5 Dec 2007
Novotel Centara, Hat Yai, Thailand
A$51/£22.50 night
7° 1'2.28"N 100°28'36.75"E
1 room
See Below


We booked our first night in Thailand as we didn't want to trail around with the bags on arrival, and this price was pretty good for a 4 star hotel. We took a minibus from Penang, and were lucky enough to have it pick us up and drop us off at the hotel, so no trailing at all.

The Novotel is a generic 4 star hotel with everything you'd expect - once in your spotlessly clean room, you could literally be anywhere in the world as they really all look the same at this standard. The bed and pillows were very comfortable, the towels very fluffy and the toiletries good quality. There were 40-odd channels on the TV although most weren't English and reception on most of the English language ones (mainly business channels) wasn't the best. There was a kettle but no cups or tea and coffee. The air conditioning was very cold even when turned up to 28 degrees - fortunately the windows opened and being on the 13th floor we could have fresh air.

The staff were as deferential as you would expect and restaurants as expensive as you would expect. There was a good gym, a sauna and a smallish very cold pool on the 7th floor . The wooden sun beds had no foam mattress, so were a bit uncomfortable after 30 seconds or so.

There was no ice cube tray in the fridge, so I phoned and asked for some. I had to pay - first time ever, and very annoying. I had a meal for less than the ice cost.

Internet access was horribly expensive as is the norm in hotels that make you pay. Sniffing around for signals (no freebies to be found) I connected to their network - it took ages to connect and even longer to get access just to the initial logon page - well over 5 minutes in all. Anyone paying for this access would have good reason to complain.

Location is good - above a department store right in the middle of the town centre. There is a supermarket in the basement and a 7-11's in every direction. Shops selling cheap clothes and bags are everywhere and there are a couple of markets selling more of the same. The wet market is about a 10 minute walk, and worth it for the choice of fruits.

Eating is a joy - food stalls set up along the roads surrounding the hotel at night, and there are different ones around at breakfast time as well as countless small canteens and restaurants. The shopping mall opposite has many of the international fast food, coffee and ice cream outlets (none with internet access) and a couple of expensive restaurants including Sizzler. We got a good feed from the food court on the 5th floor for TB30 - extra quality meaning a lot of surprisingly good shellfish was TB40. A steak and salad bar in Sizzler was about TB400. You don't need to know how much it's worth in your currency. Its 10 times the price.

Checking out was a nightmare. It took ages and due to the shocking exchange rate being used, the A$51 dollar room ended up being A$55. I know it isn't much, but it's almost 8%. If they'd been a little more helpful or understanding I'd probably have let it go, but all it took was one smirk. We booked in US dollars with no mention of prevailing exchange rates, so thanks to the smirker I'm taking up the challenge of a fight and disputing the charge.

I would eat slugs before I would recommend this hotel to anyone. Click next for a far better option in Hay Yai.