Travellers' checks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 December, 2011, 12:00am


Suite surprise

Heritage hotel 137 Pillars House is scheduled to open in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai on January 1. The all-suite property offers four types of accommodation - 20 Rajah Brooke suites (above), six East Borneo suites, two William Bain terrace suites and two Louis Leonowens pool suites. Much is made on the hotel's website of the East Borneo Company, including claims that Louis Leonowens (son of Anna Leonowens of The King and I fame) and one William Bain both worked for said firm, and lived in the original teak building. But there seems to be some confusion here between The Borneo Company, which both men did work for, and the better-known British East India Company, since there never was an East Borneo Company. Perhaps the suites will be renamed when someone spots the error. Unusually for a new hotel, the opening rates are higher than the subsequent standard rates, with prices starting from 12,333 baht (HK$3,050) per night for a Rajah Brooke suite for the first couple of weeks, then dropping to 7,300 baht from January 16. For further details and reservations, go to

Inside the box

Arty German publisher Taschen has reissued its coffee-table books on the hotels, shops and dining outlets of London, Berlin, Paris and New York in a neat box set of 12 miniature titles. The books feature most of the content of their larger counterparts, which contained each destination in a single volume. Now we have three books for each city covering hotels; shops and restaurants; and bars and cafes. At 12.5cm by 17cm, they are just large enough for the colourful photography and hand-drawn maps that can be better appreciated in the original format, although the text is too small. Recommended places are a mix of familiar and obscure, and the capsule reviews are sensibly written, with none of the 'ultra-luxury' or 'timeless elegance' waffle that plagues upmarket travel publications. Despite their portable size, these books will make better bathroom companions than practical guidebooks, but a nice Christmas gift, perhaps, for the trendy tourist. Sample pages can be found at, but online book retailers offer much cheaper prices than the US$59.99 charged by the publisher.

Name dropping

The St Regis Shenzhen, due to open on December 18, occupies the top 28 floors of the city's tallest building, Kingkey 100 (above right), which opened in September. To mark the occasion, the 297-room hotel ( is offering a Bespoke Debut package that includes Deluxe Room accommodation, buffet breakfast for two, a 1,000 yuan (HK$1,200) dining credit and a few other sweeteners from 2,888 yuan per night. Guests can also upgrade to the Caroline Astor Suite, with a couple's massage and airport transfers by Bentley limo (not much use if visiting from Hong Kong, of course) for 8,888 yuan per night. Quite what Astor, the posh matriarch of New York's late 19th-century social scene, would have made of a Shenzhen hotel naming a suite after her can only be imagined. The original St Regis Hotel, in Manhattan, was built by her son, John Jacob Astor IV, in 1904. Although St Regis' parent company, Starwood, suggests he 'founded' the St Regis 'brand', Astor went down with the RMS Titanic, 87 years before the second St Regis opened, in Washington DC, in 1999.

Deal of the week

Swire Travel is selling two-night packages to the newly opened Hyatt Regency Danang Resort & Spa (below;, in Vietnam, from HK$4,190 per person (twin share) with an upgrade to an ocean view room, with airport transfers and breakfast. Flights are with Vietnam Airlines (via Ho Chi Minh City) and the package will be available until the end of March, but with holiday-period surcharges. For further details, visit or call 3151 8888 and quote code DAD-VN0681F.