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Eastin Hotel Makkasan

It's still near shopping-mad Petchaburi Road and an expressway that gives easy access to the airport. It's still just minutes drive from the city's Skytrain (BTS Phayathai). And, this 23-storey high-rise is still encircled by a deliciously manic mix of street life and no-frills cuisine.

Yet, much has changed at the Eastin Hotel Makkasan. Seven months of top-to-bottom refurbishment have brought to pass an altogether chicer, cooler and classier hotel. Sleek looks and subtle Eastern accents now combine with a service-focused mindset, making for a contemporary city hotel of considerable vim and vigor. Everything from the neo-Grecian columns of the driveway to the soft wood paneling and gleaming Italian marble of the lobby looks voguish and fresh.

Not that it's all sheen, no substance. A complimentary minibus service now ferries guests to top spots like Siam Square four times a day. And the formally dressed staff come as polished as the floors. "Let me take your bags," implores a doorman, guiding you to the smiles of the reception desk. Check-in is brisk, giving you only just enough time to glance at a skyline that, with a snaking concrete expressway at its centre, is pure Bangkok. Afterwards a complimentary fruit punch lingers, courteously, under your nose, and a staff member beckons you into the lobby bar.

Here - amidst rich earth tone upholstery, dark wood tables and abstract Oriental sculptures - guests surrender the senses to a Zen-inspired realm featuring divine cuisine, a holistic spa, a serene swimming pool and more. Everything at the Eastin now reeks of refinement and class...

Top of the pile are the 130 rooms in three different styles: Superior, Deluxe or Executive Deluxe (280 will be up and running by May 2008).

Although modestly sized (they range from 32 square metres to 35) each is decorated luxuriantly, in sleek ultra-modern style. Their faintly masculine gold, cream and black colour schemes come courtesy of soft cream walls, gold fabric furniture and metallic paint paneling, dark teak fixtures and furnishings, and striped three-tone carpets.

Each also has a delicious white cotton duvet and plump pillows, not to mention a super-comfy bed. Long wooden surfaces with lamp and swivel chair offer plenty of space for laptops and paperwork. And large windows allow daylight to flood in dawn till dusk, when soft art-deco lamps and recessed lighting take over. Bathrooms are exceptional. Gold gilt mirrors, shiny tiling, snazzy washbasins, trendy blue bathrobes and bespoke 'Eastin' toiletries rendering them chic and indulgent.

There isn't much to distinguish rooms, merely small deviations in size, views, layout and accoutrements. However, all come with a host of standard features: soundproof windows with burgundy silk curtains, a bedside control panel (air-con, alarm and light switches), a computerized TV and movie system (ask at reception for movie prices), safety deposit boxes and high-speed Internet (150 baht for 15 minutes, 250 baht for 30 mins, 400 baht for an hour).

Only Superior Rooms though (the cheapest) get a LCD projector system that beams films or TV shows against a wall at the foot of the bed. This is, clearly, recompense for their unconventional layout (the bed sits in the middle of the room) and uninspiring views (most look onto an opposing building). Deluxe Rooms are the same size but have slightly more congenial studio layouts, a huge mirror above the bed, 21-inch flatscreen TVs and views onto spaghetti-junction, the nearby expressway. These are available in double or twin bed combos, the latter having a two-person sofa.

Considering the marginal price difference, we recommend you opt for the largest available room, a 35-square metre Executive Deluxe. Aside from just that little bit extra space, these have bigger mosaic bathrooms with separate walk-in shower/bathtub and a window partition.

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