I’ve switched between various high-end and low-end accommodations around the world, and never have I been so relieved to switch to the high-end. In Bangkok, the difference between a well-ranked $20 hotel and a well-ranked $100 hotel is substantial. It’s not so much that you can travel on a shoestring here, although you can. It’s that you can eat out, get air-conditioned taxis, stay in a four-star hotel, order room service late at night, and still keep it to under $150 per day. It’s a place to splurge without going totally broke.
I’m staying at the Millennium Hilton (like the Millennium Falcon, but less portable), and my room looks out over the river. From the hotel’s private pier, I get ferried gratis to points of interest. I go check out the pool, and it’s probably the nicest hotel pool I’ve ever seen. Or maybe I mean the most interesting. They’ve tried to turn it into a beach; there are sand outcroppings and the sunbathers sprawl with the skyscrapers in the background. I pick a hammock and sway in the breeze.
However, there was one thing I liked better about the cheap place with its dim, flickering light bulbs and less-than-impressive kitchen facilities. The hotel restaurant, Thai Smile, was actually great. It was better quality for the price and not at all crowded, and, I was sure, far more authentic. And I liked sitting outside in the shade by myself, rather than in the too-cold air conditioning with nasal voices to break the silence. Here in the Hilton, there are way too many tourists.