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Sofitel Centara Grand Bangkok

The recently re-branded Sofitel Centara Grand Bangkok (previously Sofitel Central Plaza) is located in North Bangkok: on the bustling Lad Prao intersection, near an MRT subway station (Phahon Yothin). Part of the Centara Hotels & Resorts Group, it comes surrounded by great shopping malls, markets and entertainment venues (among them Central Lad Prao Department Store, world-famous Chatuchak Weekend Market and the Major Ratchayothin Cineplex and Bowling complex).

Despite its aged appearance, the hotel's spacious lobby is clean and well-maintained. Gracious staff in traditional Thai attire are readily on hand. The large reception counter is well-staffed, so quick check-in and check-out is ensured. The hotel exudes a unique retro feel rarely found in most hotels nowadays - a reminder of a bygone era, coupled with modern-day facilities.

This 26-storey V-shaped tower houses 607 classic guest rooms, consisting of 99 suites and 508 standard rooms. There are seven different room types: Superior Room (35.5 square metres), Deluxe Room (33.5 square metres), Petite Suite (43.8 square metres), Junior Suite (52 square metres), Executive Suite (64 square metres), Plaza Suite (89.2 square metres) and a massive Presidential Suite (168.5 square metres). All are equipped with full amenities including Centara's signature bed, Sofitel's full toiletries, satellite TV with pay-per-view channels, broadband Internet and an all-in-one bedside control panel.

Guests' peaceful slumber is ensured courtesy of a pillow menu. Choices vary from non-allergenic Dacron pillows with options like 'Sleep Easy' and 'Sleepy Head', to feather ones like 'Sleep Dreams' and 'Sleep-Inn' as well as contour and foam pillows. To top it all off, revel in spectacular views of Chatuchak Park and Bangkok's impressive skyline from the rooms in the Vibhavadee Wing.

For those who love extra convenience and comfort, an upgrade to Deluxe or Suites with Dynasty Club access comes highly recommended. A stay in one of these includes access to the swanky Dynasty Lounge and its privileges: complimentary continental breakfast, mid-day snacks, afternoon tea, cocktail happy hour, free Internet usage, a personal butler service and other all-day services.

If shopping ranks high on your agenda, Sofitel Centara Grand is the hotel for you. Connected to the six-storey Central Lad Prao, one of the city's major department stores, the hotel makes an excellent shopping base. Guests can walk through the car park on the mezzanine level to the shopping mall. Opposite the hotel (only a few minutes' by shuttle bus) is world-famous Chatuchak Weekend Market, with its over 15,000 stalls selling everything from Croc sandals to fighting roosters. The hotel also has a shopping arcade with a few small shops, including a tailor and wedding studio.

More shopping can be had in nearby areas Victory Monument, Siam, Ratchaprasong, Ploenchit and Silom - all conveniently reached by either Skytrain or subway, the city's two efficient transport systems. Alternatively, take advantage of the hotel's complimentary shuttle bus to Central Department Stores (Silom and Chidlom branches), Sumitomo Mitsui (SMBC) Bank, Patpong as well as Skytrain Morchit station and Chatuchak Weekend Market (on weekends).

Best known for its meeting and conference facilities, the hotel boasts the Bangkok Convention Centre (BCC): a 2,500 square-metre auditorium which plays host to various national events like the Miss Thailand pageants. Smaller meeting rooms are located on the Mezzanine Level, and can accommodate up to 200 people. Sofitel Centara also has a myriad of eateries featuring the world's most cherished cuisines like Thai (Chatuchak Caf- and Suan Bua Restaurant), Italian (Don Giovanni), Chinese (Dynasty), Japanese (Hagi) and Vietnamese (Le Danang). Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese cooking classes are also offered for those who want to master the art of Asian cuisine.

In addition to the Cineplex at the nearby Central Lad Prao shopping mall, the hotel also offers entertainment at the Lobby Lounge and Cencio Karaoke, which has state-of-the-art sound systems and private rooms ideal for get-togethers. Other fine facilities and services include 24-hour room service (including a wide range of Sofitel ciabatta sandwiches and 'The Chef Recommends' menus, all served with a complimentary glass of wine or beer), SPA Cenvaree (12 treatment rooms, an exclusive manicure and pedicure suite and private herbal steam room), a fully-equipped Business Centre, fitness centre, outdoor pool, 24-hour medical centre, barber shop and beauty salon.

Although quite removed from the centre of Bangkok, the hotel's close proximity to the Skytrain, subway and expressways, makes for convenient access to major business and shopping districts as well as the two airports (Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi). With its location and a host of great services and facilities, this hotel is an ideal choice for both business and leisure visitors. Be it shopping, comfort or world-class meeting facilities, Sofitel Centara Grand caters to every need and whim.

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