MTT Travel: The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21


The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21

If there’s one thing I like in life, it’s a nice hotel.

I will book into a hotel at every opportunity, I really do daydream about them. The robes, the room service, those huge bloody baths. I’m one of those bonkers people who will squeeze every last bit of enjoyment out of their stay; if check-in is at 3pm I will arrive at 12pm to just enjoy the ambiance of the bar or lounge (free time to read magazines? I’M IN) before booking into my room. Once inside I will do a headless chicken impression, running around checking out the minibar, the safe, the comfort of the huge bed. I’ll put my robe on, order a club sandwich and get into bed before napping (unless I’m too excited to nap. Has happened).

The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21

Arriving at the Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 was a slightly different experience. For one it was 6am, I’d just got off a long-haul flight without sleeping and my body thought it was in a completely different time zone. We were in Bangkok and I don’t know if you’ve been but you don’t find many club sandwiches in Bangkok at 6am.

Anyway, the first thing I noticed upon arrival is that the staff were just so darned happy for that time in the morning. My not-yet successful journey to becoming a morning person has been well-documented so I always respect 6am smiles. I was smiling too, but mostly because I was delirious after 11 hours of sitting next to a stranger who liked small talk even when I pretended to be asleep.

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The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 is located on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok which is one of the main commercial roads in the city. It’s adjoined to the next-door shopping mall, Terminal 21, which is handy if you’re feeling homesick as each of its floors are named after different areas of the world and London is one of them. Brick Lane was quite similar to what we are used to ;) It’s really convenient for central Bangkok and is a 2 second walk from the Asoke Sky Train station.

We were greeted with chilled glasses of orange juice in the most beautifully opulent foyer. Let me tell you, you know you’re in a good hotel when the pavement outside is marble.

Our bags were whisked away as we checked in, were handed our keys and shown to our rooms.

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Mine was on the 21st floor and my ears popped as we went up in the super speedy lift. I walked into the room and BY GOD it was one of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen. The window was as wide and as tall as the room and the first thing I did was work out how to use the high-tech electric privacy blind so I could get the full effect. Gorgeous.

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The room had everything you would want and need including a full-size fridge and microwave – robes, safe, multiple mirrors (excellent for selfies, I sampled them all, see?), plenty of hanging space and the biggest bed I’ve ever seen. Literally – I could roll over in it four times and not reach the other side (I checked). Club sandwich aside I was in hotel room heaven.

The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21

9am/jetlag/no sleep face

The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21

The bathroom was just as good with a massive shower and deep bath but the highlight was definitely the fancy heated loo seat with added bottom cleaner. I tried each and every setting (apart from the enema one because if you can bring yourself to push that button you’re a braver person than me) and sent my mum a text message saying I’d literally just given my bum a wash and blow dry.

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By the time I’d surveyed my room properly it was 7am and I was ready to get in that ginormous bed for an hour. IT WAS SO GOOD, literally one of the nicest beds I’ve ever had the luck to lie down in. I used about a tenth of it and didn’t spend nearly enough time in it. I’d return to the Grande Centre Point purely for this beautifully magnificent bed.

The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21

9am came and it was time to drag myself out of that bed and to the in-house spa (I know I know, it’s tough being me). And I’m not over-egging it when I say this massage was one of the highlights of my trip. I ADORE a good massage and was a bit hesitant about how I’d find the notoriously brutal Thai rub-down I might get, but it was just gorgeous. Exactly what you need after a long flight. It was interesting to witness the differences from a UK massage, too; I was asked to shower beforehand and the therapists wore masks and then climbed on to the table to properly get my back sorted out. I loved it.

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Post-massage I retreated to the pool for a bit more relaxation and WOULD YOU JUST LOOK AT HOW AMAZING IT WAS. It literally needs no words. Infinity pool, relaxation pool, landscaped gardens, bosh.

