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December 05, 2017

Why The Mandarin Oriental In Bangkok Makes For A Sophisticated Yet Traditional Stay

Text by Shirin Mehta

With its delightful location on the Chao Phraya River, the hotel offers great views, delectable cuisine, a world-famous spa and truly personalised service

You are made to feel welcome from the moment that you arrive, something that the Mandarin Oriental group of hotels has mastered to the tee. How does everyone know your name already? The check-in cannot be smoother, and we are quickly ensconced in our double-layered room in the Garden Wing with its view of the Chao Phraya River, its boats and tugs plying by picturesquely. For more than 140 years, travellers to Bangkok have enjoyed hospitality at this location — for in the middle of the 19th century, when Thailand was still known as Siam, a rest house for foreign seafarers was established on the banks of the river, which was to become one of the world’s greatest hotels: The Oriental. In 2015, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok commenced a comprehensive renovation of the Authors’ and Garden Wings, designed to significantly enhance the facilities and services of this award-winning hotel, and restore the historic heart of the property to its original splendour.

The hotel’s 368 rooms and suites combine elegant Thai style with seductive modern touches. River or city views can be opted for, and a private butler looks after your every comfort. The Author’s Suite boasts a balcony, a sitting room and a large bathroom. The Garden Room entices with its colonial-inspired decor and garden river views, The Executive Suite highlights a view of the river, and The Siam Suite showcases Northern Thai decor with a living room and large foyer. The one-bedroom Royal Suite has private access together with meeting and spa facilities. With grand views, the rooms are both well-fitted-out and luxurious. The beds are particularly comfortable, ensuring a great night’s sleep between ultra-soft sheets.

I discover another advantage to being located on the river. I thoroughly enjoy the short boat ride that takes me quickly to Bangkok’s convenient skytrain that is an easy connection to the city centre and all its main attractions. This is perfect, being away from the bustle, in quiet laid-back environs, and yet able to reach Bangkok’s hustle swiftly. It is also amazing to start the morning with breakfast at The Verandah, an open-air area which overlooks the river. Even as I dig into the buffet spread of western and oriental delicacies, children carry baskets of bread crumbs to the edge to feed ducks waiting for their daily treat. One morning, the rain comes pelting down on the makeshift roof and I watch the river change colour with the dark and brooding sky.

The hotel’s nine restaurants and bars make this the city’s premier gourmet destination. While Le Normandie serves French food in opulent surroundings, Lord Jim’s is a seafood restaurant that serves a buffet lunch. The China House dishes up contemporary Cantonese flavours and rustic Italian preparations dominate at the Ciao Terrazza. One evening, I take the hotel boat across the river to Sala Rim Naam known for its traditional Thai cuisine and entertainment. A set dinner menu includes home-style dishes from herbed pomelo salad to yellow curry with chicken. Dessert is most innovatively presented in mini closets whose doors open to reveal Thai petit fours.

The quest for good health and beauty through meditation, massage and use of natural herbal remedies is an ancient tradition in Thailand. Experience these at the hotel’s The Oriental Spa, a short boat ride away, across the river. The therapies are based on traditional Thai as well as modern western techniques. Start with a soothing tea and a private consultation. Then trust yourself to the therapist in one of the 10 treatment rooms or the three dedicated to facial therapy.

Bangkok’s iconic hotel is the perfect place to host an intimate or lavish wedding reception. Atmospheric venues and unbeatable service make this an obvious choice. A dedicated wedding coordinator will oversee every detail — from flowers and food to stationery, photographers and everything in between. The culinary team is poised to provide spectacular cuisine while the pastry chef will make your dream cake come alive. So, whether it is a special weekend or an occasion, make it to the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, for the best in luxury living.

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