I once won a free night in a hotel in Japan when I was visiting friends from Missoula who were working out there. We went to karaoke and after we entered a free raffle. My partner and I drew out a lucky number and won a night in a hotel in the mountains. It was a famous holiday place locally, and so we thought what the hell? Let’s give it a try. The hotel was in nice mountain scenery but next to a freeway! The room was dull and like a million other Western style hotel rooms. The TV had 3 channels.
We took a bath and then decided to go for a walk before dinner. We discovered there was no pavement and thus very few walking options considering the busy road.
We fiddled around with the massage chairs upstairs while waiting for dinner. The dining room was full of old dears wearing sleeping kimonos. Everyone had crab and lots of side dishes. They tucked in heartily and soon were done. No sitting around drinking. The bar closed at 10pm. I was so bored. I’m never going to stay in a hotel like that again.
In contrast, we stayed in Bangkok on the way to Europe to visit some other friends. We got a last minute deal on a hotel in Siam called Siam@Siam Design. From the stiff formality of the Japanese into a hotel as cool as ice. It had a hard edge minimalist design and a Thai atmosphere. The bar crowd was a mix of Westerners and young monied Bangkok Thais. While being very modern, it was also very revealing about Thailand.
Bangkok is one of the most cosmopolitan cities I’ve been to. Around our hotel were shopping malls, Starbucks, banks and galleries. A few stops up the river were the amazing Grand Palace and reclining Buddha statue.
The difference in hotel experiences is marked. I would rather pay $60 to stay in a chic hotel in one of the best cities in the world than get a free night in a hotel eating free crab.