It’s worth noting that, due to the buddhist religious beliefs of the owner of the hotel there is no alcohol served in The Grande Centre Point Hotel – including minibar. But there’s a supermarket in the basement of the shopping center next door and the hotel staff were happy for us to grab a couple of beers there and bring them to the pool or our room.

It’s also worth noting that Thai law permits the sale of alcohol in shops between 11am-2pm and 5pm-12am. It tastes better when you have to work harder for it.

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The restaurant at The Grande Centre Point was buffet-style with traditional Thai dishes, sushi, Chinese dishes and pasta to order. I went with Thai food (it’s my new favourite, you know?) and of course had a stab at those gorgeous teeny tiny desserts, because how can you not? Buffets in the UK are traditionally rubbery, tasteless and crap but there was none of that here; I actually preferred this approach to food because you could go back for seconds (greedy? Moi?) and sample absolutely everything should you wish (I did).

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More shots of the view because it really was magnificent. Out of this world. I stayed in two different rooms on opposite sides of the hotel (both on the 21st floor) and each view was as good as the other.

When we returned to The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 at the end of our trip for our last night in Bangkok I really felt like I was coming home. It was such a lovely place to stay and if you’re looking for a luxurious and peaceful retreat in the centre of buzzing Bangkok I’d recommend it wholeheartedly. Comparatively I’d definitely rate it above the big chains we have in the UK such as Radisson or Hilton, and on a par with the most luxurious business-type hotel I’ve stayed in, which is the Threadneedles. I couldn’t fault it. Prices start at around £90 per night.

I stayed at The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 on a complimentary basis thanks to Tourism Authority Thailand. 

The Grande Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21
2,88 Sukhumvit Soi 19 (Wattana), Sukhumvit Rd., Klongtoey Nua, Wattana, Bangkok 10110
www.grandecentrepointterminal21.com

 

MTT Goes Cruising And Eating

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In case you hadn’t noticed, I like my food. When I go abroad I plan my days around which restaurants I want to eat at and when I was dating I got more excited about eating in lovely London restaurants than meeting new people. Waitrose is my happy  place and I like nothing more than an early night with a pile of recipe magazines.

I tell you, my life is wild.

So when we boarded Ventura for our cruise I was pretty excited about the prospect of our all-inclusive dining package. And there are plenty of different options to choose from, whether you’re a foodie, if you like the more traditional sit-down dining or even if you’re a fan of room service (I AM). I was mostly looking forward to the fine dining options; The Glasshouse with wine curated by Saturday Kitchen’s Olly Smith, Marco Pierre White’s White Room and Atul Kocher’s East.

The first thing we did when we arrived onto Ventura at lunchtime was to visit the buffet. Pretty much open 24 hours a day (as I discovered a couple of times at 4am when Hux wouldn’t settle and was desperate for a banana and a bottle of milk) the buffet offered salads as well as hot food choices for lunch that changed every day. We only usually ate at the buffet for an early breakfast, where you could choose between a continental or full English feast. Post-8am and at lunchtime the area tended to get very busy and it could be difficult to get seated with the kids.

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At lunchtime we tended to head for Cinnamon (above), where our all-inclusive package meant we could munch on a three-course meal, even if we’d gorged on bacon and eggs just a couple of hours previously. Or if that was too much you could order a salad or a lighter ‘sandwich of the day’ which would mean you’d save enough room for the complimentary afternoon tea.

There is a reason the on-board magazine told us that on a 7 day cruise the average person will put on 7 to 14lbs. And that is because FOOD.

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On the last day Hux and I had a bit of a date at Cinnamon on our own: the three course option was a homemade scotch egg with mushroom confit, slow roast pork belly with crackling and a potato cake followed by a mini victoria sandwich. Hux dined off the children’s menu and had gammon, cucumber and chips. Most of it ended up in his hair, as you can see, but it was delicious all the same.

