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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Chatrium Riverside - A Bangkok Hotel Review

When we arrived Thailand was in political crisis (and still is five months later) but after canceling our trip to Bangladesh nothing was going to put us off this time. With a non refundable rate for twelve nights we were going no matter what happened. Strikes, street protests, occupations and a state of emergency were not going to stop us! We've been to Bangkok on several occasions and have staying in a variety of hotels including the Banyan Tree (which I'll be blogging about later), the Sofitel, the Peninsula and the Marriot - now the Anantara. We like staying on the river, it may be a little further out but we prefer the outdoor space, the views and the resort like amenities you find at the river hotels. You can see the amazing view from our room above. We are happy to take boats or the sky train, we like to lazy around, eat street food and do some walking, we're not focused on the malls or shopping so we don't need to worry about being in the center of town.

Because we were staying for almost two weeks the Peninsula was out of reach. It's great for a quick stay but on these longer, multiple month trips we have to take our luxury in more affordable destinations like Kuala Lumpur or Bali. So, I was looking for a hotel on the river that offered a room conducive to a longer stay, at a reasonable price, ideally including breakfast. We opted for the Chatrium Riverside (photos above and below) which I booked through Orbitz. For a discussion of how to get the best rates see this post
The Chatrium is a great midrange option with large rooms and apartments with balconies and lovely river or city view. It was a great value with a lovely riverside pool and a large terrace where we sat out and enjoyed breakfast. We had a  one bedroom apartment on the twenty first floor with a small kitchen and large balcony for less than $115, including breakfast and all taxes, remember this was the prepaid before the political emergency price. I spent a lot of time relaxing by the pool and unlike in many of the city hotels in Bangkok, the pool was large enough to swim laps. I spent lots of time down there but unfortunately didn't take any pictures (what kind of sorry blogger am I?) so I'm going to have to reuse this one from their website!

However, if you are looking forward to seamless Thai service, a stunning lobby, high end spa  or the kind of unbelievable breakfast buffet you'll find at the luxury hotels in Bangkok the Chatrium may not be the place for you. I'm a hotel snob and I noticed immediately that the room finishes weren't high end, but then neither was the price. I wasn't impressed with the poolside service, the spa,or the ghastly muzak at breakfast, but overall it was a solid choice, an excellent value for a longer term  stay and I would certainly return. 

On the positive side...I was impressed by the front desk who worked hard to move us to a higher floor and proactively called to check on us every few days. The pool is attractive and large and the river views were fabulous. We enjoyed the space in our suite though we didn't use the kitchen. I loved reading my book on the balcony and I spent a lot of time watching the river boats pass by. Several times  we sat out at sunset with a gin and tonic and even saw elaborate firework displays over the river on several nights. The night time views of both the river and city were spectacular. We liked taking the hotel boat to the sky train pier at Taksin and found it easy to get around Bangkok using a combination of metro, taxi, walking and boats. 
Overall I thought The Chatrium was an excellent value  and   it proved a comfortable base for our visit. On this occasion it worked well for us, but it doesn't mean I'm abandoning the Peninsula yet! I'd recommend The Chatrium  for longer stays where you may enjoy having extra space  It's a great river hotel for those on a midrange budget particularly if  you will be spending time at the lovely pool. However, I would not recommend it if you are only in Bangkok for a couple of days, you have a larger budget and/or are someone who would miss higher end amenities such as a beautiful spa, multiple restaurants and an excellent concierge.


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