The low cost of staying in nice hotels in Asia is one of the things which help attract so many tourists to this vast continent.
Whether you want to relax in a plush seaside resort in Thailand, stay in an arty hotel in downtown Hong Kong, or kick back in a huge suite overlooking the Shanghai skyline, you won’t have to break the bank.
Here are six of the best-value hotels in Asia.
Pacific Hotel – (Seoul, South Korea)
I was delighted by the very friendly and homely feel of the four-star Pacific Hotel which, as its manager Douglas Lee told me, prides itself on being a small, independent hotel which shows care for its customers. There is such a lovely personal touch at this hotel that when I arrived in my room I found a hand-written note from Mr Lee welcoming me to the Pacific and wishing me a great stay.
This dedication to customer service was on display once more when a female front desk staff member spent 20 minutes ringing around to different shops in Seoul to find somewhere that could repair my broken travel luggage at short notice.
The Pacific Hotel’s rooms are very large by Seoul standards and have an attractive and uncluttered interior. The beds are soft and ever-so comfortable, the bathrooms are huge and spotlessly clean, there’s ample wardrobe space to hang my clothes, and the Wifi and satellite TV worked seamlessly.
For a hotel so reasonably-priced, the Pacific also has a great range of amenities, from an indoor swimming pool to a sauna, Jacuzzi and a neat gym. And it’s worth getting the buffet breakfast which offers a very good range of both Asian and Western options.
The location, meanwhile, is as good as it gets in Seoul – directly surrounded by a cluster of great bars and restaurants, just metres from Myeong-dong subway station, and a short walk from Seoul’s best shopping area, Myeong-dong. If you like to feel relaxed completely at home in a hotel, I cannot recommend the Pacific Hotel any more highly.
- Standard double and twin rooms (28sqm) start from $120 a night,
- Deluxe Twins (36sqm) are from $180,
- Family Rooms (40sqm) from $230, and
- Suites (50sqm) from $300.
Shiba Park Hotel – (Tokyo, Japan)
It is great when a hotel offers something which sets it apart from its competitors and the Shiba Park Hotel does just that in impression fashion via Sakura, its on-site Japanese culture centre.
Taking part in traditional Japanese arts and cultural practices has become very popular with tourists and there are seven such activities available at Sakura. These include hands-on workshops of furoshiki wrapping, origami paper art, Japanese calligraphy, mizuhiki cord decorating, takoyaki cooking, manekineko painting, and Japanese tea ceremonies.
I took part in a furoshiki class (traditional Japanese wrapping cloth traditionally used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods) which was wonderfully entertaining and led by friendly and informative Sakura staff. Saura’s range of cultural workshops is so comprehensive that I cannot think of another facility like it in Tokyo. It is worth a visit even if you don’t stay at the Shiba Park Hotel.
But there is plenty to recommend of the hotel itself, which is located in a leafy neighbourhood near to the iconic Tokyo Tower and the magnificent Zojoji Temple.
Established in 1948, this hotel has been well maintained to give it a modern appearance in a minimalist Japanese style. The Annex building is the original site of the hotel while the hotel’s recently opened 151 building is home to Sakura and the newest rooms.
I was pleasantly surprised by the great variety and quality of on-site dining options at the Shiba Park Hotel which include Peking Chinese restaurant, Old City Grill House, Hanasanshou Japanese restaurant and The Fifteens Bar, where I kicked back in a soft seat while sipping on a 12-year-old Japanese whiskey.
I stayed in a comfort twin room in the 151 building and was very impressed with the sleek, uncluttered layout of the room, the comfort of the bed, the quality of the linen, the lightning-fast Wifi, and the spacious bathroom.
- Standard rooms (21sqm) start from $200,
- Comfort rooms (30sqm) from $250, and
- Superior rooms (31sqm) from $320.
Attitude on Granville – (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong is perhaps the most expensive city in all of Asia for hotel rooms. Which is why it’s so satisfying when you manage to find a modern, well-appointed and central place to stay at a reasonable price.
In that spirit, I present to you: Attitude on Granville. Owned by the well-regarded Soravit Hotels groups, this boutique hotel has a wonderfully-artsy and playful vibe thanks to its theme of Old Hong Kong. Inspired by Hong Kong of the 70s and 80s it has retro murals on its walls as well as kitschy design pieces like vintage letterboxes and pay phones.
While many new hotels struggle to define a sense of place and culture – many make you feel like you could be in any city in the world – the design of Attitude on Granville constantly reminds you of where you are.
They offer urban, cozy, elite and studio suites which feature super-comfortable beds, quality linen, writing desks, high-speed Wifi, and LED TVs. The elite and studio suite rooms also offer separate seating areas with a fold-out-bed style couch, which makes them perfect for families. What struck me most about their rooms was that they were very spacious by the standards of Hong Kong, which is notorious for tiny, cramped hotel rooms.
I was also extremely impressed by the quality of food at Attitude on Granville. The dumplings were exquisite at Yumcha HK inside Attitude, while I had some wonderful tapas at their European dining room Urban Park. And, of course, location is ever-so crucial in a city the size of Hong Kong. Attitude on Granville is right next to Kowloon Park, close to Tsim Tsa Chui station and the beautiful harbourfront area.