The kids options throughout the boat were very good and the little ones could either dine off the main menu with the adults or choose from the children’s menus. Elfie’s favourite part of the cruise was the character tea when she got to dine with Noddy; she has not stopped talking about it since.

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Onto the part I was looking forward to the most: the fine dining. My cruise companion Steph is, much like me, a bit of a foodie so we often found ourselves next to each other having foodgasms over the amazing dishes. And, lets be honest, the wine (Ventura had an excellent wine list but we mostly stuck to the very moreish Marlborough Sauv Blanc).

The first night Steph and I dined at The Glasshouse, which I’d call decent brasserie-type food. It offers small tapas-style dishes as well as burgers and steaks. Above you can see our sharing plate which included ham hock terrine and piccalilli, fishcakes with hollandaise, quails egg scotch eggs and tempura king prawns. Really delicious.

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We also ate here en masse with our children on the last night and I had the best surf n’turf of my life which came with prawns the size of my fist. That was one of the great things about Ventura: you could leave your children in the excellent kid’s facilities or they’d be quite welcome to dine with you in the evening. Elfie loved the special treat of dressing up and visiting the restaurants and Hux, well one of Hux’s hobbies is flirting with waitresses so he was in his element.

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East was my least favourite of the three fine-dining restaurants though to be fair I don’t react well to spice and chilli (I’m such a special snowflake, you see). My main course of lobster and king prawn was too heavily flavoured for me and I felt the spices overrode the delicate shellfish. The pudding of flambe’d banana was bloody lovely though, as was the rose martini I supped on.

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My absolute favourite restaurant on the whole ship was The White Room. With a menu by Marco Pierre White, the meal we had here was so lovely I could eat it over and over. I think the steak with garlic butter snails and bearnaise sauce was one of the best I’ve ever eaten (my mum: “Snails? I thought they were mushrooms…”), the tempura starter was awesome as was the amuse bouche of broccoli soup and tiramisu pudding. Petit fours came with coffee in a sugar basket (that got eaten, natch) and Steph and I polished off the epic feast with dirty martinis in the top deck cocktail bar, Metropolis. Perfect evening!

For lighter meals on Ventura there was also a burger bar and a pizza place for quick, easy and delicious lunches. Room service was brilliant: you could have a continental breakfast brought to your room free of charge each morning or select off the menu. The children often enjoyed a room service pizza and salad on our balcony as mum and I had a glass of wine watching the sunset… there are not many things more lovely than gazing out to sea when you finish off your kids freshly-made pizza. IMG_3303

 

Though we were dining all-inclusive we had to pay a slight supplement for the fine dining options on Ventura but these range from £3 per tapas dish at Glasshouse (around £8 for a steak) to £25 for the gorgeous meal at The White House. Well worth it, in my opinion. Alcohol was not included in the all-inclusive package but think Wetherspoons rather than London prices. Very good value but excellent quality (around £9 for a bottle of wine and £5 for a cocktail).

MTT Goes Cruising And Kids Clubbing

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When the lovely people at P&O asked if I fancied a trip on Ventura, my first thought was obviously “HELL YES”. And then my second thought was “do I have to bring the kids?”. Because as much as I love my little ones to absolute death, there are some things in life that are slightly more enjoyable without my mini-me’s (sorry guys, you’ll understand this one day). Day spas, for example, or fancy restaurants. Nights out and days of culture. These are all usually better without an accompanying wailing baby or a toddler asking “do you need a wee or a poo, mummy?”

But the kiddos were indeed invited on board Ventura and P&O were keen for me to find out all about how family-friendly their facilities are. Apparently I’d be able to visit the spa, fancy restaurants, have nights out and experience some culture all with my kids in tow. Excellent!

Elfie is three and a half and Hux is almost one and a half. Elfie spends five mornings a week at pre-school and Hux four hours at creche, so they’re pretty socialised kids who really enjoy activities and mixing with other children. I can honestly say that they really really loved the children’s clubs on-board.

