice the staff is and how helpful. When I’m looked down upon by the staff, who have no reason to look down on anyone as they’re just hotel employees, it makes up my mind immediately that I will never stay at that hotel again.
The Rooms at The Sofitel Centara Grand – The rooms overall are nice. They are larger than standard hotel rooms even for the basic Superior Room and, as we stayed in a Deluxe Room, it was even larger.
As the lobby and the public rooms at The Sofitel Centara Grand are so luxurious though, I did expect something a little bit more luxurious and something a little more modern.
The rooms had not been renovated in quite a few years so, even though they were perfectly acceptable, in my mind it was definitely time for an update. The furniture was a bit dark and old fashioned and the heavy curtains with lace panels did nothing to modernize the room.
The rooms do come with coffee and tea making facilities though, which I always appreciate, the bathrooms are spacious, you get a robe and slippers and the satellite TV had more than your normal hotel channels. The beds were comfortable too and, as the hotel is outside the main city area, it’s quiet so there’s no problem sleeping.
Food at The Sofitel Centara Grand – As we only stayed one night at the Sofitel Centara Grand, we only ate buffet dinner there. The food however was superb, and was easily one of the best meals we had in Bangkok.
From succulent meats, to crispy fresh vegetables, sushi, Thai and western food, and some of the most decadent desserts I’ve ever eaten, I remembered that buffet for months afterwards. Many Thais also eat lunch, brunch or dinner there, even if they’re not guests at the hotel, as they are known for their buffets and prices are quite good.
The price of the buffet for us was included in our tour and hotel room, but if you just wanted to walk into The Sofitel Centara Grand they often have specials for buffets, Japanese buffets, holiday buffets etc. starting as low as 699 baht (around $19), which for the quality and selection of food is extremely inexpensive.
There are also 8 other restaurants at The Sofitel, which since I moved to Bangkok I have learned have a very good reputation.
Location of The Sofitel Centara Grand – The location of the Sofitel Centara Grand is good or not so good, depending on what your needs are. It used to be a great location as it was very near to the old airport, Don Muang, so it was easy to get to an early morning international flight. Now however the airport has been moved to the opposite side of the city, which is at least a 45 minute taxi drive from The Sofitel.
But, The Sofitel is right next to Central Ladprao, one of north Bangkok’s large shopping malls so you have access to any kind of shopping that you need. This is also great if you are in Bangkok during the rainy season as you won’t get stuck with nothing to do – you can just walk across to the mall through the parking garage, and not even get wet.
The Sofitel Centara Grand is also only five minutes away from Chatuchak Market, south east Asia’s largest outdoor market. It’s also five minutes away from the BTS sky train (Mo Chit station) and there is a complimentary van that will take you from the hotel to the sky train.
From here, it’s about 15 minutes by train to downtown Bangkok (Siam station) so not as far out of town as it initially seems.
The Sofitel Centara Grand hotel is a beautiful looking hotel. The lobby is spectacular with enormous ceilings, vast open spaces, a lovely sitting area and many restaurant choices. Prices start at $95 for a Superior Room and go up to around $1,000 a night for the top suites in the hotel.
With over 600 rooms, you should always have plenty of choice though.
For me though, what completely spoiled my stay at The Sofitel Centara Grand was the incredibly unfriendly, snooty staff – the main reason why I wouldn’t stay there again.