Bangkok, Thailand: Mandarin Oriental
The legendary jewel of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River skyline is a masterpiece both inside and out and has maintained its prime location for almost 150 years. The Mandarin Oriental is conveniently situated to provide easy access to all places of interest within the Chain Mai region. Subtly lit spiraling turrets welcome you to the radiantly glowing property, which upon entering, feels as though you’ve been transported to a heavenly oasis.
The expansive lobby is an intricate piece of art, embodying the blended aesthetics of traditional Eastern iconography and Victorian elegance. Distinguished with décor dictated by the seasons, massive chandeliers loom from floor to ceiling. Suspended above intimate vignettes of plush seating, are strands of exotic florals and decorative lanterns. A stark contrast to the densely populated city streets close by, the hotel’s palatial entry, ornate arches, and intricate architectural details mark this as a very special retreat that is undoubtedly fit for royalty.
The aptly nicknamed, River of Kings, splits the hotel into a duo of spectacular experiences. Descending to the discrete pier, you can board the hotel’s wooden ferry for a nimble transfer across the water to an extension of the Oriental property. It is home to their magnificent spa and the Health Centre that features a modern fitness facility, studios for Pilates or Tai-Chi, tennis, and squash courts all with private or group instructors available for your activity of choice. This wellness compound is highlighted by the pride of the hotel, The Oriental Spa. A Monet garden re-imagined, the spa’s airy entry frames a compelling view along a serene contemplation pool lined with delicate floating lilies and hanging pots overflowing with greenery. From room to room, the carefully composed design presents a cadence of stillness and gentle rhythmic relaxation. Encased in warm wooden finishes, each beautiful suite contains all of the amenities needed to complete your rejuvenation journey including a private steam shower and personal lavatory. For steam therapy enthusiasts, your shower offers this incredible feature that is customized to your exact preference. There is an abundance of phenomenal treatments, baths, rituals and remedies to choose from among many varieties of Thai massage, rice scrubs for a locally-inspired sensation and consultations in ancient techniques such as Ayurveda.
As the region’s coveted cuisine capital, The Mandarin Oriental boasts nine distinct dining choices spanning flavors inspired by French, Chinese, Italian, English Tea Time and of course, traditional Thai palates. One can indulge in gourmet creations at the riverside terrace & grill with sweeping uninterrupted views, formal dining rooms, an airy indoor atrium, or at the Bamboo Bar, featuring creatively fused cocktails and nightly live jazz. A notably authentic experience was dinner at Sala Rim Naam where they serve fantastic native fare accompanied by beautifully choreographed Thai entertainment. The performance was magnificently done as the dancers float from the raised center stage and then disperse to grace each table side, displaying their magical melodic movements.
The Mandarin Oriental is widely recognized not only for impeccable cuisine, but also the intricate processes, immaculate presentation and detail-oriented approach. From the personal butlers, to the expert concierge and spa guides, the hotel staff are easily distinguished by their formal attire and provide expedient top-notch service. It is apparent in their every movement that their desire is to deliver a seamless transition from one experience to the next, ensuring the best experience possible.
I highly suggest reserving a room overlooking the river, as the gorgeous night views of nautical life are not to be missed. Additionally, the newly restored Author’s Wing is filled with Bangkok’s rich heritage and uplifted to be lighter and brighter. The first floor is comprised of the impressive Royal Suite designed with ample seating for entertaining and chic dining, deluxe finishes, vibrant florals, and crystal chandeliers hung as a focal point in each and every room. The combination of warm and cool hues are cleverly composed and the accents sparkle as they are touched by the sunlight. Within the hotel’s original structure, The Ambassador Suite is breathtaking: two bedrooms with an awe-inspiring atrium glass ceiling over the “conservatory.” These quarters are doused in shades of white and green with screen pattern details giving it a grounded garden-like aesthetic. Contrastingly, staying in the hotel’s famed tower, you are perched high over the river. These rooms are well-lit and airy with over sized windows draped in Eastern treatments alongside colonial wicker and Victorian architectural details all guided by the sophistication and simplicity of Asian traditional design. Within the building you can find a streamlined arcade of luxurious boutique shops and just outside to help you cool down from Thailand’s tropical climate, there’s an outdoor lap pool and leisure pool, which provide perfect respite. Well-placed palms and over-sized canopy beds offer sumptuous settings in the shade enhanced by amazing poolside service. With such a comprehensive offering of amenities all within one property, I hardly wanted to leave the hotel because I had everything I needed.
The Mandarin Oriental expertly fuses Asian aesthetic and traditions with European elegance and flair. This urban oasis is suitable for anyone whether traveling for business, leisure, alone or with family, as the property is poised to conveniently take in the vibrant local culture and also offer luxurious comfort with Thai hospitality. After being a guest at this legendary destination, I can enthusiastically say, “I’m a fan.”