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Ventura has four different kids clubs depending on the age of your children: for 2 to 4 year olds there’s the Toybox, for 5 to 8 year olds there’s Jumping Jacks, The Den is for 9 to 12 year olds and Decibels for the teens up to 17. There’s also Tumblers, a parent-supervised play area for under 2s; unfortunately Hux was too young to be signed into any of the facilities but he really enjoyed playing with other children and I met other parents this way, too. Tumblers also operated a ‘toy library’ which was great for us: we borrowed various toys and books throughout our trip that Hux loved playing with while we were relaxing with a glass of wine on our balcony (more on this later!).

Elfie went crazy for the kids club. Each day was themed: Space day, Jungle Day, Dinosaur Day, Circus day, with different activities planned around this theme. She spent her days getting her face painted, making cookies, going on Gruffalo hunts, making Elf wands… she adored it. The staff were absolutely brilliant and obviously loved their jobs and the kids in their care, they were always so welcoming and warm. They were very accommodating of Elfie’s medical needs too and I was allocated a pager for our whole stay so they could always reach me in case of emergency.

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As well as the Kids Club there were other highlights for the children: the Noddy character dinner is something that Elfie keeps talking about and there were special parties for them to attend (I’ve never seen Hux freaked out before but the lifesize Noddy definitely did it for him).

Crucially for me, though, there were night time kids facilities to take advantage of. I don’t get out much so was really looking forward to the opportunity of a couple of lovely meals out, cocktails, live music and, erm, karaoke.

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At 7pm the Toybox turns their lights down and story time begins. Elfie would arrive in her PJs and snuggle on beanbags with her new friends to listen to stories followed by DVDs. The latest you could pick them up was 11pm, but if your child is younger than 5 you had the option of transferring them into the night nursery, which is where Hux spent his time. This was a room of cots and toddler beds where babies and toddlers could snooze the night away (until 1am, anyway) while their parents (ME) partied. Your children had to be settled and sleepy by the time you left them and again you got given a pager in case they woke up. I had a couple of interrupted nights out but on the whole Hux was very happy there.

If I were to cruise again I think I would definitely wait until Hux was 2 so I could take advantage of the Toybox for him; as I was unable to leave him in any of the Kids Clubs he had to be accompanied by either my mum or I. However, I spent most of the time mind boggled that such brilliant child-care were offered free of charge and I wouldn’t hesitate using any of the Kids Clubs again. Having such wonderful and structured children’s activities to choose from would definitely be another factor in us choosing a P&O cruise for a holiday.

P&O sent us away for a complimentary week on Ventura but as always I’ll be writing about our experiences completely truthfully. You can read my disclosure on this here

Day Two

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What a difference a day has made.

I don’t know if it’s this city, the people I’ve met or the freedom I’ve felt but already I am rejuvinated. For the first time in a long while I feel capable and excited at what might be round the corner. Despite the late nights and jetlag-driven early mornings I’m energized and simply, unashamedly happy.

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Yesterday was perfect; a walk over the Williamsburg bridge (this place is so hip it hurts, by the way), brunch at Pastis, a stroll along the High Line Park and lunch at The Standard. A visit to my old work’s New York office, chewing the fat with some bar-hopping Italians and a perfect drink in a lovely bar with a breathtaking view over Columbus circle. A cab back over the Hudson to meet old London friends in a hotel’s rooftop bar followed by drinks and a stumble home. I felt 18 again and it rocked.

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(Hangover face)

I was so worried before I arrived here that I would go slightly nuts without the kids, but the process has been a lot less painful than I expected. Maybe that comes with the new found contentment, but I have no anxiety or worries about how on earth they are coping without their Mama. I know they’ll be just fine.

Bring on NYC evening number three: burgers and comedy. I love this town.

N-Y-C!

