MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOK
BEST FOR: THOSE WHO WANT TO BE SURROUNDED BY HISTORY
NOT FOR: THOSE ON A BUDGET
In the virtual world that we now live in, nothing could be more reassuring than to visit one of the truly great hotels of the world and find it solidly, perfectly the same.
It stands as serenely on the banks of the Chao Phraya River as I remember it from my childhood and has done so, no doubt since it was founded well over a century ago. Its stately character exudes a sense of calm and despite the Bangkok bustle, the Business Moghuls, the honeymooners, the regulars and those who just want to be part of a legend. You know that the lift boy, Anusorn, will remember which floor you are staying on, that the Mixologist in the Bamboo Bar will start to prepare your Taihito – a heady blend of Thailand’s own Mekhong spirit, fresh lemongrass, ginger and lime – as you cross the floor, that Housekeeping will have given you that extra pillow and that nothing really can go wrong in your life that the Mandarin Oriental can’t put right.
Isn’t that what we really all yearn for in a good hotel? For stress, responsibilities and daily organisation to be managed by someone else? When you have offloaded it all, sail across the river in the hotel’s boat, complete with pagoda-style roof, to its wonderful Spa. Here, in the ancient teakwood house, set amongst lush trees is yet more serenity. Welcomed by smiling Thais in muted silks, the Spa extends over four floors with 15 huge treatment rooms, some with Jacuzzis, all with showers and loos and a dressing area. They have Ayurvedic oils, and Aromatherapy Associates and anti-ageing Valmont from Switzerland. Try everything if you can but if not, don’t miss The Oriental Signature Treatment with its mix of acupressure and stretching, its hot poultice of lemongrass, turmeric and plai. Perhaps the traditional Thai Massage takes your fancy, where gentle Samama with the delicate wrists reduces you to a quivering pulp – but ensures you will sleep like never before. And don’t, please don’t miss the Yoga and meditation with Neelam – she will change your life.
In between times, sit in the famous Author’s Lounge with its white wicker and green plants, where Joseph Conrad and Somerset Maugham sat before you. Dine at the stylish new Italian Ciao, and watch the river life pass by or go local and have a fresh Pomelo Salad with shrimps, garlic and peanuts at The Verandah, Dim Sum at the Art-Deco style China House, or head to the inimitable Lord Jim’s and order and an iced seafood tower. And remember, you just pay for bed and board, but what you get is a new you.
CONTACT: +66 (2) 659 9000
PRICE: 4 nights in a Superior Room from £1,599 per person based on two adults sharing including breakfast.
NEAREST AIRPORT: Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok)
TRANSFER TIME: 24 minutes