- Urban rooms (15sqm) start from $160 a night,
- Cozy rooms (22sqm) are from $190,
- Elite rooms (25sqm) from $200, and
- Studio Suites (35sqm) from $240 a night.
Avani Riverside Bangkok and Avani Hua Hin Resort & Villas – (Thailand)
Among higher-end hotels there often isn’t a lot to distinguish one from the next – they all have luxurious rooms, great facilities and impressive on-site dining options. The one thing that does tend to stand out, however, is the quality of service. Even when service is efficient, for example, it can lack warmth.
Not so at Avani Hotels based on my two quite remarkable experiences with staff members at their properties in Bangkok and Hua Hin.
At the latter property, the stunning beachfront Avani Hua Hin Resort & Villas, I mentioned in passing to the resort manager that my wife and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary. I did not think again of that brief exchange until we returned to our room that night after dinner to find a love heart had been shaped on our bed with gorgeous red rose petals alongside a note which read: “Happy Anniversary”.
Meanwhile, our bathtub had been filled with bubbles and more rose petals. It was such a thoughtful and unexpected gesture that it brought my wife to tears. Before we saw the manager again to be able to thank her, we had come back to our room the following day and in our room discovered a beautiful cake decorated with another wish for us to enjoy our anniversary.
A few weeks later, during our stay at Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel, I relayed this story to the hotel’s marketing and public relations manager as we had a drink at the property’s incredible rooftop bar. During this conversation, my wife suffered an allergic reaction so severe that I had to carry her out of the venue. Immediately Avani staff came to our aid and the marketing manager showed so much concern that she came back to our room and, quite literally, mopped my wife’s feverish forehead with a cloth.
She need not have done so as there were plenty of other staff offering to help or to call a doctor for assistance but her kind gesture, just like the anniversary wishes we received in Hua Hin, this was indicative of the genuinely affectionate service Avani offers.
There is far more, also, for which to recommend each of these Avani properties. Both are modern in design and impeccably-well maintained. Both have rooms which are large, chic and well-appointed with every facility a guest could reasonably expect. Both have several restaurants, all of which offer freshly-prepared and delicious food as well as the aforementioned outstanding personal touch of Avani staff. And both boast fantastic locations with easy waterfront access.
Avani Riverside is nestled by the banks of the Chao Phraya River, removed from the noise and crowds of downtown Bangkok. Guests can catch a free river shuttle boat into the city centre by walking through the adjacent Anantara Riverside Resort, which is owned by the same company – the Thai-based Minor Hotels. I found no need, however, to actually leave the grounds of Avani Riverside during my stay.
I exercised at the hotel’s state-of-the-art gym, complete with new treadmills, stationary bicycles, weights machines and an elliptical machine. Then I showered in my room’s spacious bathroom and went to cool off further in the hotel’s jaw-dropping rooftop pool. This large infinity edge pool offers beguiling panoramic views of the Bangkok skyline. This vista is particularly incredible in the evening as light drains from the sky and the city’s nest of skyscrapers become illuminated.
Meanwhile, at Avani Hua Hin Resort & Villas, we were able to step out of the backdoor of our super-chic Deluxe Pool Access room straight into one of the resort’s massive pools. After lazing about in this beautiful pool I burned off some calories in the state-of-the-art gym in preparation for a sumptuous Italian meal at the oceanfront Brezza restaurant. The resort has direct ocean access and it was this beautiful sea which was the only thing that drew me outside of the bounds of the hotel during my stay.
- Avani Hua Hin Resort & Villas has Deluxe rooms (41sqm) from $160 a night,
- Deluxe Pool Access Rooms (41swm) from $220 a night, and
- Pool Villas (188sqm) from $600 a night.
- Avani Riverside Bangkok has River View Rooms (30sqm) from $170 a night,
- Junior Suites (62sqm) from $400, and
- two-bedroom suites (138sqm) from $1,200.
Radisson Blu Hotel Shanghai New World – (Shanghai, China)
I had wanted to stay in this upmarket hotel for more than a decade, ever since I first saw its 45th-floor revolving restaurant which looked like a glowing UFO hovering above the neon lights of Shanghai. Now, I’m looking out at those same lights from the luxurious vantage of one of the Radisson Blu’s enormous junior suites.
This enormous hotel has 520 rooms and suites, each decorated in contemporary fashion and kitted out with modern conveniences from super-fast free Wifi, to satellite TV, in-room safes, a well-stocked minibar and 24-hour room service.
As nice as the rooms are, the standout features of this hotel are its extensive facilities and its amazing location. Guests can choose from an array of treatments at the on-site Vita Spa, take a dip in its large indoor swimming pool, and then, once they’ve built up a hunger, there are three restaurants to choose from.
Mingxuan Noble House serves authentic Chinese cuisine, the revolving Epicure on 45 has a diverse menu spanning Japanese, Chinese and Western food, and Windows on the Park is a buffet restaurant where guests can enjoy an amazing breakfast spread.
To top it all off, this hotel has the best possible location in Shanghai, adjacent to the gorgeous People’s Park and the shopping mecca of East Nanjing road, as well as several metro stations. Location, location, location.
- Superior rooms (30sqm) start from $195,
- Junior Suites (40sqm) are from $280,
- Deluxe Suites (60sqm) from $320, and
- Family Suites (110sqm) from $580.