John Gregory-Smith fell for the colonial charm of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
Walking into this incredible hotel sets the tone for your visit. A vast lobby, with a real heritage feel to it, smelling of lemongrass and tea tree, welcomes you into one of the most fabulous hotels in the world.
Built nearly 140 years ago as The Oriental, this stunning colonial hotel has been home to the rich and famous for years. Everyone from Grace Kelly to Jack Nicolson and Kate Moss have been through the doors of this opulent oasis in one of Asia’s most exciting cities.
We stayed in a Superior Room in the River Wing, with a fabulous balcony overlooking the Chao Phraya River. Despite the modern touches and luscious bathroom products, the room had a really soft colonial feel, with light hues of gold and yellow and a huge bed littered with magnificent pillows. Fresh fruit and flowers adorned the tabletops and a personal butler was on hand to take care of everything.
Bangkok is a great city, packed with magnificent monuments, colourful temples and vibrant markets. It has shed any notion of its seedy past to become a slick city with grown up restaurants and cool cocktails bars that attract a sophisticated crowd. It’s hot and dusty, the traffic is insane, but as a tourist it’s got an overwhelming amount of things to do. And after all that excitement, returning to the Mandarin Oriental is truly the best hidden gem you can find.
The next day we had an epic breakfast right on the river, feasting on fresh fruit, eggs and perfect pastries. Then, armed with a massive to do list, we braved the 40 degrees heat to explore more temples and bustling China Town. After a hectic morning we returned to the hotel to enjoy a few well deserved hours by the pool.
Surrounded by lush greenery and contemporary cabanas, the Mandarin Oriental swimming pool is heavenly. We flopped into our sun loungers; drink already in hand, and saw out the heat of the day chilling by that dark green, Versace style pool.
After a blissful day, we dolled up – the hotel has a strict dress policy in the evenings to keep things old school – and hit the newly refurbished Bamboo Bar. Unlike the rest of the hotel which is beautifully old fashioned, this dark, mirror clad jazz bar wouldn’t feel out of place in Soho. We supped on a few killer cocktails, before taking the hotel’s private boat to the other side of the river to enjoy a traditional Thai feast at their Sala Rim Naam restaurant.
This is a hotel that makes you feel very special and the attention to detail is impeccable – from refreshing scoops of coconut ice cream served by the pool to the bookmark that was placed in my book, nothing was too much trouble.
Rates at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok start from £279 per night on a B&B basis. For further information and bookings please visit mandarinoriental.com/bangkok
Eat Travel Live flew with Eva Air from London Heathrow to Taipei, via Bangkok, Elite Class (Premium Economy) – return airfares in Elite Class start from £928 inclusive of taxes. Book online at evaair.com