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I’m here, I’m in New York! And have been up since 4.30am thanks to jetlag and the champagne hangover from my flight yesterday.

It was the best flight of my life. Scratch that, it was one of the best DAYS of my life. Because I know how to pick my friends well, Kirsty went above and beyond the call of duty friendship-wise and upgraded my ticket to first class using her airmiles. I don’t think I can ever go back to Economy now, she’s ruined me for life.

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I spent the flight propping up the bar with some Hedge Fund Managers from the Upper West Side (I still have no idea what a Hedge Fund is), drinking Champagne and enjoying stretching my legs in the comfort of my absolutely massive seat. The food was fantastic, the air hostesses were lovely: I could have spent all day on that plane. And the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow? Don’t even get me started on it. DIVINE. Jerry Hall sat down next to me and gave me dirty looks because I was staring at her. Sorry, Jerry, but I was comparing you to my Google Images results so I could be sure it was you.

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I arrived into the city at 9pm and we gallivanted off for the BEST fried chicken of my life. Chicken skin, breaded and deep-fried? With honey butter? OMG. Not convinced with the accompanying scone though (they call em biscuits here).  That was followed by an apple gallette and some vino at Brooklyn Winery (they make their own artisanal wines. Fancy) and a stagger home to Kirsty’s gorgeous Williamsburg pad.

One of the things I love about America is that it’s acceptable to eat fries at breakfast time. Which is precisely what I plan to do in approximately one hour. I love this country.

Re-claiming Me Time

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If you ask any new mum the one thing they miss about their life pre-parenthood, they’ll probably say the same thing. Alone time. Me time. Silence.

That’s definitely true for me and I tell you, three years of not being able to take a dump without someone peering down the toilet asking you if your bottom is smelly, or shower without being accompanied by your knee-high shadow can really take its toll. Once you’re a mum you never truly feel alone again, and as one who has always been very comfortable in my own company I found this one of the hardest things to deal with.

Sometimes, and this sounds really silly, but I get so overwhelmed with the pressure of making sure my two little mouths get fed three times a day. That’s a strange thing to focus in on, but as an adult you can just inhale a banana or some cake for lunch if you’re busy/stressed/not hungry. You can call your husband for fish and chips, or eat pasta and butter (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it). These two little ones, however, need nutritionally balanced low-fat healthy meals cooked for them and sometimes it takes all I’ve got to think about what I’m going to cook them and then make it. Contrary to popular belief you can’t really feed them fish fingers every day and some days I find myself spending hours and hours slaving over meals for them.

Then there’s the daily pressure of making sure we’re doing fun, educational and stimulating activities, limiting the amount of CBeebies we watch (I find it easily becomes a crutch if I’m not sleeping well) and ensuring we make it to bedtime in a timely fashion and all in one piece. EXHAUSTING. It’s the most full-on flat-out job I’ve ever had. I obviously wouldn’t change it for the world but I do sometimes wish there was an HR department I could hand a holiday form to.

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And that is why I have decided to take a bit of time off. On a whim last Friday night (and yeah, on two glasses of wine if I’m honest) I booked a ticket to New York City, leaving this Wednesday, as in 48 hours time. It’s time to cash in my ‘me time’.

My best friend Kirsty has lived out there almost as long as we’ve lived in the countryside and despite me vowing to visit for all that time I’ve always been a bit preoccupied with being pregnant or breastfeeding. Now I’m neither of those things I’ve decided there’s no time like the present.  The last six months have not been particularly easy for me or my family so I think it’s important to get away and re-discover who I am once again. I hope I will come back a little more relaxed, a little happier and with a little less of a burden on my shoulders.

I can’t wait to spend some quality one-on-one time with Kirsty that doesn’t involve a Skype connection, strolling the streets of New York whilst she’s at work. More crucially I can’t wait to remember who I am again. I’m already anticipating the heartache of missing my children for five days but they will be getting in return a much happier mummy. I can’t wait.